Orrick Team Achieves Habeas Victory in Hard-Fought Pro Bono Case


An Orrick team convinced a judge to issue an extremely rare finding of actual innocence in a federal habeas case on behalf of pro bono client George Souliotes, who has been incarcerated for 15 years in connection with a fatal arson fire.

United States Magistrate Judge Michael Seng recently issued a 99-page Report and Recommendation that Mr. Souliotes be permitted to pass through the "actual innocence gateway" and proceed to have his constitutional claims heard on the merits. The extremely rare finding is the result of a three-day evidentiary hearing held before Judge Seng in January after over eight years of litigation prior to reaching that point. This remarkable ruling, if adopted by District Court Judge Ishii, will permit Mr. Souliotes to present his substantive habeas claims to the court with an aim towards ultimately winning his freedom.

Mr. Souliotes was represented at the hearing by an Orrick team led by San Francisco associate Jimmy McBirney and supported by San Francisco litigation associate Shannon Leong and former San Francisco litigation associate Megan Crane, supervised by Orange County litigation partner Thomas McConville.