Orrick Press Statement Regarding ABA President Paulette Brown’s Letter to Gov. Brown


On behalf of our client Kevin Cooper, we thank American Bar Association President Paulette Brown for her letter in support of Mr. Cooper’s clemency petition sent yesterday to California Gov. Jerry Brown. President Brown’s letter shows that, with respect to Mr. Cooper, there is mounting concern about the possibility that the State of California “may be about to execute an innocent man,” as five federal appellate judges declared in May 2009.

ABA President Brown’s letter details how, over the past 30 years, the criminal justice system has failed Mr. Cooper and why Gov. Brown should exercise his clemency powers under the California Constitution to investigate Mr. Cooper’s case and determine whether he is innocent. As Ms. Brown states: “The likelihood of injustice in this case is too considerable to allow Mr. Cooper’s execution to proceed without additional and careful review in the clemency process.”

In her letter, ABA President Brown’s recommendation to Gov. Brown is similar to the recommendation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which issued a report in Mr. Cooper’s case in September 2015. In that report the Commission found multiple violations of Mr. Cooper’s human rights in his prosecution, sentence and appeals. The Commission report recommended that there be a thorough review of Mr. Cooper’s case before he is executed, just as President Brown’s letter does.

Mr. Cooper’s attorneys filed a clemency petition with Gov. Brown on February 17. Included in the petition were letters from the sister of one of the murder victims, Peggy Ryen, saying she does not believe Kevin Cooper committed the murders of Peggy, Doug and Jessica Ryen and Christopher Hughes. The petition also includes letters from two former prosecutors, Sam Millsap Jr. and A.W. “Marty” Stroud, who convicted and sent to death row men who were later determined to be innocent.