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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 23, 2006 — Covington & Burling LLP was recently honored for its “exceptional” pro bono contributions on behalf of death row inmates by the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project at its 20th Anniversary & Volunteer Recognition Event. Covington partner Timothy Hester accepted the award on behalf of the firm from the Project’s director, Robin Maher. Covington lawyers are currently handling nine capital cases: three in Alabama, two in Mississippi, two in Florida, one in Maryland, and one in Virginia. Three cases are at the initial trial stage, four involve post-conviction proceedings, and in two cases the death sentences were reduced to life.
“Covington is a firm with the resources required to take on death penalty work.” said Timothy Hester. “We feel the obligation to do so, and we are proud to be a part of this project. I personally have worked on capital cases for the last 20 years and have found these engagements to be among the most challenging and rewarding of my career.”
The ABA created the Death Penalty Representation Project in 1986, with the goal of raising public awareness nationwide about the lack of representation available to death row inmates. The Project recruits volunteer attorneys and provides them with training and mentoring. In addition, the Project works for systemic change in the criminal justice system to improve the availability and quality of representation at all stages of capital proceedings. Covington has supported the Project over the past five years by taking on several new death penalty cases and participating in systemic change efforts. Other Covington lawyers in attendance at the award ceremony were Jack Schafer, whom the Project recruited to publish an article in The University of Toledo Law Review that is a compelling account of his representation of an Alabama death row inmate who eventually was executed; John Fuson, who is currently involved in two capital cases, one in Alabama and one in Florida; and Anne Proctor, the firm’s pro bono counsel.
Over the years, the firm has received such recognitions as the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award, the ABA Litigation Section's John Minor Wisdom Award, and a special award from the D.C. Bar for 20 Years of Outstanding Pro Bono Service. In its most recent annual pro bono survey, The American Lawyer magazine ranked Covington first among U.S. law firms.