NEW YORK – Jan. 29, 2021 – Following more than two decades in prison, 53-year old James G. Boswell received a Compassionate Release on Jan. 7, 2021. The release was secured by, India L. Sneed, a Government Law & Policy Practice associate in the New York office of global law firm Greenberg Traurig, representing him pro bono.
“India went above and beyond to secure this fantastic result for a client who was truly in need. We are proud of India, and all of the many Greenberg Traurig attorneys who have allowed our program to have the impact it does by passionately providing equal access to justice for the underserved through pro bono work,” said Caroline J. Heller, a shareholder in the firm’s New York office Litigation Practice and Chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Global Pro Bono program.
In the spring of 2020, Sneed took on the Compassionate Release of Prisoners pro bono matter, representing Boswell through the Compassionate Release Clearinghouse. Founded by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, this project specifically helps prisoners who present comorbidities, the presence of two or more illnesses, which make them more susceptible to contracting and dying from COVID-19. This therefore makes them eligible for early release and or home confinement.
In 1999, Boswell was tried and convicted of one federal drug crime (conspiracy to distribute) and sentenced to life imprisonment and $4 million in restitution. This was Boswell’s first and only Felony.
“If charged of the same crime today, Mr. Boswell would only face five to 15 years of imprisonment for his crime. Over the extended period he was incarcerated, Boswell developed several health issues including morbid obesity, diabetes, hypertension, edema, and experienced a heart attack,” Sneed said. These comorbidities were demonstrated to Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court of Northern Florida in support of the Compassionate Release Motion. Sneed was admitted to the court pro hac vice.
Prior to submitting the motion, Sneed filed a Freedom of Information Law request to ask for all relevant documents including medical records, prisoner intake information, previous counsel’s letters to the Court and other pro forma documents.
“This took months, largely due to the pushback from the Board of Prisons, the need to use U.S. Postal Service mail and inability to schedule regular calls with the client because free time of all prisoners was limited to one hour daily,” Sneed said.
The motion was filed on Dec. 23, 2020. The Board of Prisons as well as the U.S. prosecutor were opposed to Boswell’s release and put their positions in writing in their responses to Sneed’s motion. However, the Court returned an order in favor of the motion and granted Boswell’s immediate release to home confinement. He was ultimately released on Jan. 7, 2021 and is living in Marion County, Kentucky with his fiancée.
Working with Sneed were Greenberg Traurig Of Counsel Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, in a supervisory capacity from New York, and Greenberg Traurig Shareholder Elliot H. Scherker as local Florida counsel, in Miami. Both are co-chairs of the firm’s National Appellate Practice Group.
Sneed’s practice is focused on government relations. She represents clients at the Municipal, State and Federal level on election law matters including petition process, ballot access, challenges, and court proceedings.
Most recently Sneed was involved in the ballot challenges that took place during the New York State Primary; Pennsylvania voter protection and candidate representation for the Presidential election; and is providing guidance to campaigns participating in the upcoming New York City elections.
About Greenberg Traurig’s Pro Bono Program: Greenberg Traurig lawyers across the firm’s offices provide pro bono legal services to the indigent and working poor, as well as to numerous civic and charitable organizations dedicated to assisting them. The firm focuses its resources on specialized and interrelated issues including civil rights and affirmative action, anti-human trafficking, family law matters, children’s rights, criminal appeals, immigration and political asylum, housing, and homelessness.
About Greenberg Traurig: Greenberg Traurig, LLP (GT) has approximately 2200 attorneys in 40 locations in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. GT has been recognized for its philanthropic giving, diversity, and innovation, and is consistently among the largest firms in the U.S. on the Law360 400 and among the Top 20 on the Am Law Global 100. The firm is net carbon neutral with respect to its office energy usage and Mansfield Rule 3.0 Certified. Web: www.gtlaw.com