July 22, 2021 – The American Bar Association (ABA) has selected global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP as a recipient of its 2021 Exceptional Service Award for Death Penalty Representation. The awards will be presented at the ABA’s 2021 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Program on September 23. Greenberg Traurig is one of two law firms receiving the award.
“Greenberg Traurig’s pro bono program is driven by compassion and the belief that every person is entitled to due process so that fundamental human rights may be safeguarded and justice served,” said Caroline J. Heller, a Litigation Practice shareholder and chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Global Pro Bono Program.
“We know that those sentenced to die are overwhelmingly poor, the justice system is not perfect, and racial bias permeates many cases. Greenberg Traurig is proud to work hand in hand with partners like the American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project to ensure that those souls sentenced to the irreversible punishment of death receive the fullest representation possible.”
Greenberg Traurig is being recognized for its handling of at least five significant death row cases in recent years and investing thousands of pro bono hours, including working to ensure amidst the global pandemic that a Roman Catholic priest could safely minister to death row prisoner Dustin Honken, in the moments before he was put to death.
“The Honken case pressed for the right of a condemned man to practice his religion by receiving the Catholic sacrament of Last Rites at the moment of death,” said Edward C. Wallace, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s New York office who counseled Honken’s priest Father O’Keefe, along with Shareholders Michael M. Krauss and Kyle R. Freeny. “The implications of this case are profound since Father O’Keefe being allowed in the execution chamber was cited in a subsequent challenge brought by another state death row inmate.” Greenberg Traurig was privileged to work closely with members of the Federal Community Defender’s Capital Habeas Unit, who devote their careers to representing death-sentenced prisoners with unflagging passion and commitment.
“There are many challenges that come with taking on death penalty pro bono work,” Heller said. “But that hasn’t stopped our lawyers from doing whatever was necessary to help.”
About Greenberg Traurig’s Pro Bono Program: Greenberg Traurig lawyers across the firm 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, criminal appeals, immigration and political asylum, housing, and homelessness.
About Greenberg Traurig, LLP: 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