Our Year in Review
I always get kind of down this time of year. The absence of sunlight does a number on me as well as dealing with the elevated stress and anxiety levels of my clients and their families. This is a tough time of year for a number of people, including those with loved ones who are incarcerated. So, it seems like a good time to reflect on the past year and realize that—actually—a number of really good things have happened with our clients and there is reason to be grateful and to celebrate.
This year one of our clients went home to her family in West Virginia. We were successful in having a 924 (c) conviction vacated by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which decreased her sentence by 5 years. She was finally released in August. She is spending the holidays with her mother and daughter.
We were also able to get a client, who has been incarcerated for 25 years, a new hearing on a Brady claim. We’ve finished up our investigation in his case and now we’re just waiting for a hearing date. It’s been exciting working on his case and getting to know his family.
Another client through our firm’s efforts has been granted a new PCR hearing after being out of court for 11 years.
We also won a death penalty case in the Fourth Circuit. The State will be asking the United States Supreme Court to review the case so we’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re definitely in a better place this year than last with a win under the belt.
The South Carolina Supreme Court granted certiorari in two of our cases, and one is scheduled for oral argument in February. These cert grants are very big deals and we’re so glad the Court has agreed to review these cases.
We also have 2 innocence cases we’re investigating, and we’ve made significant progress in both of them. Hopefully we’ll have those ready to file in the New Year.
We also won a compassionate release case in federal court this year. Unfortunately, our client passed before he could be released, but his family told us they were grateful he spent his last hours looking forward to being with his family again. He had been incarcerated for 20 of his 40-year sentence.
We got probation for a client in federal court who was facing at a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence. Her efforts at her own drug rehabilitation convinced the judge to give her another chance, and we were happy to help tell her story to the court. This Christmas she is home with her husband and small children.
This is all just to remind us (maybe me especially) that good things happen in our criminal justice system here in South Carolina. There are wins that deserve to be celebrated! We’ve had some heartbreaking losses as well and I think I tend to focus on those, but I know there is much to be grateful for and I wanted to share some of this good news with you as we look forward to the New Year!
We wish happiness and health for all of you in the New Year.