In early 2007, the Washington, DC office began participating in the Criminal Appellate Project sponsored by the Maryland Public Defenders Office. The project was created as a way to expedite processing of criminal appeals as a right, which otherwise were taking one to two years to be resolved due to limited resources of the PD's office. Volunteers agree to take a certain number of cases, but cannot exercise any choice in the actual cases to which they are assigned. This avoids the possibility that all the most meritorious cases will be snapped up by pro bono volunteers and the less attractive will be left for the staff attorneys. The trade off for taking cases "fact blind" is that the attorneys are guaranteed an oral argument before a panel of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis. Fried Frank's DC office began by taking three cases.Interest in the program was high, with volunteer associates drawn from our Litigation and Corporate departments. The attorneys reviewed the records and met with their clients in custody to agree on the issues to be presented. Briefing was completed in all three cases in late summer. Oral arguments were held in all three cases during the last month: one conducted by a senior litigation associate, one by a senior corporate associate and one by a junior litigator. Decisions in all three cases remain pending. Associates are clamoring to take on more of these appeals.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) is an organization dedicated to fair and proportionate sentencing laws. Advocates of a case-by-case approach to sentencing, FAMM works to achieve sentencing that is "individualized, humane, and sufficient but not greater than necessary to impose just punishment, secure public safety, and support successful rehabilitation and reentry."
Working with FAMM, Fried Frank secured release for pro bono client Paul Glover, whose case raised significant constitutional issues for sentencing fairness. Glover was serving 84 months in prison for misappropriation of employee benefit funds and related crimes. His case made it as far as the United States Supreme Court in Glover v. United States. The case was remanded to United States District Court, and the sentence was overturned. Glover was re-sentenced to 70 months in prison and, having served 76 months, was immediately released.
Working in conjunction with the Office of the Appellate Defender, the Firm works on direct appeals on behalf of clients convicted of crimes in New York State courts. Representation is primarily handled by mid-level litigation associates who comb trial records for appealable error, brief qualified appeals, and argue them before the Appellate Division, First Department. On at least one occasion appeals have been accepted by the New York Court of Appeals, providing junior associates with the opportunity to argue in the state's highest appellate court.
Fried Frank's New York associates have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the King's county District Attorney's Office. Deputized as a Special Assistant District Attorney, the associate searches the record for appealable error. In conjunction with the supervising Assistant District Attorney, the associate then drafts and files the brief, and is given the opportunity to argue the case.