Pro Bono Matters Category Detail

Death Penalty

Karen T. Grisez

In 1981, Max Soffar was convicted and sentenced to death in connection with a brutal robbery-homicide at a Houston bowling alley.  Following three days of questioning with no counsel present, Mr. Soffar signed a confession drafted by the Houston police, a confession that served as the basis for his conviction.
At trial, no eyewitness testimony placed Max at the scene; no fingerprints lifted at the scene matched Max's fingerprints; nothing taken from the scene was found in Max's possession; no blood or hair samples found at the scene matched Max's blood or hair; the gun used to commit the crime was neither found nor introduced into evidence; Max was never linked to a weapon of the same caliber as the bullets recovered from the crime scene, and nothing Max told the police led them to discover any new evidence relating to the murders. 
For decades, Fried Frank has worked tirelessly to save Mr. Soffar from execution. Our work included collateral attacks that resulted in two remands from the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one on Miranda grounds, and one on grounds that Max's counsel was ineffective.  This year, Mr. Soffar was retried by the State of Texas, the culmination of nearly 2500 hours of work by firm partners, counsel, associates, paralegals and summer associates, in conjunction with the Texas Defender Service.  Despite the aforementioned lack of evidence, the retrial unfortunately resulted in a conviction and death sentence from another Texas jury. 
The case is now on direct appeal and state habeas proceedings (which in Texas proceed simultaneously with the appeal).

Attorneys working on this matter:
Karen T. Grisez

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