WilmerHale was honored for outstanding pro bono dedication and efforts at this year's Healing & Hope reception, an annual awards ceremony and fundraiser for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth (CFSY). CFSY is a national coalition and clearinghouse that coordinates and supports efforts to implement just alternatives to the extreme sentencing of America's youth, with a focus on abolishing mandatory life-without-parole sentences.
In 2013, a team of nine WilmerHale attorneys visited dozens of offenders sentenced as juveniles to mandatory life-without-parole sentences in the state of Virginia to assess their legal claims after the US Supreme Court's historic ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which held that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. The team of attorneys interviewed and screened a number of individuals, ultimately identifying for CSFY those prisoners likely eligible to obtain relief and resentencing.
In April 2013, WilmerHale took on as a pro bono client one of the eligible individuals—Holly Landry, who was sentenced at the age of 16 to a mandatory sentence of life without parole—and successfully obtained permission from the Fourth Circuit to file an application for habeas corpus in federal district court on her behalf. In June 2013, the firm filed a habeas application in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The application is currently pending before the Court.
At the Healing & Hope reception held on November 13, 2013, WilmerHale's efforts were recognized. The portion of Ms. Landry's habeas application discussing her difficult childhood and circumstances leading to her arrest was read for those in attendance.
"It brought people to tears," said John Hardenbergh, CFSY Litigation Specialist. "There are so many people from WilmerHale that have catered to our efforts and we are thankful for the ongoing fight for justice in sentencing America's youth."
The team of WilmerHale lawyers involved in these ongoing efforts are Partners Danielle Conley, Danielle Spinelli, and former Partner Anne Harkavy; former Counsel Charles Beene and Anne Tindall; Senior Associates Gerard Sinzdak, Allison Snyder, April Williams, and former Senior Associate Michael Hazel; and Associates Hasan Ali, David Beraka, Lyric Chen, Tania Faransso, David Horn, Brittani Ivey, Richard Shordt and former Associate Steven Joffee.
Visit the CFSY website to learn more.