Ballard Spahr Honors Lawyers for Pro Bono Work on Juvenile Sentencing Reform
Ballard Spahr will honor its Advocates for Juvenile Sentencing Reform this afternoon with its annual Alan J. Davis Award for exemplary public service. The $25,000 cash prize, presented by firm Chair Mark Stewart, will be donated equally to the Juvenile Law Center and the Maryland Juvenile Lifer Parole Representation Project, which is sponsored by Families Against Mandatory Minimums and the University of Baltimore Juvenile Justice Project.
Timothy F. McCormack, William A. McDaniel, Jr., and Michelle M. McGeogh, based in the firm's Baltimore office, and John C. Grugan, Jason A. Leckerman, and Terence M. Grugan, based in the Philadelphia office, will accept the award.
In Maryland, nearly 300 prisoners are serving de facto life sentences without parole for crimes they committed as children—despite nominally being sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. In response to federal litigation, Maryland has recently offered parole hearings to these prisoners. A number of the prisoners lack the attorney support necessary to have a meaningful chance of sentencing relief. The Ballard Spahr team has signed on to represent five of these prisoners.
Similarly, in Pennsylvania, more than 450 inmates are serving life sentences without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles—the most of any state. The Philadelphia team represents two individuals in their parole hearings.
In a separate matter, Terence Grugan won habeas relief for a man convicted in 1996 of second-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. The client, who was 17 at the time, participated in a robbery during which another participant killed a store clerk. After several appeals, the client was resentenced to 25 years. Having already served 20 years, he is scheduled to be released in 2021.
The firm has a longstanding commitment to providing pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations in need. As a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, established by the American Bar Association and administered by the Pro Bono Institute, Ballard Spahr annually has met its commitment to donate at least 3 percent of billable hours to pro bono service—more than 43,000 hours last year—across the spectrum of issues and causes. The firm works with bar associations and pro bono referral agencies and also partners with in-house counsel at client companies to provide pro bono services.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the firm's formal pro bono program. Ballard Spahr was one of the first law firms in the country to create a full-time pro bono counsel position and apply the practice group model to pro bono services. Since the program's inception, Ballard Spahr lawyers have contributed more than a half-million hours of pro bono work to individuals, organizations, and causes.