The Ballard Spahr defense team representing Daniel Dougherty, who was convicted of the arson murder of his two sons based on later-disproved arson investigation methods, recently won an appeal granting Mr. Dougherty a new trial. Partners David S. Fryman and Shannon D. Farmer are leading the team.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacated the conviction, citing three independent grounds for reversal. The panel concluded that the presiding judge’s decision to permit the prosecution to read into the record prior testimony from an assistant fire marshal violated Mr. Dougherty’s constitutional right to confront his accuser. The panel also found fault with the presiding judge's decision to allow jurors to view a graphic photo of the 3- and 4-year-old boys as they were found in their beds after the fire, and to allow testimony about Mr. Dougherty’s behavior that was unrelated to the charges.

The Ballard Spahr team began representing Mr. Dougherty in 2004, three years after he was convicted and sentenced to death. Over the past 13 years, the team’s efforts have won a commutation of Mr. Dougherty's sentence to life in prison and two new trials—including the first retrial that resulted in the 2016 conviction overturned this week.

Eighty-five Ballard Spahr lawyers and paralegals have donated more than 12,500 hours of pro bono legal work to Mr. Dougherty’s defense. Of Counsel Ronald M. Varnum and Associate Thomas Burke have also helped lead the legal effort.

Ballard Spahr 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, the firm has annually met its commitment to donate at least three percent of billable hours to pro bono service: about 40,000 hours each year—including 44,000 hours in 2016—across the spectrum of issues and causes including immigration and asylum, gender employment equity, religious freedom, homelessness, and affordable housing. 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.

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