Ballard Spahr’s Prisoner Civil Rights Team will be honored today with the 2013 Alan J. Davis Award for exemplary public service. The $25,000 cash prize will be presented by firm Chair Mark Stewart.

Nearly 50 of the firm’s attorneys and paralegals have worked on five civil rights cases for prisoners over the past two years, donating more than 6,000 total hours of pro bono legal work. The cases include: 

  • A prisoner abuse claim in Maryland, which led to a criminal investigation and charges against more than a dozen correctional officers 
  • An injunction obtained on behalf of a hearing-impaired prisoner to prevent his incarceration in a facility that lacked accommodations for the deaf 
  • A successful petition for DNA testing of gloves found at a Pennsylvania murder scene 
  • The representation of a prisoner in a claim of excessive police force. The case was handled by Ballard Spahr Partner Roberto Rivera-Soto, a former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice. 
  • Trial and settlement of a California stroke victim’s claim that he was denied appropriate medical care and restrained in ways that exacerbated his medical condition

The Alan J. Davis Award is named for the late Philadelphia City Solicitor and distinguished Ballard Spahr litigator whose dedication to public service was equally strong. One of his earliest projects was a 1968 investigation and exposé of sexual assaults in the Philadelphia prison system that led to significant reforms and is still cited in prison reform literature.

"Fair and humane treatment of prisoners is one of the principles on which our system of justice operates," Mr. Stewart said. "The exceptional legal work of our lawyers will, I hope, reinforce that message beyond these five cases. We're very proud of what they accomplished."

Accepting the award will be Baltimore partner Timothy F. McCormack; New Jersey partner Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto and associates Michael R. Carroll and Christopher Corsi; San Diego of counsel Daniel M. Benjamin; and Washington, D.C., partner Constantinos G. Panagopoulos.

The award money is donated to charities selected by the winners; it will be divided among six recipients. The beneficiaries include two prisoner rehabilitation projects, the Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop and New Leash on Life; The Pennsylvania Innocence Project; San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program; and Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. The money also will fund a public interest summer fellowship for a student of the Earle Macke School of Law at Drexel University.

Related Area

Pro Bono