Press Release

Ballard Spahr Lawyers Win Compassionate Release for Prisoner at Higher Risk for COVID-19 Complications

October 14, 2020

Ballard Spahr lawyers working pro bono recently secured compassionate release for O'Dari Zandaghe Wiley, a man with a history of heart complications incarcerated in Texas.

Partner-Elect Terence M. Grugan and Associate Shawn F. Summers—both based in the firm’s Philadelphia office—worked with Mr. Wiley and his family to make the case in federal court that he should be released to his parents’ custody. They outlined how Mr. Wiley’s fragile heart condition made him substantially more likely to die if he were to contract COVID-19. Mr. Grugan and Mr. Summers also helped to establish a release plan for Mr. Wiley to live with his retired police officer father and mother, who has a background in social work.

Mr. Wiley’s case came to Ballard Spahr through Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit advocacy organization that challenges mandatory sentencing laws and advocates for criminal justice reform. FAMM established a national Compassionate Release Clearinghouse in 2019 that ramped up operations in response to the pandemic.

Ballard Spahr consistently ranks among the top law firms in the Am Law Pro Bono Report and received the American Bar Association's prestigious Pro Bono Publico award in 2018. As a signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, Ballard Spahr donates more than 50,000 billable attorney hours each year to pro bono service.

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