Client Centered Representation in its Truest Form
Mark Smith will be celebrating Christmas with his family this year. On 23 December 2015, the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department handed down a decision suppressing the evidence that had been seized by the police against Mr. Smith. This decision was the product of the amazing work of pro bono lawyer, Jeremy Peterman, of the Washington, D.C. office of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, who expertly both briefed and argued the case on appeal. The Appeals Court’s decision rendered the Government’s case against Mr. Smith unprosecutable. The Appellate Division not only suppressed the evidence, they also recognized the Government could not go forward with its prosecution of Mr. Smith and dismissed the Indictment against him, remanding the case to the trial court for further proceedings on its Order. This is where this story begins, not ends.
In spite of the case against him being dismissed, Mr. Smith remained incarcerated in State Prison, where he likely would have continued to be held until his case was calendared before the trial court after the holiday break. Mr. Smith had been in State Prison for nearly four years, being housed at Hale Creek Correctional Facility, just west of Albany, New York. Mr. Peterman decided that one day more in State prison for Mr. Smith was not acceptable. Upon receiving word of the decision, Mr. Peterman immediately boarded a plane flew to Albany on the evening of the 23d, rented a car, and drove to the correctional facility first thing in the morning on Christmas Eve. Mr. Peterman was initially stonewalled by inmate records, the superintendent, and Counsel's office, but he was undeterred. Mr. Peterman continued to press for Mr. Smith’s release and late in the morning on Christmas Eve he was able to persuade the Department of Corrections officials that the Appellate Division decision entitled Mr. Smith to his immediate release.
As I write this post, Mr. Peterman is driving Mr. Smith back to Rochester, so he can be home for Christmas. Mr. Peterman had been scheduled to fly to Wisconsin to be with his own family at the time but instead took the time out of his life to fight for Mr. Smith’s freedom, rerouting his own flight home to fly out of Rochester. While much of the country was finishing their Christmas shopping and enjoying the holidays with their families, Jeremy Peterman in a true act of selflessness, fought successfully for his client’s freedom, sacrificing his own time with his family to ensure that the Smith family would receive the greatest Christmas present imaginable—freedom for their son with whom they could share this true miracle of the Christmas season.
Congratulations Jeremy. You exemplify client centered representation and deserve the greatest of praise.