Albert Burrell: In 1991, after several Lindquist & Vennum attorneys attended a The Advocates for Humans Rights event designed to recruit lawyers to work on death penalty cases, their firm undertook the legal representation of Albert Burrell, an indigent Louisiana man who had been convicted of double homicide in 1987. After examining the files, interviewing witnesses and analyzing the evidence the attorneys because convinced that Mr. Burrell and his co-defendant were innocent. Over the next ten years, Lindquist & Vennum worked on Burrell’s case – obtaining a stay of execution just seventeen days before he was to have been put to death, receiving an award of investigative funds from the court, and eventually securing Mr. Burrell’s complete exoneration. In 2000, confronted by the evidence uncovered by Lindquist & Vennum, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office conducted a thorough investigation of the case against Mr. Burrell and his co-defendant and determined that there was a total lack of credible evidence linking either to the murders. The State joined Lindquist & Vennum in moving the court for an order setting aside Mr. Burrell’s conviction and death sentence. In January of 2001, Mr. Burrell walked out of prison a free man.
Ernest Busby: Mr. Busby was represented by attorneys at Dorsey & Whitney. After spending much of his youth institutionalized for mental health problems, Mr. Busby shot a friend while the two were on a hunting trip. After his arrest, Mr. Busby’s requests for an attorney were ignored and he eventually confessed to the killing. Mr. Busby was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 after a short hearing where the only evidence was the defendant’s testimony and confession. After direct and collateral appeals in state court, Mr. Busby’s death sentence was overturned in 1988 by the state supreme court on the ground of ineffective assistance of counsel at the penalty phase.
Martin Allen Draughon: Mr. Draughon was released from a Texas prison Friday, August 25, 2006, after serving 19 years on Texas’ death row. Draughon first became a client of Briggs and Morgan in 1994 through The Advocates for Human Rights. The firm’s 12-year-long pro bono representation began just 30 days before Draughon’s original execution date. Draughon was convicted of murdering a man during a robbery at Long John Silver's in Houston, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1986. According to Draughon, the shots he fired the night of the crime were for a scaring effect, not to kill. Due to the failure of his trial attorney to present ballistics evidence, Draughon was sentenced to death. U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal in Houston overturned the death sentence in September 2004 after the ballistics evidence, developed and presented by the Briggs team, indicated that the victim was killed by a ricocheting bullet. The U.S Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed this decision in September 2005. A plea agreement was made with Texas prosecutors, which led to Draughon’s release on mandatory supervision.
The Advocates has also participated in a number of cases by drafting and signing on to friend of the court briefs, including to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights concerning the request of the government of Mexico for an advisory opinion related to a Mexican national on death row in the United States. Recently, The Advocates submitted an amicus brief in the case of Hill v. McDonough, which related to the international human rights standards for lethal injection.
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