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Paul, Weiss is committed to providing impactful pro bono legal assistance to individuals and organizations in need. Our program is all-encompassing, spanning the core issues facing our society.

Pro Bono Client Wins Reversal of Conviction and New Trial

Paul, Weiss, with co-counsel from the Maryland Public Defender’s Office, won a significant victory for a pro bono client, when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial.

In 2016, following trial before the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, our client was convicted of a drug-related offense. In February 2020, on appeal to the Court of Special Appeals, we successfully raised a Batson challenge, arguing racial discrimination in the prosecution’s peremptory challenges that excluded prospective jurors during jury selection. The appellate court held that the defense had made a prima facie showing of racial discrimination, and remanded the case to the trial court for a Batson hearing to determine whether or not there were race-neutral reasons for the prosecution’s peremptory challenges that were genuine rather than pretextual.

On remand, a new trial judge was appointed, after the original judge announced his retirement. Following the Batson hearing, the judge held that the state’s asserted reason for the strikes—that the prospective jurors had not listed an occupation—was genuinely race neutral and not pretextual. We appealed again, arguing, among other things, that the new judge should have recused himself under the Maryland Code of Judicial Conduct, based on his prior participation in the case as a lawyer in the Criminal Appeals Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. The new judge’s earlier participation came during the first appeal and consisted of one discussion with the prosecutor assigned to the case, during which he gave his view on the likely outcome of the appeal. The Court of Special Appeals agreed with our argument and granted our client a new trial.

The Paul, Weiss team includes litigation associate Aimee Brown, who argued the latest appeal. Associates Stacie Fahsel and Jessica Morton provided invaluable additional assistance. The team was supervised by litigation partner Roberto Gonzalez.

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