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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 Murder Conviction on Appeal

Paul, Weiss won a rare reversal of a first-degree murder conviction for a pro bono client in the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department. Our client, who was serving a sentence of life incarceration without the possibility of parole, was granted a new trial.

In 2017, our client was tried for murder in the first degree, attempted murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill her husband in 2013. Our client was arrested more than two years after the murder, after a cooperating witness agreed to testify in exchange for a reduced sentence on similar charges. Despite a violation of procedural rules on consolidation, our client was tried in a joint trial alongside the alleged hitman, whom she had never met before. At trial, prosecutors introduced substantial prejudicial evidence against our client and relied heavily on the testimony of the cooperating witness, our client’s ex-boyfriend, who testified that our client had been attempting to kill her husband for months in order to collect life insurance. A jury convicted our client on all three charges, and both our client and her co-defendant were sentenced to life incarceration without the possibility of parole.

On appeal, Paul, Weiss principally argued that the trial court erred in failing to issue an instruction to the jury that the cooperating witness’s testimony must be viewed with suspicion because he was involved with the murder. Though the Second Department had already affirmed the alleged hitman’s conviction and rejected his arguments that the failure to issue the instruction was reversible error, the panel concentrated on this issue at our client’s oral argument and ultimately reversed on this and other grounds, remitting for a new trial.

Paul, Weiss litigation associate Katarina Broeksmit argued the appeal. The Paul, Weiss team included litigation associates Erin Morgan, Meaghan Brennan and Jacob Humerick, and was supervised by litigation partner Daniel Kramer, with assistance from pro bono attorney Jeremy Benjamin and the pro bono group. The Legal Aid Society served as co-counsel.

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