The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 18 ruled that a death-row inmate in Alabama should not be penalized for missing a key deadline in his appeal due to errors made by pro bono attorneys.
The court found that pro bono attorneys from Sullivan & Cromwell had failed to notify convicted murderer Cory Maples that they left the New York firm and were no longer representing him, abandoning him as deadlines loomed.
The 7-2 opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, cited a American Bar Association report on Alabama’s death-penalty system completed in 2006 following a study chaired by Senior Associate Dean Daniel M. Filler, who at the time was on faculty of the University of Alabama School of Law.
“The Supreme Court put a stamp of approval on our findings about Alabama’s death-penalty representation,” Filler said. “The very concerns that led us to call for a moratorium on the death penalty were the same as those the court relied upon in their decision.”
An expert on sex-offender community notification, the death penalty and juvenile justice law, Filler teaches Criminal Law and Crime and Community.