Troy Davis’ Pro Bono Attorney Reflects on the Case

The American Lawyer recently published an interview with Jason Ewart, an eighth-year associate in the mergers and acquisitions department at Arnold & Porter LLP*†.  Ewart has been in the public eye recently for representing Troy Davis, a Georgia man convicted and sentenced to death for killing an off-duty police officer.  He was executed on Sept. 21.   Davis maintained his innocence for 20 years, especially after seven of the nine eyewitnesses who originally testified against him changed or withdrew their testimony.  Ewart began defending Davis as a first year associate in 2003, with the help of a pro bono legal team made up of firm associates and partners.

Ewart noted his appreciation for the guidance of experienced litigants at the firm, particularly “Partner Phil Horton . . . for] lending his ample experience in high-profile death penalty cases” and “Steve Marsh, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Savannah, [who] lent his litigation skills to our case . . .”   With experienced guidance from the firm, Ewart, who started out as a newly hired transactional attorney, learned the skills needed to advocate for Davis’ life, for example, Ewart won a last-minute, temporary reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court in September 2008.

Despite the high profile, controversial nature of the case, Ewart praised Arnold & Porter for the firm’s unquestioning institutional, pro bono support.   He remarked: “The firm has given us all the resources we needed to pursue this case.  Never once were there any questions about the countless hours we spent or the bills required to represent and investigate Troy’s case.”

Click here to read Ewart’s full interview.

Tell us about your experience pitching a major, controversial case to your law firm management in a comment below.

*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®
denotes a Member of the Law Firm Pro Bono Project