Steven Schulman Co-Authors Article on Impact of Rejected Adegbile Nomination

In his second article for Law360 since assuming the presidency of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel, Akin Gump pro bono partner Steven Schulman, along with two co-authors, discusses the potential impact of the U.S. Senate’s rejection of Debo Adegbile to head the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

In “Pro Bono May Be Collateral Damage Of Blocking DOJ Nominee,” Schulman and his co-authors outline the situation—Adegbile, at the time, the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, argued that the 1982 death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of the murder of a police officer, was tainted by erroneous jury instructions. Driven by Adegbile’s association as counsel to what Sen. McConnell of Kentucky called “an extremist cop-killer,” 52 senators voted to reject his nomination.

The authors note, “The fact that Adegbile did what any lawyer is required to do—zealously represent his client—was apparently beside the point” and go on to state:

As lawyers at major U.S. law firms, we have serious concerns about the message that this Senate vote sends to the pro bono community, and in particular to those lawyers who volunteer to represent convicts on death row or other unpopular clients.…The lawyers who do sign up for this important work should not have to worry about their own guilt by association or the detrimental effect their service may have on other opportunities to serve their country

The article discusses death row inmates, in particular, and their need for pro bono representation, irrespective of the nature of their transgressions.

To read the full article, please click here.

To read Steve Schulman’s co-authored first article, please click here.