MIAMI - April 11, 2012 - The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) will host its inaugural awards gala, Steppin’ Out, on April 27 at the Four Seasons Hotel where they will present the first Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte Commitment to Justice Award to Holland & Knight.
The organization chose Holland & Knight to receive this year’s award “in recognition of their ongoing contributions to the cause of justice.” In 2003 the firm took on the bulk of the pro bono representation of IPF’s first 40 cases to prevent those clients from being time barred by the DNA testing deadline then in effect. Holland & Knight was also the counsel of record in the Luis Diaz and Chad Heins cases, both of which led to exonerations.
“Holland & Knight played a critical role in getting this project’s mission off the ground,” said Seth Miller, IPF’s Executive Director. “In 2003 we had hundreds of requests from inmates, a two-person staff, a handful of student volunteers, and an arbitrary DNA testing deadline rapidly approaching. Holland & Knight provided considerable assistance when it was most needed. This state’s innocence movement owes them a huge debt of gratitude.”
D’Alemberte, for whom the award is named, practiced law in Miami for several years and represented Dade County in the Florida House of Representatives. He went on to serve as President of the American Bar Association (1991-1992) and President of Florida State University (1994 -2003). D’Alemberte also served as the founding chairman of IPF’s Board of Directors on which he continues to serve.
"Nothing would have made our founder, Chesterfield Smith, more proud than to have Holland & Knight honored in the name of Sandy D'Alemberte for providing access to justice to persons convicted of crimes that they did not commit," said Buddy Schulz, Chair of Holland & Knight's Public and Charitable Service Department. "He would be equally as proud of the Innocence Project of Florida for its continued commitment to this important cause."
The Innocence Project of Florida is a nonprofit legal organization that works to find and free innocent people in Florida’s prisons, helps them rebuild their lives after decades of wrongful imprisonment, and works to reform the criminal justice system so wrongful convictions do not continue to happen.
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