Milbank and Cardozo's Perlmutter Center Announce Partnership to Advance Criminal Justice Reform

Press Release from Milbank , Tweed , Hadley & McCloy LLP

Milbank pledges $1M to establish the Milbank Exoneration and Resentencing Review Unit at the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law

NEW YORK, Feb. 13, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Milbank LLP and the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law are excited to announce a comprehensive, four-year partnership to combat inequities in the US criminal justice system with a focus on wrongful conviction, excessive sentencing and clemency. To kick off this partnership, Milbank and the Perlmutter Center have already begun work on four cases.

The Perlmutter Center focuses on the misuse of "junk science" in wrongful convictions and helps individuals with excessive sentences seek parole and clemency. Milbank has pledged $1 million to establish the Milbank Exoneration and Resentencing Review Unit at the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law, which will enable the Center to grow its staff and expand its ability to review the high volume of requests it receives. As part of this commitment, Milbank has also pledged to work as a close partner with the Perlmutter Center on every stage of its work, from screening clients and writing case recommendation memos to litigating cases.

"Milbank has a long history defending individuals who have been wrongfully convicted or improvidently over sentenced, and we're proud to expand our commitment to those effects through this partnership with the Perlmutter Center at Cardozo," said Milbank Chairman Scott A. Edelman.

"Milbank is one of the most prestigious law firms in the world. What their pro bono department has demonstrated under the leadership of Tony Cassino and Milbank's Chairman Scott Edelman is that they really care about precisely what matters to the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law which is to seek justice for the unjustly incarcerated. So, partnering with Milbank is more than a collaboration it's a commitment to ensuring that every voice is heard, and that justice prevails," said Josh Dubin, executive director of the Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law.

Cardozo School of Law has been a pioneer in legal education, advancing reforms in the criminal legal system. The Perlmutter Center at Cardozo Law was launched in 2022 and is supported by a $15 million grant from the Laura & Isaac Perlmutter Foundation to find ways to open cases that deserve reconsideration for incarcerated individuals. The Perlmutter Center is led by Mr. Dubin, a prominent civil rights lawyer and criminal justice reform advocate who has helped exonerate many wrongfully incarcerated individuals, and deputy director Derrick Hamilton, a self-trained "jailhouse lawyer" who served 21 years in prison for a crime he did not commit before eventually securing his own release and exoneration. Since its inception, the Perlmutter Center has successfully represented four clients, obtaining one clemency and three modifications of sentences. In addition, the Perlmutter Center has established important ties with District Attorney's offices, and current and formerly incarcerated individuals. The Perlmutter Center is also involved with criminal justice policy reform work on every level.

"We are thrilled that Milbank will be working with us on these critical issues," said Melanie Leslie, Dean of Cardozo School of Law. "In its first year, the Perlmutter Center has done incredible work, helping secure the freedom of four people and training students in the proper use of scientific evidence in criminal cases. Partnering with Milbank will further enhance Cardozo School of Law's ability to be leaders in the fight for justice for all."

Milbank's$1 million donation to the Perlmutter Center will be funded by the remainder of attorneys' fees received as part of a settlement in a long-running racial discrimination lawsuit brought by Milbank and LatinoJustice PRLDEF on behalf of 21 Latinos living and working in Suffolk County, Long Island alleging that the Suffolk County Police Department allowed officers to repeatedly stop, harass and even rob Latino people living and working in the county.

"We wanted to ensure that these funds, received as a result of police misconduct, were utilized to further the firm's commitment to social justice," noted Mr. Edelman. "We are proud to invest them in this partnership that will help individuals who have faced decades of mistreatment by the criminal justice system."

In the last five years, Milbank lawyers have devoted more than 30,000 hours to criminal justice cases, and have secured a dismissal of a murder conviction, freeing an innocent man after nearly 16 years in prison, secured compensation on behalf of a New Orleans man for decades of wrongful imprisonment, obtained a reduced life sentence for a pro bono client serving a life sentence in Angola prison, successfully represented a Virginia man who was granted parole and released from prison after spending over three decades incarcerated for non-violent offenses he committed at the age of 16, and prevailed in Louisiana Supreme Court in a death penalty wrongful conviction case, among many other matters.

During its first year of existence, The Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice at Cardozo Law helped obtain the freedom of Bruce Bryan, who had served almost three decades in prison. On that case, the Center worked closely with a team that included Steve Zeidman at CUNY School of Law. In two other cases, the Center helped secure the freedom of Sheldon Johnson and Jerry Ruffin, working with co-counsel Barbara Zolot and Allison Haupt of the Center for Appellate Litigation. Most recently, the Center helped free Frans Sital

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ABOUT THE PERLMUTTER CENTER FOR LEGAL JUSTICE AT CARDOZO LAW

The Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice trains students and lawyers in the proper use of scientific evidence, focusing on the misuse of forensic science that potentially contributes to wrongful convictions. In addition, the Center seeks justice for those individuals incarcerated with excessive sentences through parole work and clemency requests. The Perlmutter Center was established through a $15-million philanthropic donation from the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation.

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SOURCE Milbank LLP

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