Executive Director Seth Miller provides an update on Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida, our recent celebration and fundraising event in Miami, Florida. Steppin’ Out was attended by eight men who have been released after decades of wrongful imprisonment along with 250 friends and supporters.
During the evening the Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte Commitment to Justice Award was to presented to Holland & Knight LLP, and the Frank Lee Smith Innocence Award went to Martin “Marty” McClain, Esq. The event netted more than $50,000, which will enable IPF to continue to find and free innocent people in Florida prisons and help them rebuild their lives.
Special thanks to our sponsors, artists who supported the silent auction and all who attended. Additional highlights can be see here.
We hope you’ll Step Out with the Innocence Project of Florida in 2013.
At our first annual gala on April 27, 2012 we will be giving two very special awards to honor some of the people who inspire IPF with their commitment to justice and the innocence movement.
We are proud to announce that the Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte Commitment to Justice Award will go to Holland & Knight LLP. Holland and Knight has a long history of providing substantial assistance to the Innocence Project of Florida. Holland & Knight’s work on our behalf included taking on the bulk of the pro bono representation of our first 40 cases in 2003 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. These are but a few examples of the continuing contributions to the cause of justice made by Holland & Knight over a span of decades, and we are thrilled to be able to honor them for those contributions.
The Frank Lee Smith Innocence Award will go to Martin J. “Marty” McClain. Marty is the post-conviction attorney who represented Frank Lee Smith, in whose name this award is given. Marty also represented Juan Melendez in his post-conviction case. Melendez is a non-DNA Florida exoneree who was on death row and now is an anti-death penalty advocate living in New Mexico. Marty has been tirelessly representing inmates on death row, innocent and guilty alike, since the 1980s. He was chief assistant and director of litigation at the Office of the Capital Collateral Representative and has continued his representations of those on death row in Florida and elsewhere since leaving that office. He is currently in private practice in Ft. Lauderdale. His sterling advocacy is a primary reason that Frank Lee Smith was proven innocent.
“Marty’s work as a post-conviction litigator representing death row inmates has earned him the deserved reputation as a top defender of those in peril of execution. Among his many successes over the past two decades is the bittersweet posthumous exoneration of Frank Lee Smith. We are so pleased to honor Marty in this way,” said Michael Minerva, IFP’s CEO.
Congratulations to both of our awardees! We’re excited to see them at the gala in April, and will hopefully see you!
Get your tickets to step out with IPF and support justice.