Press Release

Announcing the 2022 Robert M. Dell Prize for Extraordinary Pro Bono Service

December 21, 2022
Congratulations to the Washington, D.C.-based team who spent more than a decade working to secure a major victory for an inmate on Alabama’s death row.

In 2014, Latham & Watkins launched the Robert M. Dell Prize for Extraordinary Pro Bono Service, an annual recognition awarded to a Latham lawyer or team who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to pro bono work.

This year’s prize goes to the Washington, D.C.-based team which spent more than a decade working on behalf of Cory Maples, a death-row inmate in Alabama, to ensure he received his constitutional right to effective legal representation. This unique, labyrinthine matter required profound dedication as well as the dogged pursuit of justice for a client who had been denied effective assistance of counsel in the proceeding in which his life was at stake.

Latham’s involvement began in 2009, after the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Mr. Maples’s habeas claims and an execution date loomed. At that point, our litigators persuaded the US Supreme Court to review Mr. Maples’s case, and then provide a rare victory, to a death row inmate, agreeing with the team’s arguments that Mr. Maples should not be penalized for his prior lawyers’ failures.

Following that decision, and a subsequent appeal to the Eleventh Circuit in which the team prevailed again, our team was tasked with presenting evidence to the district court that should have been heard by the original jury in 1997 during the penalty phase of Mr. Maples’s trial — an extensive effort going back to events that took place decades ago and involving 20+ witnesses.

In January 2022, 13 years after Latham began the fight on Mr. Maples’s behalf, the district court concluded that Mr. Maples had been denied effective assistance of counsel at his penalty phase of his 1997 trial and granted his petition for a writ for habeas corpus. Our victory helps ensure that Mr. Maples as well as other capital defendants have the right to effective representation protected and demonstrates our firm’s deep commitment to upholding the rule of law.

Watch the video below to learn more about this extraordinary matter and the team’s tremendous effort. (Closed captioning is available at the video links below).