Firm Helps Secure Grants of Clemency for Two Pro Bono Clients

January 2, 2019

On December 31, 2018, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo granted executive clemency to and commuted the sentences of two of the Firm’s pro bono clients, Michael Crawford and Dennis Woodbine.

For several years, Patterson Belknap has handled clemency petitions for deserving clients who have made strong efforts to turn their lives around while incarcerated.  In 2017, the Governor commuted the sentence of Patterson Belknap pro bono client, Michael Flournoy. This year’s successful petitions for clemency on behalf of Messrs. Crawford and Woodbine continue the Firm’s tradition of representing deserving individuals whose rehabilitative efforts merit reduced sentences.  All three of them served substantial portions of their lengthy prison sentences, pursued college and even graduate degrees while incarcerated, and volunteered their services to and initiated projects for various programs that give back to society at large. 

“The Firm is thrilled that two of our clients, Messrs. Crawford and Woodbine, have been granted executive clemency this year,” said Patterson Belknap’s Kathrina Szymborski, who co-heads the Firm’s clemency project. “Given their demonstrated rehabilitative efforts, their extraordinary educational accomplishments, and their commitments to bettering their communities, we firmly believe that these two gentlemen will thrive following their release from prison.  We commend the Governor for his continued focus on moving New York toward a fairer and more compassionate criminal justice system as reflected in these sentence commutations.”

Lisa E. Cleary, Patterson Belknap's Co-Chair and Managing Partner, added: “Our Firm and our partner in this project, the Pro Bono Committee of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, are very pleased with Governor Cuomo's decision to commute the sentences of two of our clients.  Providing equal access to justice for underserved populations is at the core of our Firm's pro bono program.”

To read the press release issued by The Office of the Governor of the State of New York, click here.