Appellate Practice

Lawyer's Mom Helps Inmate Pen Pal Win Conviction Reversal

Carol Raeber intended to be a just a pen pal to James “Country” Parkerson, who is now 40.

But the more she corresponded with the Dooly State Prison inmate, the more the Georgia woman felt that he couldn’t be guilty of the vicious murder he had been convicted of committing after a one-day trial, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

She never asked her son, Mike Raeber, who is a partner at King & Spalding, to take on Parkerson’s appeal. But he happened to find himself short of a pro bono matter one day and, having heard about Parkerson’s murder trial from his mom, decided to take a look at the case. The firm not only allowed Raeber to pursue an appeal but assigned him three more attorneys to help, the newspaper recounts in a lengthy article. They won a reversal of Parkerson’s conviction, arguing his trial lawyers hadn’t done enough to defend him. Although Raeber felt that an even lesser charge would have been appropriate, Parkerson agreed to plead to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of time served.

“That lady gave me my life back,” said Parkerson, who had resigned himself to spending the rest of his life in prison and making the best of it, of Carol Raeber. “She brought me all the way back from the pits of hell. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for that family.”

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