Pro Bono

Freed Inmate Wants to Pursue Law, Like Lawyers Who Helped Him

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A New York man freed from prison after serving 17 years for two murders he says he didn’t commit says he would like to study law to help others who have been wrongfully convicted.

The Suffolk County district attorney has decided not to pursue a new trial against Martin Tankleff after an appeals court ruling overturning his conviction on the basis of new evidence. Tankleff had been convicted of murdering his parents, but new witnesses said the slayings were the work of another man angry over a business dispute.

Tankleff spoke at a press conference at one of the law firms that helped him pursue his appeals, Baker Botts, the New York Times reports. Tankleff said he wants to help others on their appeals as he also had been helped, often at no charge.

Tankleff’s case was first taken up pro bono by Miller, Cassidy, Larroca and Lewin on the recommendation of an intern there who had gone to high school with Tankleff. His lawyers, Barry Pollack and Stephen Braga, continued work on behalf of Tankleff after Pollack joined Kelley Drye and Braga joined Baker Botts. WilmerHale also worked on the case, as did former prosecutor Bruce Barket.

“People will say, ‘Look, the system worked for Marty!’ ” Barket told the New York Times in a separate story. “I say, bull: He was in prison for 17 ½ years.”

Tankleff says he will have to finish his college education before considering law school, Fortune reports.

“I look forward to doing future things,” he said. “Literally, I’ve got a lot to do.”

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