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Arnold & Porter and The Innocence Project Successfully Defend Wrongfully Convicted Pro Bono Client

November 20, 2018

After 14 years in prison, Arnold & Porter pro bono client Clemente Javier Aguirre was exonerated by the state of Florida from two counts of first degree murder. More than 20 Arnold & Porter attorneys and staff members contributed to this achievement in conjunction with a trial team assembled by the non-profit legal organization The Innocence Project.

Aguirre, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras who could not speak English, came across a double murder scene in 2004. Although he had nothing to do with the killings, Aguirre was eventually convicted for capital murder, sentenced to death, and imprisoned on death row. Despite this, Aguirre steadfastly maintained his innocence. During his 10 years on death row, he taught himself to read, write and speak English. In 2016, after additional DNA testing excluded Aguirre’s presence at the crime scene and implicated another individual, the Supreme Court of Florida reversed his conviction. However, the State of Florida elected to retry Aguirre for capital murder and to again seek the death penalty.

The Innocence Project, which is committed to exonerating wrongly convicted individuals, assembled a trial team comprised of lawyers from multiple firms including Arnold & Porter. During the death qualification phase of jury selection, the trial team continued to relentlessly pursue and develop additional new evidence indicating that someone else was responsible for the murders. After several critical depositions conducted in a closed courtroom, the prosecution finally conceded that it could no longer prove its case. As a result of the trial team’s work, the state dropped all charges and released Aguirre.

The Arnold & Porter team that contributed to this success includes Jeffrey Horowitz, Glenn Pogust, Amanda Croushore, Daniel Meyers, Robert Grass, Diana Sterk, David Giroux, Thomas Szivos, and Jennifer Oh.