Attorneys Needed

Countless women in California’s prisons are serving life sentences as a result of being abused by an intimate partner; some were convicted for their involvement in the death of an abusive partner while others were forced by an abusive partner to participate in or confess to a violent crime. Most have no prior criminal record and have already spent half their lives in prison. Some of these women have a legal basis to challenge their original convictions, but are provided no legal resources to present their case and obtain their freedom.
In our view, it is criminal that a change in law that could apply to someone serving a prison sentence does not automatically include access to legal assistance from the state to present that evidence. Instead, this system and our society are comfortable allowing people to spend decades in prison serving unduly harsh sentences due to a lack of resources. Who are these people in prison? The majority are people of color and/or those with little economic power.
Their only recourse is to rely on the good will of those law firms who do pro bono work to represent them in parole hearings and with writs of habeas corpus under Penal Code section 1473.5, on the basis that the intimate partner battering they experienced was never considered by a court. These efforts can take years and require diligent and intensive legal work.
Groups like the California Habeas Project and our project Free Battered Women are the link on the outside to educate people and do outreach to lawyers. Through the efforts of the Habeas Project, 31 women have been released from prison since the passage of P.C. 1473.5 in 2002. However, even with these efforts there are 17 women who are still waiting for legal help.
We also know many other life-term prisoners who desperately need pro bono or low cost attorneys for representation at parole board hearings and with other legal matters. Please contact us at to find out how you can help.
Additionally, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners is grateful for the remarkable contributions of the following firms: Arnold & Porter; Bingham McCutchen; Covington & Burling; Davis Wright Tremaine; Dechert LLP; Foley & Lardner; Gibson Dunn; Heller Ehrman; Howrey LLP; Katten Muchin Rosenman; Kazan, McClain, et al; Keker & Van Nest; Kirkland & Ellis; Jones Day; Latham & Watkins; Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Morgan Lewis; Morrison & Foerster; Nixon Peabody; O?Melveny & Meyers; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Paul Hastings; Perkins Coie; Pillsbury Winthrop; Proskauer Rose; Reed Smith; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom; Squire, Sanders & Dempsey; Wilson Sonsini; Winston & Strawn; and numerous solo practitioners.
Thank you!