Debevoise Pro Bono Client Receives Clemency

21 December 2015

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is pleased to announce that on Friday, December 18, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of David Padilla, a Debevoise pro bono client.

Mr. Padilla, 48, was serving a life sentence for non-violent drug offenses as a result of a mandatory minimum that would not be applied today given subsequent changes in Department of Justice policy. His case was referred to Debevoise through New York University School of Law’s Mercy Project. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to get Mr. Padilla resentenced, the Debevoise team filed a petition last June to commute Mr. Padilla’s sentence under President Obama’s clemency initiative.

Mr. Padilla was an incredible candidate for clemency; a man with an unduly harsh sentence for three non-violent drug offenses who would have received a substantially lower sentence today, and who had truly shown, though his actions while in prison, that he was dedicated to turning his life around. Mr. Padilla has served 19 years of his life sentence without a single disciplinary infraction, and he was described by his counselors as “an extraordinary inmate and role model.” Similarly, his former supervisor at the prison dental lab where he worked said that Mr. Padilla was “different than almost all of the other prisoners [she] came into contact with” and went on to say that she “cannot emphasize strongly enough [her] belief that [Padilla] does not belong in prison for the rest of his life.”

Mr. Padilla also has an extraordinarily supportive wife, who had stuck with him throughout his incarceration, and four children, one of whom he adopted with his wife while incarcerated. He has multiple grandchildren, all of whom visit him weekly with their parents and grandmother.

On Friday, December 18, the Office of the Pardon Attorney called and informed the Debevoise team that Mr. Padilla’s life sentence had been commuted and that Mr. Padilla is scheduled to be released from prison on April 16, 2016.

The Debevoise team, which included partner Sean Hecker and counsel David Sarratt, associate Marisa R. Taney and former associates Jeremy Klatell and Sarah Evans, was able to speak with Mr. Padilla and his wife, both of whom were overjoyed. Mr. Padilla was able to tell his children the good news in person when they visited him in prison the next day.

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