On April 3, 2020, Seth Rosenthal and Lauren Stocks-Smith were recognized by Am Law Litigation Daily as runner-up Litigators of the Week for leading a pro bono effort to persuade DC Superior Court Judge Robert Rigsby to find it more likely than not that client Troy Burner is innocent of the murder he was convicted of in 1994.
Venable secured Troy’s release in November 2018, after he had spent more than 24 years behind bars, based on a motion brought under DC’s new Incarceration Reduction Amendments Act (IRAA). IRAA allows resentencing of individuals who have served at least 20 years in prison for crimes that occurred when they were under 18. Troy was 17 at the time of the alleged crime. By obtaining IRAA relief, Troy was re-sentenced to time served, plus five years supervised probation. However, he still had to live with a first-degree murder conviction.
Judge Rigsby’s March 26, 2020 ruling vacated that conviction. After considering all of the evidence presented at a two-day evidentiary hearing, Judge Rigsby found there was substantial corroboration for the accounts of the new witnesses who exculpated Troy and shockingly thin evidence of Troy’s supposed presence at the scene. In fact, Judge Rigsby’s order eviscerated the credibility of the only witness who directly implicated Troy in the crime.
The Venable team also included DC associate Katie Sochacki, Baltimore paralegal Linda Lowry, and DC LAAs Tiffany Osborne and Kim Brown.