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Venable attorneys Seth Rosenthal, Moxila Upadhyaya and Jay Williams were recently honored with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project's 2009 Defender of Innocence Award for their representation of Aaron Michael Howard.

From 2007-08, Rosenthal, a partner in Venable's White Collar Litigation Group, led an intensive investigation to prove that Howard, who was convicted of first-degree murder in 1990, had not actually committed the crime. Given that Howard had not been convicted based on any DNA or physical evidence, the investigation focused on disproving the testimonial evidence of two alleged eyewitnesses who had placed Howard at the scene of the murder.

In August 2008, based upon the results from the investigation, the cold case Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting Howard's case stepped down in open court, stating that he could no longer defend the jury's verdict against Howard. Thereafter, the U.S. Attorney's Office entered into an agreement with Mr. Howard which provided for Mr. Howard's immediate release from prison.

Rosenthal accepted the 2009 Defender of Innocence Award and spoke at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project's July 15 award luncheon on behalf of Mr. Howard and the team, which also included co-counsel Zack Rosenburg and investigator Ronetta Johnson.