CRIME STORY has received permission to re-print Michael Romano‘s newsletters from Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project whose mission is to reverse the most unjust criminal sentences. Romano and his colleague Susan Champion were interviewed by Amanda Knox for CRIME STORY and you can find the podcast and the transcript of that interview here. You can find a story about Romano’s participation in a U.S. Congressional field hearing on criminal justice reform here. You can find past issues of Romano‘s newsletter here.
In these unbelievable times, I am very proud to announce that another of our clients was released from a life sentence—and I want to send my deepest heartfelt appreciation to an amazing group of students from the Three Strikes Project who graduated from Stanford Law School over the weekend.
First, we couldn’t be happier or prouder for our client David Berlin, who was sentenced under the Three Strikes law for second degree robbery, served almost 20 years, and walked free from San Diego County Jail after a judge recalled and vacated his life sentence. During David’s time in prison, he engaged in extensive rehabilitative programming, including work in the prison hospice center, helping fellow inmates at the end of life, and training dogs to act as service animals for people with disabilities outside of prison. The judge who sentenced David to life 20 years ago was the same judge who set him free, admitting his mistake:
“Mr. Berlin, I have been doing this work for at least 32 years . . . . I have sentenced a lot of defendants to state prison before and I never thought they would end up rehabilitated and you have absolutely proved my assessment incorrect. You have done a remarkable job.”
Congratulations to David and our attorneys Milena Blake and Susan Champion, who both litigated for David’s much-deserved release. As with all of our clients, David was welcomed at the gates by Carlos Cervantes, director of the Ride Home Program, and he’s now happily settled at his longterm residential reentry program in Los Angeles.
I also need to recognize and thank a truly amazing group students who participated in the Three Strikes Project and just graduated this weekend. This academic year alone, Three Strikes Project students and staff won the release of 29 prisoners serving life sentences, under at least 5 different theories for relief! (That has to be some kind of record.) It has been an extraordinary year in so many ways. We miss you, wish you all the very best, and hope you keep in close touch. Asha Albuquerque, Noah Breslau, Ashley Brooks, Maddy Bullard, Michelle Erickson, Melissa Giangrande, Elizabeth Hannah, Ben Hattem, Jeff Ho, Pete Jorgensen, CJ Harrington, Liz Lagerfeld, Derin McLeod, Arielle Mourrain, Julia Neusner, Meghan Palmer, Pauline Ryan, Diana Sanchez, Jake Sonnenberg, & Zach Waterman.
Thanks also to all the rest of you. This is truly a team effort. When I spoke to David Berlin as he was leaving prison he wanted to make sure you all know how much he appreciates all of your help and support, as do I.
Thanks – and stay safe.