Squire Sanders senior attorney Carine Williams has been named to the New York Law Journal’s list of Rising Stars, which will recognize 42 lawyers 40 years old or younger who made a significant contribution to the practice of law and their communities within the past year. An experienced litigator, Ms. Williams works with the Squire Sanders Public Service Initiative (PSI), a firm practice group dedicated to taking on challenging pro bono litigation. As a member of the PSI team, Ms. Williams handles federal habeas suits, including death penalty cases, and federal civil rights litigation.
“We are incredibly proud of Carine and her resilient commitment to pro bono,” said George Kendall, Director of the Squire Sanders PSI. “This initiative has made significant contributions to victories in some of the most demanding post-conviction representations on behalf of pro bono clients in impoverished and underserved areas of the country. It is through Carine’s work that we are able to make a direct impact on people’s lives.”
Last year, among her more high-profile representations, Ms. Williams served as lead counsel in a case which led to the vacatur of client Herman Wallace’s 1974 murder conviction of a correctional officer. Upon the district court’s order of relief, issued in October 2013, Mr. Wallace was immediately released from prison after 41 years solitary confinement (the longest known sentence served in solitary in US history). Mr. Wallace died a free man three days after his release, from liver cancer.
In addition, for the past five years, Carine has led PSI’s effort to represent Mr. Wallace and two other indigent Louisiana prisoners in a civil rights challenge to the wrongful use of solitary confinement. The plaintiffs in that case have been held in 23 hour-a-day lockdown for excessive durations of time (41, 40 and 28 years), in the absence of any legitimate penological grounds. With over 50 depositions to date, the PSI team has won every motion of significance in the case, prevailing on summary judgment litigation late last year. The case, Robert Wilkerson, et al v. Richard Stalder, et al., is expected to proceed to trial this year.
Furthermore, Carine worked with more than a dozen former cold case homicide detectives and special agents of the FBI to file a significant amicus brief on their behalf in McQuiggin v. Perkins, which was argued before the Supreme Court in early February 2013. In an amicus brief drafted by Carine, the former law enforcement officers urged the Court to resist setting a hard and fast deadline for habeas filings because of the difficulty that innocence investigations often entail. The Court ruled in July 2013 that actual innocence can substantiate an exception to the statute of limitations, which will ordinarily time bar a habeas petition after one year.
Carine also works with the firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice group, and the Government Enforcement, Investigations & Global Compliance practice group.