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U.S. Magistrate Judge Calls for Release of Firm Client William J. Barnes on His Request for Parole

02/21/2012

On February 7, 2012, following discovery, briefing, and a hearing, a federal judge recommended the release of William J. Barnes, who remains in prison nearly two years after his acquittal on murder charges in the 2007 death of a police officer he shot decades earlier. In a report recommending the immediate release of William Barnes, U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice said that Barnes has endured "a shocking pattern of arbitrary and irrational expectations, requirements, and parole denials." In May 2010, Schnader successfully obtained a full acquittal on murder charges brought against Mr. Barnes. Mr. Barnes was charged with causing the death of Philadelphia Police Officer Walter T. Barclay in 2007, 41 years after Barnes had shot and partially paralyzed Barclay. He currently remains incarcerated on a technical parole violation and the state Board of Probation and Parole has three times refused to grant him parole on pretextual grounds. In 2011, Schnader filed a habeas petition on Barnes' behalf, challenging the denial of parole. Led by attorneys Samuel W. Silver and Bruce P. Merenstein, the team also includes attorneys Emily J. Hanlon, Monica C. Platt, and Sara A. Aliabadi. Mr. Silver said he and his client are "pleased" with Rice's recommendation. "We think the report and recommendation clearly reflects that Judge Rice gave the matter very thorough analysis and a lot of thought," he said, adding that the parole board has 14 days from the day the report was issued — Feb. 7 — to file formal objections with U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge James Knoll Gardner.

Media coverage has appeared in The Washington Post, The Legal Intelligencer, The Philadelphia Inquirer (as well as in an Editorial), Philadelphia Magazine blog, Newsworks.org on February 7 and 21, and CBSPhilly.com.