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Rolling Stone Notes Sam Silver Role in Overturning a 22-Year-Old Murder Conviction

On March 2, 2015 by Schnader in Appellate

In the March 2, 2015 edition of Rolling Stone, Schnader attorneys Sam Silver and Rebecca Lacher are noted for their involvement in the high-profile homicide case of Anthony Wright.  With the assistance of Silver and Lacher, and based in large part on DNA testing, Wright’s 22-year old conviction for rape and murder was overturned last fall.  Wright now faces a retrial, in which Schnader’s team will be trial counsel.   

The article “Why Is This Man Still in Jail?” details the story of Mr. Wright, who in 1993 was convicted of the rape and murder of 77-year-old North Philadelphia resident Louise Talley. Police claimed that Mr. Wright voluntarily gave a signed confession to the crime after only fourteen minutes in custody. Mr. Wright, who was just 20 when he was arrested, has always maintained his innocence and testified that he only signed the alleged confession, which the police wrote out, after the interrogating detectives threatened him with bodily harm.

In 2003, Mr. Wright obtained the help of the Innocence Project, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

For more than five years, the former Philadelphia District Attorney objected to Mr. Wright’s request for DNA testing under modern protocols. The case eventually went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which reversed a lower court’s decision and remanded for further consideration of the issue. The current District Attorney then agreed to permit the testing rather than fight it further. That DNA testing supports Mr. Wright’s claim of actual innocence and resulted in the District Attorney’s eventual agreement to vacate Mr. Wright’s conviction.

Rolling Stone reported that Innocence Project attorneys “recruited Sam Silver and Rebecca Lacher, top litigators at Philadelphia law firm Schnader LLP, to handle any further proceedings. ‘Private clients pay millions for their talents,’ says [Innocence Project attorney Nina] Morrison. ‘Once the initial DNA tests came back, we knew we needed a strong and savvy team in a case as difficult as this.'”