Taft Announces 2023 Pro Bono Award Winner

Taft is pleased to honor Chicago attorney Andrew Murphy with its 2023 Pro Bono Award for his extraordinary pro bono work. Taft’s Pro Bono Committee selects the award winner by considering each nominee’s overall pro bono achievements in 2022, the time, talent, and energy invested into the cases handled, and the positive impact of his or her work on their communities.

Murphy secured his pro bono client Walter Hill’s release from jail after he had spent seven years in custody for an aggravated kidnapping and murder he could not have committed. The Illinois Appellate Court-First District appointed Taft to represent Hill in the direct appeal from the jury’s guilty verdict during Hill’s first trial. In 2020, Murphy, with assistance from Taft Chicago partner Tim Eaton, took over the appeal, developing arguments that Hill deserved a new trial based on an evidentiary error and the ineffectiveness of Hill’s prior counsel, who failed to introduce any evidence on Hill’s behalf.

In June 2021, a divided panel of the appellate court agreed that Hill deserved a new trial, vacated Hill’s convictions, and remanded for a new trial. After the appellate court’s decision, Murphy continued Taft’s pro bono representation of Hill in the trial court. In July 2022, Andrew demonstrated to a second jury during a four-day trial that Hill could not have been anywhere near the crime scene when the murder occurred. The case involved two alibi witnesses and a cell site expert paid for from Taft’s Pro Bono Committee budget. After just three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a not-guilty verdict on all counts—a spectacular victory for the client.

Murphy was featured in the ABA Pro Bono Exchange for this significant win, learn more here.  

“Taft’s Pro Bono Committee recognized that Andrew’s pro bono work on the Hill case was so outstanding that it should receive this year’s Pro Bono Award. There were many great pro bono contributions across the firm in 2022, but Andrew’s work stood out as truly extraordinary,” said Andrew Carlson, Taft partner and Pro Bono Committee chair.

Award recipients can direct a donation by Taft to a charitable organization of their choice. Murphy’s donation will go to the Center for Wrongful Convictions.

As an integral part of the firm’s community values, Taft attorneys are committed to providing legal services to low-income individuals, nonprofit and community organizations, and public interest causes. In 2023, Taft continues to cultivate its pro bono commitments through the Pro Bono Committee’s efforts and the tremendous work done by attorneys and staff in each of Taft’s markets.

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