PITTSBURGH – A pro bono team at Reed Smith has been awarded the Edward D. Ohlbaum Volunteer Award from the Pennsylvania Innocence Project in recognition of their work to free a man who was wrongfully convicted and serving life in prison.

Related Professionals: David B. Fawcett Jason E. Hazlewood

Reed Smith partner David Fawcett had pursued the wrongful conviction case since 2008, co-counseling the matter with Jason Hazlewood, who is managing partner of the Pittsburgh office.

After more than a decade of hard work, the firm’s pro bono efforts with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project culminated in Greg Brown, now 44, securing a deal that ultimately led to his release. Brown was convicted of arson when he was 19 – based upon bad arson science and the testimony of two witnesses whom the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms secretly paid for their testimony.

“Greg’s 25-year nightmare can now be put behind him but his situation calls out for action to prevent wrongful convictions in the future,” Fawcett said. “There has to be accountability for government officials who don’t follow the law and – for that to happen – there needs to be change.”

Reed Smith’s pro bono efforts won Brown a new trial. After finding evidence of outrageous government abuses and deception in the case, the pro bono team secured an award vacating Brown’s conviction in 2014. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the Court of Common Pleas’ decision, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the District Attorney’s request for another appeal.