Following decades of litigation, the firm’s pro bono client, Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman, has been removed from Tennessee’s death row. Abdur’Rahman was convicted and sentenced to death in the late 1980s in a trial marred by racial bias and prosecutorial misconduct, which has now been conceded by the District Attorney and found by the trial court.
On November 9, 2021, the Davidson County Criminal Court vacated Abdur’Rahman’s convictions pursuant to Tennessee’s post-conviction statute. Abdur’Rahman then entered a guilty plea to consecutive life sentences. On December 9, those orders became final when the Tennessee Attorney General, who previously appealed a 2019 accord between Abdur’Rahman and Nashville’s District Attorney, chose not to challenge the November proceedings. For the first time in more than 30 years, Abdur’Rahman is no longer under a death sentence.
Abdur’Rahman was represented by his longtime attorney Bradley MacLean in addition to the team from Bass, Berry & Sims, led by David Esquivel and Michael Tackeff. Many others within the firm worked on this matter and contributed to the result, and the firm’s efforts built on more than two decades of work by a number of attorneys and advocates.
The case has received media attention, including the following articles:
- “AG Won’t Appeal Resentencing of Tennessee Death Row Inmate,” AP News (December 10, 2021)
- “Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman Is Staying Off Death Row,” Nashville Scene (December 10, 2021)
- “34 Years After Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman Was Sentenced to Die, He Is Removed From Death Row,” Newsweek (December 10, 2021)
- “AG Chides Funk But Won’t Challenge Death Penalty Case,” Nashville Post (December 12, 2021)