On June 9, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney David Esquivel presented oral arguments before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals on behalf of death row inmate Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman. Abdur’Rahman was scheduled to receive the death penalty earlier this year. After evidence revealed his prosecution was marred by overt racial bias and misconduct, the Nashville District Attorney agreed to vacate his death sentence in exchange for a life sentence without parole. The Tennessee Attorney General’s office is attempting to challenge that settlement. David, the firm’s Pro Bono Member, and associate Michael Tackeff represent Abdur’Rahman as part of the firm’s pro bono program.
In a recap of the case in The New York Times, the article cites David’s argument that “the attorney general’s office does not have the right to appeal the agreement made by the district attorney because both the attorney general and the district attorney represent the same party, the state.”
“A party cannot ask one lawyer to enter an agreement in the trial court and then ask a different lawyer to upend that agreement on appeal,” David argued. “No party can do that, not even the state.”
To read more about the case, click on the media coverage below:
- “Court Examines Resentencing Based on Claim of Racism,” Associated Press – featured in The New York Times (June 9, 2020)
- “Tennessee Death Penalty Case Raises Questions About Who Has The Power To Stop An Execution,” WPLN-Nashville Public Radio (June 9, 2020)
- “Allegations of Racism Revived Death Penalty Case, But Process Questions Dominate Appeal,” The Tennessean (June 9, 2020)