News

LAS Secures Clemency for 60-Year-Old Client George Martinez

The Legal Aid Society and pro bono partner Shearman and Sterling have secured clemency for their client George Martinez, whose sentence has been commuted by outgoing Governor Andrew Cuomo, as reported by the Queens Daily Eagle.

Mr. Martinez, who is 60 years old, is serving a harsh 17 ½ to life sentence for his role in a non-violent burglary. George has used his time in prison to further his education and hone his skills as a cook and has remained close with his family. He looks forward to living with his son in the Bronx and continuing to work in the culinary field.

“[The appeals process] took about a decade to do and in the meantime, George had done really just a terrific job of rehabilitation in prison. He had gotten back in touch with his family, his son, his daughter, his father – they all visited him in prison on a regular basis. And he became a really valued member of the prisons where he stayed,” said David Crow, an attorney with the Criminal Appeals Bureau at The Legal Aid Society who worked on Mr. Martinez’s application for clemency.

“It’s a fantastic feeling for him and his family, who have been waiting for him to come home and spend time with them and with the grandchildren, get a job on the outside and catch up for all those lost years,” Crow continued.

The Governor still has the names and applications of over 30 Legal Aid clients petitioning for clemency. The Legal Aid Society is calling on Mr. Cuomo to use his remaining time in office to provide this relief to the many New Yorkers who are eligible. Given the longtime over-incarceration of poor New Yorkers—particularly People of Color—the Governor should act boldly to commute the sentences of the many individuals who are serving harsh sentences and who are ready to return to their families and to their communities.