FDAP Attorneys Honored for Work Advocating for Inmates Impacted by COVID-19 Outbreak at San Quentin State Prison

FDAP Attorneys Honored for Work Advocating for Inmates Impacted by COVID-19 Outbreak at San Quentin State Prison

The Daily Journal editors have selected FDAP Assistant Director J. Bradley O’Connell and Staff Attorney Richard Braucher as recipients of the 2021 California Lawyer  Attorneys of the Year Award for Appellate Litigation, for their work on behalf of inmates impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison. As the Daily Journal reported, “Strong advocacy for state inmates by” Brad and Richard “led to an unprecedented ruling in October as the coronavirus struck San Quentin hard along with other institutions run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.”  Read the full article here (PDF).

Appointed by the Court of Appeal in the midst of the San Quentin COVID-19 outbreak, Brad and Richard worked at breathtaking speed to challenge CDCR’s transfer of inmates to San Quentin without adequate COVID-19 protocols and its failure to address the on-going risk to inmates. In In re Von Staich (Oct. 20, 2020), the Court of Appeal issued an unprecedented decision holding that CDCR, in violation of state and federal prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, acted with deliberate indifference to the risk of substantial harm to inmates by failing to immediately reduce the population of San Quentin by releasing or transferring at least 50 percent of the population of the prison. Prison officials had ignored the recommendation of public-health experts who had been asked to advise CDCR on measures to combat COVID-19 considered necessary to protect the health of prisoners. Beyond issuing orders specifically addressing Von Staich’s welfare, the court ordered CDCR to expedite the removal from San Quentin—“by means of release on parole or transfer to another correctional facility administered or monitored by CDCR”—of 50 percent of the inmate population.

We congratulate Brad and Richard and the entire FDAP team for their outstanding work in this case. This sort of advocacy cannot be achieved without exceptional lawyering and the professionalism and dedication of our administrative support staff.  We remain concerned for the well-being of the individuals incarcerated in California and hope that the on-going litigation ensures their good health in this pandemic.



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