Clark Hill Attorney James E. Brenner Named State Bar of Michigan 2013 Unsung Hero
– Clark Hill Attorney James E. Brenner was named a State Bar of Michigan 2013 Unsung Hero during the State Bar of Michigan Annual Meeting, Sept. 18-20 in Lansing. The Unsung Hero Award is given annually to an attorney who has exhibited the highest standards of practice and commitment for the benefit of others.
Brenner, in part, was selected for his pro bono work as lead counsel in post-conviction proceedings representing inmates sentenced to death in states where capital punishment is legal.
Brenner has been practicing law for more than 40 years and leads the firm’s appellate practice group.
In addition to the Unsung Hero Award, Brenner has been recognized repeatedly by several industry and regional organizations, including Best Lawyers in America and DBusiness magazine who have named him as one of the metro area’s top appellate lawyers. He was named a Lawyer of the Year by Michigan Lawyers Weekly in 2007. Brenner has acted as a commercial arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and a hearing referee for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. Brenner is active in the community, participating in Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association clinics and chairing the board of directors of Neighborhood Legal Services of Michigan, a leading provider of legal and related assistance to the disadvantaged in the state.
In his first death penalty case, which took 17 years to resolve, he and his colleagues attorney Mark McInerney and legal assistant Sara Andonian of Clark Hill saved the life of a Tennessee man by finding and introducing mental health information the man’s court-appointed attorneys had failed to present. He and colleague Cynthia Filipovich, another Clark Hill attorney, were also successful in reversing the death sentence of a Texas man in 2005.
Brenner is currently working with local counsel in Nashville on his third pro bono death penalty assignment, a Tennessee case he received in 2007. They successfully reversed the inmate’s death sentence in 2009, but are fighting now to overturn the original conviction by pursuing the state’s failures over a period of some 16 years to disclose information helpful to the defense, as required by U.S. Supreme court decisions.
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