Cooley Godward successfully obtained a federal jury verdict acquittal for a pro bono client wrongfully charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm – a charge that carries a five-year prison sentence and an 89 percent conviction rate. The successful defense and three-day federal jury trial was handled by associates Steven Sklaver and Peter Gergely, both residents in the Colorado Office of Cooley Godward.
“Carl Petersen spent 18 months in jail as a pretrial detainee awaiting trial for a crime that he did not commit. We are thrilled that the jury acquitted Mr. Petersen,” said Mr. Sklaver. “The hundreds of hours of work and tens of thousands of dollars that Cooley poured into this case demonstrates that Cooley’s commitment to providing pro bono legal services is concrete, real, and meaningful.”
In 2002, Cooley attorneys contributed nearly 25,000 pro bono hours to non-profit organizations and individuals.
Cooley Godward first became involved in the pro bono case in October 2002 when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals appointed Mr. Sklaver to represent Mr. Petersen against the United States’ interlocutory appeal of an adverse suppression ruling. Mr. Sklaver briefed and argued the appeal. The Tenth Circuit ruled in Mr. Petersen’s favor, dismissed the government’s appeal, and remanded the case back to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado for trial on the one remaining gun count. In April 2003, Cooley Godward and attorneys Sklaver and Gergely voluntarily appeared as Mr. Petersen’s trial counsel. The jury acquitted Mr. Petersen in under four hours of deliberation.
“We believed in Mr. Petersen’s innocence and ignored those who said the case was unwinnable,” said Mr. Gergely. “We are proud to have represented Mr. Petersen and delivered this great result against overwhelming odds.”