“No sane human being could find them guilty,”
—U.S. District Judge John Gibney’s opinion, Sep. 23, 2016
On Oct. 31, a federal judge at long last vacated the convictions of Danial Williams (top left) and Joseph Dick (top right) — two of the ‘Norfolk Four‘ — after finding them innocent of a 1997 rape and murder. The men each served 11 years in prison before receiving conditional pardons in 2009 by then-Gov. Tim Kaine. The conditional pardons left the men on the sex offender registry for the past seven years, with harsh restrictions that limited their ability to work and live normal lives with their families.
Led by longtime MAIP Board member Donald Salzman (Skadden Arps) and George Kendall (Squire Patton Boggs), Williams and Dick challenged their convictions in federal court – arguing several constitutional claims, including their actual innocence. In spring of 2015, U.S. District Judge John Gibney held a hearing to determine whether they had made a sufficient showing of innocence, and in September 2016, he found that they were innocent, writing that “no sane person could find them guilty.” The opinion prompted the Commonwealth of Virginia to stop defending the conviction after more than a decade, and just last month, Judge Gibney vacated their convictions, giving the Commonwealth of Virginia 60 days to decide whether to retry them.