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Contact :
(713)869-4722
FAX (713)880-3811
2307 Union St.
Houston, Texas 77007
email:staff@gracelaw.org

 

The Gulf Region Advocacy Center

GRACE is an independent, client-centered, Houston-based charity that provides high quality capital defense to indigents facing the death penalty. Beginning in 2002 with our life-saving representation of Calvin Burdine, who had been returned to Harris County for retrial because his original attorney slept during his first trial, to the dramatic life verdict in the 2008 jury trial of Juan Quintero Perez for murder of a police officer, and our successful pro bono representation of many other Texas defendants, GRACE has relied upon private funding, and volunteer labor to bring the methodologies of successful capital defense offices around the country to bear in the bloodiest courthouses in America. READ MORE...

Sister Helen Prejean Talks About GRACE and Why Our Work Is So Important:

What's New

Read the 2013 GRACE Newsletter!

Click here to read the newsletter!

Celebrate Giving Tuesday!

December 3, 2013, is the second annual #Giving Tuesday, (http://community.givingtuesday.org/News) a call to action and new national movement to celebrate giving and encourage more, better, and smarter giving during the holiday season. 

In honor of Giving Tuesday, GRACE has set  two goals:
1) Let's get 1000 people to share or Tweet GRACE's video page on the Giving Library-- GRACE gets $5 each time!! Go to www.GivingLibrary.org, get a "library card" and search for "Gulf Region Advocacy Center", then select "share now" and then "Facebook" and/or "Twitter". It's free and takes 30 seconds! Please urge everyone you know to help. Check out GRACE's Video and Giving Library Page!

2) Let's enroll 50 new Steadfast Friends for GRACE! Our Steadfast Friends program maintains GRACE’s independence and the long-term viability of our pro bono services by pooling the resources of hundreds of small donors committed to sustaining GRACE through automatic monthly donations. Rather than asking our friends to give until it hurts, we ask that you pledge what you can comfortably give every month. Simply set up an automatic recurring monthly transaction through our website,www.gracelaw.org. This steady monthly support allows us to anticipate our capacity, assure that we keep our promises to our pro bono clients, and spend our time on casework rather than fundraising.

All gifts from new donors will be doubled by a matching grant!!

Thanks to private donations and volunteer labor, over a dozen former death row inmates who had served collectively more than 300 years on Texas' death row woke up this morning without the specter of death hanging over them -- each now serving sentences of life or better -- negotiated and hard-won by GRACE's unique donor-funded Retrial/Resentencing Project. GRACE depends on you.

37 mitigators and lawyers come to GRACE's Mitigation Skills Bootcamp!

November 20-22, 2013: GRACE held our unique intensive, in-house, skills-based training which we have, in recent years, opened up to mitigation specialists and capital counsel from around the country at no cost to their organizations. The Bootcamp is an intensive, interactive workshop to develop or hone the practical skills needed for working within a multi-disciplinary team to identify, develop and present social history evidence.  It is required of all attorneys, mitigation specialists and interns joining GRACE as attorneys, mitigators, fellows or volunteers, so it is designed for folks with a wide range of experience and it addresses the roles of all core defense team members.

GRACE continues to play a pivotal role in the national capital defense community in developing, articulating and protecting a high quality standard of care for capital counsel and mitigation specialists by developing and presenting our unique, skills-based, mitigation bootcamps for attorneys, investigators and mitigation specialists across the U.S.

GRACE gets Capital Murder Charges Dismissed!

August 3, 2013:  GRACE client Kathryn McMahan was released from jail after a year of pretrial detention when capital murder charges that had been hanging over her for 26 years were finally dismissed!  Kathryn accepted responsibility for a theft and had an emotional meeting with family of the man her former husband murdered over two decades ago.  

 

Then, she paid a visit to GRACE, a rare treat in an office where every client faces capital murder charges so that none receive bond. 

 

Kathryn's representation was entirely pro bono and made possible only due to the recurring monthly donations of small individual donors whom we call our Steadfast Friends.

Life-saving plea in Harris County!

June 6, 2013:  For the first time in almost 23 years, GRACE client Rodney Charles Rachal awakened this morning without the spectre of a death sentence hanging over him. Yesterday, Rodney accepted responsibility for two capital murders and two aggravated robberies and agreed to serve four stacked life sentences. In exchange, the most lethal prosecutorial agency in the country, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, ended its 23 year quest to take his life.

Rodney, who was originally sentenced to death in 1992 for the 1990 capital murder of Charles Washington, is one of nearly 500 Texans sentenced to die by jurors who were unconstitutionally prohibited from considering their life histories as a reason to choose life. The State of Texas defended Rodney’s and the other prisoners’ sentences for decades after it had become clear that the jury instructions were constitutionally flawed. Only around 50 of those prisoners survived to see the day, in 2006, when the Supreme Court finally ruled that Texas courts had been misinterpreting the constitution all along. Even then, the Harris County District attorney remained in a state of denial – defending Rodney’s indefensible death sentence for another six years.

When attorneys Rob Owen and Anthony Haughton won a reversal of Rodney’s death sentence, he was returned to Harris County for new sentencing proceedings and GRACE’s donor-funded Retrial/Resentencing Project stepped in to represent Rodney for free. For the next fifteen months, GRACE attorneys Danalynn Recer and Coty Meibeyer developed Rodney’s case, ultimately negotiating a resolution that saves Rodney from returning to death row, gives finality to the victims and survivors of all four crimes, and spares both families the re-traumatization of a second trial.

In her victim impact statement, Mr. Washington's mother told Rodney that she never hated him and long ago forgave him because that is what God asks of her. With the case finally over, the families of Charles Washington and Rodney Rachal had a remarkably powerful and healing meeting.  After the words and tears of remorse, apology and forgiveness, both families said that having the case resolved and being able to talk with one another free of legal consequences had changed their understanding of one another, brought them peace and would allow them to get “unstuck” and move forward.

This is the 16th life-saving plea that GRACE’s Retrial/Resentencing Project has successfully negotiated for a Texas death row inmate. The work of the Retrial/Resentencing Project wouldn’t be possible without our “Steadfast Friends” – those who keep GRACE’s doors open by enrolling as automatic monthly donors. We don’t ask our friends to give until it hurts -- we ask for whatever you can give comfortably again and again each month. Go to www.gracelaw.org to help.

23 mitigators and lawyers come to GRACE's Mitigation Skills Bootcamp!

May 22-24, 2013: GRACE held an intensive in-house training on our methods and protocols.  In recent years, we have opened it up to anyone from the capital defense community, space permitting. The Bootcamp is an intensive, interactive workshop to develop or hone the practical skills needed for working within a multi-disciplinary team to identify, develop and present social history evidence.  It is required of all attorneys, mitigation specialists and interns joining GRACE as attorneys, mitigators, fellows or volunteers, so it is designed for folks with a wide range of experience and it addresses the roles of all core defense team members.

GRACE is contributes to the development, articulation, and protection of a high quality standard of care for capital counsel and mitigation specialists by developing and presenting our unique, skills-based, mitigation bootcamps for attorneys, investigators and mitigation specialists across the U.S.

Stay Home, Beat the Traffic, and Save Lives with the Click of a Button!

With the Holidays just around the corner, check GoodShop and iGive first for all your holiday shopping and select "Gulf Region Advocacy Center" as your charity of choice. It costs you nothing but adds up for GRACE.

After eleven years, against all odds, and with the help of generous individuals and organizations from around the world, GRACE has saved dozens of lives and helped ensure that no capital defendant will ever again face a jury with his lawyer asleep beside him.  Now, with support from Atlantic Philanthropies -- including a matching grant that will double all your holiday donations - we can continue representing indigent defendants facing the death penalty for free.

So skip the lines and save lives by checking GoodShop and iGive for all your holiday shopping!

Check out GRACE's Video at The Giving Library:

The Giving Library is an online video archive providing philanthropists at all levels of giving with an efficient way to learn about work being done by nonprofits, such as the Gulf Region Advocacy Center. Check out GRACE's Video and Giving Library Page!

Other News:

August 2012: GRACE staff are honored to have worked with NAACP LDF and lead counsel George Kendall of Squire Sanders in securing a life-saving plea for Delma Banks and a bringing a final resolution to the case for the Whitehead family. Read more...

June 2012: GRACE Executive Director, Danalynn Recer, in conjunction with LCAC, secured a life in prison without the possibility for parole plea for Dominic Robinson. Click here to read the The Times-Picayune article.

May 2012: GRACE secures a new hearing for Louisiana death row inmate Todd Wessinger... read more.

May 2012: Columbia Law School uncovers evidence that Texas executed an innocent man... read more.

April 2012: GRACE secures a stay of execution for Louisiana death row inmate Todd Wessinger... read more.

December 2011: Thank you to everyone who has helped GRACE and our clients survive another year! Here is our 2011 Holiday Newsletter.

December 2011: GRACE is ranked in this years Philanthropedia Local Criminal Justice charities... read more.

November 2011: GRACE board member represents British women on death row featured in documentary... read more.

October 2011: GRACE director discusses the effect race has on sentencing in a death penalty case at the New Yorker Festival... read more.

 


Director's Corner

Browse The New Yorker article, "The Mitigator," featuring GRACE's work in Harris County

Watch Danalynn Recer at The New Yorker Festival

Meet our staff and volunteers!

Letter from our Director


 

Gulf Region Advocacy Center