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Author and Criminal Defense Attorney Opposes Death Penalty

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Richard S. Jaffe is the Senior Partner of the Birmingham, Alabama law firm of Jaffe & Drennan, P.C.  Mr. Jaffe specializes in the areas of criminal defense and especially cases involving the death penalty.  He is currently advocating ending the death penalty in Alabama and the United States while also promoting his book, ‘Quest for Justice: Defending the Damned.’

Mr. Jaffe has been a criminal trial lawyer for 36 years and has been board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Criminal Trial Specialist since 1984.  Jaffe is listed in both Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers of America.  In 2012 he was named among the top 50 lawyers in Alabama, by Best Lawyers of America. He is licensed to practice law in Alabama, Georgia, New York, and Washington, DC.

Mr. Jaffe said, “Many who were formally fervent supporters of the death penalty have changed their minds once fully exposed to all its angles and miscarriages of justice.   Lives already destroyed beyond repair dangle within the machinery of our criminal justice system as it struggles to achieve its professed mission, while ‘justice’ often hides in its shadows. When the system fails us, an irreparable betrayal pierces the heart and soul of each person involved, sometimes the soul of a whole community, and occasionally that of the entire nation.”

Jaffe’s many clients include Eric Robert Rudolph and George Zimmerman.

Jaffe has worked on hundreds of murder cases and more than 60 capital cases.  Over the course of his career Jaffe has managed to get three persons exonerated for crimes that had wrongly sent them to death row.  No other single attorney alive in the country has that many.  Mr. Jaffe’s book recalls the real life exonerations of James Willie “Bo” Cochran, Gary Drinkard and Randal Padgett at new trials in detail.  These were all cases where defendants were previously found guilty by juries of their peers, but were later awarded new trials where they were exonerated of the crimes.  According to Jaffe, one was a victim to false evidence planted by the police, another went to death row based on witness testimony where it was later learned that the witness had perjured their self, and the third was a victim of a staged rape including the planting of his DNA.

“Being a part of a jury determination which frees a falsely convicted person from the throes of death cannot be described in words,” says Jaffe. “It is an act of grace that forever lives within my soul.”

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According to his written statement, in the book Jaffe makes a case for why the death penalty should not exist in the US.  Mr. Jaffe points to the disproportionate number of non-Caucasian, and often mentally debilitated people on death row, the costliness of the death penalty versus housing prisoners for life, and Jaffe presents statistical evidence that executions do not deter crime.  According to statistics presented by Jaffe, Americans are only 5% of the world’s population, but we have 25% of the world’s prison population.

Barry Scheck, a Professor of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law said, “This riveting book takes you inside the intricate human drama of real death penalty cases – defendants who are guilty and those who are innocent – in a way you will not forget. Some of these stories will shock and challenge even the strongest proponents of capital punishment. A must read for those who care about justice in America.”

To learn more about the book visit the book’s website:,

To learn more about Richard Jaffe visit his website:

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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