Pro Bono Client Peagler Released From Prison
Aug. 26, 2009 — Deborah Peagler — a Bingham pro bono client more than six years — was released from prison on Aug. 22. Peagler, who is terminally ill, has served more than 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing the man who allegedly abused her. The California Board of Parole Hearings decided in July that Peagler should be freed, despite opposition from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. In mid-August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office sent a letter to Peagler announcing that he would not reverse the board’s decision. Bingham had long sought to secure Peagler’s release through habeas proceedings and at several parole hearings, arguing that she was the victim of prolonged and extreme abuse at the hands of her boyfriend. Since her conviction, California has allowed defendants convicted of a violent felony to win reduced sentences if they can show that domestic abuse and its effects led to the crime. In 2005, Bingham asked the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to reconsider her case. A top district attorney’s official initially agreed that it would be in the “interests of justice” to allow Peagler to plead to a lesser charge that would have resulted in her immediate release, but the office later withdrew its offer. Peagler, who doctors estimate has only months to live, plans to live with one of her sisters. News of Peagler’s release has been reported by the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and Yahoo! news.
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