Covington & Burling



Pro Bono Rank Firm
(Am Law 200 Rank)
Am Law
Pro Bono Score
Average Pro Bono
Hours Per Lawyer
% of Lawyers
With More Than 20 Hours
Covington & Burling (54)


Among Covington & Burling's active pro bono matters are a dozen death penalty cases in five different states. "We have a very strong institutional view that we should be involved in death penalty cases," says the firm's chairman Tim Hester, "so for many years we have looked for cases to handle." Hester has himself been directly involved in several capital cases, dating back to his time as a summer associate at Covington.

Am Law Pro Bono 100The firm usually gets involved during the postconviction and sentencing phase, which was when Covington began representing Cory Maye in Mississippi. In 2004 Maye was sentenced to death after being convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of a police officer who entered Maye's portion of a duplex. The police had a search warrant. At trial, Maye claimed he was acting in self-defense because he thought the police officer was an intruder.

In 2006 Covington, along with a Mississippi public defender representing Maye, convinced the trial judge that Maye's trial counsel provided ineffective assistance during the sentencing phase. The judge vacated the death sentence, and instead sentenced Maye to life in prison without the possibility of parole and rebuffed efforts to have the verdict thrown out.

The firm continues to represent Maye; in 2008 six lawyers spent a total of 1,360 hours on the matter. In October 2008, the firm, along with Maye's Mississippi-based attorney, filed an opening brief in a direct appeal of the conviction. Additionally, the firm has hired a shooting-incident expert to back up Maye's version of events and a private investigator to track down a key witness in the case.

—Drew Combs | July 1, 2009

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