Kudos for a Tenacious Justice-Seeker
When Christopher “Omar” Martinez walked out of a Massachusetts courthouse last spring as a free man after nearly twenty years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Lauren Rossman ’19, a student member of the BC Law Innocence Program team who’d worked so hard for that outcome, was elated (“The Innocence Whisperers,” Summer 2019).
Rossman had spent two years researching Martinez’s case. She was the dogged fact-finder who discovered what turned out to be a crucial family connection between a policeman and a witness. She also pinpointed a convicted felon, who, when questioned in his prison’s visiting room by her and Professor Charlotte Whitmore, confessed to the murder.
For her efforts, Rossman in October received the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s student Adams Pro Bono Publico Award.
“The Adams Pro Bono award is meaningful to me because it celebrates lawyers who demonstrate that pro bono work should not be viewed as a basic requirement,” said Rossman, currently a legal fellow and staff counsel at the Committee for Pubic Services Innocence Program, “but rather as a rewarding and self-imposed obligation that fulfills our purpose as human beings.”
A Prosecutor’s Patience Pays Off
Andres Torres ’08, whose masterful investigative work and lawyering helped bring an international drug operation to its knees and shamed the Spanish Navy (“The Remarkable, Heroin-Laced, High-Seas, Cartel-Sniffing Takedown,” Winter 2019), has been awarded the Thomas E. Dewey Medal by the New York City Bar.
As a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney assigned to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, Torres drew upon his Spanish fluency and experience as a former USAID worker in Colombia to become a pivotal figure in the multi-year operation. The case began to crack open when two men, later identified as Spanish sailors from the ship Juan-Sebastián Elcano, were spotted at a stakeout in the Bronx.
The Dewey Award, named for the famous 1930s prosecutor (and later New York governor) who went head-to-head with gangsters, bootleggers, and organized crime figures of the day, is presented annually “to outstanding assistant district attorneys” in New York. “I’m humbled and grateful to be selected,” said Torres. “It’s a true honor.”
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