Montana Innocence Project co-counsels win Montana Defense Lawyer of the Year awards

IMG_7709.JPGTwo Missoula attorneys who worked with the Montana Innocence Project (MTIP) on two cases have won prestigious awards for their representation of two now-exonerated clients.

Each year the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MTACDL) honors a practitioner or practitioners with its Lawyer of the Year award for those individuals exemplifying outstanding defense skills.

Brett Schandelson of Tipp Coburn Schandelson P.C. and Colin Stephens of Smith & Stephens P.C. were recognized this year for their excellent work and dedication to proving the innocence of two MTIP clients.

Schandelson represented Richard Raugust, donating his time to make Raugust a free man. After 18 years of fighting to prove his innocence, Raugust was fully exonerated in September 2016 of all charges stemming from a 1997 murder. Raugust was the first MTIP exoneree. He is now free thanks to Schandelson’s tireless efforts.

Stephens represented MTIP client Cody Marble pro bono. Marble was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for 12 years. He was released from custody in April 2016 and Stephens kept fighting until Marble was fully exonerated earlier this year.

“We are so grateful to Brett and Colin for their amazing work in representing our innocent clients,” said MTIP Executive Director Lisa Mecklenberg Jackson. “They worked tirelessly to right the wrong that was committed and we are so appreciative of their time and efforts. We wholeheartedly agree that these two lawyers exemplify the spirit envisioned by the defense lawyers in presenting this award.”