Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tumblr Banker Establishes Quattrone Center for Fair Administration of Justice - Video

Frank Quattrone and Pennsylvania Innocence Project dinner  chairman Carolyn Short

Investment banking giant, Frank Quattrone, had a busy May. Quattrone, the CEO and founder of Qatalyst Partners in San Francisco, advised Tumblr, which was sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. His wife, Denise Foderaro Quattrone, was honored at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project dinner earlier in the month. 

Denise Foderao Quattrone, who is tiny, is second to left. 

It was announced at the dinner that the couple, who are both Penn Alumni and Philadelphia natives, is establishing the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.The idea for the center originated after Frank Quattrone's entanglement with the legal system. He was convicted of obstruction of justice and witness tampering in 2004 and ordered to serve 18 months in jail. The appeals courts dismissed one of the charges. Quattrone later signed a deferred prosecution agreement that admitted no guilt.

After his ordeal, Quattrone realized that there must be other innocent people in prison who did not have his resources to fight their charges and selflessly decided to help them. This has motivated the Quattrone to quietly work to reform the justice system and help those that have been wrongly accused.

The new Quattrone Center could introduce a new paradigm for the criminal justice system. It will be a game changer for the wrongfully accused. With the help of the center, the innocent may now have a chance of clearing their name. It will be interesting to see if other Penn alumni that have had their skirmishes with law enforcement, such as Michael Milken and Steven A Cohen will contribute to the center.

When one listens Frank and Denise Quattrone's moving account of their legal odyssey, it is immediately apparent that our criminal justice system is broken.The average person has very little chance of proving their innocence without a "fierce warrior" as he lovingly calls his wife. Denise worked so intensely on his case that the defense team devoted one lawyer to answering her emails.

While their fellow members of their economic class typically donate to the arts or medical institutions, the Quattrones have chosen to help the lowest of the low-prisoners. The couple doesn't just write checks. They get their hands dirty. Denise Quattrone researches the exonerated for the National Exoneration Registry, which details every known person exonerated since 1989. University of Michigan law professor, Samuel Gross, estimates that she has found 1/2 of the names on the registry.

She often meets the families of the wrongly accused at a San Francisco hotel to offer her support. She also sponsors a retreat for these families and has paid for them to fly to hearings.

The Quattrones work with many of the innocence projects across the country. They were one of the first to unite the disparate state organizations. Representatives from several of these organizations were in attendance at last night's dinner to pay respect to the Quattrones.

The innocence projects do not only work to free the innocent. They also lobby law enforcement and legislatures to instill best practices to facilitate reversing a wrong conviction in the future. Richard Glazer, executive director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project noted, when I interviewed him for Metro , would like to see more district attorney's office establish conviction integrity units within their own offices. 

The Pennsylvania Innocence Project is pushing the legislature to pass laws that would make evidence preservation rules uniform throughout the state. “Evidence, such as rape kits and blood, is currently kept randomly. Our investigators find them in court, medical examiners, or DA’s files,” said Glazer. 

As a bonus, I have included two short clips showing the warm side of Quattrone. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ensler Announces 2 Billion Rising And Call to Justice for 2014

Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day, was at the Free Library of Philadelphia on Saturday night to plug her new book, "In The Body of The World". Near the end of her book reading, she announced that One Billion Rising will be expanded  for V-Day 2014.

V-Day, which was founded to draw attention to violence against women, was originally commemorated every Valentine's Day with performances of her play, "The Vagina Monologues". She created One Billion Rising, which mobilized one billion people to dance in the streets to protest violence against women, to mark the 15th anniversary in 2013.

"We are going to have 2 Billion Rising and a Call to Justice for 2014," she said. "We are asking women who have been attacked to file charges." If the statue of limitations has not expired, then we are asking to go to the court and file charges. If they have filed charges, we are asking them to go to find out what is happening. Can you imagine the lines of people that will be forming outside courthouses all over the world?

Call to Justice could produce a seismic change in the way that violence against women is looked at. There is strength in numbers. Women, who had previously kept silent about the attack, might be more willing to come  forward in a group situation. With so few sexual assaults reported, the optics of lines of women waiting to press charges against their attackers might change public sentiment.

Ensler recently was diagnosed with stage 3 uterine cancer. She has surgery and chemotherapy. Nothing keeps this women down.