LOS ANGELES and SAN FRANCISCO, December 27, 2017: Shortly before Christmas, California Governor Jerry Brown commuted the sentence of Morgan Lewis pro bono client Kelly Savage, making her immediately eligible for parole after 22 years in prison.
Ms. Savage was unjustly convicted of a murder committed by her husband, who had routinely abused her and her child. She had been making plans to escape from this abuse with her children when Mr. Savage fatally beat her three-year-old son. Ms. Savage was convicted of the murder, along with her husband, under the aiding and abetting theory. She has spent the last two decades working through her personal grief by helping other domestic violence survivors through peer counseling while in prison.
Morgan Lewis began representing Ms. Savage in 2007 and filed habeas petitions on her behalf at both the California Court of Appeal and the Tulare County trial court where she was convicted. These petitions were based on a unique California statute (Penal Code Section 1473.5), which allows for a habeas petition to be filed on the basis that expert testimony relating to intimate-partner battering was not received in evidence at trial, and where a reasonable probability exists that had such evidence been received, the result of the proceeding would have been different. The California Court of Appeal granted an order to show cause to the trial court why Ms. Savage was not entitled to some relief, but the trial court still denied the petition last year. A new habeas petition for the Court of Appeal was in the works, when a representative from Governor Brown’s office granted the commutation on December 22, 2017.
“It’s been an epic 11-year battle to bring a measure of peace to a woman who suffered unimaginable abuse,” said Christina Harper, Morgan Lewis associate. “After numerous legal roadblocks, we’re thrilled that the governor stepped in on Ms. Savage’s behalf.”