CDPL is proud to announce that Lisa Dubs is the winner of the 2016 J. Kirk Osborn Award for outstanding work on behalf of indigent clients facing the death penalty. Lisa is renowned for protecting innocent clients from conviction, and for securing life sentences in even the most challenging capital cases. We celebrated Lisa’s accomplishments at a reception on October 6.
About the Award
J. Kirk Osborn was an extraordinary attorney who represented capital defendants at trial, on direct appeal, and in post-conviction and clemency proceedings. The Osborn Award honors lifelong zealous advocacy, compassion for indigent men and women facing the death penalty, and leadership in the capital defense community.
About the Winner
Lisa Dubs has distinguished herself as an attorney who fights hard and wins cases for her clients facing the death penalty. She is an especially forceful voice for the wrongfully accused, and has seen a stunning five of her clients acquitted at first-degree murder trials. At least three of those defendants were prosecuted capitally. In the case of Mike Mead, a Gaston County man who faced a death penalty trial for the murder of his fiancé, Dubs and her co-counsel tore apart every facet of the state’s case against Mead, found phone records showing he was an hour away from the crime scene at the time of the murder, presented a strong case for an alternate suspect, and caught investigators in a lie. The jury acquitted Mead.
Another innocent client accused of murdering his wife, Jerry Anderson, had his charges dismissed after his trial ended in a hung jury. Only a single juror held out for a guilty verdict after hearing Dubs’ defense. Many more of Dubs’ clients had the charges against them dismissed before trial thanks to her tireless investigation of their innocence. In the case of Francisco Laboy in Catawba County, who was accused of stabbing his wife to death, Dubs refused to take the sheriff at his word when he claimed to have airtight DNA evidence against Laboy. She and her co-counsel fought for discovery, and hired their own DNA expert. Their work exposed the State Crime Lab’s sloppy and incomplete testing – as well as the lab’s refusal to turn over evidence that would allow the defense to check the accuracy of its results. The state agreed to dismiss the case.
Just last year, Dubs and her co-counsel Robert Campbell took their client Carl Kennedy to a capital trial for the murder of three people in Davidson County. When Dubs and Campbell protested the prosecutor’s repeated refusal to turn over discovery ordered by the court, the judge was persuaded to take the death penalty off the table. Twenty-four weeks into a capital trial, the prosecutor offered an extraordinary deal: three second-degree murder pleas. For Dubs, these kinds of unheard-of victories have become commonplace.
Dubs is also active in the death penalty and criminal defense community, serving on committees at the State Bar Association and the N.C. Advocates for Justice. She has served as a trainer in life-saving jury selection techniques for CDPL and has represented clients in post-conviction. She has also given presentations on criminal defense for the N.C. School of Government and the N.C. Advocates for Justice. She is the mother of two daughters, and will soon welcome her third grandchild.
Henderson Hill, 2014 Osborn Award winner and Lisa’s mentor, will present the award on October 6th.