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Deborah McCrimmon, a volunteer with Equipo Nizkor, has received an award from the California State Bar Association for her contribution in the Scilingo case.

The lawyer from the firm of DLA Piper and a volunteer with Equipo Nizkor, Deborah McCrimmon, has received the Pro Bono Service Award 2006 from the Californa State Bar Association for her work in the case of Adolfo Scilingo.

Specifically, Deborah McCrimmon received the award for her participation in the team involved in prosecuting the Argentinian former Lt.Commander Adolfo Scilingo Manzorro for crimes against humanity and his subsequent conviction.

"Pro Bono" work is a term used by Anglo-Saxon law firms which dedicate a certain number of hours of their lawyers' time to carrying out legal services without charge to the client and constitute services for the common good, that is to say non-profitable work. Law faculties also require their students to perform legal work of a pro bono nature. This system benefits those persons or organizations who cannot afford to pay legal fees.

DLA Piper has 3,200 lawyers and 62 offices in 24 countries throughout the U.S., U.K., Continental Europe, Middle East and Asia. It has leading practices in commercial, corporate and finance, human resources, litigation, real estate, regulatory and legislative, and technology, media and communications.

Deborah McCrimmon is an associate of the firm at its San Francisco office. The President's Pro Bono Service Award was given to her by the State Bar Association in the Large Law Firm category. The award was presented on 6th October 2006 at the State Bar of California's Annual Meeting in Monterey, California.

These awards were established to recognise those attorneys in California for outstanding provision of pro bono legal services.

The candidates are considered on the basis of the breadth and impact of their pro bono work, the nature of the programme for which they do the work, the evidence of their commitment to pro bono work and the type of services contributed.

David Gross, Managing Partner of the San Francisco office of the firm, stated the following in a communiqué by the firm about the award:

"We're extremely proud of Deborah's commitment to pro bono service to human rights organizations - and to her success in helping secure the only conviction by a domestic court of a foreign perpetrator of crimes against humanity." "Her contribution is a shining example of the type of dedication our attorneys have brought to their pro bono commitments".

Deborah McCrimmon formed part of the legal team directed by Equipo Nizkor which played a deciding role in the successful prosecution in the Spanish Courts of Lt. Commander Adolfo Scilingo. As DLA Piper stated in its communiqué, "Scilingo was prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and terrorism committed against Spanish nationals in Argentina during the Argentine dictatorship of 1976 to 1983. He was later convicted of crimes against humanity".

Deborah McCrimmon's involvement in the Scilingo case began in 2003 when she joined Equipo Nizkor as a volunteer and worked with other members of the team to analyze the evidence of the case collected by the investigating judge and in the preparation of the oral proceedings.

In January 2005, once the trial of Scilingo had begun, Deborah McCrimmon spent six weeks working with Equipo Nizkor. During this time, among other things, she prepared, under Equipo Nizkor's direction, a summary of Scilingo's prior confessions that were completely inconsistent with his testimony during the trial itself. This analysis was submitted to the Court and the judges incorporated it into their final opinion.

As DLA Piper explained in their communiqué, "The Nizkor team, including McCrimmon, was the only team to present the argument that Scilingo's actions constituted crimes against humanity, not genocide. This was the charge on which Scilingo was ultimately convicted."

And the communiqué continued:

"The case marked the first time in world history in which a domestic court successfully applied principles of international criminal jurisdiction and crimes against humanity. Scilingo is currently serving a 640-year prison term in Spain. Scilingo is now the only official convicted in a domestic court outside of Argentina for crimes committed by the Argentine military during the dictatorship."

At DLA Piper, McCrimmon works in the litigation, securities litigation and antitrust practice. She also continues to work with various nonprofit organizations in the Bay area and on various pro bono projects.

McCrimmon received a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of The Law.

Equipo Nizkor wishes to congratulate her for receiving this award which constitutes a recognition of the enormous amount of work done with the objective of obtaining a conviction for crimes against humanity in the ordinary jurisdiction of the European courts; and it takes this opportunity to offer its thanks again to the entire team of volunteers who made it possible to obtain a conviction in the case of Adolfo Scilingo in the form set out in the judgement of 19th April 2005.

[Source: Radio Nizkor, 11Dec06]

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