The Client’s Life Was Spared

Karl Stephenson Chambers’ life was spared thanks to the legal representation provided by Bill Hangley and Matt Hamermesh. The firm began representing Chambers in 2003, when his capital case was remanded to the Court of Common Pleas for York County for resentencing after Chambers’ death penalty sentence was reversed on a Post Conviction Relief Act petition. Bill and Matt sought to have Chambers sentenced to life in prison (which in Pennsylvania means life without parole) on the grounds that he is intellectually challenged and therefore, under the U.S. Supreme Court standard established in Atkins v. Virginia, ineligible to receive the death penalty. At the June 2005 Atkins hearing, Bill served as lead counsel and Matt made the closing argument. At the close of testimony, the Honorable John S. Kennedy of the York County Court of Common Pleas ruled from the bench, finding that—notwithstanding his personal opposition to the Atkins decision—the Hangley Aronchick team had successfully impeached and discredited the Commonwealth’s witnesses and that pursuant to Atkins, Chambers could not be put to death. The case was referred to us by the American Bar Association.