Success Story of the Month

Success Story of the Month

Attorney wins lifer parole hearing, giving client chance at new life helping at risk youth


This month's featured success story...

Attorney Rashida Harmon came to BALI to create an affordable post-conviction, criminal law practice.

In July, Rashida completed a near "mission impossible" when she successfully represented a client in his third life-term parole hearing, ultimately paving the way for his release after 20 years spent behind bars. In doing so, she achieved a win few attorneys will ever realize.

As of 2013, approximately 30,000 people in California prisons were serving indeterminate life sentences (meaning sentence that could extend up to a life term, but for which parole is a possibility). Although the rate of parole grants for life term prisoners has increased significantly in the past decade, it remains exceedingly low.

This victory gives Rashida's client a new lease on life and a chance to add to his community. For over a decade, Rashida's client has facilitated a program in San Quentin State Prison that gives imprisoned men the opportunity to mentor youth caught in the criminal legal system.  Rashida's efforts will help him realize his dream of launching a similar program out in the community upon release. 

Rashida credits her rare victory in great part to effective collaboration with her client, whose hard work and diligent preparation led to a successful presentation before the Board of Parole Hearings commissioners.  She also credits BALI. Rashida received the case referral and training to support her skill development through the pro bono apprenticeship component of BALI's training program. For the first six months of her participation in the program, Rashida has performed over 20 hours a week volunteering as a lawyer with UnCommon Law, building her skill in post-conviction relief while reducing the justice gap.

Learn more about Rashida's practice.

 Attorney Rashida Harmon, left, and her mentor, UC Hastings Professor Nancy Stuart