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Hogan Lovells Secures Complete Exoneration of One of the “Norfolk Four” After 11 Years in Prison

09 August 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C., 9 August 2011 – After more than 13 years of having his life on hold and in the balance, Derek Tice, one of the “Norfolk Four,” had his name cleared by the Norfolk, Virginia Circuit Court on felony charges associated with the 1997 rape and murder of the wife of a fellow Navy sailor. A team of Hogan Lovells lawyers led the pro bono efforts to secure his freedom when he was released from prison in 2009 and ended the case on 4 August 2011 with full relief from charges for Tice.

“Derek’s record is fully cleared and he can finally live his life unrestrained of false convictions,” remarked Desmond Hogan, the Washington, D.C.-based partner who led the team of Hogan Lovells lawyers.  “We are ecstatic that we have reached justice with the end of this case following our seven-year legal battle to clear his name. This is the day that Derek Tice has been waiting for and the start of a new beginning for him.”

In April 2011, Tice’s appeal of his conviction was approved by the federal appeals court. On 4 August 2011, Judge Charles E. Poston declared that the Commonwealth’s supervision of Tice, which included his parole and registered sex offender status, was “done.” He accepted the request to drop the two felony charges. “It is over,” said Poston.

Tice had been convicted of a 1997 rape and murder that all physical evidence, including DNA evidence, overwhelmingly shows he did not commit. He had been serving two life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole. The real killer, Omar A. Ballard, whose DNA was left at multiple locations at the crime scene, is currently serving a double-life sentence for this crime and has admitted that he committed this crime alone.

Over the past seven years, dozens of Hogan Lovells lawyers have worked thousands of hours to obtain clemency for Tice, who along with Joseph Dick, Jr., and Danial J. Williams, was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Hogan Lovells has worked jointly with two other major law firms which represent Dick and Williams, and with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. A fourth innocent Navy veteran, Eric Wilson, was released in 2005 after serving eight and a half years in prison.

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