Judge Kevin Sharp Speaks At Free Leonard Peltier Event

On Behalf of | September 13, 2023 | Firm News

Former federal judge Kevin Sharp, Co-Vice Chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp, was a featured speaker at the Free Leonard Peltier: 79th Birthday Rally at the White House on September 12th, 2023. Judge Sharp spoke as the pro bono attorney for Peltier.

Hundreds of activists showed up in support of Leonard Peltier, who turned 79 on September 12. He has spent more than 47 of his 79 years in prison.

Supporters rallied for Peltier’s release, chanting “Free Leonard Peltier” and “Rise Up For Peltier.” A group of supporters caravanned from western South Dakota to Washington DC, culminating in the September 12th birthday event.

Who Is Leonard Peltier?

Leonard Peltier is a Native American activist wrongfully convicted in 1977 for the murders of two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and has been imprisoned since the age of 32. His case has drawn international attention and controversy due to flawed legal procedures and concerns about the political motivations behind the conviction.

Peltier has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, National Congress of American Indians, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, among others. Peltier’s imprisonment has become a symbol of Native American rights and criminal justice issues in the United States.

Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Involvement

Judge Kevin Sharp has been involved in the nationwide push to free Leonard Peltier since 2019. He has represented Peltier in his clemency petition, challenging the constitutionality of his conviction after more than four decades of incarceration.

In his speech, Kevin Sharp said, “There have been three separate times throughout my career when I’ve taken an oath to defend the constitution of the United States: When I was in the military, when I became a lawyer, and when I became a judge. So when I stepped off the bench, it was through that lens – of my oath to this country and through the lens of having given my life to the law – that I looked at the Leonard Peltier case. And what I saw shocked me. The level of constitutional violations, misconduct by law enforcement, and misconduct by the U.S. attorneys’ office that back then so moved me, both because of my oath and because of my love of this country, to try to do something about it. That’s what brought me here. It was easy to understand the how and the what they did to Leonard Peltier, but it’s been a yearslong journey to understand the why.”

Despite high visibility and advocacy, Peltier remains imprisoned. Sanford Heisler Sharp is committed to continuing the fight to seek justice for Leonard Peltier.