Redemption Row Pro Bono work of the Costanzo Law Firm
While the California State Bar does not implement minimum “pro bono” requirements for California lawyers, Costanzo Law Firm takes seriously the need to serve underserved and indigent litigants free of charge in order to right the wrongs that so frequently occur in our justice system against people who cannot afford a lawyer.
As part of that effort, Costanzo Law Firm is now working to free Mr. Joel Baptiste from prison—a man who has already served nearly 25 years for a 1997 murder in which he was not the actual shooter—because we believe he meets new criteria for release set forth by the California legislature relating to recent changes to the felony murder rule, youth offender laws, and other statutes under California law.
Costanzo Law Firm has partnered with San Diego non-profit Redemption Row to provide pro bono services to Mr. Baptiste. In fact, Mr. Baptiste is a co-founder of Redemption Row, fighting for change while locked behind bars.
On April 9, 2023, Mr. Baptiste married Redemption Row’s Executive Director, Jen Abreu (also a cofounder), in a ceremony at the R.J. Donovan correctional facility, located outside San Diego, where Mr. Baptiste is presently serving a term of life without the possibility of parole.
Costanzo Law Firm’s senior associate attorney Frank Zeccola, Esq.—the lead attorney on Mr. Baptiste’s case—was honored to attend the wedding. Mr. Zeccola states, “My wife might take issue with, this, but it was the most beautiful wedding ceremony I’ve ever attended.” (Mr. Zeccola’s wife, Lailoni Zeccola, also works with Redemption Row to effect change in the justice system.)
Costanzo Law Firm looks forward to freeing Mr. Baptiste so that Mr. Baptiste and Ms. Abreu may one day continue their married life outside prison walls.