Texas exonoree donates in honor of defense attorney

Anthony Graves Nicole Cásarez

A University of Texas at Austin law scholarship has been established by the twelfth death-row exoneree in Texas, Anthony Graves, and named in honor of his former defense lawyer, Nicole Cásarez.

An attorney and journalism professor in Houston, Cásarez spent eight years working with her team to free Graves from his 1992 imprisonment.

As the team prepared to go to a capital murder retrial in 2010, special prosecutor Kelly Siegler (of TNT reality show Cold Justice fame) dropped the case based on her own investigation, and Graves once again became a free man.

According to Pamela Colloff’s Texas Monthly article, Graves recently threw a mock going-away dinner party for himself as a way to gather friends for his scholarship announcement. Cásarez, under the impression that she was simply a guest helping see Graves off for his upcoming move to New York City, then graciously received the news that future students of her alma mater would receive financial aid in her honor.

To pay for the scholarship, Graves used part of the settlement money he received from the Texas legislature for his wrongful imprisonment. His action is a most welcome investment in the future of Texas law and a true gesture of appreciation for the impact Cásarez had on his life.

Photo by Ruben Cásarez.