Larry A. Hammond
Phoenix - Phoenix attorney Larry A. Hammond, a nationally renowned advocate for justice and a founding partner of the Phoenix law firm, Osborn Maledon, P.A., passed away March 2, 2020, following a long illness. He was 74.
His passions were well-known to colleagues and friends - family, the law and baseball. While the legal community respected his intellect and willingness to take on the tough cases, the ushers at Chase Field knew his commitment to baseball. He scored every game he attended - and that was a good many.
The most senior member of Osborn Maledon's investigations and criminal group, Larry came to the predecessor firm of Osborn Maledon in 1974, establishing a practice that for nearly 50 years focused on capital defense representation and white-collar crime, including notable pro bono clients.
Over five decades, he won numerous national awards and recognitions including the American Bar Association's John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award and the Southern Poverty Law Center's Justice Award. Under President Carter, Larry received the U.S. Attorney General's Award for Exceptional Service. In Arizona, he received the Tom Karas Criminal Justice Award, the Judge Learned Hand Community Service Award, and the Arizona State Bar Association's Walter Craig Award.
In 2015, Larry received the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal's Professionalism Award. Most recently, he was recognized by the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, of which Larry was a Fellow, as an Access to Justice Distinguished Pro Bono Fellow for his work with the Arizona Justice Project. And in recognition of his many contributions to the Arizona legal community, he was inducted into the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame.
From 2005-2007, Larry was president of the American Judicature Society - a national organization devoted to the administration of justice in America. Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno presented him with the 2008 Justice Award, the Society's highest honor, in a ceremony appropriately held on the infield of Scottsdale Stadium.
Larry helped found the Arizona Capital Representation Project in 1988, which assists inmates convicted of capital crimes, and he served as chair of the Arizona State Bar's Indigent Defense Task Force. He strove to set high standards for all criminal defense attorneys, and he led by example.
But Larry was most proud of founding the Arizona Justice Project, the fifth innocence organization in the nation, for which he served as president for 22 years. To further the reach of that work, he helped found the Innocence Network, which has blossomed into a network of over 60 innocence organizations worldwide. Because of the Arizona Justice Project's work, 27 people have been freed from unjust imprisonment.
Larry had a tremendous impact on young lawyers. He taught law courses for Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, Elon University College of Law in Greensboro, N.C., the University of New Mexico, St. John's College (Santa Fe), and Birmingham City University School of Law in the United Kingdom, and he wrote prolifically on the need to assure that no one was denied access to fair treatment under the law for lack of funds. He helped create law-school clinics at ASU and UofA that focus on wrongful convictions.
Although he did not aspire to be a lawyer while growing up in El Paso, Texas, he had a distinguished career from the beginning. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Texas Law Review. After graduation, Larry clerked for Judge Carl McGowan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and then for two U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Hugo L. Black and Lewis F. Powell, Jr. He later served as an assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor, then as a deputy assistant attorney general with the U.S. Justice Department during the Carter administration.
As Larry prepared to move to Phoenix, Justice Powell wrote him a note: "I think you are one of the ablest lawyers with whom I have ever worked. Your capacity of penetrating legal analysis is exceptional. You also write with clarity and precision and I had complete confidence in the thoroughness and integrity of your research and in the soundness of your judgement."
In Phoenix, Larry's distinguished career included pro bono work for the NAACP in the 1970s on school desegregation, working on international war crimes as part of an American Bar Association task force and advocacy for increasing the funding for lawyers appointed to serve as public defenders in capital cases. His pro bono work on behalf of John Henry Knapp uncovered new fire science evidence that led to a retrial and a reversal of the conviction of the man who had wrongly spent 18 years on death row.
At Osborn Maledon, Larry mentored dozens of lawyers, many of whom are now the best known and most respected attorneys in Arizona, including numerous state and federal judges. His advice on legal issues was sought not just by clients but also by other lawyers, leaders of state and federal Bar associations, government officials, and leaders of industry. He was referred to by one national legal publication as the "Dean of the Arizona criminal defense bar." And his colleagues at Osborn Maledon revered him for his intellect, his humanity, and his selfless dedication to others.
Larry is survived by his wife, Frances ("Nobody else has Frances"); three children, Brooke Hammond, Blake (Jane) Hammond and Amanda (Chad Swenka) Hammond; and nine grandchildren, Brennan Austin Hammond, Haley Kristine Langille, Hugh Hammond Swenka, Joshua David Lundine, Louis Hammond Swenka, Pearl Hammond Swenka, Randall James Lundine, Stephanie Ema Lundine and Victoria Lynn (Trey) Roberts. Larry is also survived by his sisters Madelynn and Nancy, his brothers Chuck and John, and their families.
Larry enjoyed every day, and every day started for him hours before the sun came up. His tireless commitment to his clients and colleagues was matched by his dedication to his family. In addition to his love of baseball, he was an avid marathon runner, world traveler, and lover of country music. He only drove a pick-up truck. He loved watching the grandchildren and sporting events. And he loved to read and teach.
A celebration of Larry's life will be held at the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix on Sunday, March 22, at 2:00 PM. UPDATE The Celebration of Life has been postponed due to the COVID-19 concerns and will be reset to another date.
In lieu of flowers or other gifts, the family requests that contributions be made in Larry Hammond's name to the Arizona Justice Project, c/o Arizona State University, 411 N. Central Ave, Suite 600, Phoenix, AZ 85004.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Mar. 4 to Mar. 13, 2020.