Pen and paper what is your body of work

A Stealth and Unstoppable Force For Justice

If you want peace, work justice. -Pople Paul VI

Imagine the worst possible crime you can. Now imagine being wrongfully accused of that crime. As bad as being guilty might be, being wrongfully accused is worse. As unnerved as you might be with being wrongfully accused, you might still hold on to hope because we all – more than not – trust the justice system. That hope might be challenged when you find out that there is a witness against you. The witness is a jailhouse informant who is being paid to testify against you. Maybe she isn’t paid money, but she is getting an early release or some other benefit. Nonetheless, her testimony is solid against you. You then learn that evidence that might exonerate you has been destroyed. It wasn’t maliciously destroyed, it was simply destroyed as provided for in the administrative rules for the District Attorney’s office along with hundreds of other files. Nonetheless, it is gone.1

Trekking the Jungles of India

Hope may be restored if you were fortunate enough to be represented by attorney Gilda “Gigi” Gordon. Her friends would say, “… she gave hope to so many.”2 She gave hope to so many through “hard work.” She and her partner may be the only attorneys in the world to have “trekked through the monkey- and cattle-filled jungles of India looking for a German Hare Krishna who was in hiding and did not want to take the witness stand in an L.A. murder trial.” 3 She could read 20 books a month. She invited after-hours phone calls, she was a dogged researcher and brilliant writer. All of her skills were fueled by an outrage against injustice where the power of the state was corruptly brought to bear on the weak. Gigi wielded her outrage like a superpower.

Gigi chose to use her superpowers to work for people charged (and often convicted) of the most heinous crimes. She had a special affinity for working to exonerate the wrongly accused. She worked to secure legislative reforms to prevent jailhouse informants from being rewarded for false testimony.

Individual Case Work Resulted In Mass Policy Changes

Gigi worked to shape a trendsetting and transparent “Brady compliance policy” — a policy adopted by the Los Angeles District Attorney4 and copied by many other California district attorneys, which requires prosecutors to give defense lawyers certain evidence, even if it hurts the state’s case.5

Gigi worked to get legislation passed that enabled state prisoners to seek post-conviction DNA testing of evidence. To ensure that the legislation had meaning, Gigi worked to get the District Attorney to preserve evidence forever in capital cases and 25 years in felony cases.

Gigi worked to set up the Post Conviction Assistance Center and was appointed more than 2,000 indigent clients which were all potential victims of dirty cops and bad arrests known as the Rampart scandal. The Rampart scandal resulted over 125 overturned convictions, the most number of police officers being disciplined and the largest civil verdict for prosecutorial wrongs in the history of Los Angeles.

Gigi’s nobility is found in her work. Gigi did not have an intention to build a legacy, but she did. Her legacy is her body of work that demonstrated that aggressive yet professional representation of one client is in the best interest of the client and insures a system of justice for everyone.


Here is the challenge. If you were to take out a piece of paper and write out a summary of your body of work, what would it be? If the paper would be blank, what can you do right now to make sure that isn’t blank this time next year? What legacy are you building?

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  1.  ©2015 Brandon L. Blankenship Alabama Birmingham Hoover Pelham, Image Credit: Pen and Paper, Dinurah K CC flickr 18APR2015. A portion of the title, “an unstoppable force for justice” is attributed to (Retrieved 20JAN2016).
  2. (Retrieved 11JAN2016).
  3. LAWeekly.
  4. I would be remiss if I did not point out that District Attorney Steve Cooley worked in state government to effect many of these changes as he shared a belief with Gigi that “accurate justice is the best justice.”
  5. LAWeekly.
About The Author

Brandon Blankenship

Brandon L. Blankenship is a continuing legal education presenter and business educator. He is the author of Unmasking Hour. He writes weekly posts on the legal industry and is a contributor to the Nobility Academy. He and his wife Donnalee live on their hobby farm south of Birmingham, Alabama.