After 25 years behind bars, ‘jailhouse lawyer’ Michael Braham realizes dream to attend law school

Dollita Okine February 01, 2024
Michael Braham (Left) and Attorney Alex Taubes. Photo: Alex Taubes/X

During his 25 years at the Connecticut-based Cheshire Correctional Institution, Michael Braham successfully prosecuted multiple cases against Department of Correction officers and helped other prisoners do the same.

His love and enthusiasm for the law have now inspired him to seek a legal career. He told theGrio, “For most of the time that I was incarcerated, I strove to better myself in preparation for the period after my release. I did so in two ways, mainly: education (while there, I earned an associate’s and two bachelor’s degrees) and through pro se litigation.”

At the age of 21, Braham was taken into custody after being accused of killing his childhood friend Geoffrey Murphy. He clarified to the publication that he didn’t mean for the victim to die, which would have rendered him guilty of manslaughter rather than murder. On the advice of his “incompetent defense counsel,” he did, however, enter a guilty plea to murder in exchange for a 32-year sentence.

He expressed his regret, saying, “I wish I could turn back time and bring Geoffrey back. But because I can’t, I have long committed myself to helping others avoid making poor choices like the ones which culminated in me causing another’s death.”

He began his pro se action in 1998 after discovering that his attorney had deceived him to persuade him to submit a guilty plea. Pro se litigation is the legal term for someone who represents themselves in court without the aid of an attorney.

After serving 24 1/2 years, Braham was introduced to lawyer Alex Taubes by a mutual friend. In late 2019, Taubes established a boutique civil rights law business in downtown New Haven, Connecticut. 

Taubes, who normally represents prisoners seeking sentence reductions through petitions for commutation or motions for sentence modification, assisted Braham in getting his sentence reduced for free. Two years and seven months ago, Braham was released from prison.

Since then, Braham has been studying for the LSAT and collaborating with Taubes on a wide range of matters in his practice.

“Overall, we’ve helped 93 individuals (not including Michael) get over 1,000 years off their prison sentences in the few years (since late 2021) we’ve been doing this work,” Taubes disclosed.

Taubes, who was pleased that Braham had been accepted to law school, assured the outlet that Braham would have a place in his firm.

Braham said of Taubes, “I’ve stayed at Alex’s firm for all these years for three reasons. (1) He represented me on my motion for sentence modification for free while very few others were only willing to do so if paid tens of thousands of dollars; (2) he gave me a paralegal job when virtually no one else would; and (3) because he is my friend.”

Braham studied philosophy at the Wesleyan-Middlesex Center for Prison Education for his undergraduate degree, concentrating on the connection between critical racial theory and sociology. He is also a member of the Full Citizens Coalition, a nonprofit organization centered in New Haven. He is seeking to pass legislation that would allow criminals to vote.

Though he did not identify which law schools he is interested in, he did say that he has filed ten applications; two have been accepted, one has placed him on a waitlist, and one has been denied. While he has not picked which institution to attend, his law school adventure will begin in the fall.

After graduation, he intends to practice law, possibly as a general practitioner. However, he stated, “It’s too early to say, as my law school experience will certainly further shape me.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 1, 2024


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