The news struck like thunder in bright sunlight.
David Wycoff, anti-death penalty lawyer, died suddenly on Saturday, January 6th, completely unexpectedly.
For years, he worked at the Philadelphia Capital Habeas Unit, where he practiced as a defense lawyer for the most defenseless of people: those on Death Row.
He took a long and circuitous road to the law, for he was a mathematician and physicist, and had a full career in the world of academia.
He left that world to get his hand dirty as first, a student and then, a lawyer.
And what a lawyer! Brilliant, detailed and meticulous, David lent his mental expertise to fighting the death penalty, and was co-counsel in the Rompilla v. Beard case (U.S. 3rd Circuit Court) and argued the Pace v. DiGuglielmo case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
But whether his name appeared in a brief or no, his hand and head strengthened countless cases, and his assistance reached far and wide throughout Death Row.
His colleagues at the Capital Habeas Unit and throughout the defense bar are devastated by his passing. The men and women on Death Row have lost a powerful advocate and ally.
David leaves behind the loves of his life; his wife, Debby Freedman, Deputy Director of the city’s Community Legal Services, and two boys, Isaac and Jacob.
It isn’t often that someone leaves the Ivy League to battle in the rough and tumble of courtrooms. David did so with a fine distinction.
He will long be remembered.
David Wycoff, Esquire.