Member Directory

Richard Jaffe

Jaffe, Hanle, Whisonant & Knight, P.C.
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Richard Jaffe
Jaffe, Hanle, Whisonant & Knight, P.C.

Richard S. Jaffe is the Senior Partner of the Birmingham, Alabama law firm of Jaffe, Hanle, Whisonant & Knight, P.C. The firm concentrates in the area of criminal defense and personal injury, with Mr. Jaffe specializing in the areas of white collar criminal defense and criminal litigation in the federal and state courts. Mr. Jaffe has been board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Criminal Trial Specialist since January 31, 1984. (Copyright 2006 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, S.C.). Mr. Jaffe began his career as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Alabama, then served as a Deputy District Attorney, before entering the private practice of law in 1978.

He is past president of the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the founder of the Greater Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyer?s Association. Best lawyers of America named Mr. Jaffe ?Lawyer of the year? in non-white-collar criminal defense in Birmingham for 2010 and 2015 and ?Lawyer of the year? in white-collar criminal defense for Birmingham for 2013. In 2014 Super Lawyers listed him among the top 10 Super Lawyers in Alabama. Mr. Jaffe is a sought after speaker to legal organizations and trains lawyers on trial strategies and communication skills throughout the United Sates. In 2015 Best Lawyers of America lists him in both white-collar and non-white collar criminal defense. He is serving his 4th term as a Board Director for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Mr. Jaffe has handled over sixty capital cases, including 5 federal death penalty cases. Only one of his clients has ever received the death penalty, and none have been executed. His acquittal rate is among the highest in the country. He is the only attorney in the nation who has successfully defended three death row inmates at new trials after they had previously been sentenced to death. He and his firm have participated in numerous other acquittals of individuals facing serious punishment, both at trial and on appeal. In addition, Mr. Jaffe has successfully represented many individuals and corporations facing significant sentences for violations of Federal Criminal Offenses. From 2000 until 2008 Mr. Jaffe served as co-counsel as the personal lawyer of Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid.

Mr. Jaffe is licensed to practice law in New York, Georgia, D.C. and Alabama. In 1994, the Alabama Bar Association awarded him the prestigious Clarence Darrow Award for the contributions he has made in defending indigent people charged with criminal offenses. In 2002 The Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (ACDLA) presented Mr. Jaffe The Roderick Beddow Award, it?s most prestigious award field- 'in recognition of a lifetime achievement in the practice of criminal law.' Mr. Jaffe is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL).

He taught 'Evidence' at the minority Miles Law School in Birmingham, Alabama for eight years. He has published many articles and papers in connection with the training of attorneys. His February 2001 article in the Champion magazine was repeatedly cited in the Cornell Law Journal in a definitive study on jury selection in capital cases. Mr. Jaffe is frequently called upon to comment on death penalty issues and other areas of criminal law by television, radio and print media. He has been the subject of numerous stories reporting his successes in the death penalty area. One recent television story led with the byline, 'Birmingham's Matlock.' He is the author of ?Quest for Justice; Defending the Damned.?

Click her to view Mr. Jaffe's in the news videos.

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Defense
  • Federal Litigation
  • Personal Injury
  • White Collar Crime

Litigation Percentage

  • 90% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Alabama, 1976
  • New York, 1982
  • District of Columbia, 1983
  • Georgia, 1984


  • The University of Alabama School of Law, Tuscaloosa, Alabama - 1976
    • Honors: Honors Finalist Moot Court Competition
    • Honors: National Moot Court Team

Published Works

  • Quest For Justice; Defending the Damned ,, 2009
  • Defending DUI Vehicular Homicide Cases , Inside the Minds; ?Proven Strategies for Complex DUI Vehicular Homicide Cases? Chapter Written by Richard Jaffe, Aspatore, 2011
  • The Colorado Method of Jury Selection, NACDL, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2009
  • Opening Statements, Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers, Pensacola Florida, 2009
  • Winning Trial Themes from Voire Dire Through Jury Instructions, Arkansas Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2009
  • Jury Selection in Death Penalty Cases, Making the Case for Life, NACDL and Southern Center for Human Rights, 2008
  • Brainstorming and Coordinating the Themes and Theories for Life, Capital Defense - The Punishment Phase, The Center for American and International Law, Piano, Texas, 2007
  • Using Experts - Sinking or Swimming, NACDL, Key West, Florida, 2007
  • Twelve Principals of Capital Litigation, Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2007
  • Ten Principals for Individual or Small Group Panel Individualized Voir Dire on Death Penalty, Capital Defense Training, Center for American and International Law, Piano, Texas, 2006
  • Attacking the State's Aggravation Case: Cross Examining The State's Aggravation Witnesses, Clarence Darrow Death Penalty College, De Paul University College of Law, 2006
  • Obtaining The Necessary Funds to Save a Life - Primer, The Brian R. Shechmeister Death Penalty College, Santa Clara University School of Law, 2006
  • Power Themes to Winning, Tennessee Trial College, 2006
  • Themes of Life - Helping The Jury Choose Life by Telling the Clients Story, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), 2004
  • The Insanity Defense and Diminished Capacity, The Champion (NACDL) 1986, The Champion, Trial Magazine (AAJ), 1995
  • Ten Principles for Individual Voir Dire in Death Penalty Cases, The Champion, NACDL, 2001

Representative Cases

  • Former Lead Counsel, USA v. Eric Rudolph
  • USA v. Price
  • USA v. Kelley
  • USA v. Holley
  • State of Alabama v. Drinkard
  • State of Alabama v. Padgett
  • State of Alabama v. Cochran
  • State of Alabama v. Ford
  • State of Alabama v. Gratton
  • Co-Counsel, Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid (2008)


  • Former Faculty Member, Clarence Darrow Death Penalty College
  • Former Faculty Member, Santa Clara Death Penalty College
  • Former Faculty Member, Miles Law School
  • Lectures at seminars and conferences throughout the United States

Honors and Awards

  • AV Peer Review Rating Martindale Hubble, 1986 - Present
  • ACDLA Roderick Beddow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Criminal Defense, 2001
  • Alabama Bar Association Clarence Darrow Award for Contributions to Indigent Defense, 1996
  • ACDLA President Award, 2010
  • ACDLA President Award, 2009
  • ACDLA President Award, 2008
  • ACDLA President Award, 2007
  • Best Lawyers of America -White Collar and Non-white Collar, Criminal defense, 2007 - 2014
  • Super Lawyers, 2008 - 2012
  • Best Lawyers of America 'Lawyer of The Year' (Birmingham) Non-white Collar, 2010
  • Birmingham Magazines Top Birmingham Lawyers , 2008 - 2013
  • Super Lawyers- Top 50 lawyers in Alabama, 2013
  • Best Lawyers of America ? ?Lawyer of the Year? White Collar Birmingham 2012 & 2013

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Member, 2013 - Present
  • National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Member, 1981 - Present
  • Supreme Court of Alabama Warrant and Indictment Committee, 2007 - Present
  • NACDL, Board of Directors, 2003 - Present
  • NACDL, Executive Committee, 2009
  • NACDL, Vice-Chair, Death Penalty Committee, 2004 - 2008
  • NACDL, Co-Chair, Death Penalty Committee, 2010 - Present
  • Alabama Bar Association, Chair, Criminal Justice Committee, 2005
  • Jefferson County, Chairman, Criminal Justice Committee, 2001 - 2005
  • Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers (ACDLA), Member, 1980 - Present
  • Supreme Court of Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, Member, 1994 - 2006
  • ACDLA, President, 1991 - 1992
  • Greater Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (GBCDLA), President, 1995
  • Greater Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Founder, 1992
  • American Association for Justice (AAJ), Member, 1981 - 1994
  • NACDL Board of Directors- serving 4th 3 year term

Past Employment Positions

  • Jaffe, Burton & Digiorgio, Senior Partner, 1980 - 1993
  • Walker, Jaffe & Burton, PC, 1979 - 1980
  • Richard S. Jaffe, PC, 1978 - 1979
  • Deputy District Attorney of Tuscaloosa County, 1977 - 1978
  • State of Alabama, Assistant Attorney General, 1976 - 1977

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