Member Directory
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 has tried hundreds of jury trials and represented thousands of individuals in the state and federal courts over his four-decade career. His representation has included professionals of all types, including lawyers, pharmacists, doctors, accountants, mental health experts, dentists, politicians, engineers and CEO’s. To Mr. Jaffe each person is a human being of great value, and he endeavors to give each client true respect and will fight fearlessly for each and every one of each person he represents. Each year since 2007 both Super Layers and Best Lawyers of America has recognized Mr. Jaffe as one of the leading white-collar and criminal defense lawyers in Alabama. Best lawyers has named him Lawyer of the Year in criminal defense 3 times since 2010 and Super Lawyers listed Mr. Jaffe in 2014 as one of the top 10 lawyers in Alabama.

Mr. Jaffe has represented over 60 people facing the death penalty. He is the only lawyer in the country to serve as lead counsel at new trials in which juries acquitted 3 people once on death row. He has handled 6 federal death penalty cases including that of Eric Robert Rudolph, known as the Olympic Park Bomber. No client of Mr. Jaffe is currently on death row, and none have been executed.

Mr. Jaffe served as a Board of Director for the National Association of Criminal Defense lawyers (NACDL) for a total of 12 years over his career and in 2013 the American College of Trial lawyers inducted him as a Fellow. He has served as President of the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers (ACDLA) and is the Founder of the Greater Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (GBCDLA).

Mr. Jaffe is widely recognized as one of the top experts on criminal law in the United States and is frequently called upon by local and national media outlets for his insight on complex issues involving criminal law. Author of Quest for Justice: Defending the Damned, 1st and 2nd editions, he has trained lawyers in communication and trial skills throughout the United States and has written numerous articles on persuasion, issues involving state and federal criminal defense, and trial techniques.

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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