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Winners of the 2021 Lifesaver Award

Congratulations to Bill Kluge and Jeff Gamso, recipients of the 2020 Lifesaver Award! 


Bill Kluge – Lima

Bill has handled more than 57 capital cases since 1982 all over Northwest Ohio.  Of those 57 cases, only 3 had been sentenced to death – one of those was eventually vacated by the Sixth Circuit, one died in prison while his appeals were pending, and the third remains on death row – although one of two death sentences was reversed on appeal.  Bill knows when a case needs to resolved and works hard with the prosecutors to ensure that they are resolved and that death does not result.  The prosecutors and judges all know him and are willing to work with him on resolving the cases.  On the other hand, Bill does not shy away from trying the appropriate case and ensuring that the record is made and that he does everything possible to avoid a sentence of death.  Bill was a pioneer in litigating capital cases in the 19802.  Bill is also a founding member and former President of OACDL. Recognition of his many successful years of capital defense is long overdue.

Jeff Gamso – Cleveland

Jeff has been a longtime capital defense attorney – although his expertise has been primarily in appeals, post-conviction, habeas corpus, and policy.  Jeff worked many years as a private practitioner in the Toledo area focusing on capital appeals and habeas cases and participating in a few triald.  Jeff’s advocacy has freed several people from the row in Ohio.  Jeff later moved to Cleveland where he served as statewide litigation director for the ACLU.  While working less on capital litigation he was involved in policy issues aimed at abolishing the death penalty and improving the capital sentencing schemes in Ohio and nationally – work that he continues today.  More recently Jeff has been employed in the Appellate Division of the Cuyahoga County Public Defenders Office handling many of the extremely difficult capital cases coming out of Cuyahoga County.  Jeff has also presented at OACDL and other seminars around the state and country and has been a moving force in organizing the yearly Death Penalty seminars for the OACDL for many years.   Jeff also in a former President of OACDL.  Again, recognition is long overdue.


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