A powerful conversation with Kelley Henry is the Chief of the Federal Public Defender Capital Habes Unit in Nashville, Tennessee. We talk about the nature of her work, the death penalty, and her work to bring justice to a deeply flawed system. We also take a very deep dive into the case of Pervis Payne, a death row inmate who she believes with 100% certainty is innocent of the crime he was convicted of. What she presents here will blow your mind and perhaps break your heart.

Kelley is the Chief of the Federal Public Defender Capital Habes Unit in Nashville, Tennessee and supervises a staff of 21. Together they represent more than half of Tennessee’s death row. Kelley’s career in indigent defense began in 1989 as the first legal intern for the Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center. Kelley has been involved in capital litigation since then. She has represented men and women in capital trial, appellate, post-conviction, habeas, § 1983, and clemency proceedings. Kelley is admitted to practice in the United State Supreme Court, Tennessee and Missouri.

She is also admitted in the 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Circuits of the United States Court of Appeals. Kelley was lead counsel in the clemency campaign for Gaile Owens whose sentence was commuted by Governor Phil Bredesen. Owens was later released from prison. Kelley was also lead counsel for 29 Tennessee Death Row Plaintiffs in the 2018 challenge to Tennessee’s new lethal injection protocol. Kelley is the 2019 recipient of the Amercian Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project’s Justice John Paul Stevens Guiding Hand of Counsel Award.

She is the 2012 and 2019 co-recipient of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Bill Redick Death Penalty Award. Currently, Kelley is lead counsel for Pervis Payne, a black man living with an intellectually disabled man who was wrongfully convicted for the 1987 murder of a white woman and her child in Shelby County, Tennessee.

Consider Subscribing for Free to Never Miss an Episode

Click the appropriate link to follow the show so you get every episode of What Matters Most as soon as they’re available!

What Matters Most
What Matters Most
Paul Samuel Dolman

Author, musician, and speaker Paul Samuel Dolman interviews a variety of people on creativity, the arts, relationships, and spirituality.

Your Honest Review of What Matters Most Helps the Show Reach More People!

If you enjoyed this — or any! — episode of the What Matters Most podcast, please leave a review of the show! Reviews help boost the show in rankings, which makes it more visible… and that means more listeners! It’s a great way to spread the word about What Matters Most!

Create your review – click here!

Help Support Future Episodes!

What Matters Most is 100% listener supported by generous pledges from people just like you.

Did this episode speak to you? Please consider pledging your support for as little as $5.00 per month… or pledge at higher levels and enjoy perks like a guided meditation audiobook, a library of Paul Samuel Dolman e-books… and more!

Read The Book That Inspires The Show

Paul Samuel Dolman, author, podcaster, and speaker, presents What Matters Most (the book!) a series of interview transcriptions from more than twenty inspirational Nashville and Tennessee residents, including special guest the journalist and author Bill Moyers.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, former Governor Don Sundquist, Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, Grammy Award-winning entertainer Wynonna Judd, and many more share intimate and inspirational aspects of themselves.

This twentieth anniversary edition also features bonus material from thirty more notables from Tennessee, including local business owners, spiritual leaders, coaches, radio personalities, authors, and educators.