Partner Andrew Merrick Elected to the Board of Directors for CARPLS
Jenner & Block is proud of its 2019 pro bono results:
Jenner & Block Partner Andrew F. Merrick was recently selected to serve a two-year term on the Board of Directors for CARPLS, Cook County’s largest provider of pro bono legal services. Founded in 1993 – then known as the Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services – CARPLS has helped more than 800,000 low- and moderate-income residents find solutions to their everyday legal matters.
Mr. Merrick has devoted more than 2,000 hours to representing indigent clients on a pro bono basis since joining Jenner & Block in 2006. In 2016, he received the prestigious Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award from the Chicago Bar Foundation for his commitment to pro bono, community service and the organized bar. Mr. Merrick is also the president of the Board of Directors of Compass to Care, The Mike & Sandy Ernsdorff Childhood Cancer Foundation.
Team Wins Victory for Former Students of Now-Defunct ITT Technical Institute in “Landmark” Settlement
Students of the for-profit chain would have nearly $600 million wiped out under a preliminary settlement approved by a federal bankruptcy judge on January 24, 2018. The settlement acknowledges that students who attended the college between 2006 and 2016 have a $1.5 billion claim against ITT, which closed abruptly in 2016. The settlement is expected to be finalized in June.
The team representing the student class in this pro bono matter includes Partners Melissa M. Root, Catherine L. Steege and Brian Hauck; they are serving with Harvard University’s Project on Predatory Student Lending.
“ITT perpetrated a massive fraud on students, lying to them about everything from tuition costs to their own accreditation status, and left thousands of students in massive debt that they never should have had,” said Eileen Connor, a director of litigation at the Project on Predatory Student Lending, in a press release. “This landmark settlement provides important and necessary relief to those students. ITT’s estate has now cancelled the debts of its students because of ITT’s fraudulent actions, and it’s time for the Department of Education and all private holders of ITT debt to do the same.”
News of the settlement was reported by several media outlets including the Boston Globe and the Washington Post.
Partner Jessica Ring Amunson Featured in Podcast about Pro Bono US Supreme Court Case She Argued
Jenner & Block Partner Jessica Ring Amunson discusses Class v. United States in this podcast sponsored by Counting to 5. In Class, which she argued before the US Supreme Court in October, Ms. Amunson represents Rodney Class, a retired veteran convicted of possessing firearms on US Capitol grounds. He argues that his guilty plea doesn’t bar him from appealing the conviction on Second Amendment and due process grounds. Ms. Amunson discusses US Supreme Court precedent on the issue and the circuit court split. The underlying issue, Ms. Amunson explains, is that “you should not be precluded from raising constitutional challenges that would have prevented you from being tried or convicted at all.”
“I think it’s an interesting case,” she adds. “When I tell people the question presented is whether a guilty plea inherently waives a constitutional challenge to the statute under which you’re convicted, people have strong reactions one way or another… I think it’s a case with broad appeal beyond the lawyer set.”
Ms. Amunson is co-chair of the firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice and chair of the firm’s Election Law and Redistricting Practice. An experienced litigator, Ms. Amunson has argued before the US Supreme Court and multiple federal and state courts of appeals and has filed dozens of briefs in those courts.
Partner Adam Unikowsky Counts Another Victory before the US Supreme Court
On January 22, 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jenner & Block Partner Adam G. Unikowsky in Artis v. District of Columbia, a case that concerns the statute of limitations for litigants who file state-law claims in federal courts only to have those courts decline to exercise jurisdiction over those claims. The 5-4 decision on behalf of Adam’s pro bono client is the sixth consecutive victory for Adam – he won three cases last term, and two the term before that – and his first this term.
Mr. Unikowsky represented petitioner Stephanie Artis, a former DC health inspector. Following her termination, Ms. Artis sued the District; that suit was later dismissed by a federal court, which declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her state-law claims. Fifty-nine days following the dismissal, she filed the state-law claims in a DC trial court. This court dismissed the lawsuit, holding that the tolling provision in 28 U.S.C. §1367(d) merely provides 30 days beyond the dismissal for the plaintiff to refile, a deadline Ms. Artis missed. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed. In the Supreme Court, Mr. Unikowsky argued that §1367(d) suspends the limitations period for the state-law claim while the claim is pending in federal court, and that Ms. Artis’s DC suit was therefore timely.
In the Court’s opinion, Justice Ginsburg wrote that “Section 1367(d)’s instruction to ‘toll’ a state limitations period means to hold it in abeyance, i.e., to stop the clock.” Justice Ginsburg also wrote that “the stop-the-clock interpretation of §1367(d) does not present a serious constitutional problem.”
Last term, Mr. Unikowsky argued three Supreme Court cases in a 28-day span in March and April 2017 and achieved unanimous wins in them all. Those cases were Howell v. Howell, Honeycutt v. US and Kokesh v. SEC. In the prior term, Mr. Unikowsky earned two additional wins in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle and V.L. v. E.L.
Daily Journal Features Partner Rick Richmond in his First Murder Case
Jenner & Block Partner Rick Richmond, co-founder and managing partner of the Los Angeles office, is featured in the Daily Journal for his pro bono representation of Dietrich Canterberry, a 36-year-old man charged with one count of murder after an altercation outside a Hollywood nightclub resulted in a fatality in October 2016.
Canterberry, an Anaheim resident and former college football player, was a four-year letterman and three-year starter during his career as a UNLV Rebel. Earning All-Mountain West Honors in 2002, and voted as a team captain in 2003, Canterberry earned the Robert Cline Scholarship Award for demonstrating a strong commitment to his team, university and community and used the prestigious accolade towards completing his degree a year early.
“That’s not your typical person who would be charged with murder,” Mr. Richmond said. “I felt on a personal level this defendant has been treated unfairly, and I want very much for him to receive just and fair treatment.”
Although this is Mr. Richmond’s first criminal case, pro bono work has always been a mainstay in both his career and throughout Jenner & Block’s history: “It’s part of our DNA at Jenner & Block to provide pro bono representation in the communities where we serve.”
Murder Charges Dropped after Coerced Confession Suppressed
Jenner & Block Partner Andrew W. Vail led a team that won a key victory for our client and for other prisoners who were convicted based on confessions coerced by controversial former Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevara. In December 2017, Mr. Vail and Partner David P. Saunders persuaded Cook County Circuit Judge James Obbish to throw out our client’s coerced confession, which was essentially the only evidence against him in a high-profile double-murder case in 1998. Judge Obbish’s ruling came after prosecutors granted Guevara – who earlier had invoked the Fifth Amendment under questioning from Mr. Vail– immunity from prosecution for everything but perjury, only to hear Guevara testify in October 2017 that he did not remember anything about the case. Guevara refused even to examine documents offer to him to refresh his memory. “He showed what he was made of,” Judge Obbish said as quoted in Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times articles, concluding that Guevara had no reason to be evasive. “[Guevara] has now eliminated the possibility of being considered a credible witness in any proceeding.” The judge’s ruling may have an impact on an undetermined number of other persons convicted based on Guevara’s investigative work. On December 21, 2017, prosecutors then dismissed the charges against Mr. Reyes and he was released from IDOC custody for first time in nearly 19 years.
News of the dropped charges was reported by multiple media outlets, ranging from the Chicago Tribune to the Associated Press.
The firm team also includes Associates Matthew T. Gordon, Samuel Jahangir and Huiyi Chen and Paralegals Mike Hughes and Nick Perrone.
Mr. Reyes is the second pro bono client for whom Mr. Vail achieved post-conviction relief and freedom in 2017. To read more about the case of Patrick Pursley, please click here.