Jenner & Block

Jenner & Block is proud of its 2019 pro bono results:

 

 

November 29, 2017 Team Argues for Release of Documents Related to Travel Ban

Jenner & Block Partner Kelly M. Morrison and Associate Joshua M. Parker are mentioned in a Law360 article about their lawsuit on behalf of the public interest group Muslim Advocates. Titled “Judge Frustrated with DHS Response to Travel Ban FOIA,” the article explains that the group seeks information under FOIA related to allegedly discriminatory policies targeting Muslims for searches following the Trump administration’s immigration ban.  At a recent status conference, Judge Chutkan of the District Court for the District of Columbia deemed the government’s lack of responsiveness to Muslim Advocates’ request “unacceptable.”  Mr. Parker is quoted arguing that Muslim Advocates seeks far less than the government’s claim of some 70,000 pages of potentially responsive documents.  He also is quoted saying that Muslim Advocates has agreed to limit the search parameters, but the government continues to insist that it faces an undue burden without substantiation.  The team is representing Muslim Advocates on a pro bono basis.

TAGS: FOIA request, Muslim Advocates

November 1, 2017 Associate Brij B. Patnaik Honored with Public Interest Law Initiative Fellow Alumni Award

PILI award 2017Jenner & Block Associate Brij B. Patnaik was selected for the 2017 Distinguished Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) Fellow Alumni Award.  The Distinquished Alumni Award recognizes one former PILI Fellow for outstanding contributions of public interest and/or pro bono work.  In his profile, Mr. Patnaik is celebrated for his commitment to service, specifically highlighting his pro bono work with firm client Adam Gray.  Mr. Gray was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 14 for purportedly setting a fire in a Chicago apartment building that killed two people.  Twenty years later, Mr. Patnaik obtained records of chemistry testing not disclosed at trial that proved the central elements of Mr. Gray’s confession could not be true.  Mr. Patnaik then re-interviewed witnesses and worked with leading fire science experts to prove that there was actually no reason to believe the fire was caused by arson at all.  After years of litigation, the Illinois Appellate Court overturned Mr. Gray’s conviction and granted him his freedom in 2017.

Mr. Patnaik served as a PILI Fellow with the Cook County Public Defender’s Office after graduating from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2009, prior to joining Jenner & Block.  He is a member of the Young Professionals Board of the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Chicago Council of Lawyers.  He is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department.

TAGS: Awards, PILI

October 26, 2017 Associate Daniel Epstein Discusses Importance of Pro Bono Work

Jenner & Block Associate Daniel A. Epstein is interviewed at length in an article for the National Immigrant Justice Center, which ensures human rights protections and access to justice for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.  Mr. Epstein recently joined a team defending a group of women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Michigan.  Asked why he does pro bono work, Mr. Epstein responds:  “There are people who are lost in a system that I can navigate. I feel duty-bound to help them. I think justice demands high quality legal defense, regardless of ability to pay. And, happily, my firm feels the same way.”

TAGS: asylum refugees immigrants

October 19, 2017 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Features Firm’s Pro Bono Work Leading to Change in State Law

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin featured Partner Gabriel A. Fuentes’ pro bono representation of a group of Park Ridge residents sued for speaking out against a development project in their town that led to Illinois legislation that will become law in January 2018.

The new law will amend an obscure provision of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure that was said to require lawsuits for administrative review of local zoning decisions to name as defendants anyone who spoke publicly at the zoning board meeting.

In a Q&A with the publication, Mr. Fuentes said “there was a First Amendment issue that needed to be vindicated” and that the residents “were very concerned about their First Amendment rights.”

“The changes that we helped propose became law,” said Mr. Fuentes. “And, really, to see our pro bono litigation efforts result in some positive law reform to protect First Amendment rights is very gratifying.”

October 9, 2017 Jenner & Block Pro Bono Representation Inspires New Law Protecting Free Speech in Zoning Matters

The firm’s pro bono representation of a group of Park Ridge residents sued for speaking out against a development project in their town led to Illinois legislation that will become law in January 2018.  The new law will protect all Illinois residents from being sued for voicing their opinions at zoning board meetings.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 731 in August.  The bill amends an obscure provision of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure that was said to require lawsuits for administrative review of local zoning decisions to name as defendants anyone who spoke publicly at the zoning board meeting.  The amendment provides that the “parties of record” who must be named as defendants in these zoning lawsuits include only the zoning board and applicants before the board – and not members of the public who attended a board meeting and took the microphone.

State Sen. Laura M. Murphy and Reps. Martin J. Moylan and Mike Fortner sponsored the legislation after a builder sued the Park Ridge zoning board and a group of residents who had spoken at public meetings on the builder’s proposal in May and September of 2014.  The builder’s lawyers asserted that the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/3-107, required the residents to be named as defendants because the statute’s wording indicated they were among the “parties of record” in the proceeding, and the statute required all parties of record to be sued.

Partner Gabriel A. Fuentes and former associate Daniel Truesdell stepped in to represent 11 Park Ridge residents named as defendants, including Park Ridge Ald. Frank Wsol.  After the builder refused to dismiss the residents voluntarily, the firm filed a motion to dismiss on their behalf, arguing that Section 3-107 did not require the residents to be sued, and that if it were construed to do so, it violated the residents’ constitutional rights by punishing them for speaking.   While the motion was pending, the builder eventually dismissed the residents.

 

Mr. Fuentes later worked with Mr. Wsol and fellow Park Ridge Ald. Marty Maloney to draft language for a proposed amendment to Section 3-107, and the aldermen brought the language to their state legislators for inclusion in what became Senate Bill 731, enacted this summer.

TAGS: free speech, Litigation

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