Called To Serve

Our Pro Bono Commitment

Our Pro Bono Commitment

January 11, 2022 Jenner & Block Team Recognized for Pro Bono Service by Eastern District of California

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California recently recognized Partner Kirsten Hicks Spira and Special Counsel Wesley M. Griffith as honorees for their commitment to pro bono during the District’s annual “Night to Honor Service.” 

Spira and Griffith were recognized for leading a team that included Associates Elizabeth Avunjian, and Effiong K. Dampha in a Section 1983 civil rights case.  The case arose from our client reporting several prison guards for misconduct.  In retaliation, the guards took our client to an isolated area of the prison that was closed for construction and beat him until he lost consciousness. The guards denied all wrong doing, claiming that the client had instead slipped and fell to the ground during escort. 

The client, who had limited education and financial means, was originally proceeding without counsel and having difficulty making his case in the face of the guards’ denial of any wrongdoing. The firm team, however, was able to secure evidence from the prison confirming that our client was taken to an outside hospital by ambulance for treatment for his injuries shortly after the attack, that the area where the attack occurred had no security cameras or other safeguards to prevent abuse of prisoners by staff, and that the guards involved had coordinated their incident reports before officially filing them.  Based on this evidence, the action was settled on the eve of trial on favorable terms for our client.

The Eastern District has one of the highest levels of pro se civil rights litigants in the country, and Jenner & Block lawyers have served on the District’s Civil Rights Pro Bono Panel for many years.

Associates Vivian L. BickfordKristen Green, and Julia K. Hirata and Paralegal Christal Oropeza also supported the matter. 

TAGS: Awards, Litigation, Section 1983

PEOPLE: Kirsten Hicks Spira, Effiong K. Dampha, Vivian L. Bickford, Kristen Green, Elizabeth Avunjian

December 8, 2021 Jenner & Block Receives 2021 Impact in the Courts Award from National Immigration Project of the National Guild

On December 8, Jenner & Block will receive the 2021 Impact in the Courts Award from the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIP) during its 50th anniversary event. The firm will be recognized for collaborative efforts on the Irwin Detention Center project, during which a firm team is co-counseling with NIP and a number of law school clinics and others in litigation against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other defendants for forced medical procedures on women detained there.

Partners Debbie L. Berman and Gabrielle Sigel and Associate Miriam J. Wayne continue to lead the effort. Others who have worked on the cross-office, multi-practice team include Partners Robert C. Harmala and Howard S. Suskin, Special Counsel Aaron R. Cooper, Associates Illyana A. Green, Michael R. Greubel, Matthew G. Lawson, Daniel S. McCord, Andrew J. Plague, Laurel A. Raymond, Corinne M. Smith, and Reanne Zheng, and Pro Bono Counsel Nura Maznavi, with valuable support from Debra Abelson, Rob Aponte, Amanda Ellis, Tricia Peavler, Sam Rosen, and Annette Young.

The virtual event will take place at 6:30 pm Eastern. To learn more and register to attend, please click here

 

TAGS: Litigation

PEOPLE: Debbie L. Berman, Howard S. Suskin, Gabrielle Sigel, Corinne M. Smith, Reanne Zheng, Matthew G. Lawson, Miriam J. Wayne, Robert C. Harmala, Aaron R. Cooper, Daniel S. McCord, Andrew J. Plague, Illyana A. Green, Laurel A. Raymond, Michael R. Greubel

November 24, 2021 Third Circuit Supports Pro Bono Client’s Request for Protection from Deportation

Yemeni client Adel Ghanem presented evidence that “overwhelmingly demonstrates” his prior persecution on account of his political opinion, and that if he were returned to Yemen he would likely be tortured, a Third Circuit panel said in September.

In the opinion, the court vacated a Board of Immigration Appeals' decision that denied Mr. Ghanem’s request for protection from deportation, saying the board “ignore[d] overwhelming evidence" that he had been persecuted and would likely be tortured for his political beliefs if returned to Yemen.

News of the decision was reported by Bloomberg and Law360.

Associate William R. Weaver represented Mr. Ghanem.  He was supervised by Partners Ian Heath Gershengorn and Matthew E. Price

TAGS: Appellate, Asylum, Litigation

PEOPLE: William R. Weaver (Will)

November 23, 2021 Court Approves DPA for Pro Bono Client

Jenner & Block secured a deferred prosecution agreement for pro bono client Pheerayuth Burden, who had been convicted of violating the Arms Export Control Act by sending gun parts to Thailand without a license. At trial, the main testimony against Mr. Burden came in by deposition because the cooperating witness was unavailable to testify live. The firm took the case on appeal to the DC Circuit, arguing that the introduction of the deposition evidence violated Mr. Burden’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him; we argued that the witness’s unavailability could not excuse the violation because the government itself procured that unavailability by deporting the cooperating witness before trial without making any plans to bring him back. The DC Circuit agreed and vacated Mr. Burden’s conviction, remanding for a new trial. 

On remand, the firm team successfully negotiated a deferred prosecution agreement that will allow Mr. Burden to be free from burdensome pretrial release conditions and will ultimately allow for dismissal of the charges with prejudice. 

The team was led by Partner Lindsay C. Harrison, with critical support from Partner David Bitkower.

TAGS: Appellate, Litigation

PEOPLE: Lindsay C. Harrison, David Bitkower

November 16, 2021 Jenner & Block to Receive Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award from LCBH

On November 18, Jenner & Block will receive the Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award from the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing for the firm’s work supporting LCBH and the Keep Chicago Renting Ordinance. The KRCO was passed after the 2008 financial crisis to encourage foreclosing banks and other financial institutions to keep tenants in properties on which they foreclose rather than evicting tenants and leaving properties vacant. The ordinance encourages this by requiring a $10,600 relocation fee, if the bank or financial institution elects to evict certain qualified tenants and does not let them continue to rent in the property.

LCBH is the only non-profit legal aid organization in the Chicago area that focuses solely on low- and moderate-income renters in the private housing market. The firm and LCBH have worked closely over the past several years to defend the ordinance against various attacks by defendants in cases by tenants alleging violations of the KCRO.

“Our work with LCBH has really made a difference for Chicago renters who live in foreclosed properties,” said Partner Christopher Tompkins, who is on the LCBH board and will be receiving the award on behalf of Jenner & Block. “Our long-standing collaboration with LCBH has empowered truly disadvantaged renters by preventing wrongful evictions and fighting sub-standard living conditions over the years. We have also helped a number of tenants recover under the KRCO in our efforts to ensure all of our neighbors can have a safe and decent place to live.”

“Jenner & Block’s pro bono services will have a lasting impact on our agency and Chicago renters for years to come,” said LCBH Executive Director Mark Swartz. “The KCRO will continue to give special protections and rights to renters living in foreclosed properties, and we thank Jenner & Block for being our partner.”

LCBH’s annual “Bringing Justice Home” event will take place from 6:00 to 9:00 pm Central at Revolution Brewing Brewer’s Lounge in Chicago. To learn more and register to attend, please click here.

TAGS: Fair Housing

PEOPLE: Christopher Tompkins

November 5, 2021 Jenner & Block Team Achieves Favorable Settlement in Civil Rights Case

Associates Wesley M. Griffith, Elizabeth Avunjian, and Effiong K. Dampha led a team that obtained a favorable settlement on the eve of trial in a Section 1983 civil rights case.  The civil rights action arose from our client reporting several prison guards for misconduct.  Our client alleged that in retaliation for his report, the guards took him to an isolated area of the prison that was closed for construction and beat him until he lost consciousness. 

The client, who had limited education and financial means, was originally proceeding without counsel and having difficulty making his case in the face of the guards’ denial of any wrongdoing. The Jenner team was able to secure evidence from the prison confirming that our client was taken to an outside hospital by ambulance for treatment shortly after the attack and that the area under construction had no security cameras or other safeguards to prevent abuse of prisoners by staff. Based on this evidence, the action was favorably settled.

The team was supervised by Partner Kirsten Hicks Spira and supported by Associates Vivian L. Bickford, Kristen Green, and Julia K. Hirata and Paralegal Christal Oropeza. 

TAGS: Litigation, Section 1983

PEOPLE: Kirsten Hicks Spira, Effiong K. Dampha, Kristen Green, Elizabeth Avunjian

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