Jenner & Block

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



May 10, 2016 DCFS Drops Case Against Client Indicated for Neglect

In January 2016, Jenner & Block received a favorable outcome for a pro bono client in an Illinois expungement hearing proceeding. The client, a widow, had been indicated with three counts of neglect for the alleged inadequate care of her autistic daughter. The client maintained that the conditions cited by the state Department of Children and Family Services investigator were the direct result of temporary financial difficulties and that the state investigation was cursory and inadequate. A few weeks before the hearing, DCFS dropped the case and voluntarily unfounded all the indications against the client.

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May 5, 2016 Rare Grant of Removal Helps Mother and Young Son

The firm represented the mother of a young boy, who, due to severe physical and mental abuse by the boy’s father, wanted to move to a different state.  The client had an excellent job opportunity there that provided her with a significantly increased salary, greater professional advancement opportunities and tuition reimbursement to pursue a Ph.D. while working.

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May 5, 2016 At Supreme Court, Firm Defends Critical Voting Rights Principles

US Supreme Court Pro BonoJenner & Block was significantly involved in the two state legislative redistricting cases that were before the US Supreme Court in the October 2015 term, examining the “one-person, one-vote” principle.

  • In Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC), the Court upheld  the legislative map created by the AIRC, a five-member independent commission established by Arizona voters in 2000. A group of Arizona voters had claimed that in the redistricting that followed the 2010 census, the AIRC violated the “one-person, one-vote” principle by deliberately putting too many voters in 16 Republican districts and too few in 11 Democratic districts. In his oral argument to the Court on behalf of the AIRC, Partner Paul M. Smith contended that what the challengers characterized as partisanship was, in fact, a good faith effort by the AIRC to comply with pre-Shelby County v. Holder requirements of the Voting Rights Act and that the deviations in numbers of voters were minor and made for a legitimate purpose.  The Court’s opinion explained that the Constitution does not demand “mathematical perfection” in distributing residents among legislative districts.

    Please click here to read more about the Court's decision.
  • In Evenwel v. Abbott, the Court agreed with the points made in an amicus brief the firm filed on behalf of four former directors of the US Census Bureau. In Evenwel, two Texas voters had contended that legislative districting should be based on voter-eligible population numbers, rather than on total population numbers. Texas and nearly all other states and local governments use total population figures published by the US Census Bureau every decade, for redistricting purposes. The firm’s brief contended that there is no data available to support the argument that states should be constitutionally required to draw district boundaries based on numbers of voting-age citizens or registered voters and that total population figures are the most accurate source of data and satisfy the Equal Protection Clause.  The Court ruled that states are not constitutionally required to divide districts by voting population.

    Please click here to read more about the firm's amicus brief.

TAGS: US Supreme Court

May 3, 2016 Victory for Federal Employees in Long-Running Dispute

The firm achieved a victory for a group of US Commerce Department employees who charged the Department with racial discrimination.  The case started in 1995, when the employees filed an administrative class complaint alleging discrimination as evidenced by low performance ratings, continued denial of promotions ad awards and disparate treatment in job assignment , environment, recognition and training.  In 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit remanded the case back  to the lower court, holding that the six-year statute of limitations for civil claims filed against the government does not apply to Title VII suits brought by federal  employees.

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TAGS: Employment

April 28, 2016 Team Successfully Defends Attempted Murder Suspect

On April 27, 2015, after a one-day bench trial in Chicago, a firm team won a “not guilty” verdict for a client who had been charged with attempted murder.  Cook County Judge Erica Reddick ruled that it was “well shown” that Kiara Chapman acted in self-defense when she stabbed the alleged victim one time in the chest with a pair of scissors during a fight.

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April 26, 2016 Firm Secures Victories for Pro Bono Clients before the US Supreme Court

Amir Ali Headshot In March 2016, fifth-year Associate Amir H. Ali argued before the Court on behalf of pro bono client Gregory Welch.  Mr. Welch was convicted and sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA)—a catchall provision that courts had relied upon for approximately 30 years to increase a defendant’s sentence for an illegal possession of a firearm from a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment to a minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment and up to life imprisonment.  Under ACCA, that increase in sentence was mandatory if the defendant had at least three prior convictions for a serious drug offense or a “violent felony,” which included any conduct that presented “a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”  But Mr. Welch’s conviction and sentence became final before the Court’s 2015 ruling in Johnson v. United States, which held that this definition of “violent felony" is unconstitutionally vague.  Mr. Ali argued that the Court’s holding in Johnson must be applied retroactively to people like Mr. Welch.   In April, the Court agreed.  Mr. Ali’s argument can be heard here.  A profile of Mr. Ali in Above the Law can be read here.

The victory in Welch v. United States was just one win for pro bono clients before the Court in the past term:

  • Pro bono client Lawrence Owens was convicted of first-degree murder after a short bench trial in Cook County Criminal Court in 2000 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.  In the span of less than a year-and-a-half, Jenner & Block lawyers appeared on his behalf in the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the US Supreme Court, and the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division. As a result of  the firm’s work, Mr. Owens, who had almost 11 years of a 25-year prison sentence left to serve, was released from prison under an Alford plea agreement to time already served.

Please click here to read more about the Owens' case.

  • Pro bono client identified as V.L. sought vindication of her parental rights over three children she adopted while in a relationship with the children’s biological mother.  The Court held that the adoption of her children must be honored nationwide, restoring her legal bond with her children and ensuring that other same-sex couples would not be stripped of their parental rights.

Please click here to read more about the V.L. case.

TAGS: US Supreme Court

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