May 14, 2015

Jenner & Block Partners Thomas P. Sullivan, Michael T. Brody and Richard T. Franch were honored at the United States District Court’s Sixteenth Annual Awards for Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service, held on May 14, 2015, at the Dirksen United States Courthouse in Chicago.

Mr. Sullivan received the Special Walter J. Cummings Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federal Bar Association “in recognition of his work to improve the system of justice and his career of providing pro bono representation to the indigent.” 

In his opening remarks to the ceremony, Northern District of Illinois Chief Judge Ruben Castillo credited Mr. Sullivan with “transforming pro bono in our district.”  Judge Matthew Kennelly, who presented the award, noted that Mr. Sullivan was key to the beginnings of Jenner & Block’s pro bono program and to the national reputation that the program enjoys today.  Judge Kennelly specifically mentioned Mr. Sullivan’s significant pro bono representations of William Witherspoon, the Contract Buyers’ League, Guantanamo detainees and Juan Rivera. 

Mr. Sullivan accepted the award to a standing ovation from the audience.  In his comments, he credited the late Jenner & Block partner and federal judge Prentice Marshall and the firm’s late name partner Albert Jenner with introducing him to pro bono work.  And, after a legal career that has spanned more than 60 years, he noted that the cases he remembers most vividly and with the greatest satisfaction are his pro bono cases. 

Nominated for the US District Court’s Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service by Judge Joan Gottschall, Mr. Brody and Mr. Franch were recognized by the District Court for their long-running representation of Christopher Mosley.  Former partner Keith Porapaiboon, who was also a member of the team, was honored as well.  The case stems from an August 1997 fire in Chicago that claimed the life of an elderly resident of the building that burned.  The trial court found Mr. Mosley guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated arson. 

After a series of unsuccessful direct appeals and post-conviction proceedings, Mr. Mosley filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Northern District in 2005, and Judge Joan Gottschall appointed Jenner & Block as habeas counsel.  The team prevailed on Mr. Mosley’s behalf through two habeas proceedings and two Seventh Circuit appeals.  With the State of Illinois electing to re-try Mr. Mosley, Mr. Brody and Associate Shaun M. Van Horn are preparing for trial.

In presenting the award to the Mosley team, Judge Gottschall praised their “zealous advocacy and tireless commitment” in representing their client.