Former Associate John Paul Stevens Sworn in as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
In 1948, a young associate named John Paul Stevens joined the firm of Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Raymond. When he and two others left to start their own firm in 1952, name Partner Floyd Thompson reportedly remarked that the “Stevens guy will never amount to anything.” History would prove Thompson wrong. In 1970, President Nixon appointed Stevens as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Five years later, President Ford nominated him to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Confirmed 98-0, Stevens was sworn in as an associate justice on this day in 1975.
“I’m deeply moved,” Stevens said after being confirmed. “Like others who have traveled this road before me, I know that the inn that shelters for the night is not the journey’s end. A judge, like a traveler, must be ready for the morrow. I shall constantly strive to be ready for the morrow.”
When he retired in 2010, at age 90, Justice Stevens was the oldest justice then in service and the second-oldest serving justice in the Court’s history. He also retired as the third longest-serving justice in history, spending 34 years and six months on the Court.
Firm Represents Chicago, Milwaukee Railroad Shareholders in Bankruptcy
On this day in 1977, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad filed for bankruptcy. The firm represented the Milwaukee’s shareholders and, after the bankruptcy’s successful conclusion, the reorganized debtor, Heartland Partners. At the time of the Milwaukee’s bankruptcy filing, the line carried 18,000 commuters daily and operated a 9,251-mile system in 17 states, according to the Chicago Tribune. And it was the second Chicago-based railroad to file for bankruptcy within three years; the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad – its largest shareholder also represented by Jenner & Block – filed in 1974.
Firm's Pro Bono Client Is Released after Serving 19 Years
A team working with attorneys from Northwestern University Law School’s Bluhm Legal Clinic Center on Wrongful Convictions and Stanford Law School Professor Lawrence Marshall represented Juan Rivera in appealing his third conviction of the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Holly Staker. Jenner & Block, along with the Center on Wrongful Convictions, represented Mr. Rivera in his third trial. At trial, the defense team proved that DNA evidence excluded Mr. Rivera as the rapist and killer. Despite that evidence, a jury found him guilty and the court sentenced him to natural life in prison without parole. On this day in 2011, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District reversed Rivera’s conviction, finding insufficient evidence to support his conviction in light of the DNA evidence excluding him as the perpetrator. According to the Court’s 24-page ruling, the conviction was "unjustified and cannot stand." In its opinion, the court said it sympathized with the Staker family but also concluded that “Mr. Rivera, too, has suffered the nightmare of wrongful incarceration.” Mr. Rivera was released after serving 19 years in prison. In a statement at the time, the firm said it donated more than 12,000 hours of legal work on the trial and appeal and called the ruling a "tremendous victory for Mr. Rivera and a great day for justice in the State of Illinois." The Jenner & Block team on Mr. Rivera’s defense included current Partners Thomas Sullivan, Terri Mascherin and Andrew Vail, with assistance from Associate Daniel Fenske and former Associate Sarah Terman. In 2014, authorities announced that DNA evidence from the case matched a potential suspect in a separate murder.
Floyd Thompson Successfully Defends Chicago Utility Czar Samuel Insull
“This is the beginning of my vindication!” Chicago utility czar Samuel Insull said on this day in 1934 after a jury acquitted him of mail fraud charges related to the collapse of his empire in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It was the “beginning” because, as Insull acknowledged, he faced two other trials. For all three matters, Insull was represented by the Floyd Thompson, the former Illinois Supreme Court judge who joined the firm in 1928. In his closing argument in this, the first case, Thompson argued that Insull was a victim of the public’s wild speculation in 1929, “and when that wild market crashed, it carried away real values as well as false values – the real values these men were trying to protect.” In all three matters, Thompson successfully defended the London-born Insull, who gained fame and power for, among other enterprises, establishing Chicago’s early electric system. The following summer, at age 75, Insull was officially a free man.
Firm Inducted into Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame
On this day in 2011, the firm was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, the country’s only known government-sponsored hall of fame that celebrates contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The firm was honored as a “Friend of the Community.” The GLHF was established in 1991 with the support of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Its purpose is to recognize achievements of LGBT Chicagoans and the help they have received from others. In recognizing the firm, the GLHF noted that Jenner & Block “often has represented individuals and organizations in successful precedent-setting cases, besides providing pro bono legal assistance…and financially sponsoring LGBT charities and community organization events. Jenner & Block…has long been a leader in advocating for LGBT communities…in the courtroom and in society. Its work makes the quality of life appreciably better for LGBT individuals in Chicago and the nation.” The induction ceremony took place at the Chicago History Museum and featured remarks by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Firm Opens New York Office
On this day in 2005, Jenner & Block opened its New York office. At the time, then-Managing Partner Gregory Gallopoulos said, “We intend to build an even stronger [transactional] practice in New York, the international capital of commerce, finance and industry, while continuing to give our clients here the full benefit of our renowned litigation and transactional practices.” In 2005, the office was home to a core group of about nine partners, including current Partners Paul Jock, Toby Knapp, Richard Levy and Gianni Servodidio. Today, the office at 919 Third Avenue is home to nearly 60 attorneys.
Floyd Thompson Joins Firm after Loss at the Polls
Election Day 1928 was a loss for Floyd E. Thompson, who had resigned from the Illinois Supreme Court to run for governor of Illinois on the Democratic ticket. By the end of the day, “The Judge” carried 42.6 percent of the popular vote compared to Republican Louis Lincoln Emmerson’s 56.7 percent. He rebounded from that defeat by joining the Chicago law firm of Newman, Poppenhusen, Stern & Johnston. In 1929, the firm took Thompson’s name, becoming Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Cole. “The Judge” would take on many high-profile cases for the firm, such as successfully defending Chicago utility magnate Samuel Insull on mail fraud and antitrust charges and Floyd Cerf, the broker who handled stocks for revolutionary car manufacturer Preston Tucker. The firm would become Jenner & Block in 1969.
Byman Successfully Represents David Dowaliby in High-Profile Case
“Call Bob Byman,” Cindi Dowaliby, played by actress Shannen Doherty, tells her husband, David. In this scene from the 1996 TV movie Gone in the Night, Cindi talks to her husband in prison, where he’s being held after his conviction on charges of killing their young daughter. She urges him to get Bob to handle the appeal. The movie was based on the award-winning book about the high-profile Dowaliby case. In 1988, 7-year-old Jaclyn Dowaliby was kidnapped from her Chicago-area home in the middle of the night. Cindi and David were eventually charged with the girl’s murder. Cindi would be acquitted on grounds of insufficient evidence, but David was convicted. David did indeed “hire” Bob Byman, and on this day in 1991, Bob and his pro bono team won a reversal of David’s conviction. The Illinois Appellate Court ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that no one else killed Jaclyn and that the evidence against him was not sufficient. "I'm ecstatic," Bob told the Chicago Tribune. "This shows the system works."
Byman, Mascherin Continue Firm's Legacy at American College of Trial Lawyers
On this day in 2013, the firm continued its tradition of leadership of the nation’s premier professional trial organization in North America. Bob Byman was inaugurated as the 64th president of the American College of Trial Lawyers, following in the footsteps of name Partner Albert “Bert” Jenner (1958-59) and Partner and former U.S. Appeals Court Judge Philip Tone (1988-89). On the same day, Terri Mascherin was inaugurated as a fellow, the third woman partner at Jenner & Block to be invited to join the ACTL. “We are proud that Jenner & Block has enjoyed such a long history with the American College of Trial Lawyers,” said then-Managing Partner Susan C. Levy. “The recognition of Bob and Terri by the ACTL is so well deserved. They represent the very best in what this firm has been about for nearly a century: delivering excellence to our clients. They are leaders of this firm and stewards of the legal industry.” Bob has worked at the firm for 44 years, Terri for 30 years.
Long Asylum Case Ends in Victory for Pro Bono Client
A four-year trek from the Fourth Circuit to the U.S. Supreme Court, back to the Fourth Circuit and then back to the Immigration Court ended on this day in 2011 when Jenner & Block pro bono client Jean Marc Nken was granted asylum. A native of Cameroon, Mr. Nken fled in 2001 after having been jailed and tortured by the Cameroonian government for his participation in pro-democracy protests. He lost his initial asylum case and several unsuccessful appeals and was set to be deported when Jenner & Block Partner Lindsay C. Harrison took on his case. Lindsay identified a split among the circuits on the standard applied to obtain a stay in these matters, and the Jenner & Block team sought and obtained certiorari at the Supreme Court. An associate at the time, Lindsay argued the case in the Supreme Court in 2009. In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that the traditional standard for a stay motion should apply to immigration appeals rather than the more stringent standard that had been adopted by several circuit courts. The precedent helped thousands of asylum-seekers to remain in the United States while their appeals are pending as long as they have a likelihood of success and a risk of harm if deported. After the U.S. Supreme Court victory, the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Bureau of Immigration Appeals had erred and remanded the case to the BIA, giving Mr. Nken another chance to obtain asylum. The firm worked countless hours to put together the strongest possible case for Mr. Nken’s eligibility. Lindsay and her team presented Mr. Nken’s case in a contested hearing before an immigration judge. A decade after he fled Cameroon, the judge ruled that Mr. Nken was entitled to asylum, and the government agreed to waive its right to appeal. As a result, Mr. Nken was allowed remain in the United States with his wife and young son.
Firm Successfully Appeals Food Lion Verdict Against ABC
Bruce Ennis successfully appealed a judgment against client ABC, sued by a grocery store chain after the television network aired an unflattering exposé. The case centered around two reporters who posed as Food Lion employees after receiving a tip about unsanitary food practices. Using cameras hidden in wigs, the reporters videotaped the practices and featured the footage on Primetime Live in 1992. Food Lion sued ABC for fraud, trespassing and breach of loyalty. In 1997, a jury awarded Food Lion $5.5 million, although a district court judge later reduced that to $316,000. On appeal, Bruce argued that Food Lion sought to skirt daunting First Amendment standards to prove defamation by suing ABC not for libel but rather for violations of state law. On this day in 1999, the Fourth Circuit rejected Food Lion’s fraud claim (and the $316,000 in damages tied to it) and upheld the trespass and breach of loyalty claims, but reduced the damages to $3. Sadly, the Food Lion matter would be Bruce’s last major case before he succumbed to cancer.
Firm Secures Victory for Movie Studios in Seminal File-Sharing Copyright Case
The firm effectively shut down one of the world’s largest BitTorrent websites, protecting our movie and television clients from a popular, easy and anonymous form of digital piracy. Reached on this day in 2013, the settlement with Gary Fung, owner of isoHunt Web Technologies Inc., ended nearly eight years of litigation. IsoHunt had allowed users to search for and find “BitTorrent links" to movies, television shows and virtually every other form of copyrighted content. In January 2010, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California granted summary judgment in favor of the studios, finding that isoHunt was liable for “inducement” of copyright infringement under the seminal Supreme Court standard (which was set in an earlier case litigated by the firm). The Court also rejected the defendant’s attempt to compare isoHunt to a conventional search engine such as Google. In May 2010, the Court granted a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from providing access to the studios’ content. In March 2013, the Ninth Circuit affirmed both the finding of liability and the injunction. When the settlement was announced in October, the Washington Post opined that isoHunt’s demise was “a well-deserved victory for the motion picture industry,” adding that the courts had found “clear evidence that isoHunt was trying to profit from infringement.” Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, was quoted saying that the settlement “sends a strong message that those who build businesses around encouraging, enabling and helping others to commit copyright infringement are themselves infringers and will be held accountable for their illegal actions.” In addition to closing down isoHunt, the consent judgment awarded $110 million in damages against the defendants. The team representing the movie studios included current Partners Gianni Servodidio, Ken Doroshow and Dave Handzo, as well as Paul Smith, who led efforts in the Ninth Circuit.
Chicago Pacific Makes Offer for Hoover
Partner Dan Murray was serving as secretary to the board of directors of Chicago Pacific Corporation when, on this day in 1985, the company made a tender offer to acquire “any and all” shares outstanding of Hoover Co., the vacuum-cleaner manufacturer, for $40 a share cash. By November of that year, Chicago Pacific completed the $519.5 million acquisition of Hoover. “Chicago Pacific emerged last year from the reorganization of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Co. with no operating businesses, nearly $300 million in cash from the liquidation of most of its rail lines and on the hunt for acquisitions,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Firm Successfully Argues on Behalf of State's Mandatory Seat-Belt Law
Recognizing “Pro Bono Month,” we note Jerry Solovy’s pro bono work in People v. Kohrig. Appointed as a special assistant attorney general, he argued that the state’s then-15-month-old mandatory seat-belt law should be upheld. On this day in 1986, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed, marking the first time that any state supreme court had so ruled. Ruling that the law does not violate the rights of motorists, under either the state or federal Constitutions, the court said that “the state can enact laws aimed at reducing traffic accidents, since such laws are clearly related to the health, welfare and safety of the public. We also believe that the legislature could rationally conclude that unbelted drivers and passengers endanger the safety of others.”
Firm Publishes Its First LGBT Newsletter
On this day in 2001 – in time for “LGBT History Month” – the first Equal Time-LGBT Community Service newsletter was published. It was the first diversity newsletter the firm produced and is thought to have been the first of its kind anywhere in the legal community. The first issue noted the firm’s involvement in championing LGBT issues, including, among them, filing amicus briefs on behalf of an openly gay Scoutmaster who was expelled from the organization and the effort to topple state-based anti-sodomy laws throughout the nation. Importantly, the newsletter also listed out attorneys and their client work, a practice that continues with today’s publication. To see past editions of Equal Time, click here.