Our Pro Bono Commitment
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 2000sGrutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger
Jenner & Block took an active role in the national debate in two landmark cases that involved the University of Michigan’s affirmative action admission policies. The Court relied on an amicus brief filed by a Jenner & Block team led by Partner David W. DeBruin on behalf of 65 major companies in upholding the admissions program at the University of Michigan Law School.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 2000sLawrence v. Texas
Jenner & Block served as co-lead counsel with Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund in a civil rights decision that overturned a Texas anti-sodomy law. Partner Paul Smith argued the case before the US Supreme Court. The Court’s decision was widely considered to be the most important gay rights decision in a generation.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 2000sWiggins v. Smith
Partner Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. convinced the United States Supreme Court to find, for only the second time in 20 years, that a death row inmate received ineffective assistance of counsel.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 2000s
People v. Patrick Sykes
Partner Robert L. Byman represented Patrick Sykes, the defendant in the infamous “Girl X” case. The girl, who becomes known as Girl X, was raped and beaten in a Cabrini-Green high rise.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 2000sLegal Status of Guantanamo Bay Prisoners
Jenner & Block Partners Jeff C. Colman and Thomas P. Sullivan led a team of lawyers who continue to be significantly involved in litigation and national debate surrounding the legal status of the prisoners being held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1990sThe “Ford Heights Four” Case
Partner Robert L. Byman represented Dennis Williams, one of The “Ford Heights Four” who was released after serving 18 years on death row as a result of a wrongful conviction.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1990s
The “Baby Richard” Case
Partners Jerold S. Solovy and Robert L. Byman represented the adoptive parents in this highly publicized and controversial case involving a child known as “Baby Richard.” After an extended custody fight, Baby Richard was returned to his birth parents by the Illinois Supreme Court.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1990sDowaliby Case
In 1988, 7-year-old Jaclyn Dowaliby was taken from her home and murdered. Her parents, David and Cynthia Dowaliby, were charged and tried in 1990 represented by private counsel. The trial judge dismissed the case against Mrs. Dowaliby at the close of the State’s evidence, but allowed the jury to deliberate as to Mr. Dowaliby. The jury convicted and Mr. Dowaliby was sentenced to 45 years of imprisonment. Jenner & Block agreed to take over the representation of the family on appeal. In addition, the firm represented Mr. Dowaliby in a week-long evidentiary post-trial hearing and in a separate week-long custody trial in which the State attempted – and failed – to take custody of the Dowalibys’ other two children. In 1992, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Mr. Dowaliby’s conviction – finding that there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction – and he was released from prison. The Jenner & Block team included Partners Robert L. Byman, J. Kevin McCall and Terrence J. Truax.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980sUnited States Attorney for Northern District of Illinois (1985-89)
Firm Chairman, Anton R. Valukas served four years as United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and then rejoined the firm.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980sLeader of Court Reform in Illinois, Solovy Commission (1984-92)
Partner Jerold S. Solovy was recognized as an enduring leader in the movement for court reform in Chicago and Illinois. The “Solovy Commission” made approximately 200 reform proposals and, by 1988, it issued numerous reports on the judicial selection process and the financial interests of judges. In 1992, Mr. Solovy served as chairman of the Illinois Supreme Court Special Commission on the Administration of Justice, now known as the “Solovy Commission II.”
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980sLeader of “Greylord” Investigation in Chicago
As U.S. attorney from 1977-1981, Thomas P. Sullivan conceived and implemented the “Operation Greylord” investigation of the Cook County court system in Illinois. The operation, which became public in 1984, uncovered widespread corruption and eventually resulted in numerous indictments and convictions of public officials.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980sFirst Female Chair of ABA Section of Litigation
In 1982, Partner Joan M. Hall became the first female chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation. That same year, she was the fourth woman elected as a Fellow to the American College of Trial Lawyers. From 1985 to1991, she served on the ABA’s Federal Judiciary Committee. After retiring from the practice of law, she went on to be the founder and president of the Board of Directors of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago. The only all-girls charter public school in the city, the school opened in 2000.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1970sUnited States Attorney for Northern District of Illinois
Partner Thomas P. Sullivan served four years as United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. He rejoined the firm after his service.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1970sIllinois State Board of Elections v. Socialist Workers Party
In 1978, Associate Jeffrey D. Colman argued this case in the U.S. Supreme Court. The case arose out of the need for a special mayoral election in Chicago following the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley. At issue was a disparity in signature requirements for independent candidates running for statewide versus local office. The Supreme Court unanimously (albeit in five opinions) adopted our argument that the signature requirement disparity violated equal protection guarantees.
A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1970sElrod v. Burns
John C. Tucker, a lawyer and partner at Jenner & Block from 1958 to1985, argued this case in the US Supreme Court. Agreeing with Mr. Tucker’s argument, the Court struck down Chicago’s patronage system. Mr. Tucker helped win $1.2 million in back pay for Republican deputies fired when Democrat Richard Elrod became sheriff in 1970.