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. 

CATEGORIES: Awards, Litigation, Section 1983

PEOPLE: Wesley M. Griffith, Kirsten Hicks Spira, Effiong K. Dampha, Vivian L. Bickford, Kristen Green, Elizabeth Avunjian, Julia K. Hirata

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

 

CATEGORIES: 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

CATEGORIES: 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.

CATEGORIES: Appellate, Litigation

PEOPLE: Lindsay C. Harrison, David Bitkower

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. 

CATEGORIES: Litigation, Section 1983

PEOPLE: Wesley M. Griffith, Kirsten Hicks Spira, Effiong K. Dampha, Kristen Green, Elizabeth Avunjian, Julia K. Hirata

October 14, 2021 Article Highlights Team’s Pro Bono Efforts on Behalf of Debtor

An article in Rochelle’s Daily Wire features Jenner & Block’s pro bono efforts to assist a “hapless debtor” who endured a trial, two appeals and a remand proceeding to discharge $112,000 in student loans. Thanks to Partner Catherine L. Steege and Special Counsel Carl N. Wedoff, along with firm alum and retired bankruptcy judge Eugene Wedoff, the debtor is on the brink of discharging her loans. “Without pro bono counsel, this debtor never would have discharged her student loans... This writer submits that something is wrong with a system that requires a debtor to go through so much for so long and with no chance of success were it not for the generosity of distinguished lawyers from the top ranks of the bankruptcy bar,” reads the article.

CATEGORIES: Bankruptcy, Litigation

PEOPLE: Catherine L. Steege, Carl N. Wedoff

September 15, 2021 Jenner & Block Lawyers and Alumni Win Northern District of Illinois Pro Bono Award

The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association awarded several of our lawyers with the 2021 Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service for “providing outstanding pro bono and public interest representation in civil and criminal matters before the district court.” The award recipients were recognized for successfully completing three different cases:

  • In Conley v. US we represented Mr. Conley, who was convicted of conspiring to rob a fake drug stash house even though he was not a target of the prosecution, in a federal habeas challenge in the district court and on appeal.  The team also presented a petition for compassionate release, which the court granted, ordering his immediate release from prison. The award recipients included Jenner & Block Partner Mike Brody; Associates Eric Fleddermann and Theo Lesczynski; and former associate Leigh Jahnig.
  • In USA v. Rollins, we represented Mr. Rollins, who was convicted for a string of three robberies within a week’s time, in a reduction of a de facto life sentence. Partners Andrew Vail and Monica Pinciak, and Associate Josh Levin successfully argued for a reduction in sentence of 106.5 years to 28 years and one day. The judge wrote in his opinion that “a de facto life sentence far exceeds appropriate punishment.”
  • Paralegal Cheryl Kras, and former colleagues US Magistrate Judge Gabriel A. Fuentes, Christine Bowman, and Hon. Judge Brewer (ret.) also received the award for their work in Traharne, et al v. Illinois DCFS, et al., which was litigated and settled while Judge Fuentes and Ms. Bowman were with the firm. Judge Summers was the mediator on the matter.

CATEGORIES: Awards, Litigation

PEOPLE: Michael T. Brody, Andrew W. Vail, Monica R. Pinciak, Theo A. Lesczynski, Eric S. Fleddermann

August 6, 2021 Jenner & Block Secures Settlement Agreement with NYCHA to Prevent Wrongful Evictions

Along with Legal Service NYC as co-counsel, Jenner & Block secured a settlement with the New York City Housing Authority, requiring the public housing agency to reform its rent adjustment system to prevent wrongful evictions and benefiting more than 400,000 NYCHA residents.

The agreement ensures that thousands of NYCHA tenants will have their rents reduced if their incomes were to decline – a process required by federal law that has become more urgent during the pandemic. The settlement also enhances protections for low-income residents by requiring that NYCHA may not prosecute nonpayment or chronic rent delinquency cases until they first resolve interim rent reduction requests or rent grievances. The settlement comes after a group of twelve families, who have lived in public housing anywhere between five and 50 years, sued NYCHA in federal court alleging illegal rent overcharges above 30% of income and eviction proceedings for unlawful amounts of rent.

NYCHA has agreed to pay tenants close to $190,000 in damages, lawyers’ fees, and rent overcharge claims and has six months to implement changes to its system-wide operations concerning rent readjustments and eviction cases. NYCHA is also subject to monitoring by the federal court for three years.

To learn more about the plaintiffs and the settlement, click here.

The Jenner & Block team included Special Counsel David W. Sussman, Associates Susanna Evarts and Olivia Hoffman, Law Clerk Keturah James, and former partner Andrew Weissmann.

CATEGORIES: Litigation, Pro Bono

PEOPLE: Olivia Hoffman, David W. Sussman

July 15, 2021 Firm’s Amicus Brief Opposes Efforts to Block Construction of the Obama Presidential Center

On July 15, the firm submitted an amicus brief, pro bono, on behalf of 16 iconic Chicagoland museums and cultural institutions that oppose efforts to block construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

The plaintiffs inProtect Our Parks, Inc., et. al. v. Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, et. al., No. 21-cv-2006 (N.D. Ill.) sought a preliminary injunction to stop the center. The brief argues that the court should deny that request. On August 5, Judge John Robert Blakey issued a one-page opinion denying the request, writing that the plaintiffs “have not met the standard for injunctive relief on their federal claims.”

“The Chicagoland Museums believe the Obama Presidential Center will be a cultural and economic treasure for Chicago that will benefit the public by bringing new amenities and positive development to the surrounding community, boosting the local economy, and serving as a magnet for visitors to the City and the region. It will serve as an enduring and powerful symbol of the promise of America and the American Dream. In other words, the public interest strongly favors allowing construction to move forward without any further delays,” the brief reads.

The brief highlights the area’s long and rich history of featuring these world-class institutions: “Museums provide major educational and economic benefits and advance the public’s interest in knowledge and understanding. The Chicagoland Museums offer benefits to the public, the City, and the Chicago Park District—and offer benefits to each other when they are clustered together. Each museum is truly a treasure and Chicagoland, its residents, and visitors are fortunate to have them.”

The brief is signed by Co-Managing Partner Randy Mehrberg, joined by Partners Daniel J. Weiss and Gabriel K. Gillett and Associate Elena M. Olivieri.

The Chicagoland museums and cultural institutions that joined the brief include the following: Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago, Bronzeville Children’s Museum, Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago Architecture Center, Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History, Field Museum of Natural History, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park Foundation, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Science and Industry, National Museum of Mexican Art, The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture, and Shedd Aquarium.

This is the third brief the firm submitted in support of the Obama Presidential Center. In 2018, the firm submitted a brief in the district court on behalf of 11 museums in Protect Our Parks, Inc. v. Chicago Park District, and submitted a brief in the Seventh Circuit when the plaintiffs appealed their loss. WTTW reported on the latest brief.

CATEGORIES: Amicus Brief, Litigation

PEOPLE: Daniel J. Weiss, Randall E. Mehrberg, Gabriel K. Gillett, Elena Marie Olivieri

April 29, 2021 Court Hails “Just Result” for Veterans as an “Example of the Class Action Concept Working at its Best”

The US District Court for the District of Connecticut has granted final approval to a class action settlement in which the US Army agreed to reconsider the less-than-honorable discharges of thousands of veterans with service-related mental health conditions.

Jenner & Block, with the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, represents Iraq war veteran Steve Kennedy and Afghanistan war veteran Alicia Carson, pro bono, in a nationwide class action against the Army. Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Carson alleged that after the Army discharged veterans with less-than-honorable status on account of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other mental health conditions developed during their service time,the Army Discharge Review Board failed to account for those symptoms when it denied them upgrades in their discharge status.

On Monday, the court granted final approval to a settlement reached by the parties in November. In its opinion, the court described the settlement as “an example of the class action concept working at its best” because it “achieves a just result for many veterans, and for the Army they served.”

Under terms of the settlement, the Army will automaticallyreconsider thousands of discharge status upgrade applications under a lenient standard of review. Additionally, the Army will adopt procedural reforms, such as a universal telephonic hearing program, that will make it easier for veterans to applyfor upgrades in their discharge status and participate in related hearings.

During the final fairness hearing on the settlement last month,Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. had high praise for our pro bono work, saying on the record: “It's a fine thing … to see one of the great firms like Jenner & Block devote considerable resources to the pro bono representation of groups like these army veterans…”

Partners Susan J. Kohlmann and Jeremy Creelan led this matter, along with Associate Jacob Tracer and former associates Ravi Ramanathan and William Goldstein.

Read more in this press release from the Veterans Legal Services Clinic, in this Bloomberg article, and in this Stars and Stripes article.

 

CATEGORIES: Litigation, veterans

PEOPLE: Susan J. Kohlmann, Jacob Lincoln Tracer, Jeremy M. Creelan

March 19, 2021 Judge Reduces Pro Bono Client’s 106.5-Year Sentence to 28 Years

In a victory for pro bono client Robert Rollins, United States District Court Judge Gary Feinerman reduced Mr. Rollins’ “stupendously long” sentence of 106.5 years to 28 years and one day. The decision means that rather than serve the remainder of his life in prison, Mr. Rollins should be free in a couple of years.

When he was 25 years old, Mr. Rollins was convicted for a string of three robberies within a week’s time.  No one was hurt during the offenses, and he stole less than $10,000. In 2001, he was convicted of these offenses under a mandatory sentencing scheme whereby the trial judge sentenced him to 106.5 years.

Jenner & Block joined with a team from New York-based Debevoise & Plimpton to file a motion to reduce his sentence under the First Step Act.  Last year, Judge Feinerman initially determined that he did not have authority to grant Mr. Rollins’ motion for a reduction in sentence.  The firm and Debevoise team appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which upon agreement of the parties, vacated the district court’s ruling and remanded for further consideration.

In the district court, the government continued to argue that Judge Feinerman was not empowered to reduce Mr. Rollins sentence under the statute, and that even if he was, the sentence should remain 106.5 years.  On March 17, Judge Feinerman reduced Mr. Rollins’ sentence. The court ruled that Mr. Rollin’s sentence was “exceedingly rare, resulting from the combination of the Government’s charging decision and Rollins’s decision to proceed to trial rather than cooperate and plead.” While acknowledging the seriousness of Mr. Rollins’ crimes, the judge wrote that “a de facto life sentence far exceeds appropriate punishment.”

Judge Feinerman expressly noted that Mr. Rollins has a clean prison disciplinary record, voluntarily participated in a course focused on helping inmates appreciate the severity of their crimes and the impact they had on their victims, and has worked as a cook in prison.

“In short,” the judge wrote, “he has demonstrated that he is committed to living a law-abiding life should he be given that chance.”  Mr. Rollins, a veteran, very much looks forward to rejoining his family, the workforce, and contributing to society.

The firm team included Partners Andrew W. Vail and Monica R. Pinciak, Associate Joshua M. Levin, and Paralegal Katherine Mehaffie. Partners Michael T. Brody, Anton R. Valukas, Reid J. Schar, and Dean N. Panos assisted with the team with a Seventh Circuit moot court.

CATEGORIES: Litigation, Seventh Circuit

PEOPLE: Andrew W. Vail, Monica R. Pinciak

March 17, 2021 Jenner & Block Secures Compassionate Release of Pro Bono Client under First Step Act

Recently, US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman exercised her powers under the First Step Act and granted the petition for compassionate relief we filed on behalf of our client, Tracy Conley. By this ruling, Judge Coleman released Mr. Conley from prison more than five years before the end of his sentence.

Mr. Conley was convicted of participating in a conspiracy to rob a drug “stash house.” The stash house was entirely fictional, however, as were the drugs it supposedly contained and the armed men who supposedly guarded it. This case was one of many in which an undercover government agent presented a target with the opportunity to get rich. The scheme began in 2011, when a government agent presented Myreon Flowers with the opportunity to rob a fictional stash house. To trigger steep mandatory sentences, the agent stated the stash house contained a huge quantity of drugs and encouraged Mr. Flowers to recruit others and bring guns.

Mr. Conley became involved only because of what the Seventh Circuit described as two strokes of bad luck: On November 1, 2011, Mr. Conley went to work as usual, but was sent home because a piece of machinery had broken at the factory where he worked. On his way home, he stopped at a gas station where he ran into an old acquaintance. Unbeknownst to Mr. Conley, that acquaintance had joined Mr. Flowers’s group, which had planned the robbery for that very day. Mr. Conley agreed to go with his acquaintance, Mr. Flowers, and the others to what he thought was a job to clean a vacant apartment. On the way, government agents surprised the men and arrested everyone.

All of Mr. Conley’s co-defendants accepted plea deals for lesser charges. Mr. Conley maintained that he knew nothing of the plan to rob a (fake) stash house, but was convicted after a jury trial. Because his charges carried mandatory minimum sentences, Mr. Conley was sentenced to 15 years in prison – twice as long as any other co-defendant. In the years following Mr. Conley’s conviction, the fake stash house program received significant scrutiny. As more prosecutions emerged, so too did evidence suggesting that the government’s selection of targets for the scheme may have been racially motivated. Under increasing criticism, the government abandoned the program. One by one, Mr. Conley’s co-defendants served their lesser sentences and were released, but Mr. Conley remained in prison.

In 2018, Mr. Conley filed a pro se habeas petition, and Judge Coleman appointed Mike to represent Mr. Conley. Leigh joined the team at the start, as did Theo, who was part of the team for the habeas briefing. Eric joined the team last fall. Judge Coleman denied the habeas petition, but certified for appeal the argument that Mr. Conley’s conviction should be reversed on due process grounds, and because the fake stash house scheme targeted people of color. The team is continuing to prosecute that appeal.

With the habeas appeal being briefed, the team filed a motion for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act, also known as compassionate release. Leigh and Eric argued the motion in January, under Mike’s supervision. On March 4, Judge Coleman granted the motion and ordered Mr. Conley’s sentence reduced to time served. Judge Coleman accepted the team’s arguments that the circumstances demonstrated extraordinary and compelling reasons for compassionate release. She noted that Mr. Conley had never even met Mr. Flowers before the day of the planned “robbery,” and that Mr. Conley’s sentence was driven by the government’s decision of what charges to bring, not the Court’s decision of what sentence was warranted. That sentence was “grossly disproportionate,” “devoid of true fairness,” and served “no real purpose other than to destroy any vestiges of respect in our legal system and law enforcement that this defendant and his community may have had.” His disproportionate sentence was a “trial tax.” She concluded that “if there ever was a situation where compassionate release was warranted based on the injustice and unfairness of a prosecution and resulting sentence, this is it.” 

Mr. Conley was released on March 17, after serving nearly 10 years in prison. He is now home.

Partner Michael T. Brody and Associates Leigh J. Jahnig, Eric S. Fleddermann, and Theo A. Lesczynski represented Mr. Conley in this important matter.

CATEGORIES: First Step Act, Litigation, Pro Bono

PEOPLE: Michael T. Brody, Theo A. Lesczynski, Eric S. Fleddermann

October 30, 2020 Team Secures Federal Court Orders Requiring USPS To Expedite Florida Ballots
 
A team led by Jenner & Block Partner David J. Bradford represents 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East in its lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over alleged slowdowns in mail delivery.
 
The union sued DeJoy on October 6, claiming he made “illegal and unprecedented changes” to USPS policies that will delay ballots and disenfranchise Floridians who are voting by mail in larger numbers than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
On October 29, the team won a court order requiring USPS to issue “all clear” certifications from all postal facilities in the 10 largest counties in Florida by 8 a.m. on Monday, November 2. The “all clear” certification requires each facility to certify that it has processed all ballots at that facility.  The court scheduled a hearing at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, at which he could order further emergency relief if the 8 a.m. certifications were not satisfactory to our client. These certifications and other relief were ordered over USPS’ objection.  
 
This ruling came on the heels an October 28 agreement, that required USPS to provide detailed arrangements for USPS officials to transfer ballots directly to Election Officials prior to 7 p.m. on Election Day and for USPS to “implement a hub-and-spoke plan” for each Florida county for November 2 and 3. 
 
Under the agreement, the USPS will route any ballots within or near the destination county directly to the county's supervisor of elections, preventing them from traveling to a sorting facility farther away.
 
“The key is to get the ballots in the hands of that servicing facility,” Mr. Bradford told US District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. in a videoconference hearing. “The hub and spoke is designed to make sure they don't get sent 200 miles away only to be sent back to the county.”
 
The agreements also required USPS to report to our team on a daily basis if there have been any material departures from the agreed procedures.  All of these agreed procedures to expedite ballots and to provide transparency about ballot delivery issues were made part of the Court’s October 29 Order. 
 
In addition to Mr. Bradford, the team included Partners Daniel J. Weiss and Ashley M. Schumacher, Associates Nayiri Pilikyan and Christopher M. Sheehan, and Paralegal Mike Hughes.  Partner Jessica Ring Amunson, chair of the firm’s Election Law and Redistricting Practice, has also worked closely with this team in connection with this litigation. 

CATEGORIES: Litigation, Voting

PEOPLE: Jessica Ring Amunson, David J. Bradford, Ashley M. Schumacher, Daniel J. Weiss

October 23, 2020 Jenner & Block Files Lawsuit against New York City for Failing to Provide Shelter for Homeless New Yorkers during the Pandemic

On October 22, a Jenner & Block team partnered with The Legal Aid Society to file a lawsuit pro bono in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of the Coalition for the Homeless and single adult New Yorkers who are experiencing homelessness. The lawsuit is against the City of New York, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Homeless Services for failing to take appropriate action to provide safe shelter for single adults that protects them from aerosol transmission of COVID-19. A press release published by the Legal Aid Society notes that despite the large amount of vacant hotel rooms, and federal funding explicitly available for the purpose of housing adult homeless individuals, the City has taken only half-measures to protect this vulnerable group. The lawsuit seeks to require that the City offer a single-occupancy hotel room to single adult homeless New Yorkers for the duration of the pandemic, among other forms of relief.

The lawsuit was brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Due Process Clause of the United States and New York State Constitutions, the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York State Social Services Law and its implementing regulations, and the New York City Human Rights Law.

The firm team is led by Partner Dawn L. Smalls and Associates Jacob D. Alderdice, Ali I. Alsarraf, and Cayman C. Mitchell. Paralegal Nyema Taylor is also providing significant support in the case.

“To fight the coronavirus effectively, all New Yorkers – including those in need of shelter – need the ability to remain socially distanced,” Ms. Smalls said in the press release, “The City has an obligation under the New York State Constitution to provide safe shelter to our most vulnerable New Yorkers. We intend to ensure they fulfill it.”

CATEGORIES: Litigation, Partnership, Pro Bono

PEOPLE: Jacob D. Alderdice, Cayman C. Mitchell, Ali I. Alsarraf, Dawn L. Smalls

August 7, 2020 Third District Panel Upholds Historic Preservation Law in Protecting Rock Island County Courthouse from Demolition

On July 16, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that a state historic preservation law prevents local authorities from demolishing the nearly 125-year-old Rock Island County Courthouse. Justice William E. Holdridge wrote in a 46-page opinion that neither Rock Island County, nor the Chief Judge of the Rock Island Circuit Court could order the courthouse demolished without first complying with the Illinois State Agency Historic Resources Preservation Act. Under that Act, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency must undergo a process to look for alternatives to demolition. The Appellate Court enjoined any demolition until the county complies with the state law.

The Appellate Court decision is an important step forward in saving the historic landmark. The Rock Island County Courthouse, constructed in 1896 and determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, is included on Landmarks Illinois’ 2018 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

Jenner & Block represents, pro bono, all of the plaintiffs against the Rock Island County Public Building Commission and County Board; they include Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Rock Island Preservation Society, the Moline Preservation Society, the Broadway Historic District Association, Rock Island Justice Center, and bondholder Fred Shaw. Associate Thomas E. Quinn argued the appeal. The firm team includes Charles W. Carlin, Hope H. Tone, Bill A. Williams, and Co-Managing Partner Randy E. Mehrberg.

CATEGORIES: Litigation

PEOPLE: Thomas E. Quinn, Randall E. Mehrberg, William A. Williams (Bill), Hope H. Tone-O'Keefe

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