Jenner & Block

The Heart of the Matter Blog

May 1, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1990s

Dowaliby 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.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service

PEOPLE: Robert L. Byman, Terrence J. Truax, J. Kevin McCall

April 4, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980s

Leader of Court Reform in Illinois, Solovy Commission (1984-92)

Jerold S Solovy with Ruth Page Portrait

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.”

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, J Solovy

March 15, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980s

Leader of “Greylord” Investigation in Chicago

Tom Sullivan at his Desk

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.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service

PEOPLE: Thomas P. Sullivan

March 1, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980s

First Female Chair of ABA Section of Litigation

Joan Hall at the US Supreme Court

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.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, ABA, J Hall

January 1, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1970s

Illinois 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.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, US Supreme Court

PEOPLE: Jeffrey D. Colman

December 12, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1970s

Elrod v. Burns

US Supreme Court Pro BonoJohn 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.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, J Tucker, US Supreme Court

December 9, 2011

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Watch Partner Terri Mascherin Discuss the Release of Firm's Pro Bono Client 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.  Read more...

CATEGORIES: Moments in History, Wrongful Conviction

PEOPLE: Terri L. Mascherin

October 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1960s

Witherspoon v. Illinois Impacts 350 People on Death Row

US Supreme Court Pro BonoIn this landmark death penalty case, the Jenner & Block team led by Albert E. Jenner, Jr. helped stop a planned state execution of Mr. Witherspoon on constitutional grounds just a few weeks before the sentence was scheduled to be carried out.  Mr. Jenner argued that the jury selection process was unconstitutional and impermissible.  The US Supreme Court agreed.  After this ruling, an estimated 350 people on death row across the United States were re-sentenced.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, A Jenner, Death Penalty, US Supreme Court

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