May 14, 2014

Two Jenner & Block teams recently received distinguished awards for their respective pro bono representation of clients before the Illinois federal courts.

The team that represented Nicole Harris in the long-running – and, ultimately, successful – fight to clear her of her wrongful murder conviction in the 2005 death of her 4-year-old son received the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s 2014 Pro Bono and Public Service Award.  The firm shared the recognition with its partner in the matter, the Northwestern Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions.  Partner Robert R. Stauffer led the Jenner & Block team that included Partner Matthew S. Hellman and Associates Kara L. Kapp, Andrew D. Kennedy and Elin I. Park.  The case spanned seven years and involved litigating at every level of the state and federal judicial systems.

Because of the team’s willingness to represent Ms. Harris vigorously, regardless of the time and resources it took, she is out of prison, has received a certificate of innocence from the court, has reunited with her surviving son and is working and planning to attend graduate school.

The award was presented at a dinner on May 12, 2014, during the bar association’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Chicago.

A second team of firm attorneys, led by Partner Timothy J. Barron and including Partner Benjamin J. Bradford and Associate H. Ashley Chi, was recognized with a 2014 Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.  This team successfully reached a favorable settlement for a pro bono client who had been representing himself in a lawsuit alleging that several Chicago police officers had used excessive force when they arrested him in 2007.  In April 2011, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang appointed Jenner & Block to represent the client in his suitagainst the City of Chicago and the officers.

After extensive discovery, during jury selection on the first morning of trial, the lead attorney for the City and the police officers made a settlement offer that was five times their previous maximum offer.  The client accepted it.

This team was presented with its award on May 8, 2014, at a ceremony in the federal courthouse.