May 19, 2014

Jenner & Block Partner Thomas P. Sullivan has been named First Defense Legal Aid’s 2014 First Defender.  The award recognizes Tom’s “decades of leadership and dedication to protecting the constitutional and human rights of all people in detention, regardless of race and economic means.”  It particularly honors Tom’s recent success regarding Illinois legislation he helped draft, which was passed and signed into law in August and expands the requirement to record police interrogations beyond homicide investigations to any of eight violent felonies.

FDLA is an innovative nonprofit that provides free legal representation to people taken into custody by the Chicago Police Department.  In Illinois, individuals are not provided counsel until a judge appoints one, which is generally 48 to 72 hours after arrest and typically after formal charges have been filed.  While the police have unlimited access to prosecution attorneys during this time, a suspect does not have similar access to an attorney.  Providing a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week hotline, FDLA helps level the playing field and protect the legal rights of those in custody.

Tom was honored at FDLA’s First Defender Award Reception on May 15, 2014.  Former Jenner & Block partner Robert J. Blazejowski, who is a member of the FDLA board, introduced Tom.