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Jenner & Block Partner Michael A. Doornweerd and Associates Sean P. Tarantino, Marisa K. Perry and Katherine Neff Welsh were honored at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Eleventh Annual Awards Ceremony for Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Service on May 26, 2010 at the Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago. The award, presented by the Judges of the District Court and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, recognized the team's representation of a pro bono client in a recent successful criminal proceeding before the court, and noted the team's "outstanding commitment to pro bono representation before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois."
At the ceremony, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly praised the team for its work in representing a pro bono client who had been previously sentenced to 20 years in prison on narcotics trafficking charges in 2003. In 2006, the firm appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and won a remand based on an illegal search and seizure argument. In the weeks leading up to the second trial, the team negotiated a favorable plea agreement that reduced the client’s maximum confinement to eight years. The team then presented extensive mitigation evidence to the court, highlighting the client’s six-year record of good behavior since his arrest and his extensive work as an outreach specialist with the Campaign for a Drug Free Westside. Despite the government’s argument in favor of the maximum sentence of eight years, the same judge who had originally sentenced the client to 20 years in prison imposed a sentence of one year and one day (in addition to 33 months already served).
The team received support from Partners Barry Levenstam and Gabriel A. Fuentes; Associates Justin C. Steffen, Kyle A. Palazzolo, Luis Lopez, Jonathan W. Riley and Christopher K. Stos; paralegal Julie H. Shaw; and former associate Brian Haussmann.
This is the second year in a row in which a Jenner & Block team has won this award. Last year, a team led by Partner Jeffrey D. Colman and including Associates Anne P. Ray, Justin A. Houppert, Michael H. Margolis, and Ashley M. Schumacher won the award for their work on a habeas corpus matter involving a case of gross prosecutorial misconduct against the Firm’s client.