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On June 1, 2007 Jenner & Block was honored with the Midwest Light of Human Rights Corporate Award by the Heartland Alliance and the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) for its work in handling pro bono and human rights cases.
The NIJC stated that the Firm "has ensured the protection of asylees and people whose civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are threatened," calling the Firm's work "impressive" and "outstanding."
The Midwest Light of Human Rights Award Ceremony was held at the Fairmont Hotel Chicago drawing over 600 attendees "to honor individuals and organizations that have made outstanding achievements in the human rights field and to promote, protect, and advance human rights throughout the world."
Kisuule Magala Katende, a journalist from Uganda who had obtained asylum in the U.S. in July 2006 with the help of the Firm’s attorneys after being persecuted in his home country, presented the award to Jenner & Block at the ceremony. “Without the help of Jenner & Block, I would definitely not be here today,” said Mr. Katende.
In conferring the award, the NIJC praised the Firm’s “leadership in opposing the arbitrary detention of noncitizens” and cited among the Firm’s accomplishments over the past year the representation of 17 victims of human rights violations in immigration matters, including its role in a key case before the Seventh Circuit; advocacy for the rule of law as it applies to detainees; the representation of Guatanamo Bay detainees; and the Firm’s attorneys providing Congressional testimony on due process for detainees and access to human rights protections for victims of trafficking.
Partner Barry Levenstam, Co-Chair of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee, accepted the award on behalf of the Firm. The Jenner & Block attorneys who successfully represented asylum seekers and other immigrants over the last year included: Associate Denise K. Bowler, Partner Donald R. Cassling, Partner Ronald M. Daignault, Associate Matthew R. DiPentima, Associate Aaron M. Forester, Partner Richard J. Gray, Associate Peter H. Hanna, Partner Bryan D. King, Associate Erin N. Linder, Associate Kathryn E. Loncarich, Partner James A. McKenna, Associate John K. Min, Associate Keith V. Porapaiboon, Associate Mitchell K. Rovner, Associate Abraham N. Saiger, Partner Lawrence S. Schaner, Partner Kenyanna M. Scott, Partner Gianni P. Servodidio, Partner Shelley Smith, Partner Barry Sullivan, Associate Shehla F. Syed, Associate Wade A. Thomson, Partner Charlotte L. Wager, Associate Bilal Zaheer.
The attorneys representing Guantanamo detainees include Partner David J. Bradford, Partner Patricia A. Bronte, Partner Jeffrey D. Colman, Partner Michael B. DeSanctis, Associate Matthew R. Devine, Partner Marc A. Goldman, Partner Robert L. Graham, Associate Jason J. Green, Partner Andrew A. Jacobson, Associate Maya D. Nath, Associate Douglas Sondgeroth, Partner Thomas P. Sullivan, Associate Wade A. Thomson, Associate Andrew W. Vail, and Associate Elton Y. Wong.
The award ceremony also honored other organizations and individuals who are “working to improve human rights across the world” including the Tibetan Alliance, a volunteer organization that provides services aimed at enabling the Tibetan community to meet their needs and achieve their economic, social, cultural and political goals, and Carlos M. Sada, Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC.
Joseph Margulies, a human rights lawyer and lead counsel in the 2004 Supreme Court case ruling that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. Court, was the keynote speaker and Illinois Senator Richard Durbin was a guest speaker at the ceremony.