April 05, 2006

Jenner & Block Partner Barry Sullivan was honored with the inaugural “Progressives in the Professions Award” by the DePaul University Black Law Students Association for his longstanding commitment to civil and human rights at a scholarship banquet last week in Chicago. 

“Barry is an outstanding scholar, lawyer and community activist,” said Professor Michele Goodwin, faculty advisor to BLSA and the director of DePaul’s Health Law Institute and its Center for Race and Bioethics.  “Each time I work with him I am more impressed by his passion for civil rights and justice – he takes his activism seriously and is proud of it,” she said. 

Mr. Sullivan, Co-Chair of the Firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice, has been involved in many cases raising important civil rights and civil liberties issues at all levels of the judicial system.  Mr. Sullivan, who first joined the firm in 1975, argued his first pro bono appeal in the Seventh Circuit in 1976, securing reversal in a prisoners' civil rights case that had been dismissed for failure to state a claim.  In later years, he has argued many other pro bono cases, including the landmark death penalty case People v. Wilson, in which the Illinois Supreme Court  reversed a capital conviction because of a coerced confession which had been secured by police torture. 

Among his other notable cases is the U.S. Supreme Court case Batson v. Kentucky, which established a three-part Equal Protection test for showing purposeful discrimination in jury selection.  Mr. Sullivan filed an influential amicus brief on behalf of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law that was cited and closely considered by several of the Justices.  More recently, Mr. Sullivan  represented the American Bar Association in the Supreme Court case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, supporting Guantanamo detainee Yaser Esam Hamdi’s right to due process and access to counsel.  Mr. Hamdi, a U.S. citizen who had been held indefinitely by the government as part of the war on terrorism, was released after the Court’s 2004 decision. 

Mr. Sullivan's other pro bono and public interest activities include service as the founding Chair of the ABA coordinating committee on AIDS, which position he held from 1988 to 1994, and service on the Council of the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities from 1993 to 1998.  He has also been a member of the Advisory Board for the DePaul University International Human Rights Institute since 2003, and was a consultant to the government of Ireland’s commission on the status of people with disabilities in 1995-1996.  

From 1994 to 1999, Mr. Sullivan was Dean of the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

The banquet was also an occasion to present the inaugural Jenner & Block DePaul Black Law Student Association Scholarship to Darren H. Goodson, a first-year DePaul College of Law student.  Mr. Goodson was awarded the three-year scholarship for his work to further civil and human rights causes, and for demonstrating a proven commitment to serving the community.  The scholarship was presented by Partner Charlotte L. Wager, the Firm’s Chief Talent Officer and Co-Chair of its Hiring Committee.  

The Honorable R. Eugene Pincham, a former judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County and a former justice of the Appellate Court of Illinois, delivered the Keynote Address.