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Four Jenner & Block attorneys received today the 2004 Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Pro Bono Award in recognition of their “exceptional legal services to the needy.”
Partner Susan R. Podolsky of the D.C. office received the honor because of her work on behalf of residents who allege that the Baltimore Housing Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development have failed to desegregate the city’s public housing program in violation of federal law. This 9-year fair housing battle, which the Baltimore Sun called “one of the most significant civil rights actions in the city’s history,” was tried in December by Ms. Podolsky and is expected to be ruled upon by the presiding trial judge later this year. Ms. Podolsky was introduced by Partner Julie M. Carpenter, a member of the Firm's Pro Bono Committee.
Associate Kathleen R. Hartnett, also of the Firm’s D.C. office, was honored largely because of her work in briefing and arguing an appeal from a second-degree murder conviction, and securing the release of an INS detainee in federal habeas corpus proceedings. She also assists in the Firm’s representation of a Georgia death row inmate, who is presently seeking state habeas corpus relief.
Partner Terri L. Mascherin and Associate Jason J. Green of the Chicago office received the special recognition largely because of their having convinced the Illinois Supreme Court to deny the Illinois Attorney General’s challenge to former Governor George Ryan’s historic blanket clemency order, thereby leaving intact the traditional right of the state’s chief executive to grant clemency to those on Death Row. Ms. Mascherin argued the case, Madigan v. Snyder, before the Justices on behalf of long-time pro bono client Willie Thompkins, Jr. and several other inmates.
The remarkable efforts of the four Jenner & Block attorneys involved “hundreds” of hours of pro bono work and came during a record-breaking year in which 6.2% of the Firm’s billable hours were dedicated to pro bono matters, said Managing Partner Robert L. Graham.
The pro bono award recipients were selected by the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee Co-chaired by Partners Barry Levenstam and David W. DeBruin. The award entitles the recipients to direct a contribution by the Firm to the charity of their choice.
In concluding remarks, Firm Chairman Jerold S. Solovy emphasized that he felt pride in the Firm’s tradition of pro bono service that’s being advanced by the 2004 award winners and the attorneys and staff of the Firm. “Our unique record of public service is what sets us apart from most other large law firms and makes working for Jenner & Block so special,” stated Mr. Solovy.