January 06, 2012

Jenner & Block was recently named to the National Law Journal’s 2011 “Pro Bono Hotlist,” as a firm that hasn’t “forgotten [its] professional obligations even — especially — during hard times.”  The Firm was profiled in a lengthy feature highlighting its work in the precedent-setting case of State of Illinois v. Pursley and the 12,000 hours devoted by Firm attorneys to the defense of Juan Rivera in People v. Juan Rivera. 

Partner Andrew W. Vail, who worked on both cases, is quoted and pictured in a photo in the article.  In addition, Partner Robert R. Stauffer and Associate Kyle A. Palazzolo are mentioned in connection with the Pursley matter and Partners Terri L. Mascherin and Thomas P. Sullivan are named as members of Mr. Rivera’s defense team.

Pursley was a post-conviction matter in which the Firm’s team convinced an Illinois appellate court to reverse a lower court and grant ballistics testing, for the first time, under the state’s post-conviction testing statute, which had been changed in 2007.  The Firm’s client had sought the testing ever since his conviction for first-degree murder during the course of an attempted robbery in 1993.

In the Juan Rivera matter, Jenner & Block achieved a significant victory when, after three trials in which Mr. Rivera was found guilty of first-degree murder, on December 9, 2011, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District reversed, outright, his conviction, holding that “the State’s evidence was insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Associate Daniel T. Fenske was also a member of the team representing Mr. Rivera.

The National Law Journal article also quotes Esther Lardent, President of the Pro Bono Institute, who said, “What’s particularly striking about Jenner is that they’re a firm with a remarkable pro bono culture.”  Steven Drizin, Director of Northwestern University School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, which partnered with the Firm in both cases, said that Pursley was “a case that could have been handled by a number of other law firms, but I chose Jenner because we knew they’d be in for the long haul.”

Please click here for the full text of the National Law Journal feature.