January 13, 2003

A team of Jenner & Block attorneys on Jan. 2 obtained asylum on behalf of a 36-year-old Liberian who had been severely persecuted because of her ethnicity and political beliefs and despite the strenuous opposition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“This was the right result because our client was very deserving,” said Partner Lawrence S. Schaner. “This decision puts to an end a decade-long ordeal and finally gives our client the chance to rebuild her life.”

Since the early 1990s, he explained, the current president of Liberia has waged a brutal war against members of certain ethnic groups and those he perceives to be his political opponents. In this pro bono case, the Firm’s client, a member of an ethnic minority group, was imprisoned and tortured, but eventually managed to escape and make her way to the United States. Her husband, a prominent member of an opposition political party, was also imprisoned and executed. Between 1990 and 1998, the client’s father, son, sister, brother and cousin were also killed by military forces.

The case was placed on an unusually fast track, leaving the Liberian woman’s attorneys, Mr. Schaner and Associate James C. Hartman, limited time to prepare for trial. Also providing important pre-trial assistance was Associate Jennifer B. Salvatore. After a four hour trial, an immigration court judge granted asylum to the client, who can now begin the process of being reunited in this country with her two young daughters still living in Liberia.