1 Pro Bono Person to Person 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report
2 Inside This Issue Foreword 1 Sidley s Firmwide Initiatives Capital Litigation Project 2 Political Asylum and Immigrants Rights Project 4 Veterans Benefits Project 10 Pro Bono on the Homefront Children and Families 12 Civil and Human Rights 12 Community Support 14 Criminal Defense 16 Homelessness and Poverty 18 Housing and Consumer Rights 19 National Security 19 People With Disabilities 20 Pro Bono From a Global Perspective 22 Sponsorship of Pro Bono Graduate Fellows and Deferred Associates 25 Pro Bono Honors and Events 26 Pro Bono and Public Interest Law Committee Members 31
3 Foreword Sidley s 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report offers a slightly different perspective from other years reports. This year, we focus on the impact of our pro bono work on a personal level, offering the accounts of lawyers and clients to illustrate the profound effect our work has not only on the people we serve, but on the lawyers and staff who give their time and energy to pro bono service. These personal stories reveal that pro bono work truly can be a lifechanging experience. Many of our lawyers have worked on matters that might not capture headlines, but the results of which have materially altered the lives of our clients. Their gratitude is the greatest compensation many of us will ever earn over the course of our careers. Through the 86,485 hours Sidley lawyers and staff have devoted to pro bono work in 2010, we have received more than we have given. We are privileged to serve our communities, our country and our neighbors throughout the world, and we thank our clients for allowing us such broadening and enriching opportunities to serve. Thomas A. Cole Chair, Executive Committee Charles W. Douglas Chair, Management Committee
4 2 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report Capital Litigation Project More than 100 Sidley partners, counsel and associates, along with legal assistants and project assistants, have volunteered more than 93,000 hours to these cases since the inception of the project. In 2010, lawyers donated more than 11,500 hours to the representation of these men on death row. Sidley s ability to represent Alabama s death row inmates effectively has been aided greatly by the firm s six-year partnership with the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project and the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama (EJI). EJI is a nonprofit organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, t h a t h a s a c h i e v e d national prominence from its advocacy on death penalty issues. EJI provides on-going expert guidance to Sidley s lawyers on Alabama post-conviction practice and procedure. continuing efforts CH On death row for nearly ten years, Keith Gavin sought the assistance of EJI. In February 2010, Sidley lawyers Prentice Marshall, Jr., Melanie Walker and Caroline Schiff represented Mr. Gavin in an important Rule 32 evidentiary hearing in the Circuit Court for the County of Cherokee, Alabama. The principal claim raised (and the focus of the hearing) was Person to Person: The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) was started in We re a completely private nonprofit organization, trying to meet the needs of the largest death row per capita in the country. We were absolutely persuaded that innocent people would be wrongly convicted and executed in a system that had so little reliability, that was so comfortable with error. That s when we began trying to provide legal representation, but also trying to partner with firms like Sidley who we believed could bring high-quality services to a client population who were literally dying for legal assistance. We recently recorded our 100th reversal for a death row prisoner here in Alabama over the last 20 years. We ve been fortunate to win the release of people who were wrongly convicted. In 1993, we proved a wrongful conviction of Walter McMillan and that began a wave of exonerations that has really undermined confidence in the death penalty and sparked a lot of reforms, both at the federal level and state level. In addition to providing critically-needed services to people who are on death row, Sidley has played an important role in confronting racial bias and discrimination in that Mr. Gavin did not receive the effective assistance of counsel at either the guilt or sentencing phase of his trial. The matter has now been fully briefed and we are awaiting a decision. Sidley attorneys jury selection, fighting bias against the poor who are not adequately defended, and challenging the problems of people with disabilities and mental illness who are on death row. Documenting and illuminating that last problem has been critical to challenging the propriety and legality of some of the death sentences that have been imposed. Our relationship with Sidley is by far the most successful and productive relationship we ve had with a law firm. The lawyers that we work with are dedicated and focused. A lot of the litigation is very complicated. There are legal challenges. There is factual development. It is a complex area of the law, and we ve seen the kind of commitment that is really inspiring. The volume of cases that Sidley has taken is simply unprecedented. There s not another firm in the country that has taken on the volume of cases and made the kind of commitment to high-quality legal assistance that Sidley has. Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director, EJI
5 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report 3 in New York, Chicago and San Francisco represented two other Alabama death row inmates in evidentiary hearings in LA In October 2010, death row inmate Willie Earl Scott received positive news on his appeal the Alabama Supreme Court agreed to consider Mr. Scott s case. Working with Project Director Kelly Huggins, the team handling the certiorari petition and prior petition for rehearing in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals consisted of Tom Hanrahan, Keenan Kmiec*, Meehan Rasch and summer associate Laura Richardson. Jen House* and Sarah Adamczyk* assisted the team with a prior application for rehearing in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. Tom Hanrahan, Nitin Reddy, Meehan Rasch and Chris Gaul (CH) completed the merits briefing. DC In March, Sidley s D.C. office hosted an American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project event to provide background on and promote participation in the Project. About 60 lawyers, including senior and managing partners from several of the major law firms in D.C., attended the event. The program featured a training session that included information about training, timing, the need for experts, ethical issues, investigations, and the relationship with a client. Washington, D.C. area attorneys, including Ron Flagg, discussed their experiences as volunteer death penalty lawyers. Person to Person: We probably had the same level of skepticism that everyone gets in these cases. Maybe you ll have something on the sentencing side. If you re very lucky, you ll have something on the guilt-innocence side. But as we dug in it quickly became apparent to us that we had a really strong actual innocence case. And then that got even better when we flew down to Alabama and met our client polite and thoughtful and really appreciative of our work. It s been a life-changing experience from those first days onward. In terms of our fact development, we re quite happy. In terms of actually getting those facts heard and determined, it is frustrating. In these cases, you are a counselor in the legal sense, but you are also a counselor in the emotional sense. Our client has been in prison for roughly 15 years. He doesn t have a lot of outside contact, and so he relies on us for guidance and even for social interaction. It is a different relationship, but it is a rewarding one. We hear about his dreams and his aspirations - those things aren t exhausted when one goes to prison, especially when that person has been maintaining his innocence for 15 years. I d say that this project is emblematic of Sidley s commitment to pro bono. My pro bono cases were never looked at differently than my paying cases and there were real resources that went to them. Those sorts of things make doing pro bono work here a real pleasure. Many of us came from public interest organizations where the commitment is obviously there but the resources aren t: you re making your own copies, you can t afford experts. At Sidley, all of that changes. There s this huge institutional commitment. There are great institutional resources. I love the work I do for our paying clients. I find it intellectually engaging and I really enjoy those client relationships. But I don t think my career would be complete if I weren t doing pro bono work. It is as natural as anything else I do at the firm. Eamon Joyce, Sidley Partner PROJECT HISTORY In December 2004, Sidley attended an ABA-sponsored meeting in which Robin Maher, Director of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project, spoke of the desperate need for legal assistance for defendants on death row, citing the need in Alabama as especially acute. In response, Sidley established its Capital Litigation Project through which the firm represents indigent inmates on Alabama s death row in their post-conviction proceedings. The need for the project remains critical. At the end of 2010, Alabama had 204 prisoners on death row. Approximately a quarter of the death sentences in Alabama are the result of judicial override of jury recommendations of life in prison by elected judges. In 2010, Alabama executed more people than any state other than Texas and Ohio, and more people per capita than any state. Over the past six years, Sidley has represented 21 prisoners incarcerated on Alabama s death row. John Gallo spearheads the Project, and Kelly Huggins manages the work from our Chicago office. A team of lawyers and legal assistants represents each client, traveling to Alabama to visit clients, interview witnesses, and participate in hearings. In addition, some of the teams include in-house lawyers from two of the firm s largest clients, Aon Corporation and Exelon Corporation, who participate fully in all aspects of the representation. * indicates former Sidley lawyer or staff member
6 4 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report Political Asylum and Immigrants Rights Project More than 60 Sidley lawyers are currently working on matters through the Political Asylum and Immigrants Right Project. In 2010, Sidley lawyers donated over 8,000 hours to work on behalf of asylum seekers and other immigrants. In Sidley helped more than 50 persecuted immigrants gain asylum and other types of legal status and represented numerous immigrant victims of domestic violence and other crimes. asylum cases Federal law provides that individuals who have suffered or fear persecution in their home country based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group may apply for asylum in the United States. NY An Iranian citizen of the Bahá í faith sought our assistance after he fled his homeland following his family s persecution. Members of his family had lost their jobs, the government had seized their land and some of his relatives had been imprisoned and tortured. Our client was interrogated several times and the Iranian secret police threatened him because of his faith. His parents were eventually able to leave Iran for the U.S. as refugees. At that time, our client also escaped and was able to join his family in the U.S. on a student visa. In February, Sidley persuaded a U.S. immigration officer to grant him asylum. Stephen Rutenberg and Josh Levy handled the case with Gina DelChiaro s assistance. SF The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights referred a woman from Mexico and her two minor children who fled to the U.S. after suffering years of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of the woman s husband in their home country. In May, a Sidley team obtained asylum for the family, arguing that, based on the woman s membership in a particular social group and her religious beliefs, she and her daughter would face similar abuse if they were forced to return to Mexico. We convinced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Mexican authorities systematically refuse or fail to protect the interests of abused women and girls. The case was handled by Amanda Hassid* and Sheila Armbrust under the supervision of Michael Rugen. Legal assistant Gabby Rodriguez provided critical translation support. DC As a result of her Pentecostal Christian religious beliefs, our client, a woman from Eritrea, had been severely persecuted. Among other abuses, she had been imprisoned in a metal shipping container in the Eritrean desert after she was found participating in a Bible study group. Because Sidley filed a successful asylum petition on her behalf, our client (a college nursing student), is now eligible to become a permanent resident and will be able to apply for citizenship in the future. Betsy Howe and Freddie Bunch* handled the case under Marinn Carlson s supervision. Human Rights First processed the case and referred it back to us after Jay Jorgensen met our client s sister at an immigration law conference.
7 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report 5 DC Through more than two-and-a-half years, five immigration court hearings, four significant filings, three changes in the presiding immigration judge and a petition for the writ of habeas corpus in federal court, a team of Sidley lawyers has been helping a Yemeni couple remain in the U.S. The husband, who had resided in the U.S. legally since 2000, lost his asylum status because he had failed to disclose on an immigration form that he had secretly returned to Yemen to visit his ailing mother. We were able to overcome some challenging facts to obtain relief for both clients. The court granted his wife asylum and granted him protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), despite a nationwide grant rate of just 2% for CAT claims in The Sidley team included Robert Keeling, Andrew Shoyer, Noah Clements, Elisa Jillson, Katie Strong Carner, Aaron Wredberg, Stephen Blank and Matthew Wright*. CH Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security filed a brief in a case similar to our case involving a Mongolian woman and her daughter, setting out its current position that domestic violence victims can qualify for asylum but that their applications must meet a high burden of proof. Working under tight time constraints, Sidley filed a detailed application supported by expert reports and police and medical records evidencing the Mongolian Government s indifference to our client s domestic abuse. Our client received asylum in September. Ben Keith and Tom Heisler handled the matter under Mel Washburn s supervision. CH The National Immigrant Justice Center referred to us the case of an incredibly brave Tutsi woman who survived the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and testified in Rwanda s gacaca courts against the There s no analogue to telling someone you ve gotten them asylum. It s very tangible when the result is so important and could mean someone s life or death. Megan Nogasky Beer Sidley Associate individuals who had attacked her and killed her family. After the perpetrators were released they again assaulted our client and attempted to kill her. She fled to the U.S. in 2004 and filed an I-485 application for lawful permanent residence in 2005, which was not rejected until We argued that our client s diligent efforts to obtain legal status and the tremendously long wait for a decision on the I-485 qualified as extraordinary circumstances justifying an exception to the one-year deadline for filing an asylum petition. Her petition was granted in September Megan Beer and Justin Piper handled the case, under the supervision of Russ Cass. LA Suffering both political and economic persecution in his native Venezuela because of his gender identity and for his opposition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a man turned to Immigration Equality for assistance. It referred him to Sidley and we were able to negotiate an exception to the one-year deadline for filing an asylum petition based on the extraordinary circumstances of our client s gender transition from female to male since entering the U.S. In October, he was granted asylum. Hsin-Hsin Yang*, Sarah Adamczyk*, Meehan Rasch and legal secretaries Leandra Dixon and Martha Ocab handled the case. DC Our client, a 69-year old Burmese man, was visiting his son, an asylee in the U.S., when the 2007 Saffron Revolution protests broke out in Burma. His wife had apparently participated, PROJECT HISTORY In 2006, Sidley established its second significant firmwide pro bono initiative, the Political Asylum and Immigrants Right Project. Mel Washburn of our Chicago office and Martin Gold of our New York office spearhead the initiative, and Kelly Huggins manages the Project out of our Chicago office. The Project is designed to help indigent asylum seekers and other indigent immigrants seeking legal status in the United States. Since the Project s inception, Sidley has helped 50 individuals gain asylum. The Project also includes representation of immigrant minors, and Sidley lawyers have handled Special Immigrant Juvenile Status cases on behalf of immigrant children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents or legal guardians. Sidley accepts cases from Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a national children s advocacy initiative, and has pledged to donate 500 hours a year over three years to represent unaccompanied minor immigrants. Clients Exelon Corporation and Caterpillar, Inc. have joined forces with Sidley to provide assistance to immigrants. In the Fall of 2007, Sidley and Exelon began a quarterly clinic to help asylees and refugees obtain lawful permanent resident status and bring family members to the United States. Through these clinics, Sidley and Exelon together have served over 140 clients to date.
8 6 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report Political Asylum and Immigrants Rights Project continued and has since been imprisoned without any outside contact. Even though his last overt political activities were more than 20 years ago, Burmese military intelligence agents labeled our client a traitor. Human Rights First referred the case to us after the Arlington Asylum Office denied the client s asylum application on inconsistency grounds. Arguing a credible fear of persecution, the team succeeded in obtaining asylum for our client. Noah Clements, Yemi Oladeinde, Eric Solovy, Seema Kakad and Hans Leaman* handled the matter. U Visa and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Cases Sidley has taken on an increasing number of cases seeking relief for immigrants who have been victims of domestic abuse and other crimes. The U visa is a remedy for immigrant victims who have helped with the investigation or prosecution of certain crimes. Successful U visa petitioners receive employment authorization and lawful status in the U.S. for four years, when they become eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition is a remedy for immigrant victims married to abusive U.S. citizens and green card holders. Successful VAWA self-petitioners are granted employment authorization and lawful status in the U.S. until they receive legal permanent residency. CH/NY In 2010, Sidley helped nine women and their families from Mexico obtain U visas. Each of them had harrowing stories of brutal physical and mental abuse inflicted by their spouse/boyfriend. One case presented an unusual issue when the government asserted that because our client initially declined to press charges against her husband, she did not provide sufficient cooperation to law enforcement to qualify for a U visa. We ultimately prevailed and our client received her U visa. By cooperating with local authorities, these women are on the path to safety as well as permanent residence and ultimately, citizenship. The Sidley and Caterpillar, Inc. lawyers and legal assistants in multiple offices who helped these remarkable women include: Anne Falvey, Blake Fillion, Melissa Glasgow (Caterpillar), Chisoo Kim, Lucy Kurczewski*, Scott Macdonald, Meredith Jenkins Laval, Marketa Lindt, María Meléndez, Ashley Pfeiffer, Andrea Reed, Arturo Rodríguez, Sumitha Solai, Preston Swapp*, Mel Washburn and Aryeh Zarchan. NY In February we obtained a U visa on behalf of a woman from Barbados who was hospitalized after one of many brutal assaults by the father of her child. Our client assisted the Kings County District Attorney s Office with the investigation and prosecution of the man for domestic violence. Cliff Fonstein and Kristen Peel handled this matter. CH After immigrating to Chicago, our Lithuanian client was physically abused by her former boyfriend in front of her daughter and another minor child. The woman participated in the investigation and prosecution of the man for domestic battery and a U visa was granted. David Zampa and Lindsey Smith handled the matter. CH In a particularly shocking case, a man shot our client, a Polish immigrant, twice in the back after she refused his advances. She participated in the investigation and prosecution of her assailant for attempted murder. As a result, Sidley was able to obtain a U visa for her. Russell Cass and Lindsey Smith represented the woman. NY A St. Lucian woman fled to the U.S. to escape the abuse and harassment of her estranged husband. After her husband found her in New York, he broke into her apartment, choked her and then held a knife against her throat, threatening to kill her. Our client assisted the Kings County District Attorney s office in his prosecution for these crimes and we obtained a U visa on her behalf. Kristen Peel handled this matter. CH The National Immigrant Justice Center referred to us a matter in which we represented a woman from Mexico who was severely and repeatedly abused by her husband, a U.S. citizen. On the woman s behalf, we successfully petitioned for employment authorization, relief under VAWA and lawful permanent residence. Megan Beer and Margie Téllez, under the supervision of Mel Washburn, handled this case. CH Sidley filed a VAWA Petition and applied for Adjustment of Status and Employment Authorization for a woman from Mexico. On June 30, 2010, the adjustment application was granted, Daria Fisher Page from KIND conducted an SIJS training at Sidley s Washington, D.C. office in August.
9 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report 7 Photo Credit: CEJI allowing our client to remain in the United States legally as a permanent resident. She also received work authorization. Our client was a victim of domestic violence in the United States and fully cooperated with the authorities in prosecuting the perpetrator. Ryan Turley handled the matter under Tracey Nicastro s supervision. Other Immigration Relief DC Sidley filed a Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of nine immigration rights organizations supporting petitioner in Kucana v. Holder, 558 U.S. (2010). The petitioner had argued that the Board of Immigration Appeals had abused its discretion in denying his claim to reopen his case when it failed to consider an affidavit testifying to the dangerous conditions in Albania. The Seventh Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the matter. The Supreme Court agreed with our amicus brief and held that the statutory proscription of judicial review applies only to determinations made discretionary by statute, not to determinations declared discretionary by the Attorney General through regulation. Jeff Green, Quin Sorenson and Amy Hanke worked with Charles Roth of the National Immigrant Justice Center on the brief. DC Fighting deportation, a lawful permanent resident who was a native of Sudan had been barred from re-entering the U.S. based on a prior criminal conviction. Arguing entitlement to a statutory waiver under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, we obtained a waiver of removal after producing evidence and witnesses who testified that our client s deportation would inflict extreme hardship on his wife and children, all of whom are U.S. citizens. Ben Sachs* handled the case under Jim Young s supervision. CH In another successful waiver case, a Sidley team helped a client who was originally from Mexico. In February 2009, we filed an I-601 application (for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility) on behalf of the client s wife with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The decision on the I-601 currently takes 15 months, during which time the client s wife was required to remain in Mexico separated from her husband and all of her grandchildren. The application was granted, permitting the client s wife to return in June to the U.S. and her family as a lawful permanent resident. The Sidley team consisted of Tim Payne, Diana Bauerle, legal assistants Lucy Kurczewski*, Arturo Rodríguez and staff members Drue Samuelson and Regina Sloane.
10 8 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report Political Asylum and Immigrants Rights Project continued SF Successfully concluding a threeyear effort, our client, a Kenyan man who was persecuted for his religious beliefs, obtained asylum after Sidley represented him at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hearing in July. Ellen Trachman and Kevin Burke, under the supervision of Peter Kang, handled the matter. NY Our client, who was from a oncepowerful political family in Niger and participated in a university student group, had been arrested, detained and abused for three days after he protested against the government. After his release and an incident where the police mistakenly arrested his brother instead of him, our client fled to the U.S. in 2003 on a student visa and applied for asylum in 2006 (missing the one-year deadline). In December, we were able to win relief the government agreed to withholding of removal. Maureen Crough, Leigh Nisonson* and Peter Tucker handled the case, with support from legal assistants Madeleine Buras, Jennifer Manning and Caroline Spencer*. Human Rights First referred the matter to the firm. DC During the office s Service Week in July, lawyers, summer associates and legal assistants participated in a clinic that we conducted with the Tahirih Justice Center to help women who had been granted asylum apply for permanent residence. We helped a woman and her family from Sudan, two women from Kenya and another woman from Honduras. Leigh Fraiser, Larry Walders, Kelly McFadden and Karin Person to Person: There are so many underrepresented people who don t have the resources to get the kind of representation that they deserve. When I first came to Sidley, I was excited to see we had so many pro bono programs. I had an interest in immigration law when I was in law school, so I found the asylum project especially interesting. I recently took a case from Kenya. My client was being persecuted by a criminal organization called the Mungiki, a violent political and religious sect banned by the Kenyan government. Denied asylum at the interview level, we went to court. The case dragged on and on with multiple hearings. We had the final hearing in the summer of I was pregnant at the time of the hearing and had reached my due date. Our hearing started at 8:30 in Norton*; summer associates Jeff Beelaert, Caroline Fleetwood, Christine Ku, and Judah Ariel; and legal assistants Rebecca Richardson*, Devon MacWilliam* and Adam Hartmann volunteered at the clinic. the morning and I actually went into labor in court during the hearing. I left around 9:30 and I gave birth at 10:30 it was very, very close. But the court granted our client asylum that day, which was fantastic after a long three years. I really appreciate how supportive the firm is of the pro bono work and the systems that we have in place to support our work, including partners who are available and happy to supervise these cases, as well as the financial and legal backing that allows us to provide great representation of asylum clients. Ellen Trachman, Sidley Associate
11 Sidley Austin LLP 2010 Pro Bono and Community Service Report 9 DC I n J u n e , S i d l e y b e g a n representing a 17-year-old boy from Mexico who had been abused by his father before escaping to the U.S. After police detained him in North Carolina for an alleged fight with his half-brother, he was transferred to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and moved to Atlanta and then Arlington, Virginia. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) referred his case to Sidley, and Sidley and KIND attorneys got a family court order adjudicating him an abused and neglected immigrant minor seven days before he turned 18 (at which point he would have been ineligible to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)). After the Sidley team filed an SIJS petition, DHS released the client, who knew no one in the area. The boy stayed with Sidley lawyer Kurt Jacobs for several days until we found him more permanent housing. DHS granted the client s SIJS petition in June and approved his application for permanent residence in December, almost two years after we first started working on the case. Lisa Crosby led the Sidley team, which included Kartic Padmanabhan*, Kurt Jacobs and Becky Troth, and staff members Kathy Murray and Cristina Caro*. Person to Person: This case was a wonderful example of how the resources of a big firm can be used to help individuals on a very personal level. Not only did Lisa and her team help this young man petition for SIJS status and apply for permanent residence and a work permit, but they found him housing, registered him for school, helped him establish a bank account and helped him apply for his passport. Talk about a full-service law firm! Lisa s dedication to helping her client and her persistence in taking on the DHS bureaucracy were truly impressive. Becky Troth, Sidley Pro Bono Counsel Becky Troth, our client, Esteban, and Lisa Crosby after Esteban s release.