Pro Bono Matters

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U.S. Supreme Court Litigation
  • Represented two wrongfully convicted individuals in a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether state prosecutors are absolutely immune from suit where they fabricate evidence at the investigation stage and then introduce the fabricated evidence at trial. Our clients are African-American teenagers who were framed for murder by white prosecutors and convicted by an all-white jury in Iowa. They were finally released after 25 years in prison when the true facts came out.

  • Won a U.S. Supreme Court decision for Josue Leocal, a U.S. permanent resident who was born in Haiti. The 9-0 decision held that the crime of drunken driving resulting in bodily injury is not an "aggravated felony" that would serve as grounds for deportation. The decision paved the way for Leocal to return to the US from Haiti.

  • Represent a class of foster children who sued Georgia officials concerning their treatment in the foster care system. The district court awarded attorney's fees to the plaintiff class, calculating the fee award by multiplying the attorneys' reasonable hours by their reasonable billing rate, and then enhanced that amount based on the high quality of the attorneys' performance and the exceptional result they obtained. The question before the Supreme Court is whether an enhancement based on those factors is ever permissible.

  • Argued on behalf of Robert Johnson, Jr. before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the appropriate interpretation of the one-year limitations period under the federal habeas corpus statute.

  • Filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Center for the Administration of Criminal Law in United States V. Stevens, which presents the question whether a federal statute prohibiting the knowing sale of video depictions of unlawful animal cruelty is consistent with the First Amendment.

  • Filed amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Amnesty International and various bar associations in two cases, one in support of petitioner Jose Ernesto Medellin, a Mexican national on death row in Texas, and a second in support of petitioners Mario Bustillo and Moises Sanchez-Llamas, raising several issues related to rights of foreign nationals to consular access under the Vienna Convention in death penalty cases.

  • Filed an amicus brief on behalf of The National Organization of Women (NOW) in the U.S. Supreme Court in Scheidler v. National Organization of Women in NOW's fight against threats and violence from political protestors outside abortion clinics, in conjunction with the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights. The issues included First Amendment freedoms of assembly and speech, along with the rights of private citizens to bring a RICO action against a political organization.

  • Petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari on behalf of Anthony Battle in connection with the unconstitutional sentencing of a mentally ill defendant to death.
  • Appointed Independent Counsel to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Charles Taylor trial, conducted an extensive investigation in Sierra Leone and submitted a confidential legal and factual Report and Recommendation to the Court.

  • Took statements from Liberian refugees for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and performed extensive legal research and factual analysis to assist the Commission.

  • Assisted the Government of Liberia with the production of the first comprehensive commentary on Liberia's Constitution, including an analysis of court decisions interpreting the Liberian Constitution.

  • Assisted the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the Government of Liberia with Liberia's adoption of more than 80 international conventions, treaties and other legal instruments. This assistance included research and preparation of memoranda about implementing and meeting legal obligations under these instruments.

  • In association with Liberian local counsel, successfully defended a former Liberian official in a defamation action arising from his testimony to the Special Court for Sierra Leone during the trial of Charles Taylor.

  • Served as legal advisor to the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Tomorrow, a charity which provides scholarships for orphans in East Africa.

  • Advised BuildingBlocks International, Inc. (BBI) on all legal matters. BBI's mission is to improve the educational opportunities of marginalized children around the world, by fostering a "corporate peace corps" which provides voluntary private sector management expertise to local community-based organizations.

  • Assisted the prosecutor's office at the United Nations Assisted Khmer Rouge Tribunal (UNAKRT) in the prosecution of senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge by providing litigation support, legal research and trial preparation assistance.

  • Represented the International League of Human Rights in monitoring the issuance of the Saville Commission's Report on the events that took place in Derry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 1972, otherwise known as Bloody Sunday. Once the report is issued (it is now expected to be published in the fall of 2009), King & Spalding will release its own written report discussing the process, thoroughness, timeliness, and other aspects of the Saville Report.

  • Provided general corporate and tax structuring representation to International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (USA), Inc., an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) that addresses cancer in the developing world.

  • Worked with the California First Amendment Coalition to persuade the U.S. Trade Representative to challenge China's Internet censorship regime at the World Trade Organization. China has the largest number of Internet users in the world, and is one of the fastest-growing markets for Internet commerce. However, China has erected a variety of technological and other trade barriers that favor Chinese Internet companies, and deny U.S. Internet companies fair and equal treatment.

  • Assisted Simply Smiles, Inc., a non-profit that works with orphanages in Mexico, in the domestic and international trade marking processes.

  • Concluded representation of a parent of abducted children under the Foreign Kidnapping Children's Act.

  • Provided general corporate and tax representation to MedShare International, Inc., a nonprofit that ships surplus medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and clinics in 72 economically developing countries.
Human Rights / Asylum
  • Represented six Guantànamo detainees from Yemen who have been imprisoned without charge; we filed habeas corpus petitions in United States District Court in the District of Columbia and had hearings on those petitions for three of the men beginning June 22, 2009.

  • Represented immigrants in a variety of matters, including two abused Honduran children; a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy, obtaining permanent residency; a Cameroon woman and her children who were the victims of domestic violence and violence by law enforcement officials; a Salvadorian woman who was a victim of human trafficking; a teenage girl from El Salvador fleeing from the MS-13 gang; a former Iraqi soldier, who sustained severe injuries as a result of his support for Coalition forces, in his application for asylum in the United States; and a Peruvian woman who was a victim of violent crime and eligible for permanent residence under a U-visa.

  • Represented refugees fleeing their countries and seeking asylum in the United States from political, ethnic and religious persecution, including an Afghan orphan whose family was killed by the Taliban; a mother and son escaping death threats from Rwandan Tutsis; two adolescent sisters who fled from Zambia following the politically-motivated assassination of their father; a Sudanese man escaping the civil war in Darfur and religious and ethnic persecution by the Sudanese government; a Coptic (Egyptian Christian) who escaped religious persecution by fleeting Egypt with his wife and three children; a Honduran man who fled gang activity in his home country; a woman from Malawi who was the victim of local government sanctioned domestic abuse; a Liberian general's son who fled during the Liberian Civil War as a child; an Ethiopian economist who criticized the government and supported an unpopular political party; a Ugandan woman who supported the losing presidential candidate; a Kenyan woman who was a political activist for a losing political party; and a Kenyan journalist who was targeted for assassination after exposing murders sanctioned by government officials.
Civil Rights Litigation
  • Provided litigation assistance to University Legal Services, a federally mandated watchdog organization protecting the rights of individuals with mental illness and cognitive disabilities, in a cooperative effort to reform the substandard care and dangerous conditions of Washington, D.C.'s public mental health institution, Saint Elizabeths Hospital.

  • Obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of pre-trial detainees in a South Georgia jail who were charged "room and board" fees in violation of the U.S. Constitution and Georgia law, and re-incarcerated if they failed to pay. In a subsequent settlement, the defendants agreed to reimburse the plaintiffs for all such fees and to set aside sufficient funds to reimburse all those subject to the County's illegal policy over the previous four years.

  • Represented prison inmates and heirs in Section 1983 civil rights actions against prison officials for deliberate indifference to protective care and serious medical needs, including the mother of an inmate who was beaten to death by his cellmate; seven inmates in three different prisons who were brutally beaten by prison guards; an inmate who suffered orthopedic injuries when prison officials ignored a physician's orders; and an inmate who was denied care for severe spinal injuries.
Transactional / Non-Litigation Pro Bono
  • Developed a pilot pro bono program with the Georgia Micro Enterprise Network to provide transactional services to low-income micro entrepreneurs and for-profit micro enterprises that exist in or will exist in an economically distressed area of Georgia. Our pro bono services focused on matters such as entity formation, commercial contract review and negotiation, lease review and negotiation and basic intellectual property services.

  • Represented The Nature Conservancy in multiple real estate conservation matters in Louisiana, California, Washington, and Wyoming, including currently: (i) assisting in the acquisition of approximately 10,000 acres near the Naches River in eastern Washington which will be set aside for conservation purposes, and (ii) assisting in the acquisition of a 25,000 acre conservation easement along the Simon-Newman Ranch in northern California.

  • Prepared tax returns for the working poor, many of whom were eligible to receive the earned income credit, through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

  • Prepared wills for low-income Habitat for Humanity homeowners, and assisted Atlanta Habitat for Humanity with real estate and other legal needs.

  • Represented MACSC & Housing, Inc., a Houston agency, which assists unemployed individuals as they transition from "welfare-to-work" by providing transitional living and rental housing, in drafting a form subcontractor agreement for its use in the development of affordable housing.
Domestic Violence
  • Represented a disabled victim of sexual assault as the criminal case was prosecuted by the United States Attorneys Office and assisted her with collateral issues such as recovering compensation from the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

  • Represented a domestic violence victim who sought a civil protective order against her abusive ex-boyfriend. This included attending the initial hearing in the domestic violence unit in D.C. Superior Court.

  • In cooperation with Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE), staffed the walk-in domestic violence clinic and researched several significant legal issues affecting WEAVE.

  • Represented a domestic abuse victim with her Violence Against Women Act (I-360) Application, I-485 Application to Adjust to Permanent Resident Status and I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. Our client was abused by her U.S. citizen husband, who is the father of her two young U.S. citizen children.

  • Assisted law enforcement officials in investigating and prosecuting a human trafficker who sexually exploited an African woman.
Arts and Culture
  • Represented the Nollywood Foundation, Inc., an organization devoted to the education of the global public on African culture, particularly through the growing Nigerian film media, in obtaining tax-exempt status and other legal matters.

  • Assisted the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta in identifying possible federal grant availability for expansion of the arts center to incorporate an existing rail station. The center for the visual and performing arts is one of the largest in the South and is among the top such centers in the nation.

  • Represented Actor's Express in a dispute with an auction company about the proceeds of the theater's annual fundraiser.

  • Represented the New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) in connection with its corporate and intellectual property needs. NYICFF is the largest film festival for children and teens in North America, with a sold-out attendance of 20,000 and a marketing reach of two million in the greater New York area.

  • Represented the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in handling a variety of legal issues.

  • Represented Art League of Houston in potential trademark infringement matters, and provided legal counsel regarding the registration of trademarks to Fresh Arts Coalition, a collaboration of small and mid-sized Houston arts organizations.

  • Revised bylaws, improved organizational structure, drafted employment agreements and researched funding options for HITS Theatre, a leading performing arts organization for school-age children in metropolitan Houston.

  • Represented Solas Nua, an Irish theater company in Washington D.C. which produces plays by Irish playwrights and distributes Irish literature.

  • Registered trademarks for The Bascom Louise Gallery an art gallery providing art education services to low-income and disadvantaged individuals in a rural Appalachian community.
Projects and Programs
  • Assisted disabled veterans, who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan and who are in the military discharge process at Walter Reed Army Medical Center or Bethesda Naval Hospital, with disability claims and appeals.

  • Assisted students from indigent families who are learning disabled or have other special needs in getting the educational services that they are entitled to by law, and advocated on behalf of students who have disciplinary problems through the Educational Advocacy Project, in partnership with the Office of the Public Defender of Montgomery County, Maryland.

  • Participated in DC Lawyers for Youth, a local organization that works on juvenile justice issues.

  • Provided advice on constitutional, statutory, and regulatory issues to New Leaders for New Schools, an organization seeking to place highly-qualified individuals as principals in District of Columbia Schools.

  • Participated in Street Law, an organization that educates local youth on legal issues.

  • Represented a disabled woman being accused of benefits fraud in her attempt to restore her disability benefits.

  • Assisted organization in staffing non-partisan National Voter Hotline, providing voters across the country with answers to questions about voter registration and early voting issues, as well as handling complaints about voter intimidation and fraud.

  • Provided legal assistance and worked with Atlanta children who are at risk of dropping out of school through the Truancy Intervention Project.

  • Revised the Georgia Advocates Guide to Healthcare for use as a resource by pro bono attorneys who are assigned cases from the Health Law Partnership, assisting Children's Healthcare of Atlanta patients and their families.

  • Represented indigent tenants in eviction proceedings held in Fulton County Magistrate Court, in partnership with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.

  • Represented low-income clients in civil matters through the Saturday Lawyer Program, a cooperative effort between the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation.

  • Served in leadership roles on the Georgia Election Protection Legal Committee to coordinate and implement non-partisan election protection efforts prior to and during election cycles to remove barriers to the ballot box for all eligible voters in Georgia. Close to 600 trained election protection volunteers were hotline workers, poll monitors and mobile legal volunteers on election day. Volunteers included attorneys, paralegals, law students and other citizens.
Natural Disaster Relief and Resettlement
  • Wrote a comprehensive report for the Appleseed Foundation assessing how Atlanta responded to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, and addressing the topics of resettlement, the performance of the Atlanta nonprofit community, mental health issues, the adequacy of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other benefits, and related topics. Specific recommendations for policymakers at the national, state and local levels involved in disaster planning were outlined in the report.

  • Represented residents of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in conjunction with the New Orleans Legal Aid Clinic, in a case determining tenant rights under the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, and received a favorable ruling for the residents from the court.

  • Represented Hurricane Katrina victims before the Eastern District Court of Louisiana in a class action challenging the Louisiana Department of Social Services' denial of food stamp benefits to FEMA disaster aid recipients.

  • Provided Historic Oakland Foundation with review of FEMA/GEMA regulations and National Historic Preservation Act to assist in recovery efforts at Oakland Cemetery after March 2008 tornadoes damaged historic monuments and gravesites.
Freedom of Religion
  • Represented a church in East Point, Georgia that was denied a building permit pursuant to an unconstitutional ordinance when it attempted to relocate to and renovate a building that had been used for commercial purposes. The City subsequently repealed the ordinance, and a claim for compensatory damages is pending.

  • Represented an inmate against the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC). Our client, a Torah-observant Jew, is now allowed to wear a yarmulke, and GDOC will provide a Kosher diet at selected prisons, where Jewish prisoners may elect to be transferred.

  • Represented a Muslim inmate who alleged that he and other practicing Muslim prisoners at the Atlanta Detention Center have not been allowed to participate in groups of three or more, as required by the Koran, in Friday Jumu'ah prayer.
Death Penalty Litigation
  • Represented three death row inmates in Eighth Amendment challenges to the constitutionality of federal, Texas and Georgia lethal injection protocols.

  • Represented death row inmates in post-conviction habeas proceedings challenging their convictions and/or death sentences in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Eastern District of Virginia, Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Superior Court. In the Lance case, a team of attorneys won habeas corpus relief in Georgia state court.
Other Litigation
  • Successfully represented former employees of International Business Machines in a case in the United States Court of International Trade in which the employees were awarded trade adjustment assistance benefits after being displaced from their jobs due to increased import competition.

  • Successfully represented elderly and disabled tenants at Briarcliff Summit in a class action lawsuit for violations of the Fair Housing Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Georgia Code, arising from unsafe and unsanitary building conditions. Negotiated a consent order in which a federal judge will maintain continuing jurisdiction over the building, thus ensuring that the agreement to improve living conditions will not be broken.

  • Represented two habeas corpus petitioners in cases in which prosecution witnesses recanted testimony and newly discovered evidence supports claims of innocence.

  • Represented an indigent defendant who was charged with manslaughter and assault in a correctional facility, both of which carry ten-year terms of imprisonment, for striking another inmate after the victim had allegedly stolen food from the defendant. In part because of serious medical problems, the defendant ultimately received only a sentence of probation and credit for time served.

  • Represented a father in complex child custody matter where the client sought to modify an existing child custody order. This representation included participation in mediation and several hearings in D.C. Superior Court during which opening and closing arguments were offered, direct and cross-examination of several witnesses was conducted, and motions in limine were argued.

  • Represented clients before the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Eleventh Circuits and the Georgia Court of Appeals, including a reversal of the dismissal of a habeas corpus petition based on the doctrine of equitable tolling; the representation of a death row inmate involving issues under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act; the representation of an indigent defendant who had received a life sentence for a drug-related offense; and the representation of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society as amicus curae in a case involving Medicaid coverage issues.
Government Relations / Legislative
  • Assisted Hope Village for Children, a Mississippi-based children's home, in securing $205,000 in federal funding for its foster care programs. Worked closely with Hope Village officials and members of the Mississippi Congressional Delegation to include this funding in Appropriations legislation.

  • Counseled the District of Columbia Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services in its effort to revise and reform legislation for the treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.

  • Assisted the Georgia Governor's Office, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (MACOC), the Georgia State Board of Education (School Board) and the Commission for School Board Excellence (Commission) in developing legislation to improve governance at Georgia's public school boards.

  • Assisted the Atlanta City Attorney's office with researching, assessing and making recommendations concerning juvenile detention procedures, working with the Fulton County Juvenile Court, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and various law enforcement agencies, including the Fulton County and Atlanta Police Departments.

  • Assisted the Atlanta City Attorney's office with researching, assessing and making recommendations concerning the State's obligation to patrol State highways, thus reducing the Atlanta Police Department's burden so it could allocate more resources away from traffic duty.

  • Assisted the Atlanta City Attorney's office with researching, assessing and making recommendations concerning the decriminalization of certain City Code violations that currently clog municipal courts.

  • Completed report for Georgia Appleseed based on interviews of judges, the public defender, assistant district attorneys and other stakeholders in Georgia's First Judicial District, in connection with revision of the Georgia Juvenile Justice Code.

  • Researched and published a report for and placed two lawyers on the Georgia Supreme Court's Task Force to Promote Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration.


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