Arnold & Porter Premieres Defending Gideon, Rededicates Firm to Landmark Right to Counsel Ruling and Pro Bono Service
Washington, D.C.; New York; Los Angeles; April 4, 2013 - Arnold & Porter LLP co-hosted the Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles movie premiere of Defending Gideon on March 18, 2013, reconfirming its ongoing dedication and historical commitment to pro bono service.
The special viewings of Defending Gideon coincided with the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark indigent right to counsel decision in Gideon v. Wainwright. The 30 minute film narrated by actor Martin Sheen engages viewers in an insiders' constitutional law review of the 1963 game-changing criminal defendants' rights case and examines the challenges still facing the indigent defendant in state and federal criminal justice systems.
Throughout 2013 and under the auspices of its pro bono and 50th anniversary committees headed by Partner Phil Horton and Robert Weiner, respectively, Arnold & Porter will be celebrating the constitutional principles enunciated in Gideon. Produced by The Constitution Project (TCP) and made possible by a number of supporters, including the Ford Foundation and the Arnold & Porter Foundation, Defending Gideon is now available on the firm's website at www.arnoldporter.com/Gideon.
A panel discussion immediately following the film's unveiling at the firm's D.C. office was co-hosted by The Constitution Project and moderated by Mary Kennedy, head of Arnold & Porter's Indigent Defense Program. Retired partner Abe Krash recounted for over 250 attendees how he had worked on a pro bono basis with appointed counsel Abe Fortas -- founding partner of the Firm -- in preparing the legal brief filed on behalf of Clarence Earl Gideon. While praising the game-changing precedent set in Gideon five decades ago, co-panelist Stephen B. Bright, President and Senior Counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights, said it was a "travesty" that the right to counsel precedent adopted by the Justices in Gideon yet to be fully implemented nation-wide and that it should be extended to indigent defendants in certain civil litigation. In conclusion, Melanca Clark, Senior Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice's Access to Justice Initiative, advocated possible reforms to achieve the unfinished business articulated by Krash and Bright. During earlier remarks, Arnold & Porter's managing partner, Richard M. Alexander assured that the firm was more dedicated than ever to the principles enunciated in Gideon as well as to the firm's widely-acknowledged historic commitment to pro bono service.
In the New York premiere showing of Defending Gideon, the film was introduced by Stewart Aaron, head of the firm's New York office and president of the New York County Lawyers' Association, which co-hosted the local event. A similar panel discussion was moderated by Arnold & Porter partner and former New York City Corporation Counsel Peter Zimroth. That panel also included Zachary Carter, a Dorsey & Whitney partner and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District; Catherine Christian, counsel to the trial division at the Office of the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor; Seymour James, attorney-in-charge of the criminal practice of the Legal Aid Society and president of the New York State Bar Association; and David Patton, executive director of the Federal Defenders of New York.
In its Los Angeles office, the film was viewed by firm staff and attorneys, as well as representatives of the city's Federal Public Defender's office and such advocacy groups as Public Counsel, Intercity Law Center, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.