Arnold & Porter Pro Bono Team Announces Significant Victories for Human Rights and Equal Access to Justice and the Launch of COVID-19 Initiatives
***Secures Release of Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for 44 years and Secures Legal Rights for Victims of Border Separation***
***Obtains Important Ruling to Help Mitigate Risk of COVID-19 to Pennsylvania Prisoners and Launches Initiative to Assist Unemployed Restaurant Workers With Unemployment and Other Public Benefits***
Arnold & Porter has recently received a number of favorable and groundbreaking results on behalf of its pro bono clients. These results are critical steps in protecting the civil rights of our clients and demonstrate the firm's long-standing commitment to pro bono service.
"As a firm, we are deeply committed to securing equal access to justice and respect for the rule of law. In these challenging times, our pro bono work is more important than ever," said Dan Cantor, chair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee. "The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new challenges for the entire world. Working together with our pro bono partners, we have marshaled our experience and resources to assist our clients through this difficult period."
Secured Freedom for Virginian Man who was Wrongfully Imprisoned for 44 years
An Arnold & Porter pro bono client was released from prison last week after 44 years of wrongful incarceration. In 1975, the client was coerced into falsely confessing to charges relating to a murder. In 2017, Arnold & Porter and the Innocence Project prepared a Clemency Petition seeking a full exoneration on the grounds that the client was coerced into falsely confessing to the crime. The Arnold & Porter team investigated and developed compelling additional evidence that clearly demonstrated the client's innocence to the Virginia Parole Board. As a result, he was granted parole in November 2019 and was subsequently released on April 3, 2020.
Defeated Government's Motion to Dismiss Claims on Behalf of Families Separated at Border Seeking Compensation for Emotional Trauma
Arnold & Porter recently obtained a groundbreaking victory on behalf of immigrant parents and children who were separated at the border in 2018 during the US government's family separation policy. In the last 18 months, the Arnold & Porter team has developed and filed claims seeking damages from the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for the emotional trauma they suffered as a result of the separations. In September 2019, Arnold & Porter filed a complaint in the District of Arizona on behalf of the first five of the firm's client family units. On March 30, 2020, the court issued a first-of-its-kind decision denying the government's motion to dismiss and allowing separated families to continue their lawsuit seeking compensation from the government. This is a significant victory, not just for Arnold & Porter's clients, but for the many other families who have filed administrative claims seeking damages for their trauma. Arnold & Porter is co-counsel with the American Immigration Council, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin.
Improving Health Conditions in Pennsylvania Prisons, Including Potential Early Release
Last week, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Arnold & Porter obtained a significant victory on behalf of incarcerated persons in Pennsylvania aimed at reducing the risk of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania jails. After public health officials warned that jails are among the most dangerous places to be during a pandemic because of the challenges implementing hygienic practices that limit spread of infection, an Arnold & Porter pro bono team filed an emergency petition to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking to significantly reduce the number of incarcerated persons in the state's 67 county jails. Following the firm's fast-acting efforts, the Court ordered President Judges of each county court to immediately engage with relevant county stakeholders to review the situations in their jails, apply the recommendations of public health officials, identify incarcerated persons for potential release or transfer to alleviate public health concerns, and to undertake efforts to limit the introduction of new inmates into the county prison system. The implementation of these potentially lifesaving measures is an important human rights victory.
Assisting Restaurant Workers Who Lost Jobs As Result of COVID-19 Closures
In conjunction with the James Beard Foundation, more than 70 Arnold & Porter attorneys in Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC are assisting restaurant workers who have lost jobs following business closures in the wake of COVID-19. The firm is helping restaurant workers navigate unemployment and other public benefits programs, providing guidance and counsel with regard to a number of regulatory programs.