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PRISONERS’ RIGHTS D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project is facing a critical need for pro bono volunteers as it struggles with a funding crunch, its executive director says. Phil Fornaci says the Prison Litigation Reform Act has made it harder for prisoners to file suits in federal court. That means less money from attorney fees � and fewer dollars for the organization. Created by Covington & Burling in 1989 on the fees garnered from prison litigation, the project serves nearly 11,000 people sentenced under D.C. laws who are housed in facilities in the District and nationwide. The five-person office focuses on confinement conditions such as abuse and medical care, and issues that occur as prisoners re-enter society, such as debt, housing, and employment discrimination. Because prisons are overcrowded, violent, dirty, and decaying, Fornaci says he has simply too many cases to handle. Particularly in light of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, Fornaci believes “people don’t want to tolerate that [abuse] in their names. There is widespread abuse, and it does happen here. The only people who can do anything about that is lawyers.” GIDEON, REVISED In the spirit of improving the right to counsel in criminal cases that was established by the Supreme Court in the 1963 case Gideon v. Wainwright, the Constitution Project and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association launched the bipartisan National Committee on the Right to Counsel on June 22. The committee is made up of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcers, and policy-makers across the country; former Vice President Walter Mondale serves as honorary chair. The committee also includes both attorneys who were involved in Gideon: Arnold & Porter partner Abe Krash, who represented Clarence Gideon, and Stetson University law professor Bruce Jacob, who argued on behalf of Florida, where Gideon was initially refused counsel. Also on the committee are Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis partner Timothy Lewis, formerly a judge on the 3rd Circuit; Larry Thompson, former deputy attorney general and currently a fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Shawn Marie Armburst, a Northwestern University journalism graduate who helped exonerate Anthony Porter, among others, from death row. The committee will conduct research and field hearings, and aims to draft recommendations next year. Lewis hopes these recommendations will “help fulfill the promise of Gideon” and help the criminal justice system “ keep up with the times” � for instance, effectively utilizing forensic science to prove guilt or innocence. “I hope we’re gonna roll up our sleeves and really make a difference,” says Lewis. “Nothing is more important in our justice system than ensuring everyone has a fair chance in court.” COUDERT’S LEGACY Coudert Brothers‘ Washington office sponsored two orphaned Colombian girls to come to the Washington metro area in July in hopes of finding an adoptive family. The effort is part of the firm’s larger Paul Fuller Memorial Children’s Service Program, which kicked off last year in all 29 of its offices. The office partnered with Kidsave International, a nonprofit devoted to helping older orphans find homes that has brought almost 30 Colombian and Russian children to the D.C. metro area for the summer in hopes of getting them adopted. Associate Lina Braude led the effort to raise nearly $10,000 to sponsor the Ardila sisters, Cindy, 11, and Yeimmy, 13. Some attorneys are also pitching in as translators. The children will “experience camp and family life” during their six-week stay in northern Virginia, says D.C. managing partner Tara Giunta, and will be hosted by different families. The office is also working with similar Kidsave programs geared more toward mentorship than adoption, such as its Miracle Miles program in Fairfax. Kidsave president Terry Baugh is looking to expand into the District. She says the organization “would desperately like to help D.C. kids find families” and is hoping the legal community “will come behind us to help that happen.” KING & SPALDING’S AWARD The Maryland State Bar Association’s pro bono resource center honored King & Spalding‘s D.C. office for its amicus work in a domestic violence case. Partners Martin McNerney and Jane Luxton and associates Kerri Ruttenberg, Emily Sweet, and Brian Meiners logged more than 360 hours on the effort for the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DVLEAP), the House of Ruth, and the Women’s Law Center. Referred to the firm by DVLEAP, the case asked whether David Triggs’ repeated phone calls to his ex-wife, Pamela, in which he threatened to rape and murder her and murder their three children, counted as separate violations of a protective order. In the lower court, Triggs was sentenced to 18 years in prison � one year for each violation. If the appellate court agreed with Triggs’ argument and counted each violation cumulatively, he could have been eligible for a year or less in prison under the Maryland protective order statute. On June 16, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Pamela Triggs. To Ruttenberg, who volunteered over 240 hours to the project and is the pioneer of the firm’s domestic violence program, the decision “puts more meat on the bones of protective orders, and it also says that the courts are taking them seriously.” GIFTS FOR AMPUTEES Sutherland Asbill & Brennan‘s D.C. office donated 35 gift bags to service members in the amputee/orthopedic wards at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital for the July 4 holiday. The effort was headed by Cause, a veterans’ organization, and attorneys and staff were asked to donate candy, hand-held games, and cash. OPERATION GRATEFUL Greenberg Traurig‘s Washington and McLean, Va., offices sent more than 1,000 care packages on June 25 to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and to wounded soldiers at Landstool Hospital in Germany. Inspired by similar work in the firm’s Miami and New York offices, area lawyers, lobbyists, and staff raised around $22,000 over a two-week period. In addition to the funds, clients pitched in. Est�e Lauder, Paxton Van Lines, Lawson’s Gourmet, and several others donated goods. Joe Reeder, who heads the firm’s mid-Atlantic region and is former undersecretary of the Army, says the packages will be distributed in “Robin Hood fashion” and has dubbed the effort “Operation Grateful.” The staff, their children, and volunteers from the Armed Services YMCA gathered in the firm’s offices to pack boxes. The boxes included toiletries, entertainment, and, at the soldiers’ request, Beanie Babies to give to Iraqi children. “Everyone wants to help fight and win this war over there, and most of us can’t,” says Reeder. “This is one small way we can say thanks and participate.” PRO BONO AT PEPPER Pepper Hamilton recently hired Joseph Sullivan as its first pro bono director and special counsel. Sullivan, most recently litigation administrator and pro bono director at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis in Philadelphia, joined the firm June 28. Sullivan will be coordinating pro bono programs for the 400-lawyer firm’s nine offices. “I find that the best way to build a pro bono program is to find out what the lawyers like to do,” says Sullivan, who will be visiting the firm’s eight offices outside Philadelphia over the next three months. Since he began private practice in 1989, Sullivan has been a pro bono advocate. At Pepper, Sullivan would like to bring in transactional pro bono opportunities that relate to housing, predatory lending, and immigration work. BANDING TOGETHER For lawyer musicians, it’s time to get out of the basement and onto the stage. The brainchild of Kirkland & Ellis partner and Gifts for the Homeless board member Walter Lohmann, the first “Battle of the Law Firm Bands” premieres at the Grog and Tankard, located in D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood, on July 29 at 7 p.m. Lohmann’s pop-rock band, Nine Times Blue, will compete with other law firm bands playing music ranging from jazz to classic rock, with both original songs and covers. The lineup includes Law and Disorder ( Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld), Beats Workin’ ( Alston & Bird and Hogan & Hartson), Sweet Lew and the Jayhawks ( Sutherland Asbill & Brennan), Big Sur ( Sidley Austin Brown & Wood), and No Second Troy ( Covington & Burling and Akin Gump). The winner will be chosen by “Chicago-style voting”: the band that garners the most financial donations for Gifts for the Homeless wins. “We’ve all been playing in our respective basements. This is an opportunity to play in public,” says Lohmann. “We’re all sharing our midlife crisis together,” he jokes. Pro Bono Bulletin Board is an occasional column covering developments in the public interest and pro bono communities.

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