Since 2005, Michael Sternhell, a seventh-year associate at New York-based Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, has represented seven ethnic Uighurs (pronounced Weegers) wrongfully imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, despite the government’s acknowledgement of their innocence.

“I was looking for a pro bono Guantánamo case,” said Sternhell. “And a friend at the Center for Constitutional Rights presented this case to me mentioning that a group of refugees in Guantánamo were denied the right to file a habeas petition, and since I believe that everyone deserves their day in court, I was offended that the government denied them their right to file a petition.”

The Uighurs are a Muslim minority group from western China. Sternhell’s clients left China and traveled to nearby Afghanistan in search of religious freedom. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, they were abducted by bounty hunters, sold to the U.S. military and eventually brought to Guantánamo. In 2005, Sternhell and his colleagues at Kramer Levin filed habeas corpus petitions on their behalf. Shortly thereafter, the government for the first time acknowledged that three of his seven clients were not enemy combatants.

In September 2008, after years of litigation, the government finally conceded that none of the remaining 17 Uighurs at Guantánamo — including Sternhell’s four clients — were enemy combatants. But the Uighurs cannot return to China, where they would be tortured, and, at the time, the previous Bush administration said no other country in the world was willing to accept them. Finally, on Oct. 7, 2008, Judge Ricardo Urbina of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered that all 17 men be released into the United States. After nearly seven years of litigation and imprisonment, Urbina’s order was the first time that a district court judge had ordered Guantánamo prisoners released on a habeas petition. The government has appealed Urbina’s order, and four of Sternhell’s clients remain in Guantanámo pending a decision from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Sternhell’s three other clients were released and are living in Tirana, Albania.

Sternhell has devoted more than 1,400 hours to the representation and has argued motions before the U.S. district court, the D.C. Circuit and foreign governments advocating on his clients’ behalf. Sternhell also traveled to Albania in May 2006 after three of his clients were released there to ensure that their rights as refugees were respected.

Sternhell, a graduate of New York University School of Law, practices in the litigation group at Kramer Levin and focuses on white-collar criminal defense work.


 

PROMOTIONS TO PARTNER

Barnes & Thornburg (Indianapolis): Twelve associates have been elevated to partnership.

In the Chicago office, David T. Ballard is a member of the litigation department and focuses on environmental litigation, commercial disputes, products liability and insurance coverage disputes for corporate policyholders. Ballard received his J.D. with honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2001, where he was a notes and comments editor on the Chicago-Kent Law Review.

Jeremy B. Lewin is a member of the labor and employment law department and focuses on compliance with state and federal employment laws and represents management in labor and employment litigation matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Lewin received his J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1998 and received the American Jurisprudence Award for the Employment Law Clinic. Mark J. Nahnsen is a member of the intellectual property department and focuses on patent and trademark portfolio management, patent and trademark prosecution, and legal opinion work. Nahnsen received his J.D. from The John Marshall Law School. Brad E. Rago is a member of the litigation department and focuses on products liability defense and commercial litigation with an emphasis on insurance coverage disputes. Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg, Rago served as a law clerk to Judge John F. Walter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rago received his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Illinois College of Law, where he was a member of the University of Illinois Law Review and Order of the Coif.

In the Elkhart, Ind. office, Christopher S. Riley is a member of the litigation department and focuses on antitrust litigation, commercial disputes, construction negligence defense, defamation, franchise disputes, fraud, injunctions, insurance coverage litigation, personal injury, products liability defense, real estate disputes and trademark infringement. Riley received his J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2001.

In the Fort Wayne, Ind. office, Carrie Marie Raver is a member of the litigation department and focuses on complex insurance coverage matters and general commercial disputes. Raver received her J.D. from Chicago–Kent College of Law, graduating with high honors. Raver served as executive articles editor of the Chicago-Kent Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

In the Grand Rapids, Mich., office, Scott R. Murphy is a member of the litigation department and focuses on complex commercial disputes, construction litigation and insurance coverage disputes. Murphy received his J.D. from the Florida State University College of Law in 2001, where he was a member of the Florida State University Law Review.

In the Indianapolis office, David R. Gillay, is a member of the environmental department and focuses on underground storage tank regulation, including Indiana’s Excess Liability Trust Fund; Brownfields projects; and remediation projects dealing with soil, surface water and groundwater contamination. Gillay received his J.D. with honors from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 2001, where he was a senior staff member on the Tulsa Law Journal. Joshua P. Hollingsworth is a member of the business department and focuses on corporate and venture finance, entrepreneurial services and mergers and acquisitions. Hollingsworth received his J.D., summa cum laude, from Indiana University School of Law — Indianapolis, where he served as executive articles editor of the Indiana Law Review. David P. Hooper is a member of the business department and focuses on securities, mergers and acquisitions, banking and financial institutions law and general corporate law. Hooper received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Valparaiso University School of Law in 2001, where he was a member of the Valparaiso Law Review, a recipient of the Juris Award Law Scholarship, and president of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Hannesson Murphy, is a member of the labor and employment law department and focuses on discrimination, harassment and wrongful discharge. Prior to joining the firm, he served as an attorney with Clarke Silverglate Campbell Williams & Montgomery in Miami. Murphy received his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law, cum laude, in 1997. Deborah Pollack-Milgate, is a member of the intellectual property department and focuses on intellectual property litigation, commercial litigation, including antitrust litigation, and appellate matters. Prior to joining the firm, Pollack-Milgate served as a judicial clerk to Associate Justice Theodore R. Boehm of the Indiana Supreme Court and also served as a judicial clerk to Indiana Supreme Court retired Associate Justice Myra C. Selby. Pollack-Milgate received her J.D. from Rutgers School of Law — Newark, where she was an articles editor for the Rutgers Law Review.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (Los Angeles): Nine associates have been elected to partnership.

In the New York office, Aaron F. Adams is a member of the global finance group and focuses on financing transactions, including senior credit facilities, high-yield offerings, mezzanine financings and asset-based financings, with a particular emphasis on acquisition finance. Adams received his J.D from Boston University School of Law in 2000, where he was a member of the Boston University Law Review. Lisa Alfaro is a member of the mergers and acquisition group and focuses on cross-border mergers and acquisitions and foreign private investment transactions. Alfaro received her J.D from Stanford Law School in 1995. Andrew L. Fabens is a member of the capital markets group and focuses on public and private corporate finance transactions in both U.S. and international markets. Fabens received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2000.

In the Los Angeles office, Sean C. Feller is a member of the executive compensation/employee benefits group and focuses on Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), accounting, corporate and securities law aspects of equity and other incentive compensation plans; nonqualified deferred compensation plans; and executive employment and severance arrangements. Feller received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2000.

In the Palo Alto, Calif.. office, Y. Ernest Hsin is a member of the patent litigation group, where he focuses on patent litigation and counsels clients on all aspects of intellectual property law, including IP licensing matters. Hsin received his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1998.

In the Century City, Calif., office, Ari B. Lanin is a member of the corporate group and focuses on mergers and acquisitions, federal securities law and corporate governance matters, executive compensation, securities offerings, venture capital transactions and general corporate representations. Lanin received his J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 2000, where he was elected to Order of the Coif.

In the Washington office, Matthew D. McGill is a member of the litigation department and the appellate and constitutional law practice and focuses on matters before the U.S. Supreme. Prior to joining the firm, McGill served as a Bristow Fellow in the office of the solicitor general at the U.S. Department of Justice. He also clerked for Judge Joseph M. McLaughlin of the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then-Judge John G. Roberts Jr. of the D.C. Circuit, now chief justice of the United States. McGill received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2000, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif.

In the Munich, Germany, office, Markus Nauheim is a member of the corporate group and focuses on cross-border and domestic mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments and venture capital deals, as well as cross-border joint ventures. Nauheim received his J.D. from the University of Mainz (Germany) in 1995, and his LL.M. from Duke University in 1996.

In the Dubai, United Arab Emirates, office, Nicholas C. Tomlinson is a member of the corporate group and focuses on cross-border transactions, covering all aspects of private equity, mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures in the Middle East, the United Kingdom and the United States. Tomlinson attended the Chester College of Law in 1997, passing with distinction and winning a Law Society prize; he earned his undergraduate law degree in 1996 from the University of Nottingham.

NEW ARRIVALS

Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott (Pittsburgh): Shelley A. Hession joins the firm’s Washington office as an associate in the business division, practicing in the aviation group. Hession will focus on aviation and transportation regulatory and operational matters before the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration. Prior to joining the firm, Hession served as an attorney advisor at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s office of hearings and as the vice president of modifications marketing for Duncan Aviation. Hession received her J.D. from Dickinson School of Law.

Phelps Dunbar (New Orleans): five associates join the firm.

Clay V. Bland Jr. and W. Taylor Hale join the firm’s regional admiralty practice group. Bland received his J.D. in 2008 from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, where he was a member of the Loyola Law Review. And Hale received his J.D. in 2008 from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, where he was a member of the editorial board of the Loyola Law Review and a member of the Loyola Maritime Law Journal. Nathan G. Huntwork joins the firm’s regional business practice group. Huntwork received his J.D. in 2008 from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was the managing editor of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law. Taylor P. Mouledoux joins the firm’s regional tort litigation practice group. Mouledoux received his J.D., cum laude, in 2008 from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, where he was a member of the Loyola Law Review and the Loyola Law Clinic. Tobi M. Murphy joins the firm’s regional employment law practice group. Before joining the firm, Murphy completed a judicial externship with Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Murphy received her J.D. in 2008 from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, where she was a member of the editorial board and managing editor of the Loyola Law Review, as well as a William L. Crowe Scholar.