Examples of recent Nixon Peabody pro bono matters:
Reunifying Immigrant Children:
Firm lawyers sued to force the reunification of a Guatemalan mother and daughter who were separated by immigration officials at the southern border in May. Even after the client passed her credible fear interview and was released, the government was not forthcoming about her daughter's location. Once she found her daughter, the government placed many roadblocks to getting her back. Working with the ACLU of Massachusetts and another firm, the firm sued the government, seeking an order releasing the child on the grounds that her continued detention violated due process, equal protection and other constitutional rights. After much negotiation with the government, the client and her daughter were reunited. CNN, The Boston Globe and other media covered the reunification.
Solar Energy Project:
Volunteer lawyers developed a community solar energy project involving the installation of solar panels that will supply at least 200 MW hours per year of solar electric power to low-income residents in Washington, DC. Installed on three commercial rooftops in downtown Washington, DC, the DC Solar Rooftops Community Solar Project demonstrates to commercial building owners that, by leveraging private capital and nonprofit management, their rooftop spaces can be used to produce clean energy to benefit the surrounding community. They are now replicating this deal on several other buildings.
Racial Profiling Victory:
In a major victory, a team of DC litigators won a precedential ruling on behalf of a pro bono client, an immigrant from El Salvador, who was wrongfully arrested in 2008 by police officers in Frederick County, Maryland while on a break at work. The officers arrested the client based solely on a civil immigration warrant. The Maryland Federal District Court just ruled that the officers acted outside of their authority and violated the client’s Fourth Amendment rights. The decision upholds a 2013 ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Helping Immigrant Detainees:
Several lawyers spent days working with some of 300 immigrants detained at Albany County Jail. The team helped to do intake and prepare the detainees for their credible fear interviews, a key step in the process of seeking asylum in the United States.
Sustainably Powered Resilience Room:
The firm’s lawyers negotiated the creation of a “sustainably powered resilience room” at a Washington, D.C. public housing development. When activated next year, the resilience room will be an emergency resource for residents in the event of a major storm or other disruptive event. The resilience room will provide charging stations, access to emergency communications, and refrigeration for medicines, among other needs.
Protecting Transgender Rights:
The firm won a significant victory on behalf of two transgender clients challenging Iowa’s ban on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery. A judge in Iowa District Court recently entered an order invalidating the decades-old regulation from the state’s Department of Human Services, which categorically forbid coverage of these procedures. The court held that the regulation violates the Iowa Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against gender-identity discrimination, violates the Iowa Constitution’s equal-protection guarantee on both rational-basis and heightened-scrutiny grounds, imposes a disproportionate negative impact on the rights of transgender individuals, and resulted in the arbitrary and capricious denial of Medicaid coverage for the firm’s clients. This is an important victory for transgender Iowans and a major step forward for transgender rights everywhere.
Special Immigrant Visa for Afghani Interpreter:
Volunteer lawyers are working with UC Berkeley and Cornell law students to assist Iraqi refugees in their applications for special immigrant visas in the United States. Firm lawyers recently helped a refugee from Afghanistan resettle in Washington state through a partnership with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). The client was a former interpreter whose family was threatened by the Taliban because he worked with U.S. forces. The team worked with IRAP to overcome several legal and bureaucratic obstacles to help the client.