We defended four immigrant families in unlawful detainer actions in San Francisco Superior Court. We obtained successful dismissals at the summary judgment stage, and later obtained affirmative rulings from the San Francisco Rent Board confirming that our clients are entitled to stay in their rent-controlled apartments, preventing likely emigration.
We represented Jamere Hall, a federal inmate, in a case involving the cognizability of his § 2255 petition for a revised sentence, which argued that he should no longer be considered a career offender because his predicate offenses were no longer classified as “crimes of violence.” While Mr. Hall’s § 2255 petition was pending, President Obama granted Mr. Hall’s petition for clemency and commuted his 360-month sentence to 210 months. Quinn Emanuel counseled and represented Mr. Hall during the pendency of his clemency petition, which was submitted by the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
After being appointed as pro bono counsel by the New York Legal Assistance Group three days before trial, Quinn Emanuel obtained a victory for clients Ravi Kalra and Sasha Apparel in federal district court in the Southern District of New York. At trial, Quinn Emanuel exposed that Mr. Kalra and his small business were not wrongdoers, as alleged by plaintiffs, but instead were additional victims of a scheme perpetrated by the other defendants in the case, who misappropriated the identity and good credit of Sasha Apparel to order $2 million worth of jeans from a Chinese company with no intention of paying.
We represented Lamonte Purifoy before the Federal Circuit in appealing a final order by the Merit Systems Protection Board affirming the Agency’s decision to remove Mr. Purifoy from his position over two charges of extended unauthorized absence. The Federal Circuit issued a unanimous, precedential opinion vacating and remanding a decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board and strengthening the deference owed by the Board to Administrative Judge’s credibility determinations.
We represented Danielle Bernard Metz in her commutation petition, along with co-counsel Los Angeles attorney Jerry Mooney of Weston, Garrou & Mooney. On August 30, 2016, President Obama commuted our pro bono client, Danielle Metz’s “life” sentence. After serving almost 24 years (half her life) in federal prison for a non-violent conviction, distribution of cocaine, Danielle will soon be going home. Kenneth Polite, the current United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and Ambassador Clint Williamson, who served in 1993 as one of the trial prosecutors, both strongly supported her release.
We represented, pro bono, Luis Rivera who was serving a sentence of “life” plus a concurrent 80 years for drug trafficking offenses, and obtained his immediate release from federal prison by using a very novel strategy.
Acting as Court-appointed pro bono appellate counsel, we obtained a landmark decision from the Second Circuit holding that (1) various sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act that treat unwed U.S. citizen mothers and fathers differently in terms of their ability to confer derivative citizenship on their children born outside of the United States is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and (2) the appropriate remedy is to extend to unwed citizen fathers the more favorable treatment the statute affords to unwed citizen mothers. In so holding, the Second Circuit split with the Ninth Circuit on this issue of national importance—an issue that also split the Supreme Court 4-4 (with Justice Kagan recused) when it was presented on appeal from the Ninth Circuit—and dramatically altered the statutory scheme at issue. The decision has broad implications not only as a matter of constitutional and statutory law, but also for numerous individuals (here in the United States and abroad) who are now deemed to be American citizens as of their birth. As a result of the decision, the Court declared that Mr. Morales—who has been in federal detention subject to a deportation order for over two years pending the outcome of his appeal—derived American citizenship at birth from his father, and therefore he cannot be deported. Mr. Morales was released from federal detention the day after the Second Circuit issued its decision. He is now an American citizen as a matter of law.
We represented Damon Penn in a case involving the application of the Supreme Court's decision in Descamps v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2276 (2013) to persons seeking post-conviction (habeas) relief from erroneously imposed mandatory minimum sentences. We achieved retroactive application of Descamps, vacation of Mr. Penn's erroneously-imposed 15-year mandatory minimum sentence, and a 10+ year reduction in sentence to a sentence of 57-months time served.
We successfully represented a client in connection with his asylum application before the Citizenship and Immigration Services. Our client was an ethnic Tibetan Buddhist born and raised in Nepal. He had a history of activism fighting for democracy in Nepal and against the Chinese occupation of his ancestral homeland. As a result, he was persecuted and tortured by both the police of Nepal and the Maoist guerrillas who had waged a ten-year civil war in Nepal. Because the asylum application was filed four years after client's arrival in the United States, we had to establish an exception to the statutory deadline generally requiring an application be submitted within one year of the applicant's arrival in the United States.
We represented Major Brezler in a separation proceeding before a U.S. Marine Corps Board on Inquiry. Major Brezler faced criminal sanctions for his alleged mishandling of classified information, and could possibly have received an “other than honorable” or “general” discharge, which would have resulted in a loss of all his benefits. Despite evidence that Brezler had retained classified documents at his house and had used classified documents in writing a book, Brezler was given an “honorable discharge” and will retain all of his military benefits. Throughout the trial, we created a record that will give Major Brezler the best chance to appeal his separation, in hopes that he will be retained by the Marines.
We represented pro bono tenants of a dilapidated housing complex located on Skid Row. We sued the owners of the building for various causes of action including breach of implied warranty of habitability, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and nuisance. We were able to obtain a settlement amount of $750,000 that will hopefully go a long way towards assisting these families in finding significantly better housing.
The firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League (“ADL”) in the 9th Circuit appeal of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, et al. (No. 10-16696), which struck down CA’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. ADL is one of the world’s leading civil rights organizations, promoting equality for all and combating anti-Semitism, discrimination, and hate. The firm has supported ADL since 2007 by researching leading questions of civil rights law for the organization. The amicus brief argued that the current segregated system in California of domestic partnerships and marriages routinely violates the privacy rights of homosexual couples by requiring them to disclose their sexual orientation in numerous circumstances. Most troubling for the ADL is the heightened likelihood of violence and discrimination these involuntary disclosures can cause. The appeal will impact thousands of same-sex couples throughout the state and country.
We were appointed by the SDNY to represent Nathaniel L. Ortiz, which the firm took on pro bono. Mr. Ortiz was indicted for distribution of large quantities of crack cocaine and the possession of firearms. The FBI had conducted an 18-month investigation and had hours of videotape. Judge Denny Chin presided over a two-week jury trial in April 2009. The jury hung 7-5 in favor of conviction. The government then superceded its indictment prior to a retrial in May 2009 and introduced significant additional evidence. Although the jury convicted Mr. Ortiz in the second trial, Judge Chin found that we had raised "troubling" issues in the government's evidence at the retrial, although he ultimately upheld the conviction. We argued the pro bono appeal in 2010, but the Second Circuit affirmed. We have now filed for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is pending.
Founded in 1964, the Steelworkers Old Timers Foundation provides needy residents throughout San Bernardino and Southeast LA County with affordable housing and health services and programs like Meals-On-Wheels and Dial-A-Ride. In the summer of 2010, as the City of Bell scandal was revealed, the CA Attorney General and the LA County District Attorney began investigating the Foundation’s then-CEO, former Bell City Councilman, George Cole. The firm has helped reconstitute the Foundation’s board, reorganized staff, responded to all requests for documents and information from the government agencies investigating Bell and surrounding cities, and provided advice regarding the constant inquiries from the media, the public, and the cities that contract with the Foundation to provide services. The firm has allowed the Foundation and its staff of over 100 employees to continue serving the needs of communities in over a dozen cities, without interruption.
In a significant pro bono victory, we relied on over a century of New York law to successfully invalidate the improper transfer of a historical landmark, and restored a beautiful church to the hands of its congregation.
Obtained successful resolution against one of the three defendants after a 6.5-day jury trial.
We proceeded with a bench trial asking for damages from lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages -- and got them all. Although the only arguably consequential damages were $1500, the court awarded a total of approximately $7600. Sara Brenner and Ryan Malloy handled the whole case themselves, from various trial briefs, witness preparation, and clever hearsay arguments. On cross-examination, Sara even got the defendant to admit that he perjured himself.
Dane Clarke was indicted for one count of conspiracy to traffic firearms and the government presented no hard evidence linking Dane to the case. They finally relented and agreed to drop their case. This rarely occurs in the Southern District of New York.
We represented a plaintiff in a pro bono employment case involving race discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation and obtained a favorable settlement for the client.
Pro bono representation of student seeking accommodations for her learning disability after the school district denied any special education or other services. Following a six-day trial, we won a complete victory in a 30 page order by the ALJ. The District appealed to the Central District, while we sought a judgment for our fees as the prevailing party. Following briefing on the appeal, Judge Morrow issued a 37-page ruling affirming our position in all respects. Heavily contested briefing on attorneys fees followed. After the hearing on the fees motion, Judge Morrow withdrew her tentative and, a month later, issued a final judgment awarding $327,058.49 in fees and costs, nearly $13,500 more than she was prepared to award before the hearing.
We represented Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old woman and domestic violence victim, in obtaining reversal of her conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attendant 20-year mandatory minimum sentence for firing a warning shot to protect herself from her enraged spouse. Florida’s First District Court of Appeal agreed with our contention that the jury instructions regarding Ms. Alexander’s claim of self-defense were flawed in two separate ways, depriving Ms. Alexander of a fair trial. Following the appeal, we continued to represent Ms. Alexander, eventually negotiating a plea deal that reduced her sentence from twenty years in prison to two years’ community monitoring and time served.
In a decision that included an issue of first impression, we convinced the Ninth Circuit to reverse a district court's order of summary judgment in a civil rights case. The case had been brought by a disabled inmate who was denied the opportunity to present live witness' testimony at a disciplinary hearing, allegedly due to racial bias by the hearing officer. We joined the case on appeal, when an associate was appointed by the Ninth Circuit to act as pro bono counsel for the inmate, a self-described "jailhouse lawyer" who had been representing himself. The inmate had been accused — falsely, as the prison later acknowledged —of punching a correctional officer. The inmate had been denied the opportunity to present live witness testimony at the hearing, at which the hearing officer made several racially tinged remarks and ultimately sentenced the inmate to disciplinary segregation. The segregation unit was not accessible to persons with disabilities. Thus, among other indignities, the inmate "was forced to drag himself around a vermin- and cockroach-infested" cell and "could not use the toilet without hoisting himself up by the seat." The inmate brought this federal civil rights claim against the officer who conducted the disciplinary hearing (not the officer who made the false accusation), claiming that the hearing officer violated the inmate's right to due process and equal protection by denying his request to present live witness testimony and to cross-examine his accuser. The case was dismissed on summary judgment, and the inmate appealed. We argued the case before the Ninth Circuit. The result: a unanimous, published decision (i) reversing the district court's grant of summary judgment on the equal protection claim, and (ii) holding that the hearing officer denied the inmate's right to due process, marking the first time the Ninth Circuit has addressed the rights of disabled inmates in the context of claims involving protected liberty interests. Certiori was denied in October 2004, and the case is waiting to be reassigned for trial on the equal protection claim. The case has already been frequently cited in both court decisions and appellate and trial briefs.
Quinn Emanuel mourns the loss of one of its name partners, Bill Urquhart. Bill joined the firm 31 years ago when it was just a few lawyers in downtown Los Angeles. Bill was a visionary and helped lead a transformation of the firm from a small litigation boutique to the largest and most successful litigation firm in the world, with over 800 lawyers in 23 offices on four continents.
In his legal practice, Bill was a sage counselor and trusted advisor for both plaintiffs and defendants, and for numerous Fortune 100 companies in their most important disputes — matters that usually involved tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars. Over the years he advised IBM, Hughes, Johnson Controls, CNA, Nokia and Qualcomm, among many many others.
For the many people at the firm who were fortunate to know Bill, he was more than a visionary partner and excellent lawyer, he was also a friend, who lived and loved life. He was loved and will be missed.
He leaves behind his wife Mary and 6 children, and our thoughts are with them in this time of grief.