2020 Anderson & Kreiger Pro Bono Highlights
Anderson & Kreiger is committed to providing pro bono legal services to those most in need and in cases that make a wide impact. While attorneys are free to select pro bono projects of personal significance, our pro bono efforts during the past year have focused on the following areas:
- Children and Health Services
- Civil Rights
- Community Development
- Environmental Protection and Renewable Energy
- Immigration & Asylum
- Professional Responsibility
Our pro bono victories during the past year include the following:
Anderson & Kreiger Attorneys Secure Asylum for Pro Bono Clients
Anderson & Kreiger LLP, with the invaluable support of the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project, secured an important victory in a pro bono case on behalf of a family seeking asylum in the United States after escaping persecution in their home country.
The family fled Venezuela after being threatened by the ruling regime due to their support of an opposing political party. Anderson & Kreiger learned about the case after the Asylum Office had denied the family’s application and referred the family for removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Attorneys David Lyons, Kevin Batt, and Annie Lee successfully persuaded the Court to grant the family’s asylum application, ensuring they can rebuild their lives in the United States. https://www.pairproject.org
Anderson & Kreiger Attorneys Successful as Amici Curiae with ACLU in Criminal Justice Case Before the SJC
Anderson & Kreiger LLP, working with the ACLU of Massachusetts, contributed as amici curiae to securing the rights of criminal defendants to full disclosure of potentially exculpatory materials by prosecutors and police. The SJC decision, In the Matter of Grand Jury Investigation, authored by the late Chief Justice Gants, made clear that prosecutors have an absolute duty to disclose any material that would tend to mitigate evidence of the defendant’s guilt. The Court was particularly clear that such evidence includes past misconduct by law enforcement.
Anderson & Kreiger Helped Two Public-Interest Organizations Access the Ballot In the Midst of the Pandemic
Anderson & Kreiger attorneys Mina Makarious, Christina Marshall, and Annie Lee represented Better Future Project and Act On Mass in seeking a declaration from the SJC that the organizations could collect petition signatures electronically due to the pandemic. As a result, the organizations were able get two referendum questions on the ballot in multiple communities. One question would instruct the State Representative in each of 19 districts in which the questions is presented to support legislation requiring Massachusetts to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2040. The other question would instruct the State Representative in 16 districts to support changes to the Legislature’s rules to make the results of all votes in legislative committees publicly available on the Legislature’s website.
Board of Bar Overseers: Anderson & Kreiger attorneys David Mackey and Austin Anderson have defended several lawyers on a pro bono basis in bar discipline matters before the Board of Bar Overseers. Dave was the Chair of the BBO from 2010 – 2013, and he and Austin now serve on the BBO’s panel of attorneys who represent lawyers in bar discipline matters on a pro bono basis.
Boston Bar Association’s CORI Sealing Clinic: Anderson & Kreiger attorneys volunteered at the Boston Bar Association’s CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) Sealing Clinic Pilot Project, which was held the first Wednesday of the month at the Boston Municipal Court. Anderson & Kreiger volunteer attorneys helped low-income clients get a copy of their CORI, understand what’s on their CORI, and seal or expunge their CORI if possible. A criminal record can make it harder to get a job or find housing. However, a CORI record may contain charges that can be “sealed” or expunged so that employers or housing providers cannot see those charges, and the client can make a fresh start.
Conservation Law Foundation. Mina Makarious, Annie Lee, David Lyons, and summer associate Abbey Doyno authored an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of CLF, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Defenders of Wildlife, and ten other environmental organizations regarding a challenge to EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor, a pesticide with devastating effects on bees and other pollinators that are critical to sustainable agriculture.
Greater Boston Legal Services Partnership: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) organized local attorneys to assist workers applying for unemployment insurance. Several Anderson & Kreiger attorneys volunteered, helping area workers apply for benefits, troubleshoot delayed applications, and obtain back benefits.
Jackson Municipal Airport Authority: The City of Jackson, Mississippi, through the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, has owned and operated the Jackson-Medgar Evers International Airport for many years. (The airport is named after an iconic leader of the Civil Rights Movement who was assassinated by a member of the KKK during the 1960s.) Shortly after the City put an African-American Board of Commissioners in charge of the Authority and hired an African-American CEO for the Airport, the State of Mississippi passed a law that would usurp control of the Airport from the City and give control to the state and surrounding communities. Scott Lewis and Austin Anderson from Anderson & Kreiger are representing individual members of the Authority Board in a lawsuit in federal court in Jackson, where they are asserting that the airport takeover bill should be enjoined because it was enacted on the basis of race and violates their constitutional rights. Anderson & Kreiger is working closely with local counsel in Jackson who represent the Commissioners, the JMAA, various city councilors and the City of Jackson. Discovery disputes in the case have already been in the Fifth Circuit, and are likely to go there again soon, as the plaintiffs seek crucial information on the intent of the government officials who drafted and passed the bill, and the defendants and non-party state legislators assert various forms of privilege to block that discovery.
KIND (https://supportkind.org/) Anderson & Kreiger is working with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) to represent a minor who was forced to flee her home country, where she was facing a number of violent and threatening circumstances. We are helping our client obtain legal immigration status in the United States so she can continue to thrive here with her family.
Lawyers for Civil Rights HUD Rule Challenge: On September 28, 2020, Anderson & Kreiger LLP attorneys Scott Lewis, Mina Makarious, and Annie Lee, working with our partners at Lawyers for Civil Rights, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center and Housing Works to challenge HUD’s roll-back of housing discrimination protections under the Fair Housing Act. Click herefor more on the case.
Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations. Mina Makarious and Christina Marshall assisted MACDC in drafting legislation to enable CDCs to rehabilitate individual abandoned properties in neighborhoods. The legislation is pending.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: Representing the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) and many allied public health organizations, Anderson & Kreiger lawyers Scott Lewis and Jessica Wall obtained a federal court order in Boston requiring the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to require cigarette manufacturers to display graphic warnings on cigarette packs and in cigarette advertising. FDA issued in graphic warnings rule in March 2020, and Big Tobacco promptly challenged the new rule on First Amendment and other grounds in two federal lawsuits, one in the Eastern District of Texas and one in the District of the District of Columbia. Anderson & Kreiger lawyers Scott Lewis and Christina Marshall worked closely with CTFK in preparing amicus briefs in support of FDA that have been filed both in Texas and in the District of Columbia.
Scott Lewis, Melissa Allison and Christina Marshall continue to work with CTFK and many other public health intervenors who are working with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain a court order in the District of Columbia against Big Tobacco, requiring the cigarette manufacturers to display certain court-ordered “corrective statements” at retail points-of-sale throughout the country, to prevent and restrain the manufactures from continuing to deceive the public about the adverse health effects of cigarettes in violation of the RICO statute.
Y2Y Network, Inc. – A Safe Place For Homeless Young Adults: A&K continued its work with Y2Y Network. Mina Makarious, Austin Anderson, Sara Perkins Jones and others assisted Y2Y on a number of contracting, governance and insurance issues to allow Y2Y to continue to provide homeless services throughout the pandemic, even as its normal volunteer base of college students became suddenly unavailable. In addition, we to advise Y2Y Network, Inc. on its goals to open up its first out-of-state shelter in New Haven, Connecticut. Mina Makarious has served as Y2Y’s “lawyer on call” and recently joined the organization’s board.
Homeowner Combating Racial Discrimination: A&K is assisting a suburban homeowner in responding to racial discrimination, harassment and threats from her neighbor. A&K has been assisting our client in evaluating potential claims against her neighbor and in coordinating with municipal officials and community organizations to address the neighbor’s ongoing activities. The client is being advised by Ezra Dunkle-Polier and Colin Van Dyke.
New Pro Bono Relationships:
EdLaw Project (http://www.edlawproject.org/): Anderson & Kreiger is proud to announce that they have entered into a pro bono partnership with the EdLaw Project this year to help further their mission of providing educational advocacy for Massachusetts’ highest-risk youth. Since January 2000, EdLaw Project attorneys have directly advocated for the educational rights of over 1,800 low-income youth in Massachusetts. Prevention and intervention are the best ways to keep children out of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. The EdLaw Project is the primary initiative between of the Youth Advocacy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) legal services non-profit arm of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Youth Advocacy Division.
The EdLaw team of six attorneys offers direct advocacy for court-involved youth in cases of:
- school exclusion;
- unmet special education needs;
- other challenges to education rights, including access to education during COVID-19 school closures;
- school stability issues facing children involved in the child welfare system.
In addition, EdLaw responds to hundreds of calls for advice each year and also trains the statewide juvenile bar in education advocacy.
After participating in an initial training, the Anderson & Kreiger volunteer attorneys will be providing direct representation for low-income children in matters of special education who are not court-involved.
Posted In: Pro Bono