Seyfarth Shaw Helps Client Gain Freedom

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Congratulations to Seyfarth Shaw for settling a case on behalf of a client with the Justice & Diversity Center’s Federal Pro Bono Project. The client, “Mr. M,” was incarcerated when he filed suit against the Department of Corrections. After reporting abuse from the guards, Mr. M was attacked while his cell door was left open. Another inmate entered with a knife, unguarded and unshackled, and stabbed Mr. M multiple times while the guards’ response was delayed. No one else’s cell door had been open.

Mr. M represented himself in his suit against the Department of Corrections until the court referred him for pro bono counsel. Through JDC, Seyfarth Shaw took on representation and significant work for Mr. M, including opposing multiple motions for summary judgment. The Seyfarth team prepared the case for trial but had to oppose defendant’s interlocutory appeal shortly before the trial date. After settlement conferences and more trial preparation, including retaining experts, the firm was able to settle the case for a notable amount.

Not only is Mr. M happy with the settlement, the case was a rewarding experience for his attorneys, and gave newer attorneys on the team great litigation experience.

From left to right, Michael Wahlander, Jason Allen, Ari Hersher, Selyn Hong, Reanne Swafford-Harris, Francis Ortman, III (“Tripper”) and Emily Barker

There’s even more to this pro bono success. Seyfarth continued to support Mr. M and submitted letters of support for his parole hearing from four attorneys based on their experiences working with him. Mr. M was recently granted parole. Aside from the support letters from his attorneys, his settlement allowed him to show the means to support himself if released, while dismissal of his lawsuit cleared litigation against the state. Seyfarth also credits Mr. M’s “efforts, poise and maturity.” Seyfarth hopes to take more cases in the future, a commitment JDC welcomes.

The importance of Seyfarth’s pro bono service is best expressed by Mr. M, himself. He wrote in a thank you note to JDC, “Seyfarth Shaw helped me regain my freedom. I cannot accurately state in words my gratitude for your program.”

For more information about the Federal Pro Bono Project, email probono@sfbar.org.