Fenwick & West Achieves a First in Justice & Diversity Center Pro Bono Cases

Congratulations to three Fenwick & West attorneys who won actual and punitive damages for a prison inmate assaulted by correctional officers: Lynn Pasahow; Amy Hayden and Abby Wald.

For the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) and its Federal Pro Bono Project, this is the first trial of a prisoner civil rights case in which a jury has ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

Plaintiff “Mr. P” was on his way to his job assignment when he was told to report to the library immediately. He had no time to drop off his yard shorts and brought them to the library, folded under his arm. A correctional officer asked why he was in the library and why he had extra clothing with him against prison policy. Though Mr. P explained that he had written permission to be there and had to report directly to work afterwards, the guard got angry and poked Mr. P in the chest and forehead. When Mr. P put his hand up to block the blows, nine correctional officers immediately wrestled him to the ground and choked him. They punched and kicked him, even after handcuffing him.

The Fenwick team faced a significant challenge persuading the jury to believe testimony from the plaintiff and another inmate witness, both convicted of felonies, over eight prison guards, one of whom is a warden. However, the jury awarded actual damages against a guard and the warden, as well as punitive damages against the guard.

JDC thanks Lynn Pasahow, Amy Hayden and Abby Wald for defending Mr. P’s civil rights, and we are grateful that Fenwick & West supports its attorneys’ pro bono service.

To learn more about the Federal Pro Bono Project, visit www.sfbar.org/probono or email probono@sfbar.org.