Whose Right to Free Speech?
It seemed that Debbie Almontaser couldn't win. She was vilified in the press for her role as founding principal of a dual-language Arab-English public school in Brooklyn. The school district forced her to resign her position. And when she finally spoke publicly about her ordeal, she was sued for libel.
Court Decision Ends a Century of Secrecy
Are death records protected by HIPAA privacy laws, or should the public be able to access them to find the graves of their family members? That was the crux of a case in Nebraska, where descendants of people buried in unmarked graves at the state's largest mental health facility sought to locate their family members' gravesites.
Safe Haven and a Long-Awaited Reunion
Joseph Kalubi is a Tutsi refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the late 1990s, when the genocidal Hutu-Tutsi conflict spilled into Congo, he saw men being murdered because they were (or appeared to be) ethnic Tutsis or Rwandans. After participating in a peaceful protest, he was imprisoned, beaten and threatened with death. Joseph eventually made his way to the U.S. to seek asylum. But when he fled, he was forced to leave his longtime friend and new wife, Naomi, behind.
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Special Education Students
We’re happy to report on the outcome of a case we reported in our last issue. Earlier this year, several Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys contributed to an amicus brief on behalf of a special-needs student whose complaint with a local school district had gone to the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the student—and all public school students with special education needs.
A Strong Case for Asylum
Bellevue attorney Merryn DeBenedetti is representing a 39-year-old woman from Mexico who is seeking asylum in the U.S. after being abused by her husband for many years. But it can be very difficult for victims of domestic violence to obtain asylum. “Being a woman and the victim of domestic violence isn’t recognized as a strong case for seeking asylum," says DeBenedetti.
Protecting the State Constitution
In Oregon, our attorneys represented plaintiffs who challenged a proposed amendment to the state constitution. The proposed amendment was seen as a threat to citizens' rights to vote separately on any change to the constitution, rather than being forced to approve or reject a bundle of changes as a block. A circuit court judge held that the proposed amendment did violate the constitution, but the battle is not over.
Awards and Recognition
We’re proud of the pro bono work we do, and we are honored to be recognized for our efforts. Among other honors we received this year, Davis Wright Tremaine was listed in American Lawyer's Top 100 in the pro bono category for the first time. Duffy Carolan's work on the Chauncey Bailey Project is featured in AmLaw's look inside the firms that made the list.
For more information about Davis Wright Tremaine's pro bono program, please contact Julie Orr, coordinator, Pro Bono & Public Service Committee.