To signal the official launch of Proskauer’s 2024 Election Protection efforts, Proskauer hosted a panel presentation on voting rights.

With a presidential election coming up this fall, protecting the right to vote has never been more important. Proskauer’s panel event highlighted numerous present threats to American democracy, including voter suppression

Since 2018, Proskauer has acted as pro bono legal counsel for a veteran who experienced racial discrimination during his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Our client was stationed at Camp Pendleton in the mid-1970s. At that time, members of the Ku Klux Klan (“KKK”) served openly and actively at Camp Pendleton. Our client faced a pattern of severe harassment, beatings and threats of sexual harm and death by his immediate superior and others on his base, many of whom were active members of the KKK. In fear for his life and safety, he eventually went absent without leave, causing him to be unfavorably discharged from service.

Bloomberg and Proskauer are sponsoring Equal Justice Works Fellow Clay Pierce, who will work at the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project. Clay, a recent graduate of Columbia Law School, will work to advance voting rights for people with disabilities who are adversely affected by state laws that limit and criminalize voter assistance.

Last week, Proskauer prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of our client, Stuart Harrow, in an appeal that determined that the statutory deadlines for appealing administrative decisions are not automatically jurisdictional and do not prevent claims challenging a furlough from being heard in the Federal Circuit. Following a furlough in 2013, Department of Defense employee Stuart Harrow appealed to the Merits Systems Protection Board (MSPB), an independent agency established to adjudicate federal employment disputes, for a hardship exemption. He argued that he was prevented from finding other work due to a discontinuous six-day furlough and, as a result, should receive lost pay. After waiting several years for a decision, during which time the MSPB lost its quorum and temporarily stopped deciding cases, Mr. Harrow’s claim was eventually denied. Even then, it took some time for Mr. Harrow to learn of this decision, as it was sent to a DOD email address that had been deactivated.

In the months since Proskauer hosted its immigration panel discussion in partnership with Sanctuary for Families this past January, the influx of migrants across the U.S. southern border has continued. So has the dire need for pro bono legal services for these new arrivals along with it. Recent U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Data indicates that the U.S. Border Patrol had almost 140,000 encounters with migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in March 2024, down from a record high of nearly 250,000 in December 2023. According to the Wilson Center, 2023 marked the first year that more than half of the people reaching the border originated beyond Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. From our own recent experience, we have seen this trend continue.

Since 2020, Proskauer has acted as pro bono legal counsel representing an inmate in the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) in connection with his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff brought the action against several defendants for their failure to provide appropriate care for his serious medical needs.

Last week, the Proskauer community gathered for the 16th Annual Golden Gavel Awards ceremony to celebrate and honor those lawyers and staff members who went far above and beyond to contribute to the Firm’s pro bono, corporate social responsibility and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts in 2023. Congratulations and thanks to the following colleagues for their extraordinary commitment to public service.

Proskauer recently prevailed at the Second Circuit on behalf of our incarcerated pro bono client, James Thomas, in an appeal that determined that Mr. Thomas was not provided adequate notice before the district court entered summary judgment against him. Proceeding pro se, Mr. Thomas brought claims for civil rights violations under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments against prison officials related to multiple searches. Defendants moved for summary judgment and provided Mr. Thomas with a short and plain statement providing an overview of summary judgment procedure. Under the district court’s local rules, however, represented parties moving for summary judgment against pro se litigants must also provide the full text of the applicable rules governing summary judgment procedure to ensure adequate understanding of the complicated nature and serious consequences of the motion. Despite this requirement, the district court excused defendants’ failure to provide documentation of the rules because, in its view, the plain statement they provided sufficiently advised Mr. Thomas of his obligation to submit evidence in opposition to summary judgment. The district court then entered summary judgment against Mr. Thomas, in part because he failed to adduce evidence specifically controverting defendants’ factual assertions, as the rules require.