A Proskauer team recently succeeded in obtaining parole on behalf of 69-year-old pro bono client Judith Clark, who has been in prison for nearly 38 years.  This case may play an important role in effecting much needed parole reform in New York. Personally, it has been among the most satisfying cases on which I have ever worked.

Judith was the getaway driver for the infamous 1981 Brinks robbery that resulted in the killings of two police officers and a Brinks guard, and was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.  Judith’s transformation from radical revolutionary to a completely rehabilitated person began in the mid-1980s.  Since then, she has devoted herself to helping others.  Her efforts included starting an AIDS counseling program for prisoners that was copied nationwide, building a prison college program (and earning two degrees), helping to run her prison’s infant care center for incarcerated mothers, training more than a dozen dogs to help wounded veterans and law enforcement, and individually mentoring and counseling hundreds of women to help them turn their lives around.  After personally interviewing Judith in 2016, Governor Cuomo granted her clemency, thereby making her eligible for parole.

According to the most recent FBI statistics, reported incidents of hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017, rising for the third consecutive year. The FBI determined that the primary motivators of these crimes were race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.1  When compounded with the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, and recent changes in U.S. policy that negatively impact immigrants seeking asylum relief, there is an enormous, urgent need for effective pro bono legal services among LGBTQ immigrants.

Given this context, Bloomberg LP and Proskauer are proud sponsors of Lauren DesRosiers, an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Anti-Violence Project (AVP), who is devoted to providing holistic legal services to LGBTQ immigrant survivors of violence.  According to Lauren, “this project combats the further marginalization of these communities by creating channels whereby LGBTQ immigrant survivors of violence can be paired with pro bono attorneys and other forms of representation.”