Washington Lawyers’ Committee Recognizes Cadwalader’s Pro Bono Work

June 20, 2012

Associates Geoffrey E. Gettinger and Lex Urban will be awarded Cadwalader’s first Outstanding Achievement Award

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP (Cadwalader), a leading counselor to global financial institutions and corporations, today announced that associates Geoffrey E. Gettinger and Lex Urban are the recipients of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award for their pro bono work in the DC Prisoners’ Project on Jackson v. Fulwood.

The awards will be presented at the Committee’s Wiley A. Branton Luncheon on June 19, 2012. “This recognition is an example of the exemplary work that goes on at every level of the Firm,” commented W. Christopher White, Chairman of Cadwalader. “The award also reflects Cadwalader’s commitment to social justice in our communities.”

Partnering with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, Mr. Gettinger and Mr. Urban undertook representation of a District of Columbia parolee who had been erroneously miscategorised during the parole process.

After the WLC protested the highly restrictive conditions of parole that had been imposed and received an inadequate response from the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia (CSOSA), Cadwalader attorneys filed a four count complaint in the U.S. District Court in March 2011. The complaint named the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC), its individual commissioners, and the client’s CSOSA parole officers, alleging two Constitutional claims, a due process violation and an infringement of his rights to free speech and association. The complaint also alleged an Administrative Procedure Act claim, noting that conditions were arbitrarily administered.

Their efforts were rewarded when the USPC reversed course and issued a “Notice of Action,” rescinding the restrictive conditions and transferring the client’s parole overview from the CSOSA to the Eastern District of Virginia.

Cadwalader then successfully litigated the USPC’s motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the USPC could not render the action moot by voluntarily ceasing its allegedly unlawful activity. The District Court’s opinion was published at Jackson v. U.S. Parole Commission, 806 F. Supp. 2d 201 (D.D.C. 2011). Thereafter, Cadwalader worked in tandem with the WLC to secure a very favourable settlement for the client by guaranteeing that the USPC cannot re-impose special parole conditions on his parole unless they are “rationally related” to a new criminal act; necessary to protect the public; and involve “no greater deprivation of liberty than reasonably necessary to achieve the purpose of deterring criminal activity, protecting the public, and promotion of . . .rehabilitation.”

The settlement will serve as an important precedent for other similarly situated parolees to challenge the application of unduly restrictive parole conditions.