WSGR Pro Bono Team Honored with Award from Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

On January 31, 2013, a team from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati was honored with the Jack W. Londen Award at the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon, which was organized by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR). The award, which recognizes exemplary litigation efforts that protect and advance the civil rights of marginalized communities, was presented to the firm for its contributions to the matter of De Abadia-Peixoto, et al., v. Dept. of Homeland Security, et al., a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of thousands of adult immigration detainees who have been forced to appear in shackles before the Immigration Court in San Francisco.

The lawsuit was filed in August 2011 by LCCR, ACLU of Northern California, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in response to the government's blanket policy of shackling all detained immigrants at their wrists, waists, and ankles, often chaining these individuals to one another. In the criminal context, such extensive shackling is generally reserved for defendants who have shown a propensity for escape attempts or violence in the courtroom. In Immigration Court, where the proceedings are civil, this shackling is imposed even when individuals pose no risk of disruption, violence, or flight, and it is done without regard for the harm it causes. For example, among the lead plaintiffs in this case is a 35-year-old domestic violence survivor and asylum-seeker who has been shackled in court, even though she has no history of violence or disruption in court and has plates in her knees, legs, feet, back, and head.

The matter has yet to be resolved. However, according to LCCR, "because of WSGR's outstanding efforts, we already have witnessed incremental gains in the way detainees are being treated, even while the case is pending. The WSGR team is committed to protecting the civil rights of low-income immigrants and refugees, and has been steadfast in its commitment to safeguard our clients' due process and constitutional rights."

The WSGR team providing pro bono assistance in the matter includes David Berger, Catherine Moreno, T.J. Martin, Savith Iyengar, Angie Kim, Analisa Pratt, Briza Sanchez, Moira Rueda, and Fred Saulo.

The mission of LCCR is to advance, protect, and promote the rights of communities of color, immigrants, and refugees by leveraging the power of the private bar to support direct service, impact litigation, and policy advocacy legal strategies.