Our firm is committed to pro bono work on behalf of indigent clients. Our lawyers volunteer our legal services in a wide range of areas, with the same skill and diligence that define our representation of paying clients. Partners and associates participate, and the firm fully commits its support services and other resources. The American Lawyer has cited Spears & Imes as one of several “small sized” but “big hearted” litigation boutique firms that, despite their size, are “still making pro bono contributions.” Am Law highlighted the firm’s involvement in representing two Guantanamo Bay detainees in habeas corpus proceedings in federal court.
Our lawyers also regularly represent indigent defendants in criminal cases pending in the Southern District of New York, pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. These representations typically begin with the client’s arrest and continue through sentencing. Our younger lawyers obtain hands-on experience working with incarcerated clients; litigating discovery, suppression, and sentencing issues; and making oral arguments in federal court.
The firm’s pro bono matters include:
- Our representation of the Women’s Refugee Commission as an amicus curiae in support of a natural mother whose child was adopted over her objection while she was incarcerated after an immigration raid on a plant where she worked. This matter, In re Adoption of C.M.B.R., was an important case before the Supreme Court of Missouri that involved the parental rights of undocumented immigrants and implicated the intersection of federal immigration law and state family law.
- Our representation of a criminal defendant at sentencing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, following his guilty plea to charges of being a felon in possession of a weapon. In imposing a sentence substantially below the stipulated Guidelines range and the sentence recommended by the Probation Department, the Court adopted our arguments concerning the client’s youth and strong family support and described the firm’s sentencing brief as “extraordinary.”
- Our representation in federal habeas corpus proceedings of two prisoners in military custody at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We made numerous trips to Guantanamo to counsel our clients. Both men have now been released to their respective countries of citizenship.
- Our representation in Bronx Family Court of an individual alleged to have willfully violated an Order of Visitation. After a hearing, rather than sanction our client, the court modified the order of visitation, approved an alternative visitation arrangement, and dismissed the violation petition.
- Our representation of a Columbia University graduate student who was stopped and detained by plain-clothes police officers who refused to identify themselves, and who was then indicted for multiple felonies after she tried to escape in her car. After a jury trial in Supreme Court in New York County, she was acquitted of the charges.
- Our representation of a prisoner in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from the district court’s denial of a Section 2255 motion challenging his sentence on a Hobbs Act conviction.
- Our representation of an inmate before the New York State Division of Parole in connection with denial of his parole and any appeal of that denial to a New York State Court.
- Our appointment by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as pro bono amicus counsel to brief and argue the issue of whether a litigant detained in a mental health facility pursuant to a temporary order of observation under New York Criminal Procedure Law § 730.40 is a “prisoner” within the meaning of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(h).