DWT Pro Bono Report, Summer 2014

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pro bono FALL 2014 SUMMER 2014

Helping Veterans Who Suffered Post-War Exposure to Agent Orange

PAGE 4 Washington Governor Honors DWT Partner for Volunteer Work

PAGE 8 Affirming the Right to Record Police Activity


Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is a national, full-service, business and litigation law firm representing clients located in the United States and around the world. The firm was founded on a simple guiding principle: to provide clients with high-value legal services customized to their particular needs. Today the firm has grown to include approximately 500 attorneys and nine offices, covering a wide range of practice and industry areas. We believe that all citizens deserve a voice and representation. And all lawyers have an obligation to assist people and organizations that otherwise would have effectively no access to the justice system. We are pleased to provide you this report on our pro bono activities during the second quarter of 2014.


HOURS DEVOTED TO PRO BONO WORK in the first half of 2014


of our ATTORNEYS CONTRIBUTED PRO BONO WORK in the first half of 2014

Our attorneys have a broad range of interests and political philosophies, and they are free to pursue those interests within the guidelines of our pro bono program. These projects are often emotionally demanding and may even involve unpopular causes or clients. But they’re always rewarding. CONTENTS 4 HELPING VETERANS who were exposed to Agent Orange after the Vietnam War (D.C.) 6 HOSTING A POP-UP CLINIC for the fashion industry (NY) 8 WINNING RECOGNITION for volunteer work (Seattle) 10 HELPING LAUNCH Innocence Project (Portland) 12 AFFIRMING FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS to monitor police activities (NY)

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avis Wright Tremaine attorneys are assisting post-Vietnam War veterans in their effort to extract from the Air Force and Department of Veteran Affairs information about the veterans’ exposure to Agent Orange residue, and the health impacts they suffered.

The United States Air Force used C-123K airplanes during the Vietnam War to spray the toxic herbicide to help kill vegetation and uncover enemy fighters. After the spraying campaign ended, the Air Force reassigned the planes to units of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard stationed in the U.S.

The VA and Air Force concocted faulty science and medicine, skewed reports, and imposed unsupported policies.˝ In the decade immediately following the Vietnam War, about 1,500 U.S. military reservists flew cargo and medical missions aboard C-123K aircraft—unaware that the planes they worked, ate, and slept in had been contaminated with dioxins from Agent Orange. The planes were finally decommissioned in the early 1980s. The VA has long disputed that the reservists were exposed to damaging levels of dioxin, and has repeatedly denied claims for service-connected medical care and disability benefits from vets who served on C-123K planes after the war. The Air Force has also impeded efforts to learn more about the issue—among other things, it quietly destroyed 18 of the contaminated aircraft four years ago.

On behalf of the reservists group, who call themselves the C-123 Veterans Association, a team from Davis Wright Tremaine filed requests with the VA and Air Force under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) for a wide range of records and data. The team is seeking, among other things, information regarding the VA’s justification for denials of service-connection claims, as well as the factual and scientific basis for the agency’s conclusion that the C-123K planes did not expose the veterans to Agent Orange or affect their health . The agencies initially failed to provide any documents responsive to the FOIA requests. As a result, the DWT team filed suits against the VA and Air Force in March, seeking to force release of the records.

“Rather than uphold their duty to serve these veterans, the VA and Air Force have stymied C-123 Veterans’ efforts time and again,” said Ronnie London, who is representing the client, along with Burt Braverman, Micah Ratner, and Adam Shoemaker, all in our D.C. office. “The VA and Air Force concocted faulty science and medicine, skewed reports, and imposed unsupported policies to deny that these admittedly contaminated aircraft meaningfully exposed C-123 Veterans to Agent Orange and caused them significant harm.” London said he believes that enforcement of the FOIA may enable C-123 Veterans who are suffering from Agent Orange-related illnesses to successfully challenge VA decisions and win benefits to which they and their families are entitled. n

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his spring, DWT’s New York office hosted and staffed a one-day “Pop-Up Clinic,” providing free legal consultation for fashion designers, aspiring entrepreneurs, and fashion industry professionals. The event was organized by associate Lisa Keith, who matched nine DWT attorney volunteers with their clients. As the name implies, the Pop-Up Clinic is a travelling pro bono series. It’s a project of the Fashion Law Institute, a nonprofit created four years ago at Fordham Law School by Professor Susan Scafidi, with support and advice from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and its president, Diane von Furstenberg.

Scafidi pioneered the study of fashion law and serves as the institute’s academic director. The Pop-Up Clinics are one of many projects of the institute, which offers training for the fashion lawyers and designers of the future, provides legal services for design students and profes-

Professor Susan Scafidi of the Fashion Law Institute (center) with DWT attorneys Lisa Keith (left) and Deirdre Davis (right).

sionals, and makes available information as well as assistance on issues facing the fashion industry. The clients who attended the DWT clinic ranged from clothing and accessory designers to fashion brands. They presented a host of legal issues for our attorneys, including trademark and brand protection, corporate formation, and employment law ques-

tions. Our lawyers were each paired with a Fordham fashion law student to assist with research during their meetings. DWT attorneys from New York and San Francisco have since followed up with some of the clients, who have elegant, easy-to-understand inventions that may be patentable. Our lawyers will be working with them

to prepare their provisional patent applications. “These clients have so much to contend with already as they are starting their own businesses and designing their own lines of clothing and accessories,” said Lisa Keith. “It has been very rewarding to assist them with their IP issues and make sure they are establishing a strong brand identity early on.” n

It has been very rewarding to assist them with their IP issues and make sure they are establishing a strong brand identity early on.” DWT Pro Bono Summer 2014 // 7

Chris Helm Honored With an “Outstanding Volunteer” Award by Washington Governor


WT partner Chris Helm was recognized this spring for his remarkable dedication to serving immigrants with a 2014 Governor’s Volunteer Service award. He was honored at an event in April at the Executive Mansion of Washington state governor Jay Inslee.

The Washington Commission for National and Community Service (now known as Serve Washington) conducted a statewide search for volunteers within national service, volunteer centers, and Citizen Corps programs who “represent the best qualities of the many individuals who serve their communities,” according to the commission. (Citizen Corps is a national volunteer coordination program overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.) Helm’s name was submitted as a finalist by representatives of OneAmerica, a respected Seattle-based immigrant rights and reform group.

He has personally volunteered at 12 citizenship clinics since 2008, giving nearly $20,000 worth of in-kind pro bono legal services.˝ In the program for the awards event, the following was written about him: “Chris Helm has been one of the most dedicated attorney volunteers for the Washington New Americans program, helping provide free legal assistance to people applying for U.S. citizenship. He has personally volunteered at 12 citizenship

clinics since 2008, giving nearly $20,000 worth of inkind pro bono legal services. He has also served on the Citizenship Day committee of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Washington Chapter, helping get the word out, recruiting and mentoring other attorney volunteers. Chris also helped expand the program through roving attorney

clinics, mini citizenship days traveling across the state to rural and underserved areas to provide on-site help with applications. This year, Chris worked with AmeriCorps members to plan the first-ever clinic in the Walla Walla area. In addition, Chris has devoted much of his time to pro bono service, lending his skill and heart to many tough cases.” n

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ntil this spring, Oregon was the only state in the U.S. without an organization dedicated to actively investigating wrongful convictions in criminal cases.

That has changed with the establishment of the Oregon Innocence Project, which DWT first-year associate Kimberly McCullough has helped to initiate. The new group held its launch party on April 9 at the Portland offices of Stoel Rives, with Barry Scheck as featured speaker. DWT was among the sponsors. McCullough was the main organizer for the event, which attracted nearly 200 attendees. The new initiative is a joint project of Portland’s Metropolitan Public Defender Services, Inc. and the Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC) at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland. The OJRC assists with trial and appellate litigation on behalf of indigent, prisoner, and low-income clients in federal and state courts on a range of civil liberties and civil rights matters.

McCullough, a 2013 graduate of Lewis & Clark, serves on the OJRC board of directors. Together with her colleagues there and at the public defender group, she contributed volunteer work to get the Innocence Project up and running, and will be helping provide

oversight. As a representative of the Project, she also attended the national Innocence Network Conference held in Portland in April. “At the conference I had the opportunity to meet many exonerees and

innocence advocates from around the world,” she said. “Their stories and efforts are beyond inspiring. I can’t wait to see the changes ahead in Oregon as we work not only to free the innocent, but to address the causes of wrongful conviction.” n n

Their stories and efforts are beyond inspiring. I can’t wait to see the changes ahead in Oregon as we work not only to free the innocent, but to address the causes of wrongful conviction.” DWT Pro Bono Summer 2014 // 11

DWT Pro Bono Summer 2014 // 13

Philip Datz, a professional video journalist who was unlawfully arrested and detained by Suffolk County police.

Datz was filming the aftermath of a police chase when a Suffolk County police sergeant demanded he leave the scene. Though Datz prominently displayed his press credentials, was standing in a location open to the public, and did not interfere with the police in any manner, he was handcuffed, taken into custody, and charged with misdemeanor obstruction of governmental administration. Following his release, and the return of his equipment and tape, Datz posted video of the encounter on YouTube, which was widely viewed. The suit, filed in 2012, recently produced an important settlement. The Suffolk County Police Department agreed to annually train and test all police officers on the First Amendment right of the public and the media to observe, photograph, and record police activity in public

locations. The County also changed its written policies to explicitly recognize the constitutional right of the public and press to record police scenes, agreed to establish a Police-Media Relations Committee and agreed to pay Datz $200,000. Rob Balin, a partner in DWT’s media law practice, and lead attorney on the Datz case, said it was important that the settlement be made public— and indeed it was broadly covered in the media. He said that Suffolk County, like many other jurisdictions in the U.S., has had a pervasive police culture of officers violating First and Fourth amendment rights with bogus arrests. The Datz lawsuit included descriptions of numerous other incidents of police ordering him from public roadways as he tried to cover house fires and other routine


Thanks go to Phil Datz for his willingness to stand up for his rights and the rights of others.”

Kristin Blanchette  (LA) Robert Corn-Revere  (Chair · WDC) Eric L. Dahlin  (PDX) Marc Fernandez  (SF) Jennifer Toland Frewer  (WDC) Alan Galloway  (PDX) Boris Gaviria  (BELL) Emilio Gonzalez  (LA) Elizabeth Hodes  (ANCH) Melissa Mordy  (SEA) Norm Page (SH) Julie Orr  (Pro Bono Administrator · SEA)

news. In some cases, Datz alleged, police expanded crime scenes to prevent him and other members of the press from observing officers at work in public.

Chris Robinson  (NYC) Robert K. Stewart  (ANCH)


“I am hopeful that this case will resonate beyond Suffolk County and cause a number of police departments around the country to look at their own policies,” Balin said. “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with our partners, the NYCLU and the NPPA, on this important action.” Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the NPPA, said his organization was “extremely appreciative of the tenacious advocacy by Rob Balin [and DWT associates] Alison Schary and Sam Bayard, who worked tirelessly on Phil’s behalf. And our thanks go to Phil Datz for his willingness to stand up for his rights and the rights of others.” n DWT Pro Bono Summer 2014 // 15

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