Faegre Drinker is pleased to announce the recipients of the firm’s inaugural pro bono awards, which recognize individuals and teams for providing or supporting exceptional pro bono legal services. The Pro Bono Service Moment of the Year Award honors acts of kindness, generosity and selfless service that often happen behind the scenes and under the radar but exemplify the firm’s core value of service to others and fuels our pro bono program.
In addition to a commemorative award, each individual recipient had the opportunity to direct a $1,000 charitable contribution from the Faegre Drinker Foundation to a partner nonprofit organization.
2020 Faegre Drinker Pro Bono Award Recipients
COVID Voting Rights Team, Minneapolis: Team members Craig Coleman, Jeffrey Justman, Evie Snyder, Hannah Leiendecker, Erica Abshez Moran and Rachel Osdoba were honored for their work on behalf of Minnesota voters. In partnership with the ACLU-MN, this team successfully represented the NAACP and individual voters to challenge the constitutionality of Minnesota’s law requiring absentee ballots to be signed by an in-person witness. Ultimately, the team obtained an order from a Ramsey County district court upholding an agreement between the voters, the NAACP and the Minnesota Secretary of State to waive the witness requirement for absentee ballots for the November general election.
COVID-Safety Leadership, Firmwide: Christopher Casolaro, Colby Anne Kingsbury, Marsha Indych, Tracey Salmon-Smith and Joe Rillotta were honored, along with their teams, for their work to protect medically vulnerable detained and incarcerated individuals from the threats of COVID-19.
- New Mexico COVID-Safety in Prisons: Casolaro led a team that filed a class-action lawsuit against the State of New Mexico for failing to protect the lives and constitutional rights of people housed in the state’s prison system. Faegre Drinker partnered with the ACLU-NM, the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Office of the Public Defender.
- Illinois COVID-Safety in Detention Centers: As COVID-19 spread across the country, medically vulnerable people held by U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on civil immigration charges risked severe illness or death from the disease. Kingsbury worked with the ACLU-IL and a diverse Faegre Drinker team to file multiple lawsuits in federal court, addressing conditions at three separate detention facilities in Illinois, resulting in the release of several detainees and forced other changes.
- New Jersey COVID-Safety for Detained Immigrants: Indych and Salmon-Smith provided critical service and leadership to the Faegre Drinker team working with Human Rights First, Immigrant Defense Project and American Friends Service Committee to fight for the release of medically vulnerable detained immigrants in New Jersey. The project also included a win in a COVID-19 class action on behalf of civil immigration detainees who had been detained in Elizabeth Detention Center.
- Washington, D.C., Compassionate Release: Rillotta led several teams seeking the release of medically vulnerable incarcerated individuals under a program initiated in Washington, D.C., as part of its COVID-19 emergency response. The cases have included unique challenges, including communicating with incarcerated clients and navigating the nuances of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Elie Biel, Associate, Product Liability and Mass Torts, Minneapolis: Biel was honored for his exceptional service to survivors of domestic violence and his ongoing dedication to pro bono. During the pandemic, Biel stepped up to help individuals experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking obtain orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. The firm’s nonprofit partner in this work, Tubman Safety Project, named him the 2020 Safety Project Attorney of the Year.
Mark Taticchi, Partner, Litigation, Philadelphia: Taticchi was recognized for providing sustained service and leadership in a variety of pro bono practice areas, notably civil rights and appellate matters. His pro bono practice in 2020 focused on the successful resolution of class action litigation challenging conditions of confinement on behalf of individuals on Pennsylvania’s death row. He also led a racial profiling case involving the Pennsylvania State Police at a time when leadership on racial justice issues was particularly important.
Stephanie Gigliotti, Paralegal, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Princeton: Gigliotti was recognized for exceptional service on significant litigation, dedicating over 480 hours to supporting a class-action lawsuit against the State of New Mexico for failing to protect the lives and constitutional rights of people housed in the state’s prison system, playing an instrumental leadership role in fast-paced, dynamic litigation.
2020 Service Moment of the Year Recipient
Cesar Ibanez, Legal Administrative Assistant, Labor and Employment, Los Angeles: Ibanez was honored for his exceptional service to an unaccompanied minor and his family, assisting in the firm’s representation of the minor who was seeking safety in the U.S. before probate and immigration court. Ibanez worked countless hours to provide vital interpretation and translation for the client and his family, who only spoke Spanish. He was integral in the firm’s ability to provide exceptional client service to this client and others.