March 04, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Pro Bono Team Named Attorneys of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer

A pro bono team of lawyers from Faegre Baker Daniels and the University of Minnesota Law School’s Center for New Americans was honored among Minnesota Lawyer’s Attorneys of the Year for 2015.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion on Mellouli v. Holder on June 1, 2015, resulting in a favorable outcome for Moones Mellouli, a pro bono client of Faegre Baker Daniels, the University of Minnesota Law School Center for New Americans, and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. FaegreBD members of the legal team included Aaron Van Oort, Nicholas Nelson, Daniel Pulliam, Jeff Justman and Lucetta Pope. Dianne Heins, FaegreBD’s pro bono counsel and director of pro bono and community service, led and oversaw the partnership between the firm and the Center for New Americans.

The Supreme Court was asked to decide whether a lawful permanent resident can be deported for possession of drug paraphernalia in the absence of any proof that the paraphernalia is related to a substance listed in the Federal Controlled Substance Act. In 2010, Mellouli was charged and convicted of possessing paraphernalia in the form of a sock. He was deported without the federal government having to show that the sock contained a controlled substance on either the state or federal controlled substance schedules.

Accepting Mellouli’s argument, the court ruled 7-2 that a legal permanent resident may not be deported for a drug conviction unless that conviction necessarily involves a drug covered by the federal Controlled Substances Act, which Mellouli’s conviction did not.

Minnesota Lawyer profiled the legal team in its Attorneys of the Year edition.

The case was covered extensively in national media, including SCOTUSBlog, Washington PostUSA TodayLaw360, NPR, Bloomberg, Reuters, PBS Newshour, Minnesota Lawyer, Star Tribune, Huffington Post and more.  

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