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Pro Bono

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell attorneys and staff believe in giving back to the community – sometimes as good lawyers, through pro bono publico efforts, and sometimes as good citizens through voluntary efforts unrelated to the law. For example, WTO lawyers are or have been involved in pro bono matters that include protecting the rights of children and asylum seekers, voting integrity, First Amendment and other constitutional law matters, and veterans' issues.

WTO has adopted a pro bono policy consistent with Rule 6.1 of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct that calls for the firm's best efforts to assure that the lawyers collectively perform 50 hours per lawyer per year of pro bono work.

Representative Pro Bono Matters

  • Represented a national charitable organization against a complaint to the government of violations of the Colorado Solicitation Act. Following a campaign to the Colorado Secretary of State, WTO ultimately persuaded the government there was insufficient evidence of a violation and the government closed the case without taking action against the charity.
  • Achieved a highly favorable settlement for an incarcerated pro bono client who had sued the Colorado Department of Corrections in federal court for First Amendment retaliation.
  • Authored a federal habeas petition for an incarcerated pro bono client asserting claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.
  • Helped win asylum for a pro bono client from Russia.
  • Negotiated access rights as part of an entitlement claim in a pro bono effort on behalf of more than two dozen families and landowners in matters relating to a large tract of land originally administered under a land grant dating back to Spanish colonial rule in southern Colorado.
  • Obtained a $100,000 settlement payment and lifting of a campus ban in a pro bono case for a defamed university professor. WTO attorneys demonstrated that the ban was unconstitutional and that the university violated the professor's rights and defamed him.
  • Obtained summary judgment on a previously undecided question of Colorado law.
  • Represented a school district on a pro bono basis in a high-profile lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Colorado school finance system.
  • Represented a transgender woman seeking asylum in the U.S on a pro bono basis.
  • Represented plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of increasing copyright protection by 20 years and Section 514 of Uruguay Round Agreements Act extending copyright protection to foreign works. The United States Supreme Court ruled the statutes were constitutional.
  • Secured a landmark victory from the Colorado Supreme Court on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in a case involving the reliability of the intrauterine forces theory of labor as applied in shoulder dystocia matters.
  • Served on a pro bono trial team for a police excessive force claim in the Southern District of New York. Matt drafted a successful motion to exclude a computer simulation that may have been misleading, as well as a motion for punitive damages.
  • Successfully appealed a decision by the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services, to impose on WTO's pro bono client, a Navy nurse and corpsman, a mandatory five-year exclusion from working in any federally funded healthcare program, which jeopardized her Navy service. WTO showed why the decision was not warranted or authorized under current statutes. The Inspector General withdrew the exclusion, dropping the case and allowing our client to return to military service.
  • Successfully appealed a family law matter of first impression in Kansas state court for a pro bono client.
  • Successfully defended a nonprofit organization in a pro bono matter involving claims of national origin and religious discrimination filed by a former employee. The Colorado Civil Rights Division rejected all of the plaintiff's claims and dismissed her charges of discrimination. The organization assists refugees to establish economic self-sufficiency in the U.S. after fleeing persecution in foreign countries.
  • Successfully represented a victim of domestic violence in a pro bono effort to obtain a civil protection order.
  • Successfully represented two asylum applicants on a pro bono basis in federal immigration court. Their asylum applications were granted following an evidentiary merits hearing.
  • Won a plaintiff's verdict and punitive damages as trial counsel for a pro bono client in federal court against two corrections officers who violated the client's 1st and 14th Amendment rights.
  • Won a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that overturned the trial court's verdict in a federal habeas corpus appeal by WTO's pro bono client.
  • Won modification of a child support order on appeal for a pro bono client and domestic abuse victim, estabilshing a new legal precedent in New York State.

For information about WTO's current pro bono efforts, contact WTO's Executive Director, Amy DeVan

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