Gibson Dunn Pro Bono Newsletter Los Angeles Office

Fall 2018

This year marks the 10th Annual National Celebration of Pro Bono, which aims to shine a spotlight on important pro bono work already underway and to encourage other lawyers to get involved. At Gibson Dunn we have much to be proud of in this respect. Whether protecting constitutional rights, working on behalf of the LGBTQ community, spearheading anti-human trafficking efforts, battling slumlords, fighting on behalf of domestic violence victims, advocating on behalf of veterans, or engaging on behalf of the immigrant community, our lawyers have worked hard this year to provide access to justice for those who could not otherwise afford it.

For all our new attorneys joining us this fall, we hope you will take the opportunity to get involved in the community and to take on a pro bono matter that you feel passionate about. Not only is it a great way to develop your skills professionally, it will undoubtedly enrich your life in many other ways as well. Please take a few moments to read about some of the amazing accomplishments of your colleagues over the past several months.  We are so proud of all that the firm has accomplished this year – keep up the good work!

Thank you and happy Pro Bono Week!

Scott Edelman & Katie Marquart

Lauren Tetenbaum

We also wanted to take a moment to let you know Lauren Tetenbaum has joined the pro bono team as a Pro Bono Specialist. Some of you may already know Lauren, who has been working in the firm’s professional development department for the last several years. Lauren practiced immigration law before coming to Gibson Dunn, during which time she particularly enjoyed her pro bono work on behalf of children, immigrants, and survivors of domestic violence. In this new role, Lauren will continue to be based in the New York office and will provide support for the firm’s pro bono efforts globally. Please join us in welcoming Lauren to the team!

Gibson Dunn Represents Hollywood Star and Activist Ashley Judd in Suit Against Harvey Weinstein

The firm currently represents actor and humanitarian Ashley Judd on a pro bono basis in her suit against producer Harvey Weinstein. The suit alleges that Mr. Weinstein made defamatory comments about Ms. Judd to Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh, in an effort to retaliate against Ms. Judd after she rebuffed his sexual advances. As a result of those comments, Ms. Judd was passed over for a role in the multi-billion dollar film franchise. On September 19, 2018, U.S.  District Judge Philip Gutierrez largely denied Mr. Weinstein’s motion to dismiss Ms. Judd’s claims, allowing three out of four claims (defamation, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair competition) to proceed to discovery, and permitting Ms. Judd to amend the fourth claim for civil harassment. 

Ted Boutrous, Theane Evangelis, Michael Dore, Lauren Blas, and Lori Arakaki drafted the complaint and briefed the opposition to the motion, and Ted presented argument before the court. 

Gibson Dunn Achieves Better Governance for The Humane Society

Gibson Dunn recently completed a board governance review of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The HSUS Board of Directors engaged the firm to complete the review in the wake of public criticism of the HSUS Board’s handling of the departure of HSUS’s Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Pacelle, amidst allegations of harassment brought against him. Gibson Dunn conducted a three-phase board governance review, including a comprehensive review of HSUS’ existing governance and procedures, interviews with key stakeholders, and the development of governance recommendations and a board action plan to implement the recommendations. Following Gibson Dunn’s presentation to the HSUS Board on October 5, 2018, the recommendations and action plan were unanimously approved and adopted by the HSUS Board. 

The team of Gibson Dunn attorneys working on the matter included Beth Ising, John Olson, Geoffrey Walter, and Emily Shroder

Gibson Dunn Team Defends Journalist in First Amendment Case

On January 20, 2017, journalist Aaron Miguel Cantú was covering an Inauguration Day protest in Washington, D.C. when he and hundreds of other people, including many journalists, legal observers, and medics, were corralled by police and arrested. He eventually was charged with several felonies, including inciting a riot and multiple counts of destruction of property, based solely on the indictment’s allegations that he was present at the demonstration and wore dark clothing. He faced up to 75 years in prison.
Gibson Dunn filed a motion to dismiss his indictment, arguing that the charges against him infringed his First Amendment rights as a journalist and that the indictment was unconstitutionally vague as applied to his newsgathering activities. The motion highlighted his years as a freelance journalist, during which he published over 120 articles with twenty-eight different publications, including numerous articles covering social activism and political protests through in-depth, first-person investigation. 
Trials proceeded against some of Mr. Cantú’s co-defendants, and the government failed to secure a single conviction. While Mr. Cantú’s motion to dismiss was still pending, and as the Gibson Dunn team prepared for his trial, the government voluntarily dismissed all charges against Mr. Cantú on July 6, 2018, after a finding by the court that the government had committed serious Brady violations. 
Mr. Cantú’s attorneys included Ted Boutrous, Patrick Stokes, Stephanie Brooker, Nicole Saharsky, Chantale Fiebig, Edward Patterson, Michael Dziuban, Katherine Davis, Charlotte Lawson, and Jarrad Kirsh.

Gibson Dunn Secures Settlement for Reel Works Teen Filmmaking

In October 2018, Gibson Dunn secured a settlement on behalf of Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization that provides underserved New York City youth the opportunity to tell their stories through free filmmaking programs. Reel Works’ landlord sought to evict it from its longtime location, claiming that Reel Works’ lease was invalid, and filed suit. Gibson Dunn defended Reel Works and ultimately negotiated a settlement allowing Reel Works to remain in its current location.

The Gibson Dunn team included Andy LanceJennifer Rearden, and Adam Jantzi.

Gibson Dunn Persuades Federal Court To Strike Down Act of Congress as Unconstitutional

On October 4, 2018, Judge O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas struck down as unconstitutional the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”). ICWA is a federal statute that establishes special rules that state courts must follow in any foster or adoption proceeding involving an “Indian child,” which the statute defines as any child that is (i) a member of a tribe or (ii) the biological child of a member and eligible for membership. In particular, ICWA creates a preference that Indian children be placed with members of the child’s tribe or members of any other Indian tribe before being placed with non-Indian families. ICWA also allows the validity of adoptions of Indian children to be collaterally attacked for up to two years after the adoption is finalized, much longer than state law. 

We represent three non-Indian families who seek to adopt or have adopted Indian children, as well as the biological mother of one of the children. We challenged ICWA’s constitutionality and the legality of federal regulations interpreting ICWA, arguing that the law improperly mandates racial and ethnic preferences. We were joined in our suit against the federal government by the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, and several Indian tribes intervened as defendants to defend the law.

The district court held that ICWA is a racially discriminatory statute that must be analyzed under strict scrutiny review, but is not narrowly tailored, and therefore violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. The court also held that ICWA violated the non-delegation doctrine by delegating to tribes the ability to change the order of the placement preferences however it thought best, that it violated the anti-commandeering doctrine by commanding states to modify existing state-law claims, and that it exceeded Congress’s powers under the Indian Commerce Clause. The court also struck down the regulation as violating the Administrative Procedures Act.

Matthew D. McGill presented oral argument. Assisting him with the briefing were Robert E.  DunnLochlan F.  ShelferElliot Gaiser, and former associates Rebekah P. Ricketts and David W. Casazza.

Gibson Dunn Partner Leads Pro Bono Program Educating Students about “Dignity in the Digital Age”

Palo Alto partner Carrie LeRoy leads a program in the Silicon Valley area to educate teenagers on laws relating to social media and technology use. The program covers issues ranging from sexual consent to the practice of sexting, with the goal of empowering youth to make healthy decisions based on their understanding of their rights and responsibilities within the digital realm. In 2018, the firm reached approximately one thousand Bay Area students, and was also able to collaborate with several Bay Area corporate clients in the endeavor. The firm looks forward to expanding the program in the Bay Area and other cities across the country.

Gibson Dunn Obtains Pro Bono Victory for The Nature Conservancy

In July 2018, Gibson Dunn successfully defended The Nature Conservancy in a quiet title action involving ecologically important property in its conservation efforts in northwestern Colorado. A neighboring property owner had filed the action in an attempt to claim property rights over Carpenter Ranch, a property located approximately 20 miles west of Steamboat Springs, Colorado along the Yampa River. The dispute centered on two main issues:  (1) how the Yampa River had moved along the parties’ common property boundary and whether, as a result, the boundary had become permanently fixed; and (2) whether an area of former streambed was owned by the parties as co-tenants under the language of the relevant deed. After a two-day bench trial, Judge Shelley Ann Hill of the District Court for Routt County, Colorado largely ruled in The Nature Conservancy’s favor, affirming its ownership of the ecologically important floodplain and wetlands that serve as a keystone to The Nature Conservancy’s larger objectives in the area.

The Gibson Dunn team consisted of Denver associates Jeremy Ochsenbein, Holly Rooke, and Jasper Hicks, with assistance from partner Gregory Kerwin.

Gibson Dunn Achieves Victory in Ninth Circuit for Immigrant Facing Removal

In April 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued a published opinion (Case No. 16-72940) granting a lawful permanent resident’s petition for review and ordering his removal order to be set aside.  Mr. Garcia, a green card holder at the time he was convicted of theft in Oregon, had been found removable by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for crimes involving moral turpitude. The circuit court held that the BIA’s new definition of theft for the purposes of a crime involving moral turpitude cannot apply retroactively, and that the client’s crimes were not crimes involving moral turpitude under the old rule.

The team included Tom Dupree, Lochlan Shelfer and Jeremy Christiansen.

Gibson Dunn Earns Win for Families Seeking Coverage of Muscular Dystrophy Treatment

The firm represents multiple families in connection with their insurance coverage disputes with state Medicaid agencies related to Exondys-51, the only treatment available for the underlying cause of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare, incurable, and terminal genetic disorder. One of our families, located in Massachusetts, has been seeking coverage for the drug and related treatment for over a year for their 16-year-old son who is currently in a wheelchair and unable to walk. After multiple denials from MassHealth (the state agency managing Massachusetts’s Medicaid programs), each of which contained shifting rationale for the denial, the family engaged Gibson Dunn to file an appeal of the denial of coverage with the Massachusetts Board of Hearings.  At the core of the appeal was whether certain regulations require Medicaid programs to provide coverage to patients for on-label usage of Exondys-51, or otherwise, whether the denials issued by MassHealth were arbitrary and lacking support such that they should be reversed.

After over six months of arguing our client’s position – which included an extensive evidentiary hearing and submission of substantive briefs – on June 25, 2018, our clients finally received a victory. The Board of Hearings reversed the denial and ordered MassHealth to cover Exondys 51 for our client.  While this is only one patient, we are hopeful that this decision will be one of many the firm will achieve in this fight to obtain the proper coverage that patients on Medicaid have a legal right to receive.

The team is comprised of Jeffrey Thomas, Ashley Van Zelst, and Ronnie Gomez.

Gibson Dunn Provides Pro Bono Support to Aid in the Development of an Environmental Conservation and Stewardship Center in Indonesia

Gibson Dunn has been representing the Flowering Tree Group in a joint venture with the Arizona-based Biosphere foundation to develop an environmental conservation and stewardship center on the island of Bali, Indonesia. The facility will be one of the largest of its kind in Asia and unique in being a permanent structure that will operate in conjunction with Biosphere’s existing mobile center, which is located on a purpose-built ship. It will include meeting and conference facilities, a library, computer room, service buildings, and design and landscaping all intended to promote and exhibit the latest environmentally-friendly, conservation, and waste management practices. In tandem with the project we are also advising on the development of environmental education programs for local and international schools to be conducted in the center, as well as scientific research programs with international universities. 

We have represented Flowering Tree in all aspects of the project, including the formation and corporate governance of the joint venture, the purchase and lease of land (which is a complicated structure given Indonesia’s highly regulated land ownership laws, foreign ownership restrictions and zoning requirements given the land’s proximity to the Bali Barat National Park), the construction and financing of the center, the development agreements with Indonesian stakeholders, and contracts and partnerships with third parties. The project is ongoing. 

The team is being led by Singapore partner Saptak Santra and of counsel Elaine Chao, with corporate support from associate Candis Davis in New York and Stephanie Kann in Irvine. 

Gibson Dunn Partner Chairs California Supreme Court Working Group and Develops New Legislation Pertaining to Representation in International Commercial Arbitrations

In 2017, at the request of the California Chief Justice, Dan Kolkey served as the Chairman of a working group aimed at determining whether or not to change California law to allow foreign and out-of-state attorneys to represent their clients in international commercial arbitrations held in California. Under existing California law, foreign attorneys were prevented from representing their clients in international commercial arbitrations in California (which undermined California’s selection as a venue for such arbitrations). Ultimately the working group decided to recommend the adoption of a version of an American Bar Association’s model recommendation for the temporary practice of law in California for international arbitrations. Dan Kolkey and Priyah Kaul drafted a report supporting the recommendation for the working group and submitted it to the California Supreme Court. In April 2017, the California Supreme Court endorsed the recommendation. Following this, the firm assisted in drafting the proposed statute, and with the help of the working group, oversaw the legislative process, including assisting in the preparation of the committee reports. The legislation was passed unanimously by both houses of the California Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in July 2018. It will take effect on January 1, 2019.

Gibson Dunn Represents Boys & Girls Clubs in California and Texas

Gibson Dunn represented Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County, a California nonprofit corporation, in a pro bono acquisition of the assets of Boys and Girls Clubs of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties, a California nonprofit corporation. The Gibson Dunn team included Greg DavidsonTodd Trattner, Zoe CarpouChelsea May Thomas, Sam Newman, Dan Luskin, and Nick Roosevelt.

Gibson Dunn also represented Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth, Inc., a Texas non-profit corporation, in a pro bono merger with Boys and Girls Clubs of Arlington, Inc., a Texas non-profit corporation. The surviving organization is named Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, Inc. The Gibson Dunn team included Jeff ChapmanEric Pacifici, Thomas CannyMichael Cannon, Krista Hanvey, and Jean Park
Gibson Dunn Represents Los Angeles Ballet in Agreement for Donation of Cryptocurrency

Los Angeles Ballet (“LAB”) is a world-class ballet company known for its superb stagings of the Balanchine repertory, its stylistically meticulous classical ballets, and its commitment to new works. LAB is committed to outreach and involvement in its community through its Power of Performance (POP!) program and A Chance to Dance program. Gibson Dunn has advised LAB since 2005, on a variety of matters, including governance, financing, real estate, labor and documentary film projects, among other matters.

At its 2018 Gala, LAB received an unsolicited pledge of Moviecoin Tokens from the principals of MovieCoin, a company proposing to use blockchain technology, digital assets, and proprietary applications to craft a new currency for entertainment financing, business transactions, and consumer payments. Gibson Dunn attorneys DeDeMann and Jennifer Bellah Maguire prepared the gift agreement reflecting and governing this pledge. 

Gibson Dunn Honored by Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition with the 2018 Impacting Justice Award

Award Photo

On October 2, 2018, Gibson Dunn was honored by long-time pro bono partner Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition with the 2018 Impacting Justice Award. The firm was recognized for our “stellar and innovative” pro bono work on behalf of CAIR Coalition and of detained immigrants in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The recognition was given, at least in part, for the firm’s work for CAIR Coalition and other legal service providers earlier this year when they were threatened with the termination of funding. 

New Pro Bono Calendar on the GDC Intranet

We recently updated the Pro Bono intranet page (http://gdconnect/fr/pb/Pages/default.aspx) to feature a calendar of upcoming events that may be of interest. The calendar reflects both internal firm-sponsored events, and external CLEs, trainings, and panel discussions on pro bono topics. If you would like to share information on an upcoming pro bono event, please contact Lauren Tetenbaum. We hope the calendar will be useful!

GDC Pro Bono Calendar