Gibson Dunn Pro Bono Newsletter Los Angeles Office

Gibson Dunn Represents Criminal Detainees in Civil Rights Matters in New York and California

Lawyers in the New York office recently represented a Rikers Island detainee in his civil rights lawsuit against Rikers corrections officers, the warden and deputy warden, and the City of New York.  We sought damages for unconstitutional conditions of confinement during the client’s approximately three-day pretrial detention at an intake processing center at Rikers.  Our client had been subjected to truly abhorrent conditions, including overcrowding, defective toilets and broken sinks, filthy floors, roach and mice infestations, and extreme temperatures.  Under the supervision of Jim Hallowell, Gibson Dunn associates Justine Goeke, Hannah Kirshner, Erin Galliher, and Alex Bruhn interviewed the client and third party witnesses, amended the pro se complaint, served interrogatories and document requests, and met and conferred with Corporation Counsel.  Gibson Dunn put significant pressure on the City and the Department of Corrections to produce documents that ultimately proved our claims, including that the client was held in various bullpens without access to a working toilet or sink.  Before depositions even occurred, the City agreed to settle for $34,000, a significant sum of money for our client. 


In May 2019, lawyers in the Palo Alto office secured a $13,000 settlement on behalf of Raul Garcia, a California life prisoner who was held in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison for 24 years.  Mr. Garcia originally filed the case pro se in the Northern District of California.  After he survived a summary judgment motion, the district court appointed Gibson Dunn to represent Mr. Garcia at trial.  The firm filed an amended complaint to obtain additional relief.  While the government moved to dismiss the amended pleading, Gibson Dunn defeated the motion, which associate Martie Kutscher argued before the district court.   Martie and associate Nicholas Scheiner subsequently deposed the officer defendants, during which they obtained case-dispositive admissions.  Following these depositions, the government agreed to a settlement that was more than six times the amount it had offered previously.  The Gibson Dunn team also included partner Michael D. Celio and associate Collin J. Vierra.