Publications & News

WilmerHale on Winning Side of Three Recent Supreme Court Rulings

July 14, 2008

WilmerHale recently secured three remarkable victories from the US Supreme Court during a span of less than two weeks. The favorable rulings, all in pro bono cases, confirmed the expertise of the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practitioners, ranging from seasoned litigators to excelling younger partners.

“Almost as remarkable as the number of hours the firm’s lawyers have devoted to these cases are the ages of the attorneys themselves. While veteran appellate counsel and former U.S. solicitor general Seth Waxman argued the Guantanamo case, Danielle Spinelli had been a partner for only three months when she argued her first case. Christopher Meade is still in his thirties, and he will argue his third pro bono Supreme Court case next year,” said Jonathan Thrope in a recent article featured in the American Lawyer.

Rothgery v. Gillespie County, Texas

Danielle Spinelli, who became Partner in January 2008, argued and won her first Supreme Court case in Rothgery v. Gillespie County, Texas. On June 23, the Court decided in favor of her pro bono client, Walter Allen Rothgery, ruling that a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches at his first appearance before a magistrate who informs him of the charges against him and imposes restrictions on his liberty. For more information on this case, click here.

Dada v. Mukasey

The week before, the Supreme Court ruled 5-to-4 in favor of WilmerHale in Dada v. Mukasey. Partner Christopher J. Meade argued the case for the firm’s pro bono client Dada, an immigrant from Nigeria. Joining the firm in 2001, Mr. Meade became partner in 2005, and is already scheduled to argue for a third time in front of the Supreme Court, marking three consecutive terms.

The court’s decision in this case will potentially impact more than 20,000 immigrants each year. For more information on this case, click here.

Boumediene v. Bush

The firm’s third and most publicized recent victory came in Boumediene v. Bush. In a highly anticipated decision on June 12, the Supreme Court ruled 5-to-4 that detainees held in Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. WilmerHale represented six Bosnian-Algerians, including Lakhdar Boumediene, who have been detained at Guantanamo since 2002.

Partner Seth Waxman, former Solicitor General in the Clinton Administration, argued the case before the Court on December 5, 2007. Many other members of the firm, including Partners Stephen Oleskey and Robert Kirsch, Paul Wolfson and Mark Fleming, have been involved in the representation of these detainees since 2004. For more information on this case, click here.

The American Lawyer captured the highlights of these pro bono victories in its recent article, saying: “[F]or Wilmer[Hale], June provided a trio of pro bono victories before the high court that highlight what can happen when a firm’s strong commitment to such work converges with a top-flight appellate and Supreme Court practice.”

Media coverage regarding this series of victories also appeared in the National Law Journal.