June 10, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The ACLU of Southern California will honor attorneys who have done outstanding work on behalf of civil rights and civil liberties at its 16th annual Law Luncheon on Thursday, June 10 at the Wilshire Grand Hotel. The keynote speaker will be the recently appointed U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, André Birotte Jr., who is the former Inspector General for the Los Angeles Police Department. The CBS hit legal drama "The Good Wife," created by Michelle and Robert King, will receive a special award for Social Responsibility in the Media.

Among the other honorees this year are Lee B. Awbrey, James Brosnahan, Somnath Raj Chatterjee and Sam Luiner of Morrison & Foerster LLP, who will receive the Courageous Advocacy Award for their work on Guzman v. USA. This extraordinary effort helped the ACLU/SC bring crucial attention to the case of a citizen who was deported after Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies handed him over to immigration agents.

The Humanitarian Award will be given to Nicholas Begakis, Tollie Besson, Jamie Broder, Eleanor Mercado, Morgan Pietz and Stephen Turanchik of Paul Hastings Janosky & Walker LLP, and James Gilliam, formerly with the firm. The group did an outstanding job in ending the inhumane treatment of immigrants detained in a downtown Los Angeles detention center.

Rishi Puri and Stacy Shartin of Seyfarth Shaw LLP will receive the Equal Justice Advocacy Award for diligently working with the ACLU/SC to bring justice to African American barbers who were targeted because of the color of their skin. Steve Ellis, William Tran and Brian K. Washington of Sidley Austin LLP will be honored with an Access to Justice Award for their efforts on behalf of hundreds of immigrants held longer than six months in Southern California detention facilities.

A Social Justice Award will go to Brian Bark, Andra Barmash Greene, Cathy Moses and Jill Sperber of Irell and Manella LLP for exemplary work with the ACLU/SC in halting the criminalization of mentally and physically disabled homeless people in Laguna Beach. A Social Justice Award will also go to Gabriel P. Sanchez, Stuart N. Senator and Marina Torres of Munger Tolles and Olson LLP for their dedicated effort on our landmark, joint lawsuit against the state of California and its Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. The complaint makes a compelling argument that these agencies failed to live up to their constitutional and statutory duties to protect farm workers from heat-related illness and death.

"We are grateful to the attorneys who have shared their invaluable time and efforts in the cause of civil liberties and civil rights," said ACLU/SC Executive Director Ramona Ripston. "Their hard work is an inspiration to us all."

The ACLU/SC’s annual Law Luncheon recognizes lawyers and others who perform exceptional work that furthers the cause of individual liberty and equality.

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