Anderson & Kreiger is committed to providing pro bono legal services to those most in need and in cases that make a wide impact. While attorneys are free to select or start pro bono projects of personal significance, our pro bono efforts during the past year have focused on the following areas:
- Children’s Health
- Civil Rights
- Community Development
- Environmental Protection and Renewable Energy
- Immigration & Asylum
Our pro bono victories during the past year include the following:
- Lyons v. Sec’y of Commonwealth, 490 Mass. 560 (2022): In this decision, the Supreme Judicial Court rejected a challenge under the Massachusetts constitution to the state’s new early voting law, “the VOTES Act,” concluding that the legislature is empowered to expand voting rights for all residents. Lon Povich, Tamara Wolfson, and David Mackey contributed to an amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of the Votes Act, filed on behalf of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. In its ruling, the SJC disagreed with the Republican Party’s argument that voting early, either in person or by mail, is limited to rare circumstances described in Articles 45 and 105 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution. The SJC also turned away the claim that voting by mail increases the likelihood of election fraud. Justice Kafker wrote for a unanimous Court: “Voting is a fundamental right, and nothing in art. 45, as amended by art. 105, or in other parts of the Constitution cited by the plaintiffs, prohibits the Legislature, which has plenary constitutional powers, including broad powers to regulate the process of elections and even broader powers with respect to primaries, from enhancing voting opportunities.” He continued: “In the VOTES act, and in the COVID19 voting act and 2014 voting act before that, the Legislature, pursuant to its plenary powers, sought to protect and enhance the exercise of the right to vote guaranteed by these different constitutional provisions…. It also did so universally and equally, without granting any particular group special privileges or imposing any special burdens on others …”
- Lawyers for Civil Rights BizGrow (http://lawyersforcivilrights.org/BizGrow): Colin Van Dyke, David Wiener, Jennifer Platt, Jillian Bargar, Martell Johnson, and Deborah Andrews participated in a day of free consulting for minority, immigrant, and women-owned small businesses. Growing wealth in historically disadvantaged communities is a critical civil rights issue. The small business owners that were supported during this event have big dreams, but limited resources. From family-owned restaurants to green economy startups, they play an important role in their local communities. Anderson & Kreiger was proud to offer legal support to help them thrive.
- Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids: Melissa, Scott and Christina represent the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and other allied public health organizations who are working with the Department of Justice to require cigarette manufacturers to display certain court-ordered “corrective statements” at retail points-of-sale throughout the country. The corrective statements were ordered as part of the landmark legal decision in the federal government’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case against the tobacco industry, and are meant to prevent and restrain the manufacturers from continuing to deceive the public about the adverse health effects of cigarettes in violation of the RICO statute. Over the past several months, A&K worked with our counterparts at DOJ to negotiate a settlement with the tobacco manufacturers and retail trade associations, and recently submitted a proposed consent order to the Court to resolve the case. Last month, Melissa received the American Cancer Society’s Judicial Advocacy Initiative Award for her pro bono work on this matter.
- Children and Family Law (CAFL) Appeals: Anderson & Kreiger attorneys led by Sean Grammel serves as court-appointed appellate counsel for parents and children involved in the foster care system. Over the last year, associates at A&K have filed single justice petitions, appellate briefs, and a Petition for Further Appellate Review, as well as settled cases through an Open Adoption Agreement and reunification of children with their parents. This public defense work provides top-quality appellate advocacy to one of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable court-exposed populations.
- CORI Sealing Clinic (https://bostonbar.org/pro-bono-public-service/criminal-record-sealing-pilot-project/): Paul Kominers and Kristen Gagalis counseled clients at the CORI Sealing Clinic, organized by GBLS and the BBA. The clinic helps clients seal or expunge their criminal records so that old or minor convictions or mere charges don’t interfere with employment, housing, and other matters. Outside of clinic sessions, Paul, Tamara Wolfson, and Xavier Jackson successfully appealed a denial of an expungement order, and Paul obtained sealing and expungement orders at hearings in the Boston Municipal Court.
- EdLaw Project (http://www.edlawproject.org/):Anderson & Kreiger works with the EdLaw Project to help secure appropriate educational services for children with special education needs who have been denied appropriate placements and services and to advocate for the educational needs of high-risk youth. Over the past year, Anderson & Kreiger volunteer attorneys Annie Lee, Kristen Gagalis, and TJ Roskelley have provided direct representation for clients experiencing difficulties obtaining proper services and placement for children struggling in schools that don’t have adequate supports to meet their emotional and physical needs. They have participated in numerous Team Meetings with the school districts and schools, navigated the three-year re-evaluation process, obtained a new placement for one student, and successfully negotiated necessary amendments to a client’s Individualized Education Plan. Anderson & Kreiger continues to work with the family to ensure the child obtains the education she deserves and is entitled to under state law.
- Jackson Municipal Airport Authority: The City of Jackson, Mississippi, through the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority, has owned and operated the Jackson-Medgar Evers International Airport for many years. (The airport is named after an iconic leader of the Civil Rights Movement who was assassinated by a member of the KKK during the 1960s.) Shortly after the City put an African-American Board of Commissioners in charge of the Authority and hired an African-American CEO for the Airport, the State of Mississippi passed a law that would usurp control of the Airport from the City and give control to the state and surrounding communities. Scott Lewis and Austin Anderson are representing individual members of the Authority Board in a lawsuit in federal court in Jackson, where the members are asserting that the airport takeover bill should be enjoined because it was enacted on the basis of race and violates their constitutional rights. Anderson & Kreiger is working closely with local counsel in Jackson who represent the Commissioners, the JMAA, various city councilors, and the City of Jackson. Discovery disputes in the case have already been in the Fifth Circuit twice, and Austin argued key issues of standing and legislative privilege in the Court of Appeals in New Orleans last December, as the plaintiffs continue to seek crucial information on the intent of the government officials who drafted and passed the bill, and the defendants and non-party state legislators assert various forms of privilege to block that discovery. The parties are waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeals.
- Nubian Square Small Business Owners: (https://www.baystatebanner.com/2022/04/21/harrison-ave-businesses-fighting-eviction/): Anderson & Kreiger partnered with Lawyers for Civil Rights and community group ACEDONE to represent six small business owners who were facing eviction and other strong-arm tactics for their Landlord. These predominantly African immigrant-owned businesses were promised renovated spaces and long-term leases in return for supporting the Landlord’s redevelopment of the parcel. Yet after the development did not obtain BPDA approval, the Landlord failed to maintain the building in a habitable manner and proceeded with attempting to evict the businesses. Annie Lee, Martell Johnson, Mina Makarious, Scott Lewis, and Nina Pickering-Cook successfully delayed the eviction proceedings, ensured that the Judge had the full context surrounding the evictions and, where needed, assisted the clients in finding other suitable space. This is an ongoing matter.
- Y2Y Network, Inc. (https://www.y2ynetwork.org/): A Safe Place For Homeless Young Adults: Anderson & Kreiger continued its work with Y2Y Network. Mina Makarious and others at Anderson & Kreiger assisted Y2Y on a number of contracting, governance, and insurance issues to allow Y2Y to continue to provide homeless services throughout the pandemic, even as its normal volunteer base of college students became unavailable. In addition, we continue to advise Y2Y Network, Inc. on its goals to open up its first out-of-state shelter in New Haven, Connecticut. Mina Makarious has served as Y2Y’s “lawyer on call” and in 2020 joined the organization’s board.
- Board of Bar Overseers: Anderson & Kreiger attorneys David Mackey and Austin Anderson have defended several lawyers on a pro bono basis in bar discipline matters before the Board of Bar Overseers. Dave was the Chair of the BBO from 2010 – 2013, and he and Austin now serve on the BBO’s panel of attorneys who represent lawyers in bar discipline matters on a pro bono basis.