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Venable LLP Makes Extraordinary Effort as Pro Bono Counsel on Second Circuit Amicus Brief

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

  • Organization: The Legal Aid Society

The Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice represents more than 90% of the children who are the subject of neglect or abuse proceedings in New York City's Family Court. In a very disturbing case, our young client was separated needlessly from his mother despite evidence contrary to allegations that the child was being mistreated. After the family was re-united, the mother filed a federal action alleging that the continued prosecution of her for abuse, even after all evidence showed that no abuse had occurred, violated due process. The District Court dismissed the claim and held, among other things, that Administration for Children Services' ("ACS") caseworkers had absolute immunity.

The Society, on extremely short notice, was requested to appear as amicus in the Second Circuit. We chose to address the issues of the District Court's unwarranted and dangerous expansion of absolute immunity to ACS caseworkers and the court's failure to find a due process/liberty violation in the continued separation of a mother and child. With only less than two weeks to file, Venable LLP volunteered to research the legal issues and draft the amicus brief, for which the Society obtained the consent of all parties. The firm's legal team of Michael Volpe, Brian Maddox, and Megan Mann worked around the clock, completing the draft on Yom Kippur, a day prior to the submission deadline. Their contribution was invaluable and ensured that the voice of children was heard on these crucial issues.

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