WASHINGTON (September 27, 2011) –The Honorable Thomas G. Snow granted asylum to an Ethiopian man, resolving his three-year quest for protection here in the United States. A team of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP attorneys led by Partner Daniel E. Frank provided pro bono legal services to this client, who achieved victory in the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, Va., on Sept.16, 2011.
The case dates back to 2008, when the government of his home country deemed him a threat because of his ethnicity and promotion of a pro-democracy agenda. As a result, the client was viewed as a political dissident, enduring harassment, beatings and jail. To avoid harm to himself and his family, he used an existing visa to escape the country in 2008. Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., he filed for asylum protection from the federal government.
The initial application was denied by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; at which point Catholic Charities referred the case to Sutherland. “We often work through the nonprofit to offer legal services to clients in need. Sutherland had a strong team in place to guide our client through the immigration court process; however, he was living in a state of constant uncertainty," said Judith A. O’Brien, a partner who chairs the firm’s pro bono and public service committees.
After two years of delays, the Immigration Court scheduled the client’s hearing for Sept. 16, 2011. The U.S. government trial attorney reviewed the evidence and decided not to contest the case further. Judge Snow concurred and officially granted asylum.
“After several years of worrisome doubt and delays, our client was visibly overjoyed by the decision rendered by the court," recalled Mr. Frank. “Although the client cannot return to his home country, he looks forward to building a life here, finally free from fear of future persecution."
Sutherland attorneys who joined Mr. Frank in contributing to this pro bono cause include: Counsel James J. Briody, Associate Jennifer J. Kubicek, Senior Paralegal Caroline R. Smith as well as firm alumnae Amanda H. Kastl, Iliana I. Lundblad and Caileen N. Gamache.
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Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is a law firm with global reach known for solving challenging business problems and resolving sophisticated legal issues for many of the world’s largest companies. Founded in 1924, the firm handles matters throughout the United States and worldwide. Seven major practice areas—corporate, energy and environmental, financial services, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, and tax—provide the framework for an extensive range of focus areas, allowing Sutherland attorneys to serve a diverse client base that ranges from small and medium-sized start-up businesses to a significant number of Fortune 100 companies.