Morrison & Foerster is honored to be named to the National Law Journal's 2019 Pro Bono Hot List. The publication recognized a MoFo pro bono team that is representing Georgia voters in a federal lawsuit filed against state officials on a groundbreaking claim: that maintaining an unsecured, all-electronic voting system with no paper back-up violates the right to vote.
MoFo's pro bono team, led by partners David Cross, Joe Palmore, and John Carlin, filed the suit after the state ignored independent researchers' warnings — first in August 2016 and again in February 2017 — that they had easily penetrated the Georgia voting system through its public website, revealing, among other things, voters' identification information; election management databases used to tally, store, and report all votes; and passwords for polling place supervisors.
The MoFo team employed a three-part strategy to defeat the state's effort to have the case dismissed:
- Narrow the case to moot defendants' immunity defenses;
- Engage the country's leading election-integrity expert to hack a Georgia voting machine and alter the results in the courtroom; and
- Induce the defendants to put key election officials on the stand to defend the election system, knowing cross-examination would elicit many security deficiencies in that system.
The strategy was a success. The federal district court rejected the immunity defenses (which the Eleventh Circuit affirmed) and found that defendants had taken a "head in the sand" approach to election security, creating powerful precedent for election-security challenges.
Reacting to the selection, David Cross said, "We appreciate this recognition of the significance of the Georgia case. It is a privilege of legal practice at MoFo to be able to invest the time and resources needed for important pro bono cases like this one."
Over the last year, MoFo lawyers have dedicated a collective 78,000 hours of their time to pro bono matters, including the following cases, also recognized in this year's Hot List, that advanced justice from coast to coast:
- Parents who care for foster children in Hawaii are receiving substantially increased stipends for their care. Before we filed suit in 2013, foster care stipends had been unchanged for 25 years.
- Individuals with mental disabilities or mental illness in Los Angeles—many of them homeless or close to it—no longer face structural barriers when applying for General Relief benefits.
- A Texas law that stigmatized women seeking abortion by requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains was enjoined.
- Recipients of short-term housing subsidies in Washington, D.C., are now recognized as protected by the city's ban on "source of income" discrimination.
"We are extremely proud to be named to this year's Pro Bono Hot List, which recognizes our team's cutting-edge voting rights work in Georgia as well as the firm's ongoing commitment to pro bono," said Jennifer K. Brown, MoFo senior pro bono counsel.
The National Law Journal's Pro Bono Hot List recognizes law firms that have led the charge on pro bono work with broad policy, social, or financial impact; or work that has required great time and sacrifice from lawyers because of their clients' unpopularity, exposing lawyers to criticism.