McGuireWoods Chicago Lawyers Earn Pro Bono Service Award for Work in Federal Civil Rights Case

May 18, 2015

Three lawyers from McGuireWoods’ Chicago office have earned a prestigious pro bono service award for their efforts to secure a favorable outcome for a client in a federal civil rights suit that alleged mistreatment by Chicago police officers.

Christina Egan, Benjamin Christenson and Amy Starinieri received an Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service May 14 from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve nominated the McGuireWoods trio for their work on the case.

Their client suffered a broken collarbone after Chicago police arrested him on June 16, 2012. He filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officers in 2013, but had no attorney. The McGuireWoods team was appointed to represent him after the close of discovery when the case appeared to be headed for trial. The turning point came when the lawyers successfully reopened discovery and obtained documents and conducted depositions.

Christenson conducted key depositions, and Starinieri obtained additional information that aided the plaintiff’s case. After discovery, the McGuireWoods lawyers prepared a settlement position paper for a conference in front of Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole where the parties reached a settlement. Cole praised lawyers on both sides of the case, noting that they “conducted themselves admirably and approached the conference in the cooperative spirit that unfortunately too few lawyers exhibit in today’s contentious climate.”

“Without the conspicuous skill they brought to their tasks, the case would not have had the successful conclusion that it did,” the judge noted. “Their conduct is proof that lawyers can act civilly and courteously in their dealings with opposing counsel without sacrificing in the slightest the obligations they owe to their clients.”

The award was presented at the district court’s 16th annual Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service Awards ceremony.