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October 25, 2016

Pro Bono Stars: Washington, D.C. Edition

As part of the American Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono Week, we are recognizing individuals with outstanding dedication to pro bono service as Pro Bono Stars. Today we highlight Elizabeth Leavy and Molly Campbell from Reed Smith in Washington, D.C.

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(from left to right): Ms. F; Molly Campbell, Reed Smith; Ms. F and Mr. V’s two daughters; Mr. V; Ms. F and Mr. V’s son; and Elizabeth Leavy, Reed Smith

Elizabeth Leavy and Molly Campbell, both associates in Reed Smith's Washington, D.C. office, recently helped a Honduran family of five win asylum at the Arlington Immigration Court. The family—Ms. F, Mr. V, and three of their children—fled to the United States after they became targets of a local gang. 

Mr. V and one of his sons were leaders in a community organization, causing clashes with the gang's efforts to extort money and operate a surveillance program of neighborhood residents. After Mr. V and his son vocally opposed the gang's rule of their neighborhood, the gang brutally murdered one of Mr. V and Ms. F's sons, and robbed Ms. F at gunpoint. When the family learned that the gang planned to kill all of them so that no one could take revenge for their son's murder, they fled to the United States.

Elizabeth and Molly began work on this procedurally and legally complex case in January 2016, successfully winning a motion to consolidate all the family members’ cases so that they could be considered together. They then set out to prepare supporting materials for their clients' cases and for their testimony in court.  

Working with Human Rights First attorneys, Elizabeth and Molly developed cutting-edge legal theories, arguing that the gang was operating as a quasi-government in their clients’ village.  They further argued that their clients were persecuted on political grounds and because of their familial connections.

Mr. V, Ms. F, and their children were ecstatic when they learned in September 2016 that they were granted asylum. The family now lives in northwest Washington, D.C. The children are learning English, attending school, and settling into their new lives in the United States.  Mr. V and Ms. F's youngest daughter attends high school and has enrolled in Army JROTC in order to give back to her new country. 

We thank Elizabeth and Molly for their zealous advocacy and hard work on behalf of this deserving family.