CHICAGO (July 28, 2008) — McDermott Will & Emery is pleased to announce that after four years of work by members of the Firm's Chicago Trial Department on behalf of pro bono client Felix Vasquez-Ruiz, McDermott successfully persuaded U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo to cut Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz's sentence in half. As a result of this reduction, Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz is expected to be released from prison in the next month—years before his anticipated release date of October 2014.
While represented by another firm, Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz was originally convicted in 2002 of multiple counts of health care and mail fraud. In 2002, he was sentenced to 168 months (14 years) of imprisonment.
McDermott was first appointed to Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz's case in 2004. At that time, Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz was representing himself in habeas proceedings before the Northern District of Illinois and sought the right to file an appeal that his previous lawyer had failed to file before the deadline. Although the district court initially denied Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz's motion, it recognized that it was required to hold an evidentiary hearing and contacted McDermott to serve as appointed counsel. The McDermott team persuaded the district court to reverse itself and grant Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz the right to appeal his underlying conviction. McDermott then pursued that appeal to the Seventh Circuit on Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz's behalf. In September 2007, the Seventh Circuit reversed Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz's convictions and remanded his case for a new trial.
After remand, the case was assigned to Judge Castillo, and the McDermott team negotiated a plea agreement with the government. After Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz entered a guilty plea to two counts of mail fraud, the McDermott team persuaded Judge Castillo to cut his sentence to 84 months (7 years). McDermott partner Jeffrey A. Rossman argued the re-sentencing before Judge Castillo. With time off for good behavior, it is expected Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz will be released and reunited with his family in a month.
The McDermott team representing Mr. Vasquez-Ruiz consisted of Chicago partners Jeffrey E. Stone, Jeffrey A. Rossman, and Jocelyn D. Francoeur, with assistance from Chicago associate Megan E. Thibert-Ind. Valuable assistance was also provided by Chicago partners Douglas E. Whitney, David S. Rosenbloom and Joshua T. Buchman.
McDermott Will & Emery recognizes and appreciates the need to give back to the communities of which it is a part, assisting those who are unable to afford legal services. It strongly encourages its lawyers and staff to participate in pro bono activities, volunteer services and charitable activities. Its Pro Bono & Community Services Committee seeks to ensure that the same Firm standards of quality, service and care that are given to its paying clients are also afforded to those it serves on a pro bono basis. The people of McDermott Will & Emery understand their unique obligations as lawyers to enhance the lives of those in need and are committed to ensuring that low-income and disadvantaged individuals have access to justice.