WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 19, 2008) — Yesterday, a McDermott Will & Emery pro bono team, along with attorney Donald M. Temple of The Temple Law Firm, filed their reply brief in support of their request for a preliminary injunction in the Maryland District Court in a case regarding the illegal taking of property rights.
The lawsuit concerns Farm Road, a road that runs through the Sandy Spring community in Montgomery County, Maryland. With this Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, seven African-American landowners ask the Court to order the defendants to remove obstructions from Farm Road and to issue street addresses to them. Through their Complaint, the plaintiffs seek relief under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and the Maryland Constitution (for civil rights violations) and for a declaratory judgment that Farm Road is actually a public road or an easement. A hearing is scheduled for August 25, 2008 at 1:00 pm ET before the Honorable Roger W. Titus.
Farm Road has existed since approximately the end of the Civil War. It was part of a land transfer to emancipated slaves by the Quaker owner of Dellabrooke Farm who transferred close to 100 acres to them starting in 1895. Many of the properties were passed down over the generations to the former slaves' descendants. Farm Road was a public road that extended between Goldmine Road and Brooke Road until the late 1990s when a developer built a subdivision of single-family homes over the route to Goldmine Road. The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission, Montgomery County Planning Board (MNCPPC-MC) facilitated this taking by accepting the developer's patently false land maps that omitted any reference to Farm Road. In 2006, the owner of a private residence on the southern end of Farm Road blocked the Brooke Road entrance to Farm Road with a metal-link chain, broken concrete, pick-up trucks and other debris. These acts left the plaintiffs with largely unusable, land-locked properties cut off from necessary services and left them unable to obtain the necessary permits to improve their properties.
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.