May 27, 2014 - McDermott Will & Emery Trial partner William Schuman and former partner Jeffrey Baltruzak were honored with the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s 2014 Pro Bono & Public Service Award for outstanding pro bono work in the U.S. District Courts of Illinois. The award was presented on May 12, 2014 during the bar association’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The McDermott team represented Jon Giles in a suit against three Chicago police officers, who were investigating a shooting in the area and approached Mr. Giles while he was in his vehicle at a gas station. Mr. Giles asserted that one officer broke his hand with a flashlight while attempting to remove him from the car, and that the other officer failed to intervene and stop the excessive force. Mr. Giles also asserted that he was falsely arrested and later denied medical treatment for his broken hand by a third officer. The defendant officers claimed they arrested Mr. Giles without incident and found a handgun on the engine block of his car. While being held at the police station, Mr. Giles was taken to a nearby hospital, where his hand was x-rayed and found to be broken.
Mr. Giles represented himself pro se until a judge determined that the complexities of discovery warranted the appointment of counsel. The McDermott team worked diligently to ensure that he received a fair result. After their appointment, they filed an amended complaint, conducted a thorough investigation, and engaged in extensive discovery, including ten depositions and the development of expert medical testimony. Throughout the summer of 2013, the McDermott team readied the case for trial, but just days before trial, after the Court entered a number of pretrial rulings favorable to Mr. Giles, the City offered to settle the case for the first time. After extensive negotiation, the parties reached a financial settlement very favorable to Mr. Giles.
As the trial court recognized, Mr. Giles would not have been able to pursue his case without court-appointed pro bono counsel. The McDermott team devoted nearly 450 hours to this matter and brought all of McDermott’s resources to bear in pursuit of a fair and just result for Mr. Giles.