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July 16, 2010

Punishing the Pro Bonos

Daily Journal | By Hernan D. Vera


It's getting ugly out there. If you think that Southern California lawyers are immune from personal attacks for providing pro bono services to unpopular clients, think again.

Several weeks ago, the city of Santa Clarita held a special public forum on immigration. The city invited Judy London, the Directing Attorney of Public Counsel's Immigrants' Rights' Project, to speak for the purpose of educating the public about our immigration laws. After London provided an objective and dispassionate analysis, a resident loudly called for her immediate indictment, prosecution and incarceration for having the temerity to provide legal assistance to "illegals." The city council did nothing to quell such outrageous remarks, and to the contrary, added fuel to the fire through some immigrant-bashing of its own. Councilman Bob Kellar told the crowd that "illegals" have no constitutional rights to be protected. The sheriffs on hand at the hearing provided London with safe escort to her car out of concern for her safety.

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