Philadelphia, PA – July 10, 2006 – LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – Eric Rothschild and Stephen G. Harvey, partners with Pepper Hamilton LLP, recently received Pro Bono Awards from the Pennsylvania Bar Association at its annual meeting in Hershey, Pa., in recognition of their extraordinary commitment as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the landmark “intelligent design” case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
The case, which Pepper handled as part of its pro bono and public service program along with lawyers from the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was decided by Federal District Judge John E. Jones, III in Pennsylvania in December 2005.
The lawyers successfully represented eight families who challenged the Dover, Pa., policy that included intelligent design in the high school science curriculum. Judge Jones found that intelligent design is a religious, non-scientific proposition, and that teaching intelligent design in public schools violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The PBA pro bono award recognizes the lawyers’ efforts to enforce and preserve Constitutional protections.
The Kitzmiller case is widely regarded as the first legal test of the constitutionality of teaching the concept of intelligent design as science, and the most significant case on teaching religious issues in public school science classes since 1987, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled definitively that the teaching of “creation science” violates the First Amendment.
Pepper took on this project, and devoted substantial resources to it, without expectation of compensation. After the plaintiffs’ trial team was successful in the matter, it became eligible to apply for attorneys’ fees and expenses as counsel for the prevailing party. The trial team agreed to cut by more than half the $2+ million in attorneys’ fees and costs for which it was entitled to apply. Of the remaining $1 million in fees and costs, after each legal organization was reimbursed for its out-of-pocket expenses, the legal fees were directed to the two nonprofit organizations, the ACLU and Americans United, on the basis of their collective share of the overall work effort. Pepper accepted no fees for its contribution to the matter.
Mr. Rothschild is a member of Pepper’s Litigation Department, resident in the Philadelphia office. He concentrates his trial practice in complex litigation, including constitutional and civil rights issues, reinsurance disputes, insurance insolvencies, and matters involving fraud, breach of contract and commercial lending. Mr. Rothschild has a varied pro bono practice. In addition to handling the intelligent design case, he assisted in Pepper’s court-appointed representation of inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System in a class action challenging overcrowding and other conditions in the prison system.
Mr. Harvey also is a member of Pepper’s Litigation Department, resident in the Philadelphia office. He concentrates his practice in complex litigation and trial practice, including commercial disputes, consumer class actions, and banking and financial services. A member of Pepper’s pro bono committee, Mr. Harvey has an active pro bono practice and is involved in the Philadelphia community, serving on the board of the Homeless Advocacy Project and coordinating a legal clinic that Pepper sponsors for the homeless.
Pepper Hamilton LLP (www.pepperlaw.com) is a multi-practice law firm with 400 lawyers in six states and the District of Columbia. The firm provides corporate, litigation and regulatory legal services to leading businesses, governmental entities, nonprofit organizations and individuals throughout the nation and the world. The firm was founded in 1890.