Cozen O'Connor Receives Recognition For Involvement in Landmark Case

Friday, February 1, 2008 - 00:00

Cozen O'Connor has been honored with a 2008 Pro Bono Awardfrom The National Law Journal (NLJ).

Each year, the NLJ recognizes the lawyers and law firms that have worked to ensure that legal rights are not contingent on an individual's ability to pay for an attorney. Cozen O'Connor was recognized for the firm's work as lead private counsel in the Hazleton, PA, immigration case that captured national attention last year.

The landmark case, Lozano et. al v. City of Hazleton, was brought on behalf of Hazleton residents, landlords and business owners. The Cozen O'Connor team worked in conjunction with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the ACLU, the Community Justice Project and other local lawyers in this highly publicized case attacking the constitutionality of Hazleton's Illegal Immigration Relief Act and related anti-immigration ordinances.

The challenged ordinances were first enacted in July 2006, after the mayor of Hazleton began blaming many of the city's ills, including crime, economic burdens and social dilemmas, on undocumented immigrants. The ordinances were the first local laws in the country to impose fines on landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants and to deny or revoke business permits for companies that employ them. The ordinances failed to provide immigrants any meaningful opportunity to challenge their eviction or loss of employment based on the city's action.

The plaintiffs charged that the ordinances were in conflict with federal immigration law and policy, failed to provide procedural protections, and also conflicted with state laws. Following a two-week trial in March 2007, Judge James M. Munley of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a 206-page opinion permanently enjoining the enforcement of the Hazleton Illegal Immigration Relief Act. The decision is now on appeal.

The Cozen O'Connor team included Thomas G. Wilkinson, Thomas B. Fiddler, Linda S. Kaiser Conley, Elena Park, Ilan Rosenberg and Doreen Y. Trujillo.

Cozen O'Connor is a signatory to the Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, and encourages all of its attorneys to devote at least 60 hours of pro bono work annually. Each attorney's time value in handling pro bono matters is treated as full production credit for up to 50 hours annually.