January 4, 2024
Stoel Rives LLP and Dorsey & Whitney LLP congratulate the team of Minneapolis-based attorneys from both firms that was selected by Minnesota Lawyer as 2023 “Attorneys of the Year” in the Pro Bono category for their work in two cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court with constitutional significance. The award-winning Stoel/Dorsey team is comprised of lead counsel Andrew Pieper together with Roxanna Gonzalez, Bradley Prowant, and Marc Al.
The Stoel/Dorsey team partnered to represent two patients in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in litigation seeking redress for the failure by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to implement court-ordered transfers to a less restrictive facility for years.
In February 2023, the Stoel/Dorsey team secured a significant ruling in favor of their clients when a unanimous Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a dismissal by the Ramsey County District Court and subsequent affirmance by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. In its groundbreaking decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court recognized clearly established federal constitutional rights for people under civil commitment regarding the timely implementation of state court orders, while overcoming a qualified immunity defense by state government officials. This decision made clear that the state is held to the same standard as every Minnesotan subject to a court order and that the state did not have the right to unreasonably delay implementation of a court mandate.
Andrew, a partner in Stoel’s litigation group, and Roxanna, a partner in Dorsey’s litigation group, took the case as pro bono counsel in 2018, after they were introduced to the plaintiffs through the Pro Se Project, a program facilitated by the Minnesota chapter of the Federal Bar Association that matches pro se litigants with volunteer attorneys. Marc, a partner in Stoel’s litigation group, and Bradley, an associate in Stoel’s litigation group, joined the team in 2021 after the Minnesota Supreme Court accepted the case for review.
Now in its 23rd year, Minnesota Lawyer’s Attorneys of the Year awards recognizes attorneys for their work in procuring a successful result in an important case or business transaction, leadership in professional associations, participation in newsworthy events in the legal community, performance of significant public services, or excellence in providing in-house legal services. The 2023 Attorneys of the Year honorees will be celebrated at Minnesota Lawyer’s Attorneys of the Year awards event on February 8, 2024, at Quincy Hall in Northeast Minneapolis.
“Stoel and Dorsey share a strong firmwide commitment to pro bono service, and we are thrilled our dedicated attorneys joined forces to achieve this significant ruling affirming important constitutional protections in Minnesota law,” said Laurie Huotari, the managing partner of Stoel Rives’ Minneapolis office.
“Dorsey’s pro bono program encourages our attorneys to pursue meaningful projects that help the disadvantaged in our communities,” said William Stoeri, Dorsey’s managing partner. “This case presented an exceptional opportunity to work collaboratively with Stoel’s attorneys, which resulted in one of the most important decisions in Minnesota this year.”