Paul Weiss Obtain Favorable Decision in Highly Contested Order of Protection Case

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary will honor a team from Paul Weiss for their compassionate and devoted pro bono representation of “Gloria” to obtain a favorable decision in a complex and highly contested order of protection case.

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary is honoring a team from Paul, Weiss, including partners Audra J. Soloway and William B. Michael, counsel Robert N. Kravitz, and former associates Arianna Markel, Paige Geier, Michael Bass, Randall Bryer and Melika Hadziomerovic for their compassionate and devoted pro bono representation of “Gloria” to obtain a favorable decision in a complex and highly contested order of protection (OP) case.

In 2019, “Gloria,” a mother of two young children, fled her abusive husband to live in a domestic violence shelter, filed for custody, and obtained a temporary order of protection (TOP) against her husband. Despite the sustained violence that Gloria and her two children lived through, Gloria’s strength carried her through lengthy and challenging legal actions and made her an inspiration for the team that represented her.

In April 2021, a pro bono team from Paul Weiss began working with Gloria on her representation in a highly contested trial to seek a final OP based on the history of violence as well as multiple violations of the TOP. The trial team was primarily led by Audra Soloway, Arianna Markel, and Paige Geier, with Arianna serving as lead counsel for the trial. In April 2022, Gloria and the team successfully obtained a 5-year OP, as well as findings that the abuser had violated the TOP and committed several family offenses. In October 2022, the abuser appealed the decision to the First Department. Bob Kravitz, Bill Michael, Paige Geier, and Michael Bass successfully handled the appeal, with the First Department affirming the family court’s decision.

The Paul, Weiss team demonstrated great dedication to the case and to Gloria. Their excellent legal skills, strategic thinking, and continuous time commitment were essential to supporting Gloria and obtaining a favorable outcome. The team worked tirelessly with Gloria to prepare for trial, conducting numerous practice and strategy sessions. The OP trial involved a challenging direct examination of Gloria on the history of domestic violence and sexual abuse, conducted by Arianna, as well as a difficult cross-examination. The team’s advocacy was instrumental in enabling Gloria to tell her story over the objections of extremely aggressive opposing counsel. In his decision, the judge specifically noted Gloria’s credibility and composure, in contrast to the respondent. Importantly, the team’s consistent support of Gloria through the emotional challenge and the frustration that result from having to navigate the uncertainty of these processes was key for the outcome.

“This case has involved a massive amount of time and dedication, both in the legal work conducted and in the intensive work with the client. Arianna’s preparation work for the OP trial, and her ability to withstand intensive objections by opposing counsel was remarkable. Paige has been extraordinarily client-centered, patient, collaborative and sensitive.”

-Jennifer Friedman, Director of Family Law and Policy for Sanctuary for Families’ practices in the Bronx    and Manhattan Family Justice Centers

Paige Geier, who was a junior associate when she began working on the case, emphasized how valuable this experience was for her as a young lawyer. Paige said that “it was pretty incredible” for her to learn from the knowledgeable members of the team, including from Jennifer. In October 2021, Paige successfully argued against a fourth substitution of counsel for the respondent father.

“Not only was I able to learn so much about family law from talking to Jennifer, but her way of working, which makes her thought-process visible, was extremely valuable to me. I also appreciated that she put a lot of trust in me as a young associate and was totally supportive. Watching her work with the client and showing so much empathy has made me a better lawyer.”

-Paige Geier

From her new firm Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C., Paige is now leading the custody and visitation trial, which began in January of this year, an illustration of her extraordinary dedication to the case.

Gloria’s resilience is an inspiration for the team.

“I watched Gloria have her life on hold, but she kept her head up and that has given so much energy to the team. Gloria is one of the strongest people I have ever met. It is so amazing getting to work with her and to represent her. She is an amazing mom: hearing her talk about her children and everything she does for them is incredible. She recently went back to school to get a degree and is crushing it! She has been student of the month, and her hard work has been recognized by her teachers and peers.”

-Paige Geier

Sanctuary is incredibly grateful for the invaluable pro bono work of this amazing and supportive team.


Join us at our Above & Beyond Awards Ceremony on October 25, 2023, as we honor Paul Weiss’s outstanding pro bono work.

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Silvia Marroquin is an associate in the international arbitration practice of Chaffetz Lindsey in New York and a member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council.

Linklaters and Covington & Burling Win Asylum Case for LGBTQ+ Couple

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary will honor teams from Linklaters LLP and Covington & Burling LLP for representing “Jonah” and “James” in obtaining asylum status.

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary for Families will honor teams from Linklaters LLP and Covington & Burling LLP for representing “Jonah” and “James” in obtaining asylum status. The teams consisted of Associates Nina Hrushko and Rebecca Zeldin of Linklaters, and Associate Lauren Shor and former Associates Jack Nelson, Katherine Onyshko, and Elisa Solomon of Covington.

Jonah and James are Russian gay men and LGBTQIA+ activists. As openly gay men in an incredibly homophobic country, James and Jonah consistently experienced threats and violence. James’s family in particular was hostile to his sexuality and put both James and Jonah in danger. However, none of this deterred them from their work as LGBTQIA+ activists. . After the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, James and Jonah brought flowers and a sign to the American embassy in Moscow to show their support for the victims, only to be arrested and harassed by Russian police. After they were arrested, they decided to flee Russia together and arrived in New York in 2017. Once in the U.S., they were finally able to marry and began their years-long affirmative asylum process, with the support of Sanctuary for Families and a team of lawyers for each of Jonah and James’s individual cases. Jonah was represented by the Linklaters team and James was represented by the Covington team. In 2023, after six years of teamwork, creativity, and patience, both James and Jonah were finally granted asylum. Jonah and James celebrated by inviting the legal teams to their apartment for dinner, highlighting how close the relationships they formed throughout the asylum process had become.

James and the Covington team filed his application and listed Jonah as a derivative spouse on the application. Jack Nelson, formerly with Covington, and now with Sive Pagel Riesel, describes James as an incredible person. Jack was impressed that despite their traumatic personal history, James and Jonah have kept an optimistic outlook throughout the asylum process, continuing their political activism in New York and volunteering with the Russian LGBTQIA+ community.

Jonah and the Linklaters team filed a separate asylum application for Jonah, because he had experienced the same hostility and was eligible for asylum in his own right, while also listing James as Jonah’s derivative spouse on the application. Nina Hrushko at Linklaters describes Jonah as outgoing and easy to work with, and a positive person, despite going through so much.

When James and Jonah first filed their asylum applications, they were just beginning to learn English and used an interpreter for meetings with their legal teams. Over the course of the six years of their asylum cases, both Jonah and James became fluent in English, so much so that they could help the attorneys catch errors made early on, when some stories got lost in translation. By the end of the case, Jack described working with James and Jonah as just like working with partner counsel.

James and Jonah’s cases also presented a unique opportunity for two law firms to work closely together, with the support of Sanctuary for Families. Each firm reported a great experience working together. Nina speaks Russian and Ukrainian, so she was able to help both litigation teams with interviews and affidavits and to communicate with James and Jonah’s friends and other witnesses.

Although Jonah and James presented very strong cases for asylum, some logistical complications arose with their cases. After many years of waiting for their interviews with the Asylum Office, James was granted asylum on February 8, 2023, but through a clerical error, Jonah was not granted asylum as James’s derivative. Not to be deterred, Jonah and the Linklaters team advocated to Senator Gillibrand, the USCIS ombudsman, and the USCIS Liaison at the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative. Finally, in July 2023, Jonah was also granted asylum.

Even after James’s application was granted, the Covington team stayed involved and worked collaboratively with the Linklaters team to support Jonah in his asylum application. Both litigation teams also spoke highly of the support from Sanctuary for Families and especially appreciated help from Deirdre Stradone, Co-Deputy Director of the Immigration Intervention Project. Deirdre, likewise, was incredibly impressed with both teams and their tireless dedication to James and Jonah over the course of six years.

Jonah and James came to New York as refugees six years ago. Now, James is attending a prominent university on a scholarship and Jonah is a filmmaker. To their legal teams, James and Jonah are inspiring. And, after six years of working together, they are also good friends.

Sanctuary is incredibly grateful for the compassionate pro bono work that Covington and Linklaters dedicated to assisting Jonah and James in their journey to safety and security in the United States.


Join us at our Above & Beyond Awards Ceremony on October 25, 2023, as we honor Linklaters LLP and Covington & Burling LLP ‘s outstanding pro bono work.

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Lucy Wolf is an Assistant Attorney General at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office and a member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council.

Gibson Team Honored for Representation of a Survivor of Child Abuse in an Asylum Case

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary will honor a Gibson Dunn team for their dedication to representing “Ms. N” in a defensive asylum case.

At this year’s Above & Beyond Awards, Sanctuary for Families will be honoring a team from Gibson Dunn for their dedication to representing “Ms. N” from El Salvador in a defensive asylum case. The outstanding team representing Ms. N included associates Alexandra Perloff-Giles and Ana Lopez, and former Gibson Dunn associate Philip Shapiro.

Ms. N is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. As a young teenager, her mother sold her to a MS-13 gang member and she was forced to become his girlfriend. During the course of their “relationship,” the man verbally, physically, and sexually abused Ms. N. She had one child with him. When Ms. N bravely reported the abuse to the authorities in El Salvador, a judge ruled that it was not rape since Ms. N had become pregnant. Ms. N attempted to escape this relationship multiple times. Finally, after six years, she was able to flee El Salvador in 2015 and entered the United States after being detained for three months.

The Gibson team began working on the case in 2016, meeting with Ms. N dozens of times in preparation for the Individual Hearing, which was scheduled for 2019. All of the materials—including affidavits, certified translations, expert reports, and a legal brief—had been submitted. But just days before the scheduled hearing, it was adjourned nearly four years, to January 2023, ostensibly because a Spanish interpreter was not available. On the new date, the Immigration Judge realized she did not have a copy of Ms. N’s file and the case was further adjourned by one month.

While the significant delays presented certain challenges, they also proved fortuitous in certain respects. The Matter of A-B- decision by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June 2018—also involving a Salvadoran woman impregnated by her abuser—made asylum claims by survivors of domestic violence significantly more challenging. But in June 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland vacated the prior Matter of A-B- decision, permitting victims of sexual violence to show, as they previously had, that they had suffered harm at the hands of a private actor whom the government was unable or unwilling to control.

In the lead-up to the new hearing date, the Gibson team once again kicked into gear, updating affidavits, obtaining additional evidence, and preparing Ms. N to testify at trial. Given how young she had been when the events took place and the extent of her trauma, it was difficult for Ms. N to relive her experiences and recall the timeline of events; as a therapist who met with Ms.N explained, her trauma manifests as avoidance, complicating the process of drafting her affidavit and preparing her to testify. Throughout this lengthy process, the Gibson team remained patient and understanding, balancing sensitivity to Ms. N’s unique struggles with a commitment to readying her for trial.

Philip, who had worked with Ms. N since the very beginning, led the pre-hearing conferencing with the DHS attorney and delivered opening and closing arguments during the trial. Alexandra led the briefing efforts. Ana conducted the direct examination of Ms. N—a relatively late change in strategy after the team saw during prep sessions that Ms. N appeared more open and comfortable being questioned by a female attorney. Ultimately, after seven years and a four-hour trial, Ms. N was finally granted asylum in early 2023.

In addition to the team’s stellar legal work, what motivated Deirdre Stradone, Co-Deputy Director of the Immigration Intervention Project, to nominate Gibson Dunn for recognition was their trauma-informed lawyering. Like the majority of Sanctuary’s clients, Ms. N has suffered severe and sustained violence in her home country and continues to struggle today. An asylum case is always difficult for a client, who has to relive their trauma and spend hours retelling their story to practice for direct and cross-examination for trial. But Ms. N essentially had to undergo this process three times—each time her trial was scheduled and then cancelled on short notice. Because Ms. N’s trauma manifests as avoidance, she avoided meetings with her attorneys; she regularly cancelled at the last minute, or showed up late, or couldn’t come in person and would take calls from her home.

Deirdre was so impressed with the Gibson team’s tireless, sympathetic, and trauma-informed approach:

“When Ms. N cancelled or was late, the team did everything they could to work around her schedule and make themselves available at her convenience, and never questioned her reasons for cancelling or made her feel guilty about it. They just asked if she was okay and safe. They were always so respectful of her and really allowed for her to feel empowered and understand what was happening in her legal case.”

When Ms. N was finally granted asylum, the joy and relief was palpable on everyone’s faces. Deirdre could see the happiness that the team felt to know that Ms. N was safe, she could remain in the U.S., and we could finally work to bring her son to the U.S. to join her.


Join us at our Above & Beyond Awards Ceremony on October 25, 2023, as we honor Gibson Dunn’s outstanding pro bono work.

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Naina Rasheed is a Corporate Governance Specialist in the Office of the Corporate Secretary at American International Group, Inc. Naina is also a member of Sanctuary’s Pro Bono Council and Co-Chair of this year’s Above and Beyond Pro Bono Awards and Benefit.

Hon. Fernando M. Camacho, 2023 Abely Awards Honoree

Established 26 years ago by Davis Polk, Sanctuary for Families, and Columbia Law School, the Abely Awards honor individuals who have made a difference in the lives of survivors of gender violence.

Established 26 years ago by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Sanctuary for Families, and Columbia Law School, the Abely Awards honor individuals who have made a difference in the lives of survivors of gender violence and who embody Maryellen Abely’s compassion, zeal, energy, and dedication.

This year, we are thrilled to present the 2023 Abely Leading Women and Children to Safety Award to the Honorable Fernando M. Camacho.

INTRODUCING JUDGE CAMACHO

The Honorable Fernando Camacho is an Acting Justice of the Suffolk County Supreme Court in the Tenth Judicial District of New York, where he presides over Suffolk County’s CONCEPTS Court, which he spearheaded in January 2021. Providing alternatives to residential placement for youth charged as Juvenile Delinquents in Family Court, the CONCEPTS Court offers assistance and support to court-involved children from the ages of twelve to seventeen, many of whom have been victims of sex-trafficking. From 2013 until 2021, Judge Camacho was assigned to Suffolk County Supreme Court where he created and presided over the Suffolk County Felony Youth Part, which provided alternatives to incarceration for young people charged with felonies.

Judge Camacho began his legal career at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where he worked in the Trial Division, the Sex Crimes Unit, and the Homicide Unit. In 1991 he was promoted to Senior Trial Counsel and assigned to the Homicide Investigation Unit, a joint state and federal task force, where he directed long term homicide investigations and prosecutions of violent gangs.

In 1997 Judge Camacho became a New York City Criminal Court Judge in Brooklyn. Assigned to Queens County in 2002, he served as the Deputy Supervising Judge and presided over the Domestic Violence Court.

In 2003 Judge Camacho created a pioneering treatment court with a mission to stop the incarceration of persons charged with prostitution. That court was the spark that led to the creation of the present day Human Trafficking Intervention Courts operating throughout New York State and a groundbreaking National Summit on Human Trafficking and State Courts in 2015, hosted by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Appointed to the New York State Court of Claims in 2008, Judge Camacho also served as an Acting Supreme Court Justice in the Integrated Domestic Violence Court in Queens County Supreme Court. In 2009 he was promoted him to the position of County Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters. While serving as administrative judge he also created and presided over the Queens County Supreme Court Youth Diversion Part, a specialized diversion court for adolescents charged with felony offenses.

Over the last two decades years Judge Camacho has inspired and shaped the New York State court system’s response to human trafficking, advocating for more resources to assist victims of sex trafficking and for a response that shields trafficked and commercially sexually exploited adults and children from criminalization while holding their exploiters accountable. He has been a speaker at numerous state and national conferences and training seminars on the topics of juvenile justice, sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of youth.

Judge Camacho obtained his undergraduate degree from Columbia College and graduated from Fordham Law School.