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2021 Outstanding Partner Awards

The Outstanding Partner Awards go to individuals and organizations whose work makes a difference for our clients and the issues we work on. In 2021, the Public Justice Center recognizes Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP, UNITE HERE! Local 7, Murphy Anderson PLLC, Dr. Tim Thomas, Greater Baltimore Democratic Socialists of America, Stout Risius Ross, and MOMCares.

“Outstanding” does not begin to describe the truly incredible work of the attorneys at Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP, who worked with the PJC to sue Maryland officials to reverse a decision to prematurely terminate the federally financed unemployment insurance benefits available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorneys Meghan Casey, Paul Caiola, and Hannah Perng, along with law clerk Tory Trocchia and paralegal Julie Pfanstiel, successfully reversed the State’s early termination decision, enabling tens of thousands of Marylanders to continue to receive life-sustaining benefits and bringing more than one billion dollars of federal monies to the state. We enjoyed working with such smart and tenacious advocates, and we are truly grateful for their outstanding partnership!

UNITE HERE! Local 7, and Roxie Herbekian in particular, were instrumental and invaluable partners on the path to victory to restore federal pandemic unemployment benefits in Maryland. Their incredible commitment to their members and unemployed workers throughout Maryland, and their determination to fight regardless of the outcome, were inspirational. They were instrumental in helping identify workers willing to advocate for their own financial security and that of other unemployed Marylanders. They also kept members and others informed about the status of the litigation, effectively using virtual platforms to host events, and coordinated with the press to amplify the victory.

Murphy Anderson PLLC lives up to its reputation for being “lawyers serving the public interest.” Their attorneys Mark Hanna, Roseann Romano, and Adam Breihan worked tirelessly on an important case alleging wage theft and discrimination against a large business and achieved a significant victory for the workers. The PJC was proud to partner with such dedicated, smart, and passionate advocates. As just one example of how Murphy Anderson PLLC lives its values, the firm generously donated a portion of their attorneys’ fees to the PJC. We appreciate their financial support as well as their legal partnership.

Dr. Tim Thomas of the Urban Displacement Project at the University of California, Berkeley created The Eviction Study’s Baltimore Map, a dynamic and interactive visualization, highlighting which neighborhoods are at the highest risk of scheduled evictions and eviction removals and illuminating race and gender disparities in the eviction crisis. To collect the local data, he partnered with Dr. Malcolm Drewery, a professor at Coppin State University; Linda Morris, an attorney for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project; and Dr. Meredith Greif, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Thomas’ work proved essential in our advocacy for an eviction right to counsel in Baltimore City and the and the state’s access to counsel legislation.

Greater Baltimore Democratic Socialists of America (GBDSA) works to empower renters and stands up publicly and loudly for housing justice in Baltimore and Maryland. As a member of Baltimore Renters United, GBDSA advocates for justice in public transportation, housing, education, and other public services in Black working-class neighborhoods. During the last year, GBDSA organized tenants, helped plan rallies, and supported campaigns to advance housing justice—for example, helping defeat a security deposit bill (21-0022) in the City Council that would have harmed tenants and advocating for renter protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stout Risius Ross has been a key partner in providing data and expertise that has raised the national profile of the eviction crisis as well as supported civil right to counsel efforts around the country—including in Baltimore City and Maryland. Stout’s meticulous, thorough reports on the costs and benefits of providing a right to counsel have helped convince policymakers in many jurisdictions to enact such a right. Stout staff have graciously and tirelessly served as a resource to advocates all over the country looking for help and guidance with thinking through data or cost considerations. Finally, Stout’s interactive tool providing easy-to-read, 50-state data about the number of at-risk tenants and predicted eviction rates, which it developed in cooperation with the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, has helped drive policy reform at the federal, state, and local levels.

MOMCares and Executive Director Ana Rodney have been allies in collaborating with the PJC on legislative advocacy to improve maternal health care and expand access to doula care. Ana is a doula, former co-chair of RHEAM, and an appointed member of the Maternal Mortality Review Board for Baltimore City. In her work, Ana provides birth and postpartum doula support to mothers navigating a high-risk pregnancy or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) involvement after a traumatic birth outcome.