Pro Bono Work
As do all attorneys, I often represent clients without charge, i.e., on a pro bono basis. Each week, I try to spend a few hours helping people who, due to personal circumstances, need legal help but cannot afford a lawyer. I usually find this to be the most rewarding part of my work week. The following pro bono cases were of a more public nature:
In the mid-1980’s, the City of Jacksonville proposed to build a regional landfill that would have been located on the Duval-St. Johns County line, near the headwaters of Durbin Creek. The site of the landfill was eventually determined by the State Division of Administrative Hearings to be “among the most valuable wildlife habitats in the area, maybe in the Southeastern United States.” The sanitary landfill that was proposed for this environmentally sensitive location would have been sixty feet high, and would have received 620,000 tons of garbage per year. I opposed the landfill before the Jacksonville City Council, at the formal administrative hearing before the State Division of Administrative Hearings, in the District Court of Appeal, and before the Governor and Cabinet. After several years of litigation, the permits were denied, and Jacksonville abandoned its plans to build the landfill on the county line.
In AES Cedar Bay, Inc., and Seminole Kraft Corporation vs. Department of Environmental Regulation, No. 88-5740 (Division of Administrative Hearings), I represented citizens concerned about the environmental impacts of the coal-fired Cedar Bay Cogeneration Plant. The project was ultimately turned over to a new, more environmentally conscious applicant, substantial modifications were made to improve air quality, and millions of dollars were allocated to wetland mitigation. These funds were later used to acquire large conservation tracts in the Pumpkin Hill Creek basin on Jacksonville’s north side, as well as other preservation areas, that came to form part of the largest city park system in the United States. In July 1992, the Jacksonville City Council passed a resolution commending my work (and the work of others) in this effort.
Confronted with rapid large-scale real estate development in northeast St. Johns County, conservationists formed the Guana Area/Intracoastal Network, Inc. (GAIN), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. I served as the original chairman, and represented the corporation on a pro bono basis. GAIN was instrumental in moving development back from the shores of the Guana River Marsh State Aquatic Preserve and in reducing the environmental impact of proposed developments in the area, as well as taking action to require St. Johns County to adopt Land Development Regulations that were more than ten years overdue.
Over the years, some of our pro bono clients have included the Sheriff of St. Johns County, the State Attorney for the 7th Judicial Circuit, the Superintendent of Schools, the Republican and Democratic Parties of St. Johns County, the Chamber of Commerce, the student body and faculty of Nease High School, and various other community groups. I am particularly proud of having represented the organized plaintiff’s trial bar as amicus curiae before the United States Supreme Court in two cases in which I argued that the states should be allowed to impose significantly greater restrictions on lawyer advertising and solicitation.