Our attorneys are experienced in relentlessly pursuing justice through litigation in higher courts.
After a state or federal trial court makes a decision, the participants in a case often have a right to appeal that decision to a higher court, such as one of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. This higher court then has the ability to overturn or affirm the decision of the lower court. Practicing before one of these higher courts requires particular experience because of the higher stakes and higher degree of difficulty. The attorneys at Despres, Schwartz, and Geoghegan have a great deal of experience relentlessly pursuing justice through litigation in higher courts, which we apply to all of our other areas of practice.
Counsel to individuals, worker’s collectives, class action groups, and unions
Our experience includes appellate courts across the country, including both the Illinois and United States Supreme Courts. Each of our attorneys has argued in the federal courts of appeals, and our appellate experience is as wide-ranging as the rest of our practice, including labor and employment, constitutional, civil rights, consumer advocacy, and union democracy cases.
Freedom of Speech
One of our areas of specialty—bringing together our wealth of experience in appellate, constitutional, and labor law—is advocating on behalf of union workers who have had their right to freedom of speech violated. In 2022, we won a favorable settlement for one such member of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). After appealing to the First Circuit, our attorneys obtained a favorable ruling vacating a motion for summary judgment and affirming the First Amendment rights for our client. For more information on our work with unions and constitutional rights, please refer to our other Practice Areas.
Supporting the Public Interest
Our appellate work frequently addresses areas of public interest:
Protecting Chicago’s lakefront and public landscape
In 2014, we brought a lawsuit on behalf of Illinois residents and a non-profit advocacy organization in opposition to the construction of a billionaire’s vanity project on Chicago’s lakefront, a natural resource and public landscape beloved by the city’s residents.
After appealing to the Seventh Circuit, our case prevailed. The project was withdrawn, allowing the natural splendor of Chicago’s lakefront to remain available for residents and tourists to enjoy.
Affirming the rights of Illinois voters to appropriate representation without delay
Similarly supporting the public interest, we won a landmark case in 2010 at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the Seventeenth Amendment of the Constitution. The Seventeenth Amendment establishes that voters have a constitutional right to fill vacancies in the United States Senate. Following the appointment of a replacement for President Obama to the U.S. Senate surrounded by ethics questions, the state of Illinois was not intending to hold a special election to allow Illinois voters to have elected representation in the United States Senate. Our lawsuit, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, allowed Illinois voters to be appropriately represented without delay.
United States Supreme Court affirms rights of union to fair arbitration
We have also successfully argued cases before the United States Supreme Court. After appealing to and winning a case at the Seventh Circuit on behalf of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) for unfair treatment of their employees, our attorneys faced an appeal to the Supreme Court by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. In an opinion delivered by Justice Ginsberg, the Court ruled in our favor, affirming the legal rights of the union to fair arbitration practices.
Let’s work together
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We welcome the opportunity to take on cases as appellate counsel and bring our substantial experience to bear as we brief and argue each case.