January 7, 2011
Cammy Desmond, '09, and Jinnifer Pitcher, '07, recently had an unusual legal experience for a pair of young attorneys at a civil law firm. The Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe associates co-chaired a four-day civil rights jury trial in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, the federal court put out a call to Sacramento law firms to represent a state prison inmate whose claims were due for a jury trial on November 27, 2010. The Orrick partner in charge of the firm's pro bono practice didn't expect to find any volunteers to take on the holiday assignment, but Desmond and Pitcher jumped at the chance.
Although they were unable to meet their client until two days before the trial commenced and unable to get all their documents until the morning of the trial's first day, the two McGeorge alumna mounted a spirited case for the plaintiff. They beat back multiple motions for judgment as a matter of law that end most prisoner civil rights cases. They repeatedly won motions in limine to prevent unfair prejudice. They won motions to admit evidence over aggressive objections from the deputy state attorney general defending prison guards accused of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need and retaliation.
The jury ultimately returned with a defense verdict, but the performance of the two young lawyers impressed all. "Jinnifer and Cammy started off very credibly and grew by leaps and bounds as trial lawyers during the week." said Orrick partner Jim Houpt. "By the end, you would have thought they had been doing jury trials for years."
It was a particularly awesome experience for Desmond. The former editor-in-chief of the McGeorge Law Review was in her first six weeks of law practice when she signed on for the case. She had clerked for a federal district court judge in Alabama in her first year out of law school.