September 18, 2017

After A Major Civil Rights Victory, La Raza Has Even More Reason To Celebrate During Hispanic Heritage Month

Sep 15, 2017 at 6:32 PM

Today is the official day to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Be sure to check out Google’s beautiful tribute to Latino cultures in our country.

Last month, a Weil Gotshal & Manges team — partner Steven Reiss, former partner Jim Quinn, associates Luna Barrington and David Fitzmaurice, project manager Jorge Martorell, paralegal Sirak Biratu, and senior technician Steve Mangru — along with local counsel and co-counsel, secured a major pro bono win for Mexican-American students. After this historic civil rights victory, public school teachers in Arizona are now officially allowed to teach Mexican-American students about their heritage.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to catch up with legendary litigator Jim Quinn to discuss this pro bono victory. Earlier this year, David Lat wrote a feature on Quinn’s move from Weil to one of the nation’s top litigation boutiques, Berg & Androphy. This case was obviously very important to Quinn, as he stayed on as co-chair, even after leaving Weil in January.

Quinn mentioned that he and his colleagues were quite pleased with the results. He was happy to see that Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a Ninth Circuit judge sitting by designation as a trial judge, wrote his 42-page opinion in a way that will make it very hard to challenge on appeal.

Quinn knew that they had quite the challenge and burden to overcome in proving that there was discriminatory intent and/or racial animus behind A.R.S. § 15-112, the Arizona law designed to eliminate Mexican-American Studies (MAS) courses in Tucson public schools. Needless to say, Quinn was very satisfied that they were able to meet this burden.

To understand last month’s ruling in Gonzalez vs. Douglas, one must understand the history and political landscape of the Tucson Unified School District (“TUSD”). It was already operating under a past consent decree from 1974, which required TUSD “to remedy existing effects of past discriminatory acts or policies.”


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