Pro Bono Litigation
Several years ago, Berg & Androphy brought Michelle Alexander to Houston to speak at the Progressive Forum. Her epochal book, The New Jim Crow, is recognized nationwide as having created the bipartisan criminal justice reform movement. Her book, and her powerful speech, inspired Joel to establish a pro bono program in our firm that provides zealous representation in criminal cases for young black men who live in Houston’s Fifth Ward.
Androphy met Rev. Harvey Clemons of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in 2015 at his Temple’s High Holiday services. Rabbi Steve Gross, in his efforts to solidify community relations, invited Rev. Clemons to speak. Rev. Clemons described the issues in his community and efforts to improve the lives of its residents. After his inspiring sermon, Androphy and Rev. Clemons formed the law firm’s pro bono program.
Berg & Androphy’s goal is to level the playing field and to eliminate to the extent possible the well-documented, racially motivated convictions and sentences that make a successful life for these young people an impossibility. For many, prison life has taken the place of high school, college, and graduate school. If you are from the Fifth Ward and wish to obtain representation in a criminal case, please contact Rev. Harvey Clemons, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, who may be reached at 713-224-0052.
Lawyers, paralegals, and staff at Berg & Androphy have provided hundreds of hours each year assisting the Firm’s Fifth Ward pro bono clients. Among its other successes, Androphy and his Firm successfully represented an Iraqi/Syrian refugee of robbery charges as part of the firm’s pro bono representation. Likewise, the work Berg & Androphy is doing has garnered the attention of national and community leaders, such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. Androphy and Rev. Clemons have brought these leaders together in public and private sessions to explore how Harris County can reform its criminal justice system.
Berg & Androphy Earns Prestigious Harris County Bench Bar Award for Fifth Ward Pro Bono Program
Berg & Androphy has been awarded the prestigious 2017 Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Award in the small-size firm category. The Houston Bar Association and the Harris County judiciary established the award program to recognize outstanding pro bono service by law firms, corporations and individual attorneys.
The annual Harris County Bench Bar Pro Bono Awards Ceremony will take place on April 30, 3018 at the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Harris County Civil Courthouse. In addition to being recognized at the ceremony, Berg & Androphy will be included on a special permanent plaque display in the lobbies of the Harris County Civil, Criminal, Family, and Juvenile courthouses.
Berg & Androphy and the Fifth Ward’s New Juvenile Justice Diversion Program
Berg & Androphy is taking a leadership role in contributing to a new juvenile justice diversion program that offers a path to real reform, embedded and led by the community where the offense took place, and representing exceptionally diverse partnerships in Houston’s historic Fifth Ward neighborhood. This program will eventually lead to the establishment of a Community Court system for all youth and adults in the Fifth Ward.
After decades of disinvestment, the Fifth Ward is revitalizing due in part to the leadership of two long-time stewards of the community, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation (Fifth Ward CRC) and Pleasant Hill Ministries (PHM). However, the challenges of poverty persist in Fifth Ward, and the Fifth Ward CRC and PHM have established a new collaborative called The Center for Urban Transformation (CUT) to coordinate and bridge gaps in services with BERG & ANDROPHY, Legacy Community Health, Houston Habitat for Humanity, Rice University’s Kinder Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, Yes Prep Public Schools, and Can Do.
CUT, of which Joel Androphy, BERG & ANDROPHY is a board member, is starting an endeavor to address the needs of some of Fifth Ward’s most vulnerable and under-served members – youth involved in the justice system. CUT will provide a unique program to divert juvenile offenders away from juvenile detention. CUT has built a team of institutions from the Harris County District Attorney to 8 Million Stories to TSU’s Center for Justice Research and many others. That team – named the Fifth Ward Public Safety Leadership Council – is planning a program that will 1) use restorative justice mediation to address offenses and improve public safety, 2) connect youth to mentorship, services, and guided volunteer work, and 3) further Fifth Ward revitalization in a way that lifts the well-being of all community members. Critically, these services will be based in Fifth Ward. The program is slated to launch in spring 2019.
Not only is CUT offering an excellent program, but it is also seeking to demonstrate an effective way to reform to juvenile justice.