The National Law Journal recognized Goodwin’s work on Martin et al v. City of Albuquerque as a finalist in the 2020 Pro Bono Hot List. According to the publication, the lawyers and firms honored by the list are “dedicated to making a monumental impact on the lives of those in need.”
In this case, Goodwin won a significant First Amendment victory in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The matter involved an anti-panhandling ordinance enacted by the city of Albuquerque that made it illegal for pedestrians to stand on virtually any median in the city, and also made it illegal for pedestrians, drivers, or passengers to engage in “physical exchanges” on City roadways.
Goodwin lawyers Kevin Martin, Jaime Santos (who argued the winning summary judgment motion), Gerard Cedrone, Christopher Herbert and Martin Topol partnered with the ACLU of New Mexico in early 2018 to bring the lawsuit, representing plaintiffs who solicited donations along Albuquerque roadways, plaintiffs who made donations on City roadsides, and those who engaged in political speech and expression along Albuquerque’s roadways. On behalf of the plaintiffs, the Goodwin team argued that the ordinance was not narrowly tailored because it prohibited far more speech than necessary to achieve the City’s stated safety goals, and because the City had not met its burden to demonstrate that it attempted any number of less-speech-restrictive alternatives (such as enforcing existing traffic-safety laws) before banning speech. The district court granted summary judgment for plaintiffs on July 19, 2019, holding that nearly every one of the challenged ordinance’s provisions was unconstitutional.
The court’s decision aligns with a series of cases across the country in which Goodwin teams (each led by Kevin Martin) have successfully defended the free speech rights of their clients. These efforts have resulted in the repealing or overturning of panhandling ordinances in cities such as Portland, Maine, Worcester, Massachusetts, Lowell, Massachusetts and Tampa, Florida.
“These cases represent significant victories in the fight to protect freedom of expression and safeguard the rights of all people to use public spaces,” said Martin, partner and co-chair of Goodwin’s Appellate Litigation group. “We are establishing precedent throughout the country that homeless persons cannot be denied access to those locations that are conducive to their seeking charity from fellow citizens.”Goodwin’s pro bono program leverages the interests and skillsets of the firm’s lawyers to help more than 1,000 clients per year who could not otherwise afford legal assistance. In recognition of its outstanding commitment to pro bono legal services, the Pro Bono Institute recognized Goodwin with the 2019 John H. Pickering Award.