(2007) Capital Appeals Project
After graduating from Rutgers Law School, JFW moved to the devastated city of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. He worked for the Capital Appeals Project as a public defender, representing indigent clients on death row. The Capital Appeals Project was founded in 2001 and has represented clients in landmark cases, even appearing before the Supreme Court.
(Were there any notable cases between these years?)
(2016) Charlie Hill
Charlie Hill is an American revolutionary and former member of a militant group called the Republic of New Afrika. He fled to Cuba after allegedly killing a cop in New Mexico in 1971.
JFW became interested in Charlie Hill after President Barack Obama’s 2014 announcement that the U.S. will begin normalizing relations with Cuba. At that time, New Mexico’s governor requested that Charlie Hill be extradited to the U.S. so that he can be prosecuted for the still-open case. Hill did not have any legal representation since many attorneys were too scared of being accused of aiding and abetting a fugitive. However, JFW connected to Charlie Hill through a foreign journalist and announced that he would be the attorney responsible for preventing Hill’s extradition to the U.S.
(2016) Vietnam War Veteran
Otto Macias is a U.S. Army Veteran who served in Vietnam as a machine-gunner beginning at the age of 19. Following his return home, he suffered from PTSD and schizophrenia, and after years of hospitalizations, he went to visit relatives in Cuba, where he extended his residence. After a year, the U.S. Army permanently cut off his pension and benefits.
After Obama’s announcement of detente with Cuba, JFW saw an opportunity for Macias being able to reinstate his benefits in old age and became his attorney.
(2017) Homeless Lawsuit
After moving to Denver, JFW conversed with some homeless individuals and found out that many of them had their property, including a tent and sleeping bag, confiscated after leaving it temporarily unattended. The City of Denver claimed to have been following standard procedure during sweeps and cleanups; however, the fact that private property was being confiscated and destroyed brought up issues about property rights and due process.
JFW brought a lawsuit on behalf of ten homeless individuals against the City of Denver, which eventually turned into a class-action lawsuit, representing the homeless population of Denver. The lawsuit resulted in a monetary settlement for the plaintiffs and resulted in a new process for confiscating property.
On Donald’s Trump Presidential Inauguration Day, a group of over 200 protesters held a demonstration, which involved destroying property. That day, many protesters were arrested and charged by federal prosecutors with felony conspiracy and Riot Act charges.
JFW was the attorney for the first three protestors, setting the precedent for the remaining cases. He believed that his clients were not guilty of property destruction or assaults on police that they were being accused of, and that the federal prosecution was trying to sow fear among anyone planning similar acts of dissent in the future.
(2017) Colorado River
JFW brought a lawsuit against the State of Colorado on the grounds that it violated the Colorado River’s right to flourish by polluting, draining, and threatening its ecosystem. It was based on the premise that since corporations have rights, so too should an ancient waterway have rights. This is in line with several nations whose governments have recognized some rights for natural entities.