RBGG’s Gay Grunfeld, Van Swearingen and Blake Thompson have received a California Lawyer of the Year Award for 2016 from California Lawyer. The trio received the award for their victory in a constitutional challenge to California’s Alternative Custody Program (ACP) under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
A federal judge in Sacramento issued a summary judgment order in the case on September 8, 2015 in favor of RBGG’s client. See 99 F.Supp.3rd 1223 (E.D. Cal., filed July 16, 2014). The case asserted that California illegally discriminates on the basis of gender by permitting female inmates, but not male inmates, to participate in the ACP in lieu of confinement in state prison. RBGG had argued that allowing qualified male inmates to participate in the ACP is not only required by the Fourteenth Amendment, but will also benefit children and families, reduce recidivism, and enhance public safety.
RBGG’s Gay Grunfeld, lead attorney for plaintiffs had the following comments for a Courthouse News article at the time of the judgment: “We really hope this will help not just our own clients, but men across the state who qualify and are able to participate in this excellent program, just like the women who already are. We are very pleased by Judge England’s thoughtful, thorough and well-written opinion finding the ACP unconstitutional insofar as it excludes otherwise qualified male prisoners. As the court ordered, CDCR ‘shall immediately cease denying admission to the ACP on the basis that an applicant is male.’”