“Magic Mike” Brings Out the Best in Elena Garella and Davis Wright Tremaine

When Seattle Center implemented rules prohibiting park performers from engaging in free speech activities without first obtaining a permit, and limiting the locations in which they could perform,  sole practitioner and JD Supra contributor Elena Garella stepped in. The District Court agreed with Elena and local performer, Magic Mike, that these rules violated the First Amendment on their face, but the 9th Circuit reversed.  Elena has now petitioned for rehearing en banc, and is hopeful the Court will grant her petition as it almost immediately requested that the City file a response.

This case, posted as a JD Supra Scoop, caught my attention. I was intrigued by the contrast between this decision (which involved a physical public forum and the right of individuals to avoid speech activities by others) and the ruling in the WikLeak’s case, also posted in the Scoop (which involved the virtual public forum of the Internet and the right of individuals to have access to speech).

But, as I looked at the brief something else caught my eye: the significance of a sole practitioner embroiled in a multi-year constitutional case for a client with limited resources, and the presence of Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys on Elena’s petition. I telephoned Elena to learn more.  She explained that First Amendment cases give her a lot of satisfaction – she takes them when she is moved by a client’s story. Her complete discretion to take these kind of cases is one of the things she cherishes most about her solo practice. Nevertheless, such cases can be taxing. 

So, when the 9th Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling, and an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine contacted Elena and offered the assistance of their First Amendment experts, pro bono, Elena gladly accepted. The collaboration, according to Elena, has been a very positive experience.

Kudos to Elena for pursuing her passion, and to Davis Wright Tremaine for sharing their expertise  pro bono in support of a cause in which they believe.