Akin Gump Pro Bono Victory Ensures Continued Access to Food for Homeless in Dallas

An Akin Gump pro bono team headed by Dallas partner Scott Barnard, working in conjunction with The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, secured a victory in a Dallas courtroom that allows religious organizations to continue feeding the city’s homeless on its streets.

The Dallas Morning News, in its story “Federal judge rules that Dallas’ homeless feeding ordinance violates ministries’ religious freedoms,” reports that U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis found that the city’s Food Ordinance violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, thereby ending a six-year legal struggle between the city and Rip Parker Memorial Homeless Ministry and Big Heart Ministries.

Barnard said that this outcome is “particularly moving coming as it does on the eve of Good Friday and Easter.”  He added that his clients are “excited about getting back to sharing food with the homeless,” noting that “relief organizations throughout the city can continue to provide critical services to its most vulnerable residents.”

Akin Gump counsel Lizzy Scott, who, along with fellow counsel Andrew Newman, worked on this matter, says that their clients continued serving the homeless even during litigation, although police efforts did rein in their efforts.  She notes, “As recently as last Sunday one of our clients was out sharing food with the homeless near downtown, and he was told he wasn’t allowed to do it in the Central Business District. Now he’s very excited to get back to the ministry.”

Barnard says that the judge also awarded attorneys’ fees to his clients, even though the Akin Gump team worked pro bono.  That money will go to charity.