NLJ Interviews Pro Bono Partner Steven Schulman on SCOTUS Cert Denial in Samantar, a Victory for Firm Clients

The National Law Journal, in its article “Q&A: Akin Gump Partner Secures Justice for Somalis,” interviewed Akin Gump pro bono partner Steven Schulman on the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of review of an appeal by former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Samantar.

Akin Gump has represented, pro bono, four Somali citizens who had sued Samantar for human rights abuses, including torture and war crimes, committed by him in his capacity as Somalia’s one-time prime minister and minister of defense.

Regarding the day a federal judge in Virginia awarded the $21 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the four firm clients, Schulman said, “In my nearly 21-year career I’ve never had a more profound moment than sitting in the court—having Samantar stand there, the second most powerful man in the country…No amount of money could bring back their family members or replace what happened to them, and no verdict could correct everything that happened to them, but at least they felt like they had some power and that justice had prevailed—that Samantar wasn’t going to get away with this.”

On the topic of the impact that the Samantar case will have on other lawsuits against foreign government officials for comparable crimes, he said, “Obtaining immunity has become more difficult now for war criminals here in the United States. The State Department has shown an appetite for making sure that war criminals are not found to be immune, and it’s not giving out immunity for people who conducted themselves like Samantar did.”

To read more about these latest developments in the Samantar case, please click here.