Gibbons Fellowship

Gibbons sponsors the John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law under the guidance of John J. Gibbons, former Chief Judge of the Third Circuit, and Lawrence S. Lustberg, Director of the Gibbons Fellowship Program. The Gibbons Fellows, together with the law firm, undertake public interest and constitutional law projects and litigation. Requests for representation or advice are considered from all sectors, public and private, including public interest organizations, legal services or public defender offices, government agencies, private non-profit corporations, courts and individuals. Working with a broad cross-section of public interest groups, the Fellowship Program has become widely known in New Jersey and nationally as a voice for the poor and underrepresented.

The Fellowship has been and remains involved in the most significant and controversial issues that confront the Federal and State courts today. For example, our expanding United States Supreme Court practice has, in the past few years, included participation in cases challenging the constitutionality of Megan’s law; defining reasonable suspicion for purposes of a border stop; addressing the constitutionality of a Congressional restriction on the types of arguments that can be made by grantees of the Legal Services Corporation; and attacking the constitutionality of state residency requirements for the receipt of public assistance. The Fellowship also argued a critical case that defined the scope of federal courts' review of state court judgments under the federal habeas statute, as amended by the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

In the United States Courts of Appeals, the Fellowship has filed amicus briefs in, for example, cases concerning the reach of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrance Act; the constitutionality of restrictions on law student practice; and the availability of Section 1983 as a vehicle to enforce federal civil rights statutes. In an important case of first impression, the Fellowship was appointed by the Third Circuit to brief and argue the legality of a defendants' waiver of all appeals of his death sentence. Most recently, the Fellowship has represented the press in one of two cases challenging the Attorney General’s decision to close deportation proceedings to the public for detainees arrested in the wake of 9/11, raising issues that may well be heading to the Supreme Court.

In the District Courts, we have obtained a preliminary injunction against the disbursement of funds by the Louisiana Governor’s Program on Abstinence, on Establishment Clause grounds, and are representing, for example, a class of children seeking appropriate testing and placement for special education, two inmates in a challenge to the conditions at a county jail and a number of domestic workers in Fair Labor Standards Act cases. We have recently represented minority contractors who intervened in a suit to defend New Jersey's affirmative action program in the casino industry, and litigated individual cases and class actions on behalf of diabetic and HIV-positive inmates, the former recently resulting in a significant settlement, and the latter in a consent decree that guarantees inmates medical care in accordance with prevailing medical standards.

In the New Jersey courts, the Fellowship has continued to pay a critical role in a wide range of cases presenting issues of cutting edge legal importance and broad significance to the public. The Fellowship has acted as one of several lead counsel challenging racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike; has long been an advocate for poor, inner city students in the landmark Abbott v. Burke school finance litigation; and has represented battered and low-income women in cases concerning domestic violence, criminal prosecution of pregnant women for injuries to their unborn fetuses, and denial of welfare to children in families already receiving welfare. The Fellowship continues to be a significant presence in the area of criminal procedure in general, and particularly in cases addressing the constitutionality and proportionality of the death penalty, both in general and as applied. Currently, we represent death row inmates both in New Jersey and in Alabama.

Unlike traditional legal services projects or law firm pro bono programs, the Fellowship Program is able to tackle public interest issues of major importance and to provide the resources and continuity of personnel to pursue projects to conclusion. The Gibbons Fellowship is also unique among fellowship programs in the breadth of legal issues addressed. The Program brings together the experience and knowledge of Judge Gibbons and Mr. Lustberg, the dedication and talent of Fellowship recipients, and the professional resources and experience of Gibbons P.C. Centered in Newark, New Jersey, the Fellowship Program is an ideal vehicle to address urban issues, individual rights and social concerns.

Click here for the Application for Gibbons Fellow for 2015-2017.

Program Director
Lawrence S. Lustberg

Eileen M. Connor (2009-2011)
Jennifer B. Condon (2008-2010)
Avidan Y. Cover (2007-2009)
Melanca D. Clark (2006-2008)
Emily B. Goldberg (2005-2007)
Megan Lewis (2004-2006)
Gitanjali S. Gutierrez (2003-2005)
Jonathan L. Hafetz (2003-2005)
Jennifer Ching (2002-2004)
Shavar D. Jeffries (2001-2003)
Philip G. Gallagher (2001-2003)
Risa E. Kaufman (2000-2002)
Jessica A. Roth (1999-2001)
Lori Outz Borgen (1998-2000)
David Thronson (1997-1999)
Laura Klein Abel (1996-1998)
James E. Ryan (1995-1997)
Lenora M. Lapidus (1994-1996)
Jonathan Romberg (1993-1995)
Elizabeth B. Cooper (1992-1994)
John V. Jacobi (1991-1993)
Lawrence S. Lustberg (1990-1992)

Overview of Matters Handled by the Gibbons Fellowship Program 1990-2003

Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law Published Opinions

John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law: Year in Review (2007-08)