Gibbons Fellowship

The Gibbons Fellowship, originally conceived as a five-year commitment, recently celebrated its 28th anniversary. Throughout its history, it has litigated the most significant legal issues of our time – from the death penalty to same-sex marriage, from the rights of detained enemy combatants at Guantánamo and elsewhere (including the right of the public to know about their treatment) to equal funding for education, from the law of domestic violence to the rights of pregnant women, juvenile defendants, persons with AIDS, immigrants and prison inmates, among others.

The Gibbons Fellows, under the longtime direction of Lawrence S. Lustberg, 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. Our United States Supreme Court practice has, in the past several 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.

Notably, since almost immediately after September 11, 2001, the Fellowship has been at the forefront of representing detainees held by the United States at Guantánamo Bay, as well as in locations in this country, and in opposing presidential assertions of unchecked executive power to hold terrorism suspects. The Fellowship, led by firm standard-bearer and former Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals John J. Gibbons, argued Rasul v. Bush in the U.S. Supreme Court, opposing the detention, without judicial review, of the men accused of fighting against American forces in Afghanistan. In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Rasul v. Bush in 2004 in favor of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. Previously, Judge Gibbons served as counsel of record in Williams v. Taylor, successfully arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court for the reversal of the petitioner’s death sentence.

In a more recent high-profile matter before the U.S. Supreme Court, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a constitutional challenge to the University’s affirmative action plan, the Gibbons Fellowship filed an amicus brief on behalf of six nonprofit organizations that advocated for elementary and secondary educational opportunity for poor and minority children. The brief argued, in particular, that the Texas program was important to building “intraracial diversity,” where there is a range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds within represented racial groups. The majority opinion adopted this argument, and the. Court upheld the University’s affirmative action plan; a dissent by Justice Alito specifically sought to address our arguments.

In the lower federal courts, we have spent a great deal of our time litigating a case brought by three victims of CIA torture (including the family of one who died as a result) against the psychologists who were the architects of the torture program. That case settled on the eve of trial on very favorable, albeit confidential, terms. Meanwhile, we have extended our string of successes in Freedom of Information Act cases, with regard to seeking transparency in such areas as gun violence, prisoner treatment, and government-sponsored torture, where our landmark litigation is responsible for much of what the public knows about U.S. abuse of detainees. We continue to represent the innocent who are wrongfully imprisoned, as well as death row inmates, including acting as co-counsel in the first direct appeal of a death sentence in the Third Circuit in a century. We are counsel in several cutting-edge immigration cases, in a significant First Amendment challenge to a New York statute seeking membership lists from nonprofit entities, and in ongoing litigation seeking redress from the profiling of Muslims in New Jersey, among many other matters.

Closer to home, Gibbons was lead counsel in Garden State Equality v. Dow, in which the Superior Court of New Jersey declared unconstitutional the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage and relegation of lesbian/gay couples to civil unions and. In October 2013, same-sex couples in New Jersey began to marry, and the state dropped its appeal of the Superior Court decision – a victory for which the Fellowship been fighting for more than a decade was a reality. The Fellowship had previously drafted an amicus brief on behalf of Garden State Equality in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case in which the U.S. Supreme Court addressed marriage equality.

Also on the state level, we have won significant victories in the New Jersey Supreme Court in a number of noteworthy cases, including cases involving the right to affordable housing, especially given New Jersey’s uniquely segregated housing patterns and the prohibition on the imposition of long sentences against juvenile defendants; in lower courts, we won important cases regarding the admissibility of hearsay in both juvenile criminal and abuse and neglect proceedings. We continue to fight for a strong Citizens Complaint Review Board in Newark, and for progressive legislation that will assure that convicted felons re-enter the community on fair terms, that give them a real chance to succeed in society. Throughout, we continue to be a force for an expansive interpretation of New Jersey’s State Constitution. Of course, these are but examples of our recent activities and successes.

Areas of Focus

Fellowship Application

Gibbons P.C. annually sponsors the nationally recognized John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law and the firm is doing so again for the 2018-2020 time period. Applications are hereby solicited. In order to continue our great tradition, the 2018-2020 Gibbons Fellow should be a person of high academic achievement and professional accomplishment. Preferably, the person selected should have served a judicial clerkship or been actively working in the field of public interest law; only in extraordinary cases will persons who are currently third-year law students be considered for the Fellowship. The Gibbons Fellow must have demonstrated a real commitment to public interest work. The deadline for applications is December 18, 2017, but applications will be considered beginning on November 30, 2017, at which point a Fellow may be chosen based upon the applications already received. At the latest, we anticipate having hired our 2018-2020 Fellow by the end of January 2018.

Fellowship candidates must complete the following application, along with the following:

  1. Law School Transcript;
  2. Two (2) Letters of Recommendation;
  3. Resume; and
  4. Writing Sample.

Please send applications and materials to:

Gibbons P.C.
One Gateway Center
Newark, New Jersey 07102-5310

Attention: Lawrence S. Lustberg, Director, John J. Gibbons Fellowship in Public Interest & Constitutional Law

Click here to view the application for a Gibbons Fellow position for 2018-2020.

Past and Present Fellows

Program Director
Lawrence S. Lustberg

Jessica L. Hunter (2018-2020)
Farbod K. Faraji (2017-2019)
J. David Pollock (2016-2018)
Avram D. Frey (2015-2017)
Ana Isabel Muñoz (2014-2016)
Joseph A. Pace (2013-2015)
Portia D. Pedro (2012-2014)
Benjamin Yaster (2012-2014)
Jonathan M. Manes (2011-2013)
Alicia L. Bannon (2010-2012)
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)