Lawyer in Intelligent-Design Case Leaves Pepper to Form Own Firm

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey

Earlier this year, Harvey represented the parents of 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan and 11-year-old Javier Acosta, two children who needed new lungs. Given their ages, the children were effectively unable to get lungs donated by an adult because the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network has a policy that divides the organ-transplant waiting list between adults and children. Patients under 12 years old are only eligible to receive organs from the pool of adult organs after those organs have been offered to and declined by all adult and adolescent patients in a geographic zone.

Harvey led a team of lawyers from Pepper Hamilton that filed lawsuits challenging the rule and obtained temporary restraining orders on behalf of the children from U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In 2005, Harvey was co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, in which U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled intelligent design is a religious proposition that cannot be presented in public-school science class as an alternative to evolution.

Similarly to the Kitzmiller case, Harvey recently filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court for the November arguments it heard in Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway, dealing with whether a town legislative body can have sectarian prayers at the start of meetings.

Harvey said he plans to continue to work on civil rights cases, but noted he brings the same focus to all his clients' matters.

Pepper Hamilton litigation partner Eric Rothschild is a longtime friend of Harvey and has worked with him on commercial litigation cases as well as both the intelligent design and lung transplant matters.

Rothschild said the organ transplant case was the perfect example of Harvey's great lawyering and organizational abilities. The team got the case five days before the TRO hearing, Rothschild said.

"When you start a case like that ... as you start the process, it seems like pushing a boulder up this really high mountain that seems daunting and intimidating and almost makes you wonder whether you should do it or could do it," Rothschild said.

But by the time the hearing rolled around, Rothschild said, it felt like they were "running downhill."

"To be able to do all that and sort of marshal the forces, to be able to do that, that to me was extraordinary lawyering," Rothschild said. "It happened to be in a pro bono case, but it's sort of representative of his strength" in all matters.

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