Panel Shines Light on Lawsuit Challenging Failure to Investigate Sexual Assault Cases in Austin

Travis County law enforcement and prosecutors have been the focus of national attention for the low rate at which cases of sexual assault are prosecuted. The Richard and Ginni Mithoff Pro Bono Program recently hosted “Suing for Justice: Challenging Failure to Investigate Sexual Assault Cases in Austin” to shine a spotlight on the issue and the efforts of attorneys to address it.

The event panel featured Thompson & Knight attorneys Jennifer Ecklund and Elizabeth Myers, who represent female survivors of sexual assault in civil rights litigation challenging the failure to investigate and prosecute sexual assault crimes in Austin. Ecklund and Myers described the facts underlying the case and explained the legal claims they have asserted and the current posture of the case as well as how they became involved.

“This case caught my attention from a pro bono perspective because, while fee recovery is potentially available, it was clear from the media coverage that the lawyers took this case on as a personal commitment. I saw the case as an atypical pro bono case, and this event allowed our students to learn about a different model for doing pro bono within a law firm,” said Andrea Marsh, Mithoff Program Director. “The case also involves innovative civil rights claims brought on behalf of a group of plaintiffs that includes UT students and is relevant to our students as future lawyers and as members of the Austin and University communities.”