Four Chicago-Kent Students Honored for Criminal Law Clinic Work
Four Chicago-Kent College of Law students have been honored for helping to successfully petition for the compassionate release of an elderly inmate who was afraid of contracting COVID-19 while in federal custody.
The four students—Monica Pechous ’20, Isabella Romano ’21, Clayburn Arnold ’21, and Emily Motin ’22—received the 2021 Fleischman Family Awards for Excellence in Criminal Clinic for their diligent work in Chicago-Kent’s Criminal Law Clinic.
The recognition comes for the students' work on one case in particular. As a team, they helped petition for the compassionate release of a man from a federal facility in Duluth, Minnesota.
The surrounding county had a large COVID-19 outbreak, and the 66-year-old man, who has high blood pressure, became concerned. Though he still had 5½ years left to serve on his 14-year sentence, the judge allowed a supervisory release. The case concluded in late 2020.
“The [client] got a real dream team,” says Clinical Professor Richard Kling, who directs the clinic.
“When giving recommendations, I always ask, are these people I would hire? Each one of them absolutely fit the bill,” Kling adds. “These four folks, they were spectacular. They had initiative, they worked tirelessly. They’re supposed to put in 16 hours a week, and I frequently had to kick them out after 20–25 hours.”
Before coming to Chicago-Kent, Pechous earned bachelor’s degrees in business administration and communication studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. At Chicago-Kent she served as a research assistant in the Institute for Science, Law, and Technology, was a member of the Chicago-Kent Law Review and Moot Court Honor Society, and won first place in five writing competitions.
In addition to working in the criminal defense litigation clinic, Pechous also completed externships with the Chicago Park District Law Department, the Circuit Court of Cook County Chancery Division, and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. She recently passed the Missouri bar exam and will be working as an associate at Tucker Ellis LLP in St. Louis.
Romano came to Chicago-Kent after receiving degrees in political science and sociology from Boston University. During law school she completed internships at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender and the Federal Defender Program. Upon graduation, she will practice civil and criminal litigation.
Arnold moved to Chicago for law school after receiving his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Dallas. Upon graduation, Arnold hopes to work in criminal defense. In addition to Chicago-Kent’s Criminal Defense Clinic, he had interned with the John Howard Association, which monitors Illinois state prisons and advocates for better conditions, and also at the Hamilton Law Office, advocating for victims of police brutality and misconduct.
Motin earned a master’s degree in literary and cultural studies with a focus in legal culture from Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to Chicago-Kent’s Criminal Defense Clinic, she interned at Mason Pollick & Schmahl LLC, a Chicago-based business litigation firm, and competed in the Phi Alpha Delta P.A.D. Law School Mock Trial Competition, where her team reached fourth place nationally. She will work over the summer at a general practice firm in Park Ridge, Illinois.
Brothers Jack and Sidney Z. Fleischman, both 1987 Chicago-Kent graduates, established the Fleischman Family Awards to recognize outstanding second- or third-year law students who have excelled in the Criminal Law Clinic and have shown dedication to the Criminal Defense Litigation Program. The awards are made at the end of each academic year and include a cash stipend that varies year to year.
The Fleischmans are partners in their own criminal defense firm, Fleischman & Fleischman, in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Florida. Both participated in the Criminal Law Clinic while attending Chicago-Kent.