In the Public Interest

WilmerHale

From international human rights and reproductive rights to cryptocurrency, the environment and beyond, this podcast explores the legal and policy challenges capturing the public interest. WilmerHale law firm Partner Felicia Ellsworth, Vice Chair of the firm's Litigation Department, provides a front-row seat to the events making headlines. In each episode, she passes the mic to those with unique perspectives on the most challenging issues of the day. read less
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Season 4

Season 3

A Very Merry Trademark Battle
Dec 20 2022
A Very Merry Trademark Battle
In 2021, Mariah Carey’s company Lotion LLC applied to register the trademark “Queen of Christmas” for future use on a vast range of products, including music, perfume, sunglasses and coconut milk. Elizabeth Chan, a singer and songwriter who exclusively writes and sings holiday music, filed an opposition to block Carey’s registration in August 2022. Chan herself had been dubbed the “Queen of Christmas” by the media in 2014 and has embraced and used the title ever since, including publishing a “Queen of Christmas” album.In this episode, co-host and Partner Felicia Ellsworth is joined by Chan, along with fellow Partner Louis Tompros and former Associate Hailey Cherepon to discuss their experience working with Chan on her successful opposition to Carey’s attempted trademark registration. Tompros is an intellectual property litigator who has handled some of the most challenging patent, trademark and copyright matters for high-profile clients in technology, manufacturing and entertainment. Along with Tompros and Cherepon, the WilmerHale team who represented Chan included Partners Kevin Prussia and John Hobgood.Chan shares the story of her journey to becoming a full-time Christmas songwriter and singer. Later in the episode, Tompros breaks down the intricacies of opposing a trademark registration and how WilmerHale helped Chan clear the path for herself—but more importantly, for others—to freely use the title “Queen of Christmas.”
Reproductive Rights in the Post-Dobbs Era
Feb 7 2023
Reproductive Rights in the Post-Dobbs Era
In June 2022, the US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, reversing Roe v. Wade and holding that the US constitution no longer includes a right to abortion. The Court’s decision left states with full authority to regulate – or eliminate -- abortion access. In Season Two of In the Public Interest, WilmerHale Partner Kim Parker spoke with Helene Krasnoff, Vice President of Public Policy, Litigation and Law at Planned Parenthood, to preview the potential outcomes in Dobbs and their potential impact on reproductive rights in the United States. Parker is vice chair of the firm’s Litigation and Controversy Department and has represented Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers in a number of legal challenges. She also serves as co-chair of WilmerHale’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee.In this follow-up episode, In the Public Interest welcomes back Parker and Krasnoff, along with Dr. Kristina Tocce from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, to revisit the status of reproductive rights in the US, post-Dobbs. Parker, Krasnoff and Dr. Tocce discuss the legislation and litigation across the US that has resulted from the Court’s decision in Dobbs, including so-called “trigger bans” in place in a number of states. Krasnoff and Dr. Tocce share their perspectives on the burdens placed on patients seeking abortion care in states where abortion is now banned and how these burdens also impact other patients who live in states where abortion access is protected. And they discuss how a federal abortion ban, if enacted, would impact abortion access in the US.
Justice Overdue: Reinvestigating the Murder of Malcolm X
Mar 7 2023
Justice Overdue: Reinvestigating the Murder of Malcolm X
In late February of 1965, Malcolm X was murdered at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York. In the days after the famous civil rights leader’s assassination, three men were arrested and charged with his murder. All three men were later convicted on those charges, despite testimony that two of those men, Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam, were innocent. In the years since, Aziz and Islam steadfastly maintained their innocence, and in 2020, The Innocence Project took up their case. Nearly five decades later, Aziz and Islam were exonerated in November 2021, after The Innocence Project successfully urged Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. to reinvestigate the case.In this episode, In the Public Interest co-host John Walsh invites WilmerHale Partner April Williams to share the story of her involvement in The Innocence Project’s efforts to exonerate Aziz and Islam. Williams focuses her practice on complex civil and criminal litigation and maintains an active pro bono practice, including her work with a team of WilmerHale lawyers supporting The Innocence Project on this case. Vanessa Potkin, director of special litigation at The Innocence Project, joins Walsh and Williams for an in-depth discussion of The Innocence Project’s work to exonerate the two men. Walsh, Williams and Potkin revisit the political tensions swirling around the time of Malcolm X’s murder and the specific events leading up to his assassination on the afternoon of February 21, 1965. They discuss the thorny legal issues involved in seeking to overturn a decades-old conviction and how a newly discovered evidence law in New York formed the legal grounds that ultimately led to Aziz and Islam’s official exoneration. The episode wraps up with Potkin sharing how racial disparities in the criminal justice system are also borne out in wrongful convictions, with Black individuals making up nearly half of known exonerations.
Climate-Proofing Our Infrastructure: Building Climate Resilience with the Army Corps of Engineers
Jun 6 2023
Climate-Proofing Our Infrastructure: Building Climate Resilience with the Army Corps of Engineers
Reports of climate-related disaster have made headlines across the country, from flooding in California to record-breaking heatwaves in the Pacific Northwest and all manner of extreme weather in between. These phenomena seem to be happening more frequently and more intensely as climate change continues to advance. In ways large and small, we’re all being forced to adapt to a new normal—and this episode’s guest on In the Public Interest is more familiar with these changes than most. In this episode, co-host John Walsh welcomes Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and former partner in WilmerHale’s Denver office. During his time at WilmerHale, Connor’s practice focused on natural resources, energy development and Native American law. Before joining WilmerHale, Connor held an array of high-level positions in the Obama Administration. Connor talks through the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program’s efforts navigating and maintaining our waterways and engaging in flood risk reduction. He shares about the program’s important role on the front lines of the federal government’s response to climate change. Walsh and Connor also discuss how we can prepare the country’s infrastructure for our uncertain climate future and how the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program is working to build “climate resilience” into the next generation of American infrastructure.
Season Three Wrap-Up
Oct 17 2023
Season Three Wrap-Up
Season three of the firm’s podcast, In the Public Interest, covered real-time historic moments in American politics and jurisprudence and shared remarkable individual stories at the center of significant legal cases WilmerHale has handled. In each episode, co-hosts John Walsh and Felicia Ellsworth invited guests to share their unique perspectives on the most pressing legal and policy challenges capturing the public interest.As season three comes to an end, join co-hosts Felicia Ellsworth and John Walsh as they chat about this season’s episodes and look back on notable moments from season three. They discuss the season three Supreme Court miniseries focused on the most consequential and interesting decisions recently issued by the United States Supreme Court. Ellsworth and Walsh also talk about what listeners can look forward to when In the Public Interest returns for a fourth season. Season Three Episodes: A Very Merry Trademark BattleReproductive Rights in the Post-Dobbs EraJustice Overdue: Reinvestigating the Murder of Malcolm XA Ukrainian Perspective on Russia-Related SanctionsLeaders in Law: Preet BhararaClimate-Proofing Our Infrastructure: Building Climate Resilience with the Army Corps of Engineers     Supreme Court Miniseries: Zero Spoof WhiskeySupreme Court Miniseries: Tribal Rights in the 21st CenturySupreme Court Miniseries: The 303 Creative Case and First Amendment Challenges to Civil Rights LawsSupreme Court Miniseries: Religious Accommodation at Work Supreme Court Miniseries: Drawing the Line on the Independent State Legislature Theory

Season 2

Reproductive Rights at a Crossroads
Mar 18 2022
Reproductive Rights at a Crossroads
In the Public Interest welcomes Partner Kim Parker, who speaks with Helene Krasnoff, the Vice President of Public Policy Litigation & Law at Planned Parenthood, and Dr. Amna Dermish from Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive healthcare services in the United States and around the world. The organization has also been a key player in challenging laws that restrict abortion rights and access in the United States.Their discussion focuses on two recent US Supreme Court cases with major implications for reproductive rights: Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, a case that challenges a Texas law that bans abortion once cardiac activity is detectable in the pregnancy, typically at 6 weeks, and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that involves a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, with Mississippi also asking the Court to overturn longstanding precedents like Roe vs. Wade, which would then potentially allow states to ban all abortions.Parker is the vice chair of WilmerHale’s Litigation/Controversy Department and co-chair of the firm’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee. Parker has represented Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers in numerous legal challenges over the past 20 years. In the Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, Parker and a team of WilmerHale lawyers helped several leading medical organizations file a brief in support of Jackson Women’s Health, arguing that access to abortion is a critical part of reproductive healthcare.At Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Krasnoff leads a team of attorneys who challenge attempts to restrict access to reproductive health care, advise Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country about the legal issues raised by such attempts, and assist with PPFA’s efforts to influence state and federal legislation in order to improve access to reproductive health services. She has been with PPFA since 2000 and has been in a lead counsel, co-counsel, or supervisory position in dozens of challenges at every level of the state and federal courts to laws and policies that limit the availability of reproductive health care services. She has also worked with members and staff on Capitol Hill on many pieces of legislation, including the Affordable Care Act.Dr. Dermish is a board certified OB/GYN with fellowship training in Complex Family Planning. She received her medical degree from the University of Colorado, followed by residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and fellowship training at the University of Utah, where she also completed a master's degree in Clinical Investigation. Dr. Dermish is currently the Regional Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas where she also provides abortion care and oversees their transgender healthcare services, including gender affirming hormone therapy. Her clinical and research interests are in addressing barriers to accessing reproductive and sexual healthcare.Related Resources: Brief amici curiae of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, et al. What you need to know about Texas’ new abortion ban effective Sept. 1, 2021 (SB 8) (Planned Parenthood)SCOTUSblog: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s...
Environmental Defender Romina Picolotti on Climate Justice and Human Rights
Apr 28 2022
Environmental Defender Romina Picolotti on Climate Justice and Human Rights
In the Public Interest welcomes renowned environmental activist and former Argentine Secretary of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Romina Picolotti, who speaks with WilmerHale Senior Associate Kelsey Quigley and Counsel Jessica Lutkenhaus. This episode focuses on the important intersection of climate justice and human rights, and highlights the work of environmental defenders around the world—and the threats that they sometimes face. Picolotti has filed a claim before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, challenging Argentina’s criminal prosecution of her for a crime that she did not commit, and which she alleges is politically motivated and filed in retaliation for her groundbreaking environmental justice efforts. The case has been stagnating in Argentine courts for nearly 15 years, and is just one example of how judicial and criminal processes around the world have sometimes been used to threaten and intimidate environmental defenders—at a time when their work fighting the climate crisis is ever more important. Quigley and Lutkenhaus are two of the lawyers on Picolotti’s WilmerHale legal team, which also includes Partner David Bowker and Associate Courtney Murray, who both deserve special thanks for their work on this case.Quigley focuses her practice on representing individuals and corporations involved in investigations, enhancing regulatory compliance, and complex litigation/controversies. She is part of the firm’s globally renowned litigation team, and is active in pro bono matters involving human rights and critical issues related to Latin America. Lutkenhaus represents corporations and individuals in criminal defense and civil and government regulatory litigation matters, and has substantial experience in government and internal investigations. Lutkenhaus was selected as WilmerHale’s 2019 Pickering fellow and spent six months at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). She also represents pro bono clients in various matters, including one alleging numerous violations of the American Convention for Human Rights.Related Resources:Report on the Misuse of Criminal Justice Systems to Retaliate Against Environmental DefendersInforme sobre el uso indebido de sistemas de justicia penal para tomar represalias contra los defensoras y defensores del ambientePetition Alleging Violations of the Human Rights of Environmental Defender Romina Picolotti by the Republic of ArgentinaPetición...
Supporting Our Veterans
May 30 2022
Supporting Our Veterans
In honor of those who serve our country, WilmerHale’s In the Public Interest podcast is proud to highlight our nation’s veterans and the work being done by the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). WilmerHale has had the privilege of assisting former members of the United States Armed Forces who apply for combat-related disability services.We are first joined by Rochelle Bobroff, director of NVLSP’s pro bono program Lawyers Serving Warriors®, to discuss the impactful work being done to help veterans. The NVLSP is a national nonprofit organization that has worked since 1981 to ensure that the government delivers to our nation's 22 million veterans and active duty personnel the benefits to which they are entitled because of disabilities resulting from their military service. The NVLSP has been able to support hundreds of veterans in securing vital benefits.We are then joined by Rob, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, and WilmerHale Partner Amy Doberman, who worked on his case. While Doberman has more than 25 years of experience in securities and financial services, she has also dedicated her practice to working with veterans and helping them apply for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). Rob served as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps for 12 years, including during the war in Afghanistan. He was medically retired in 2019 after sustaining serious injuries in the line of duty and was able to secure CRSC with the help of Doberman and the NVLSP. Before his retirement, Rob was stationed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he served three tours of duty between 2009 and 2013.Related Resources:Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) ProgramNational Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP)