We are proud that four of the Cincinnati Enquirer’s 20 top stories from the last decade include Gerhardstein & Branch clients.
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur’s case was a story of love. John and Jim came to us in 2015, while John was in his final months of his life. The couple legally married in Maryland, Ohio refused to recognize their marriage. The last record of John’s life – his death certificate – would be wrong, listing him as “single” and leaving no trace of his twenty-year loving relationship with Jim Obergefell. Jim and John chose to share their final days together with the world by suing to win recognition of their marriage. Their case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in the establishment of a fundamental right to same-sex marriage equality nationwide. A book by Jim Obergefell and Debbie Cenziper, “Love Wins,” chronicles Jim and John’s life and this historic case, and places the struggle in the context of Gerhardstein & Branch’s many other LGBT rights cases.
The shooting of Sam DuBose was not the first or last shooting of an unarmed Black man by a white law enforcement officer. From the beginning, Sam’s family insisted his death should result in improvement of the UC police department. We helped them make that goal a reality: the University now has a model law enforcement agency led by a creative Chief, Maris Herold. A memorial to Sam now sits in a prominent place on the UC campus. His memorial will help keep the origin of the reforms in focus. The family was disappointed that two criminal trials failed to result in a conviction for officer Tensing, but still hopes the U.S. Justice Department will pursue the matter.
The tragedy of Kyle Plush’s needless death is still unfolding. Kyle’s family has heroically led a national movement to upgrade 9-1-1 agencies. Their Kyle Plush Answer the Call Foundation has already reached 9-1-1 workers in more than 70 locations. We are seeking reforms here in Cincinnati through the family’s lawsuit, as a way to ensure 9-1-1 calls in Cincinnati will receive the immediate and accurate response they need.
In November 2010, the Hamilton County Board of Elections would not count provisional ballots of voters who voted in the race for Juvenile Court Judge. We sued the BOE to force them to count all the provisional votes that were cast in the wrong precinct. After 18 months of litigation, a three-week trial, and many appeals, the BOE was ordered to count the previously rejected provisional ballots. After the recount, Tracie Hunter won the race by just over 70 votes. Her case led the way for all provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be counted in future elections. Tracie Hunter was the County’s first Black woman and the first Democrat elected to the Juvenile Court bench. She ushered in reforms that were unpopular with the establishment. We represented her for the last nine years, joining her criminal defense team, fighting an unjust conviction, advocating for her early release from jail, and working to clear her name.
We at G&B have always approached our work as serving clients with causes, not cases, and we hope the last decade of efforts have improved life in our community by making government accountable to the rule of law. Our ideals demand no less.
Al Gerhardstein and Jennifer Branch December 31, 2019