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Covington Achieves SCOTUS Success in Pro Bono Case

May 25, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2010 — Covington & Burling LLP achieved a favorable result for its client in the U.S. Supreme Court in Robertson v. U.S. ex rel. Watson, a case that questioned whether it is constitutional to allow a victim of domestic violence to bring a criminal contempt proceeding for violation of a protective order. Covington’s Robert Long presented oral argument in the case, which was decided on May 24. This was Mr. Long’s second victory this term in the Supreme Court. Mr. Long, who heads Covington’s appellate practice, has argued 16 cases before the Court.

Although the Robertson case extended over more than a decade, Covington got involved as pro bono counsel for the victim of the domestic violence after the high court granted the petition for certiorari and re-framed the issue in a way that suggested the Court was poised to rule against the victim. Making Covington’s assignment even more challenging, the Solicitor General’s Office reversed the government’s position on a key issue in the case. Solicitor General Elena Kagan argued the case on behalf of the U.S. Covington argued that the case should be dismissed as “improvidently granted,” and in a 5-4 vote, the Court agreed, leaving the D.C. Court of Appeals’ decision in favor of Covington’s client as the final decision in the case.

Covington litigation associates Ted Metzler, Mark Mosier, Greg Rubio, and David Zionts* assisted Mr. Long on the case. Also on the pro bono team were partner Emin Toro and of counsel Jonathan Marcus.

*Not yet admitted to practice.

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