Jayne E. Fleming is Pro Bono Counsel to Reed Smith where she leads the firm's Human Rights Team, comprised of more than 100 lawyers.
Jayne has represented torture survivors and asylum seekers from every continent and has extensive experience working with traumatized children who have suffered violence, displacement and family separation. She has handled and supervised dozens of asylum cases. Many of Jayne's cases have helped move the law forward in the area of gender-based violence. Some of her most significant cases include:
In Garcia-Martinez v. Ashcroft (2004), Jayne convinced the Ninth Circuit that the systematic rape of women during the Guatemalan civil war was not merely criminal conduct, but a weapon of war used for political purposes. Given the political context, women survivors were entitled to assert asylum claims. Human rights experts hailed the court’s decision as an important victory for all women.
In January 2006, Jayne represented an Albanian teen who was held hostage for a month, subjected to daily rapes, and “prepared” for sex trafficking. The court said the attempted trafficking was a “personal” matter rather than a sociopolitical issue. After launching a national advocacy campaign supported by several human rights organizations, Jayne successfully mediated the case in the Second Circuit.
In April 2006, Jayne represented a Congolese woman imprisoned for six weeks and subjected to daily rapes. The Fifth Circuit had rejected her appeal on the ground that her torture was not politically motivated. Jayne filed a motion to reopen based on new evidence, and she launched an advocacy campaign with the help of several human rights organizations. This campaign led to thousands of letters reaching the desk of then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. Shortly thereafter, the government joined in Jayne’s motion, and the client ultimately received asylum.
In 2007, Jayne represented a Honduran woman, who was subjected to child abuse and gang violence. Well aware that winning the case would be an uphill battle, Jayne flew to Honduras to meet with experts, wrote multiple briefs and declarations, and devoted hundreds of hours to witness interviews. The client was ultimately granted asylum on humanitarian grounds.
In 2009, she won asylum for a 17-year old girl from Guatemala who was persecuted on account of her indigenous origin. She also achieved stipulated resolution in a case on behalf of a 16-year old client from Guatemala who was subjected to extreme family violence and sexual abuse. In these cases and others, Fleming was able to provide the U.S. courts with essential evidence by flying in experts from on-the-ground relief agencies in other countries, such as the Center for Women’s Rights, which works directly with the most at-risk women and children in Honduras.
In 2010, Jayne also won a significant asylum case in San Francisco Immigration Court on behalf of an 11-year-old girl, who had fled Honduras at the age of seven with her cousin, when their family had been targeted for death by gangs. These cases are traditionally hard to win, because of circuit court precedent that says that resistance to gang recruitment is not a basis for asylum.
In 2011, she won four more cases, gaining protection for a teenage boy from Honduras, who was subjected to extreme sexual exploitation; securing safety for an HIV-positive woman, who was subjected to extreme domestic violence and abuse; preventing the deportation of a woman from Liberia, who suffered domestic violence and abuse; and winning asylum for a gay man from Morocco, who feared prosecution for refusing to hide his sexual orientation.
In 2012, Jayne won asylum for a gay man from Guinea who was subjected to a public stoning after he rejected a forced marriage and came out about his homosexual status. She also won asylum for a domestic violence survivor from Honduras, and she achieved victories for two asylum seekers who suffered sexual violence in Haiti.
In 2013, Jayne maintained her winning streak by securing asylum victories for a man from Syria.
She and her team have also been on the cutting-edge of the numerous ICE detention issues making the headlines, representing the mother of an HIV-positive asylum seeker who died in ICE detention because he was wrongfully denied access to his medication and other adequate medical treatment.
Jayne has spearheaded multiple efforts to alleviate the poverty and suffering of indigent survivors of the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake Haiti, which, to this day, has left hundreds of thousands of victims without shelter or adequate food or medical care. Fleming and her team have sent sub-teams on fact-finding missions into displacement camps, developed expert reports on Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and the urgent need for medical care, taken survivors to medical clinics, brought infants and children in for pediatric care, found shelter for more than two dozen high-risk families, and lined up emergency care for elders in critical condition. Fleming has personally traveled to Haiti 22 times since the earthquake, and plans to lead further delegations there in the near future.
In 2011, Jayne led Reed Smith teams in filing four Humanitarian Parole (HP) applications (all successful) with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, thereby permitting the evacuation of four vulnerable women and seven children from Haiti to the U.S. All four cases involved sexual violence and torture. Partnering with key national and international organizations has proved essential to the success of Reed Smith’s applications.
In 2012-13, Jayne and her team partnered with UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, in successfully petitioning the Canadian government for the emergency relocation of 13 vulnerable women and 24 children from Haiti under the Canadian Resettlement Program (RST). Additionally, her team successfully petitioned the U.S. government to grant permanent asylum to two women and six children from Haiti. And her team won humanitarian parole for a 9 year old rape victim and orphan. Presently, Jayne's team has filed pending applications for another eight women and fourteen children from Haiti.
She is also representing one woman and three children, who are seeking remuneration from the UN via a MINUSTAH Disciplinary Action. Promoting awareness and activism on the crisis of SGBV, while protecting the privacy and safety of her clients has, at times, been a significant challenge. In late 2010, in response to a rise in unethical reporting of sexual violence against women and children, Jayne organized a Working Group on Media Protocols on Sexual Gender-Based Violence in Haiti in Support of UN Campaign to Eliminate Violence against Women.
Working with Haitian reporters, the Haitian Ministry of Women, the head of the French Press Agency in Haiti, and more than twenty NGOs focused on the protection of women and girls, Jayne and lawyers from Reed Smith’s U.S. and European offices drafted a report describing the key international and national guidelines relating to the topic and highlighted best codes of practice with reference to specific jurisdictions. This report was supplemented by the recommendations arising out of a roundtable discussion held by a panel of media experts in London.
In December 2011, Reed Smith lawyers went to Haiti to run a conference on the topic of SGBV, in partnership with SOS Journalists, a coalition of Haitian journalists. More than 50 people attended, and speakers included the new Minister for Women, a Haitian Judge and Prosecutor, as well as representatives from the World Bank, BAI, MADRE and Digital Democracy. Attendees agreed that there is a need for guidelines specific to SGBV. Lobbying is now also under way for the insertion of a section on ethical reporting specific to this in the new Code of Ethics for journalists in Haiti, which was released by UNESCO in the same week as the conference.
Recognizing that Haiti’s anti-rape laws were only recently enacted and are rarely enforced, Jayne, other Reed Smith lawyers, and attorneys from three other firms have also been working with the Thomson Reuters Foundation and MADRE to help strengthen existing rape laws and their implementation in Haiti, with the aim of providing better support to rape survivors and increasing the likelihood of prosecutions.
In January 2012, this coalition produced a detailed comprehensive report on the subject, published by TrustLaw, a Thomson Reuters Foundation service, entitled “Achieving Justice for Victims of Rape and Advancing Women’s Rights.”
In 2011, Reed Smith also launched a project with Lawyer’s Without Borders (LWOB) to create an illustrated graphic novel in Creole and English aimed at educating target audiences about SGBV in Haiti, including domestic violence and gang rapes in camps. This for-all-ages book will assist women and children in Haitian camps understand their rights in relation to sexual violence as well as providing them with practical and verified (by Reed Smith lawyers in trips to Haiti) information on sources of help. Reed Smith lawyers continue to work in Haiti with grass roots groups, MADRE and with UNHCR to ensure the comic will be as helpful as possible to victims.
Furthermore, in 2010, Jayne independently established the non-profit Patricia Fleming Foundation (named in honor of her Mother) to raise funds privately to help clients and their families survive. She has raised over $265,000 and all of the funds are used to provide safe shelter and medical care to at-risk women and children in Haiti.