Jayne is Pro Bono Counsel to Reed Smith, where she leads the firm's Human Rights Team, which comprises more than 100 lawyers firm-wide.
Jayne has represented torture survivors and asylum seekers from throughout the world, and she has extensive experience working with traumatized children who have suffered violence, displacement, and family separation. She has handled and supervised dozens of asylum cases, and many of these have helped move the law forward in the area of gender-based violence.
Jayne’s human rights work extends far beyond the United States, and over the past decade, she has developed human rights projects in two of the most challenging regions in the world: Haiti and the Middle East.
In April 2016, Jayne and the Middle East team also began developing a project to serve refugees stranded on the Greek islands.
The following represent some of Jayne’s most significant asylum cases:
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 also 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, Jayne won asylum for a 17-year-old girl from Guatemala who was persecuted because 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, Jayne 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 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 torture survivor from Syria and another client from Haiti. She also successfully represented 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 also obtained humanitarian parole for a young man gang-raped in 2011 in Haiti by UN peacekeepers from Uruguay, allowing him to re-settle in the United States and receive much-needed psychological care.
In 2014, Jayne rallied more than a hundred doctors, lawyers, aid workers, and government officials in three nations to help a young Honduran mother and her 2-year-old child obtain life-saving medical care after they’d been injured on the so-called “train of death” in Mexico.
By the end of 2014, Jayne’s Reed Smith Haiti team and its partners had evacuated 60 women and child victims of violence in Haiti to safety in the United States. To date, Jayne and the pro bono team at Reed Smith have brought 63 individual Haitian clients to permanent safety in the United States and Canada.
In January 2015, Jayne launched a new humanitarian protection project in the Middle East to identify refugees who have suffered persecution or torture, and relocate them to places where they may heal and restart their lives. Currently, 31 Reed Smith lawyers and five paralegals in 11 offices across three continents are working on the Middle East Protection project.
In 2016, Jayne and the Middle East team have begun developing a project to serve refugees stranded on the Greek islands.
Haiti Humanitarian Protection Project
In 2010, Haiti experienced an earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. Jayne’s first impulse was to go there—not to render aid, but to assess the human rights conditions in displacement camps. She formed a team of world-class doctors and lawyers, flew to Haiti, and documented not only a natural disaster, but a human rights catastrophe as well. Gangs of men were raping women and girls in camps, public baths, and on the streets. Local NGOs lacked resources to help the victims; government services were nonexistent.
Between 2010 and 2016, Jayne traveled to Haiti 30 times to develop evidence, interview clients, meet with the UN, and build cases. By becoming a partner of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the ground in Haiti, Jayne and her teams played a key role in identifying and protecting women and girls at the highest risk of harm. Jayne worked closely in partnership with two of the oldest women’s organizations in Haiti, building their capacity and learning from their experience.
Jayne led Reed Smith in being the first legal team to file applications for humanitarian parole for Haitian victims of sexual violence with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Reed Smith is also the only law firm that partnered with UNHCR to evacuate victims of sexual violence to Canada. To date, Jayne and the pro bono team at Reed Smith have brought 63 individual Haitian clients to permanent safety in the United States and Canada.
Campaign to Eliminate Violence against Women
Reed Smith’s commitment to Haiti is ongoing and involves resources across the firm. In addition to the Humanitarian Protection work, Jayne has led several other initiatives at Reed Smith for Haiti, including a multifaceted campaign for the elimination of violence against women in Haiti. Components of this continuing campaign include the following:
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 (SGBV) 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 20 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 underway 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, worked with the Thomson Reuters Foundation and MADRE to make recommendations on draft rape laws 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.”
Haiti Takes Root
In 2015, Jayne also led an international Reed Smith team in a landmark initiative dedicated to the reforestation and redevelopment of Haiti. Reed Smith represented Haiti Takes Root in forging this unique partnership between The French and Haitian governments, The Parker Foundation, and Sean Penn (for Haiti Takes Root).
To make it possible, Jayne led nine Reed Smith attorneys in six offices who worked on the initiative throughout the year in Haiti, France, and the United States, negotiating and drafting the complex, cross-border, project documents. The firm also hosted multiple expert meetings in Paris and Haiti, participated in discussions with the World Bank, and rallied support from the Yale School of Forestry. The initiative was formally launched at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.
The Patricia Fleming Fund
In 2006, Jayne independently established The Patricia Fleming Fund in memory of her mother. This nonprofit raises money to help clients relocate from tent camps to safe houses; provides education grants for children impacted by violence; and pays for emergency medical care, food and clean water for all of her client families. All funds donated to her Patricia Fleming Fund are used to protect and support Haitian women and children living on less than $1 a day.
Middle East Protection Project
Building on her successes in Haiti and Latin America, Jayne launched a new human rights project in the Middle East in January 2015. The goal of the project is to identify Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have suffered persecution or torture, and relocate them to places where they may heal. So far, Jayne has led teams on four separate missions to interview refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraqi Kurdistan. The teams have conducted nearly 100 interviews, and identified more than 20 clients, for whom we are developing comprehensive legal protection strategies.
Like in the United States, Central America and Haiti, many of the firm’s clients have suffered gender-based violence. Four clients are confined to a women’s prison in the Middle East because they are at risk of honor killing. The firm is developing relocation strategies outside of their country. Several other clients are living in hiding because they fear rape or other forms of sexual exploitation. Many of the firm’s clients in Jordan and Lebanon are torture survivors with extreme mental health pathologies. Many are children who are suffering war trauma.
Currently, 31 Reed Smith lawyers and five paralegals in 11 offices across three continents are working on the Middle East Protection project.
Our pro bono clients include single mothers from Syria and Iraq, a 60-year-old grandmother from the Bedouin community of Kuwait, three women at risk of murder by “honor killing,” and a 41-year-old transgender woman from Iraq. Although they are from many different places, our clients are all victims of sexual, gender-based violence or other forms of torture. As a result, they are all in need of international protection.
Because the political, social, cultural, and religious context of these cases is complex, our lawyers must develop each case slowly, carefully, always relying on guidance from advocates within the countries where they are working (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon) or where we have offices (UAE). Our strategy in this climate is to focus on building the strongest and most persuasive cases possible for our clients. We do this by demonstrating the grave risks these clients face and the special characteristics that set them apart from the staggering numbers of refugees around the world.
To further our goals, we have opened channels of advocacy within the UNHCR to share information and develop evidence in support of priority resettlement. Tracking cases through the UNHCR pipeline, we’ve built further support networks and legal teams in countries where clients will be relocated. We are also pursuing several alternative protection strategies in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and France, which have humanitarian visa programs in addition to the UNHCR resettlement program.
Greece Protection Project
In April 2016, Jayne and the Middle East team began developing a project to serve refugees stranded on the Greek islands. With borders across Europe closed, more than 60,000 refugees who took boats from Turkey are now trapped in Greece. Jayne is leading a team of nine lawyers to Greece to provide legal aid to those refugees who are at risk of deportation back to Turkey.