The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 27, 2013

Clinton native to argue before court

The Clinton Herald


CLINTON — Many attorneys never get the chance to argue before the highest court in the country, but for 1998 Clinton High School graduate Chris Donovan, the opportunity is coming his way early in his career.

Donovan, the son of long-time Clinton residents Dave and Billie Donovan, is preparing to argue a precedent-setting case before the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. in February. A criminal defense lawyer and graduate of Marquette University Law School, Donovan is a partner in the Milwaukee firm of Pruhs & Donovan, S.C.

The case that brings Donovan before the Supreme Court is one he is decidedly familiar with. In 2009 he represented his client, Benjamin Robers, in a federal trial court in Milwaukee and subsequently on appeal in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Robers pleaded guilty for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme in which he was recruited to act as a “straw buyer” for others who ran the scheme and pocketed exorbitant fees from the sale of several houses. Banks that lent money to individuals like Robers to buy the houses were owed restitution, and the question the Supreme Court must answer is whether Robers is entitled to an offset for the value of the houses as of the time they were returned to the banks in foreclosure or their value when they eventually sold to third parties years later.

Several United States Courts of Appeal have split when ruling on this issue in similar cases around the nation. Robers’ request for the Supreme Court to take his case was granted so the court can resolve the split and set precedent for future actions.

“Little did I know that when I began representing Mr. Robers four years ago that his case would end up in the Supreme Court,” Donovan said. “I’m honored to have represented him all the way from the trial court through the appeal and now to the Supreme Court. I am very excited to have this opportunity and looking forward to preparing for the argument.”

With oral argument scheduled for Feb. 25 and the opening brief having been filed, Donovan’s next few months of preparation will be filled with intense preparation for the argument and drafting a reply brief in collaboration with co-counsel from the Federal Defender’s Office for the Central District of Illinois, Sidley Austin, LLP in Washington, D.C., and Northwestern University Law School in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Dave and Billie Donovan are making plans to be in Washington, D.C. in late February.

“Billie and I are very proud of Chris,” Dave said. “Throughout his career as an attorney handling federal cases he has been a fair-minded and tenacious advocate for his clients. We have attended several of his appellate arguments in the 7th Circuit Federal court in Chicago and now we get to see him appear before the highest court in the land. This is very exciting and we have several family members making the trip to Washington, D.C.”