At its inaugural Pro Bono Recognition event Oct. 28, Southern Legal Counsel will present the Pro Bono Hero Award to Andy Pozzuto, Esq. This award is given to a pro bono attorney who, through compassion, dedication, and determination, masterfully assists clients in need. In McArdle v. Ocala, Andy provided over 100 hours of pro bono service to assist our clients and, several times, assisted the named plaintiffs in unrelated legal matters.

McArdle was an impact case filed in the Middle District of Florida on behalf of more than 200 people. The lawsuit challenged the open lodging ordinance in Ocala, which prohibited homeless individuals from sleeping in public spaces. SLC, with co-counsel ACLU of Florida and Mr. Pozzuto, argued that the ordinance was unconstitutional as it criminalized people experiencing homelessness for engaging in necessary, life-sustaining conduct (sleep/rest). The plaintiffs were unable to obtain permanent or temporary housing, including space in local shelters, so when they slept or rested out-of-doors, it was the only option available to them.

Throughout the case, which was filed in the fall of 2019 but involved more than a year or preparatory work, Mr. Pozzuto not only assisted with the legal work, but he also opened his office to clients so they could receive mail and have meetings in a quiet space. He showed incomparable compassion for the clients, who represented one of the most underserved and disenfranchised groups of people in the community.