Racial Justice Litigation Workshop - Spring 2017

Racial Justice Litigation Workshop - Spring 2017

Racial Justice Litigation Workshop - L8809

Course Description

Litigation plays a critical role in movements for racial justice. Across a range of cutting edge issues legal advocates work closely with movement leaders to mobilize litigation as one of the tactics deployed to combat structural racism.

This Workshop will give students exposure to litigation on cutting edge issues in racial justice such as: voting rights, police violence, privatization of parole, criminal justice debt, access to clean water, ending mass incarceration, and decriminalization of sex work.

The Workshop will bring leading advocates working on racial justice litigation related to the topics listed above to speak at the law school every other week during the semester.  These sessions will offer students the opportunity to discuss with civil rights advocates the role of lawyers in larger social movements, the notion of “success without victory” (how losing a lawsuit can still mark success by raising, framing, and advancing the underlying issues that were at stake in the case), the relationship of litigation to strategies based in the Freedom of Information Act, legislative hearings, media campaigns, and direct action.

Students will be expected to attend every session of the Workshop, prepare written questions in advance of the sessions with outside speakers, and write a 10 page final paper in which they critically evaluate the role of litigation in racial justice movements.  In the weeks when there is no speaker we will read background materials that situate the speakers’ presentations in the context of systemic thinking about strategic litigation.  

Course Materials

For copies of the readers for this course, contact Liz Boylan, Associate Director for the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, at [email protected] or 212.854.0167.

Course Schedule and Syllabus

January 17th: Intro to the Workshop - Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from a Birmingham Jail

January 24th: Different Modes of Work

  • Thomas Hilbink, The Profession, The Grassroots and the Elite: Cause Lawyering for Civil Rights and Freedom in the Direct Action Era, in Cause Lawyers and Social Movements (Sarat and Scheingold eds., 2006)

January 31st: Success Without Victory/Winning Through Losing

  • Jules Lobel, Success without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America(2003), Introduction
  • Doug NeJaime, Winning Through Losing, 96 Iowa Law Review 941 (2011)

February 7th: Readings Related to Geraghty talk 

  • Shaila Dewan, A Surreptitious Courtroom Video Prompts Changes in a Georgia Town, NY Times,9/4/15
  • Carrie Teegardin, Lives Upended as Judges Test Legal Limits, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/2/15
  • Sarah Geraghty, How the Criminalization of Poverty Has Become Normalized in American Culture and Why You Should Care, 21 Mich. J. Race & Law 195 (2016).

February 14th: Sarah Geraghty – Managing Attorney for Impact Litigation Unit, Southern Center for Human Rights: Debtors Prisons, Privatized Probation, & Financing of the Criminal Justice System

  • Elizabeth King, et al. v. Consolidated Gov't of Columbus, et al. -  Complaint 
  • Cleopatra Harrison v. Consolidated Gov't of Columbus, et al. - Motion and brief in support of class certification. filed this week.
  • Adel Edwards v. Red Hills Community Probation, Inc. - Complaint  
  • Luse v. Sentinel Offender Services, Inc. - Complaint 
  • Private Probation Company Agrees to Stop Drug Testing People Absent Court Order, January 31, 2017 – Announcement of settlement of Luse case. 
  • Luse v. Sentinel Offender Services, Inc. Consent Order, March 31, 2016.

February 21st: Readings related to Parker talk

  • Adkins et al. vs. Morgan Stanley. ACLU.org - Updated March 3, 2016.
  • Green Group Holdings v. Schaeffer: Defense of Environmental Protesters Against Defamation Lawsuit. ACLU.org - Updated February 7, 2017
  • Green Group Holdings v. Schaeffer - Company's Amended Complaint. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Northern Division. Filed April 22, 2016.
  • Green Group Holdings v. Schaeffer - Plaintiffs' and Defendants' Consolidated Joint Motion to Dismiss Claims with Prejudice. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Northern Division. Filed February 6, 2017.
  • Brewer, Suzette. Protect the Children, Preserve the Tribe. ACLU.org. October 10, 2016.
  • Kenny v. Wilson. ACLU.org - Updated November 29, 2016.

February 28th:  Dennis Parker, Director ACLU Racial Justice Program
A National Agenda for Racial Justice Litigation

  • Adkins et al. vs. Morgan Stanley - Class Action Complaint. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Filed October 15, 2012.
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik - Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief. ACLU.org.
  • Kenny v. Wilson - Civil Action Complaint. U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division. Filed August 10, 2016.

March 7th: Readings related to Farah & Hussain talk, scheduled for March 21, 2017

  • Hassan v. City of New York, 804 F.3d 277 (3d Cir. 2016)(focus on Parts II and IV)
  • First NSEERS FOIA requests.pdf via The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org).
  • Second NSEERS FOIA requests.pdf via The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org).
  • Press Release: CCR and DRUM File Freedom of Information Request Regarding Muslim Registry via The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org).
  • Creative Legal Strategies via The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org).
  • How We Define Victory via The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org).
  • Beyond the Courtroom via The Center for Constitutional Rights (www.ccrjustice.org).

March 14th: Spring Break

March 21st: Omar Farah and Aliya Hana Hussain, The Center for Constitutional Rights: Discriminatory Surveillance, Policing, and Detention of Arabs & Muslims

  • Highlights of AP's Pulitzer Prize-Winning Probe into NYPD Intelligence Operations - Hassan Case
  • Meeropol, Rachel. "Muslim Until Proven Innocent: The Post-9/11 Ashcroft Raids". 28 Security Journal 2. 2015

March 28th: Midterm Review of Course Papers and Clinical Work   

April 4th: Readings related to Appah-Gyamfi talk: Model of NYLPI and Environmental Justice as Racial Justice

  • Jacobs, Robin. “Building Capacity Through Community Lawyering: Circumstances of the Leaders, Small Community Associations, and Their Attorneys.” 24 Journal of Affordable Housing 1. 2015.

April 11th: Christine Appah-Gyamfi: Environmental Justice as Racial Justice

NYC Communities for Change v. NYC DOE

  • Amended Complaint
  • Affidavits filed with the Complaint
  • Consent Order
  • Press Release

South Bronx Unite! v. NYC Industrial Development Agency

  • Verified Petition
  • South Bronx Unite! “Why We Fight FreshDirect”

April 18th: In preparation for 4/25 – Racial Justice and the Schools to Prisons Pipeline – Guest lecture by Ebony Howard, Southern Poverty Law Center

April 25th: Ebony Howard, Associate Legal Director, Southern Poverty Law Center: Racial Justice and the Schools To Prisons Pipeline