National Lawyer's Guild

Member Recap: May 6, 2021

 

Welcome to the Member Recap, where you can catch up on NLG news from the last two weeks.

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

 

Upcoming Webinars, Publications, and Announcements Help Us #DropTheCharges Against BLM Protesters!

So far, we’ve received 2,500 signatures on our national petition demanding that the Biden administration drop the federal charges against the 350+ protesters who participated in last year’s uprising for Black lives. Help us reach our goal of 5,000 by May 25, the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. SIGN and SHARE the letter at bit.ly/DropTheChargesBLM and/or signal boost any of the following posts: FacebookTwitter / Instagram

We’re also collecting organizational endorsements, with 45 groups signed on so far!  If your organization would like to endorse, please complete the form here.

May 7, 5:30 PST: NLG-SF Santa Rita Jail Hotline Training

NLG San Francisco‘s Santa Rita Hotline will be hosting a training for hotline workers this Friday, May 7th at 5:30pm. If you have questions or are interested in joining, please contact: srjhotline@nlgsf.org.

If you can’t make it but would like to volunteer with the hotline, you can fill out their interest form online.

May 13: Endangered Species and Border Walls

Join NLG-NYC, along with scientists, lawyers, and politicians for a discussion on whether impenetrable, man-made border walls harm endangered species and accelerate extinction. You can take a look at the full list of speakers at their EventBrite page online.

Register here! The event will take place May 13, 2021, from 12 PM – 1:30 PM EST.

National Immigration Project (NIP-NLG)’s 2021 Annual Pre-AILA Crimes & Immigration Seminar

NIP-NLG is hosting a two-day seminar series all about immigration, including sessions on: “Winning Effective Post-Conviction Relief for Immigrants,” Crimes of Violence After United States v. Borden,” and “Immigration Implications of Diversion Programs.” There is a registration fee, and all information can be found on their site.

Currently, 7.75 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit hours are pending with the Virginia State Bar, the State Bar of California, the State Bar of Texas, and the Washington State Bar.

 

 

National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News NLG Palestine Subcommittee Submits Memo to Biden Administration Laying Out Legal Basis for Immediate Reversal of Trump Policies on Palestine/Israel

A recent memo from the Palestine Subcommittee of the NLG Interntional Committee: “Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee’s Palestine Subcommittee submitted a memorandum to the Biden administration laying out the legal basis for immediate reversal of the Trump administration’s policies on Palestine/Israel and further actions necessary to bring the United States in compliance with international law.”

Book Review: Trying Times by NLG & NPAP’s Terry Gilbert

Reviewed by David Gespass, NLG past president and member of NLG-Alabama: “Really, the importance of Terry’s book and the critical lesson it teaches, is that when you litigate in US courts and you are fighting for true justice, you are in enemy territory.”

International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Report

Last week, the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the US released their 188-page report, on how racist police violence against Black people in the US amounts to crimes against humanity and other violations of international law.

Read the full report at inquirycommission.org/report and watch last week’s press conference here, which includes Philonese Floyd, brother of George Floyd; Collette Flanagan of Mothers Against Police Brutality; and Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, as well as members of the international commission and its steering committee.

NLG In The News 5/4/21 | The Guardian | ‘We’re terrorized’: LA sheriffs frequently harass families of people they kill, says report

“Los Angeles sheriff deputies frequently harass the families of people they have killed, including taunting them at vigils, parking outside their homes and following them and pulling them over for no reason, according to a new report from the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).”

5/3/21 | Common Dreams | National Lawyers Guild Urges Biden to Align US Israel-Palestine Policy With International Law

“The memo (pdf), authored by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee’s Palestine Subcommittee, notes that after four years of “bullish and detrimental” U.S. policy on Palestine and Israel under the Trump administration, “the health, human rights, and humanitarian situation for Palestinians—both in Palestine and in the refugee camps of surrounding countries—is dire.”

5/1/21 | Microsoft News | Biden immigration moves under scrutiny from left and right

“It’s actually astonishing the Biden administration kept [Title 42] in place and are using it to expel people seeking refuge without even allowing them to pursue their claims,” said Sirine Shebaya, executive director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.”

4/28/21 | Patch Somerville Bans Tear Gas, Limits Police Use Of Other Projectiles

“The Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild called the ordinance an “important and historic piece of legislation” that places Somerville at the “forefront of the movement to de-militarize America’s urban police forces.”

4/27/21 | The Guardian | Police killings of Black Americans amount to crimes against humanity, international inquiry finds

Read this in-depth piece on the International Commission of Inquiry’s findings on how racist police violence against Black people in the US amounts to crimes against humanity and other violations of international law.

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement-related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

 

Have something you want to see in the next Member Recap? To submit events, news, or other updates for consideration for the Recap, please email charlie@nlg.org! The post Member Recap: May 6, 2021 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Book Review: Trying Times by NLG & NPAP’s Terry Gilbert

Reviewed by David Gespass, NLG past president and member of NLG-Alabama

Your average lawyer’s memoir, if there is such a thing, talks about the triumphs – the trials that freed criminal defendants or won enormous damages for their wronged clients. Many speak of the nobility of our judicial system, the critical role of the rule of law in preserving democracy, and of the author’s lifelong love of the law. That is perhaps because your average lawyer memoirist has enjoyed a prosperous career and, consciously or otherwise, wants to justify the system that has allowed them to prosper.

Terry Gilbert’s legal career has also allowed him to prosper. He has had his share – maybe more than his share – of notable victories. His firm has expanded and thrived. In his twilight years, he has a number of young partners to whom he is passing the torch. The firm of Friedman & Gilbert (now Friedman, Gilbert & Gerhardstein) became a pillar of the Cleveland community and is now an Ohio-wide pillar. It survived the loss, after 40 years, of Gordon Friedman. It will endure and expand as Terry rides off into the sunset. 

But Terry’s memoir, Trying Times: A Lawyer’s 50-Year Struggle Fighting for Rights in a World of Wrongs, expounds more on the cases he lost than the ones he won. He does devote some time to brief descriptions of multi-million dollar settlements of police misconduct cases, making sure to note that all the money in the world did not compensate the victims. It is a sad fact that, by and large, all the US legal system can do to compensate people for unspeakable losses is to give them money. Parenthetically, Terry and I worked on one case in Alabama together for the family of a man killed by a small-town police chief. We got some money, but I guess he decided it wasn’t enough to mention. Hurt as I was by the snub, I will forgive him that little peccadillo. 

But, I digress. Really, the importance of Terry’s book and the critical lesson it teaches, is that when you litigate in US courts and you are fighting for true justice, you are in enemy territory. If US courts were just, Leonard Peltier would not have spent the last four decades in prison. If there were even a measure of justice, Sam Sheppard would have been exonerated and his son, scarred for life by the experience of having his mother murdered and his father accused and railroaded, would have received some compensation and, maybe more important, acknowledgment of the wrongs done to him as a seven-year-old. If there were justice, young people duped by government agents into violating the law would not consider an eight or ten-year prison sentence something of a victory. Yet these are the cases Terry spends his time describing.

There are other things in the book, too. Accounts of Terry’s youth of partying and travel and his finding true love. There is a lot I can relate to. We are both Jewish, though my upbringing was rather more secular than his. We both spent a fair amount of time getting high when we were younger, though he started in college and I in law school. The murder of four students at Kent State profoundly affected us both. And music was a big part of our lives, me as a fan, but Terry also as a player. There are some bands and musicians – the Meters and John Lee Hooker come to mind – whose sets start out kind of modestly and build throughout until, at the end, everyone is on their feet. Terry’s book has something of that trajectory, not that I was literally reading the last chapter on my feet, but the further into it I got, the more absorbing it was.

Terry and I are both long-time members of the National Lawyers Guild. When we joined, members in their 50s and 60s were the old generation and we were the young Turks. I now recall my 50th birthday as part of my youth. And we are now both more interested in succession than we are in building our own careers. As I recall, Terry and I first met in Rapid City, South Dakota during, or just after, the occupation of Wounded Knee. I was only there for three weeks, but Terry stuck it out, working on the post-occupation trials and, as noted, the railroading of Leonard Peltier. 

But the point is that Guild lawyers recognize that the legal system is hostile to their clients and the causes they espouse, that litigation may be a component, but is not the motor of societal progress. That is a reason why it is important to talk about losses as much as, if not more than, wins. Even with litigation, it isn’t always winning that sparks change. Jules Lobel, who worked with Terry on a case they did win in the Supreme Court on behalf of people warehoused in Ohio’s supermax prison, having been sent there without rhyme, reason or due process, wrote a book called Success Without Victory. His point, which Terry emphasizes, is that waging the battle can be at least as important, in the long run, as winning the particular case. Terry recalls Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous observation that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice. What is important to recall, however, is that the arc only bends towards justice when warriors for justice take it in their hands and bend it. Terry is one of those warriors. I am fortunate to call him my friend.

Learn more about Trying Times: A Lawyer’s 50-Year Struggle Fighting for Rights in a World of Wrongs here.

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NLG Palestine Subcommittee Submits Memo to Biden Administration Laying Out Legal Basis for Immediate Reversal of Trump Policies on Palestine/Israel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: lmartinez@ccrjustice.org / (212) 614-6481

Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee’s Palestine Subcommittee submitted a memorandum to the Biden administration laying out the legal basis for immediate reversal of the Trump administration’s policies on Palestine/Israel and further actions necessary to bring the United States in compliance with international law. This memo comes on the heels of an extensive Human Rights Watch report, released last week, accusing Israel of committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. It comes also at a time when tensions in the region are high over Israel’s latest plans to confiscate and demolish dozens of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods—actions enabled in large part by the U.S.’s unconditional support for Israel.

While the Biden administration was quick to announce a change in U.S.-Palestinian policy from that pursued by the Trump administration, the first 100 days have seen only minimal steps taken toward restoring relations with the Palestinians and reinstating some critical aid. Trump’s most significant policies, implemented through declarations and executive orders, remain in force. What is more, the Biden administration has indicated an acceptance of, or an intention not to undo, some of the most egregious and consequential of Trump’s policies.  The 33-page NLG memo explains, among other things, the absolute prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force and the binding obligation on all states to refrain from cooperating with or recognizing any such acquisition. 

“International law is absolutely clear that Israel’s de jure annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as well as its de facto annexation of occupied Palestinian land for the building of Jewish settlements, are illegal; and that the United States should not be doing anything to indicate tolerance or acceptance of such illegal conduct,” said one of the memo’s authors, Huwaida Arraf, a human rights attorney and co-chair of the NLG International Palestine Subcommittee. “Rescinding Trump’s recognition of Israel’s annexations should have been done on day one of the Biden administration, and although Biden has stated that he would not relocate the U.S. Embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv, this position cannot be reconciled with a stated intent to ‘respect the rule of law.’” 

Other issues addressed in the NLG memo include: the restoration of aid, the status of refugees, lifting the illegal and deadly closure of Gaza, U.S.-Palestinian bilateral relations, cooperation with the International Criminal Court, the weaponization of antisemitism, and anti-boycott legislation.

Read the full memo here.

The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the first national, racially integrated bar association in the U.S. to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human, and civil rights.

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2021 Resolutions, Amendments, and Elections

Deadline: July 1, 2021

As a democratic organization, the work and focus of the Guild is decided by our members. Each year at the convention, we hold plenaries in which members discuss programmatic priorities, often in the form of resolutions. We also update our governing documents, our bylaws and constitution, and elect new officers to serve on the NLG National Executive Committee.

This year, the NLG #LawforthePeople Convention will be held digitally October 11-17. The plenaries will also be held digitally during that time period. All voting will take place online after the convention.

This is the first call for resolution proposals and candidates.

NOTE: Proposing resolutions and amendments is open to NLG members only. To join the NLG, visit nlg.org/join.

Information For Proponents

What are Amendments and Resolutions?

Amendments

  • The membership has updated the constitution, originally adopted in 1937, at many conventions. The current constitution and bylaws are available here: nlg.org/about/bylaws-and-resolutions/
  • Amendments can be made to either our constitution or our bylaws.

Resolutions

  • Resolutions are an opportunity for our membership to propose and agree on statements of programmatic priorities for our organization and to take stances on various issues.
  • Examples of resolutions here: nlg.org/about/bylaws-and-resolutions/

Emergency Resolutions

  • Emergency resolutions are resolutions based on events that take place after the initial sixty-day deadline, and up to twenty-four hours prior to the voting plenary. The twenty-four hour deadline may be waived in the event that an emergency resolution is non-controversial as determined by the Resolutions Committee and confirmed by the actual vote. Emergency resolutions must comply with all resolution requirements not related to timeliness.

For more information on Resolutions, Constitution and Bylaws Amendments, see the NLG Bylaws, Section 8.4.

Process for Submitting Proposals

Email Submission

  • Proposed resolutions, bylaws amendments, and constitutional amendments must be emailed in attachment form by June 30, 2021 Midnight (Pacific Standard Time). Late submissions will not be accepted.
  • Early submission of resolutions, bylaw amendments and constitutional amendments is encouraged, as resolutions often require edits to be made for submissions to be in full accordance with the procedural requirements.
  • Emails should be addressed to resolutions@nlg.org

Procedural Requirements (Please read carefully!)

The attachment with the proposed resolution or amendment must:

  • On its face include the name and contact information of the person submitting the resolution or amendment. This ensures members can contact the proponent before and during the convention.
  • Contain a specific and explicit implementation clause indicating what individuals or entities will do the work of implementing the resolution (i.e. the Resolutions Committee, the National Office, a local chapter, etc.). Per an amendment approved at the 2014 convention, proponents are only required to have attempted to obtain consent of those tasked with implementing the resolution. If any person or entity is tasked with implementing the resolution, the face of the resolution must indicate that the proponent has contacted such persons or entities before submitting the resolution. Proposal must indicate if 1) proponent has the consent of all persons obligated, 2) that consent was denied, 3) that consultation was impractical and why, or 4) that approval was requested but was not granted or denied.
  • Not exceed 3 pages, 12-point font, including endorsing entities or names. Shorter proposals are encouraged. Endorsing names and entities must be included within the 3-page limit.
  • Proposal must include the name and contact information of the person who will present the proposal in the two plenaries.
  • Any submission that has been denied for lack of obtaining explicit agreement of a tasked entity or individual to implement the resolution or amendment may be appealed to the Executive Council of the NEC by contacting Elena Cohen at president@nlg.org.

All primary proponents should plan to present and speak on behalf of the amendment or resolution at the digital plenary. If they will not be present, proponents should notify the Resolutions Committee and appoint an alternate delegate to present and answer questions during the plenary.

Note: Amendments from the floor are not accepted, so people objecting to proposals should speak with proponents well in advance of the plenaries to see if they are willing to amend their own proposals before they come to the plenary floor.

Information For Candidates for Elected National Office

Each year, the NLG holds elections to choose the officers of the National Executive Committee (NEC). All current NLG members in good standing are eligible to run for an elected office, although it is recommended that candidates have one year of Guild membership before running for a position. If you are interested, please email a brief candidate statement to NLG President Elena Cohen at president@nlg.org before October 16, 2019. If you have any questions about the election process, please email NLG Director of Research and Education Traci Yoder at traci@nlg.org.

In 2021, the following office is up for election:

Secretary

  • Secretary is a three-year position and the term will end at the 2022 convention. This position is responsible for recording and sharing the institutional knowledge of the organization, and participating on the National Executive Council (NEC) and Executive Council (EC).

Information for Candidates for Non-Elected or Non-National Positions

Candidates for national office which are selected by caucuses, regions, projects, task forces, or committees (e.g., National Law Student Vice President, National Legal Worker Vice President, Regional Vice Presidents, representatives from The United People of Color Caucus, and representatives from up to ten NLG projects and national committees) should refer to their respective entities for procedures and available offices.

Important Dates For 2021 Proponents & Candidates

May 1, 2021

  • Publicity begins for call for proposals & candidates

June 30, 2021 (Midnight Pacific Time)

  • Firm deadline to Submit Proposed resolutions & bylaw & constitutional amendments.
  • No extensions will be granted. Please submit early.

July 30, 2021

  • Deadline for Resolutions Committee’s initial response to proponent.

August 15, 2020

  • Deadline for proponent to complete procedural compliance (if needed).
  • Deadline for Members to suggest friendly amendments to proposals (no revisions are accepted on the plenary floor)
  • Members contact proponent, if proponent agrees to changes, proponent re-submits to Resolutions Committee.

September 11, 2021

  • Deadline for candidates to submit statements for inclusion on the NLG website.
  • Final proposed resolutions and bylaw amendments will be placed on the NLG website.

October 10, 2021

  • Deadline to submit emergency resolutions (24 hours before convention begins)

October 18, 2021

  • Online voting begins

December 18, 2021

  • Online voting closes; results will be posted after the holiday
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Call for 2021 Convention Programming

Call for Proposals: Major Panels and Workshops
DEADLINE: June 15, 2021

The NLG 2021 Law for the People Convention will be held virtually October 11-17. Unlike our usual five-day format, we’re spreading out events over a full week to allow participants across multiple time zones to attend as many events as possible. Even if attendees aren’t available to join every event live in real time, registrants will be able to access video recordings of programming to watch and engage with at their convenience.

We are currently seeking proposals for Major Panels and Workshops. Major Panel applications not accepted will be automatically considered for workshop slots. Major Panels are 2 hours long and fewer in number than workshops (1.5 hours). Both major panels and workshops will be scheduled on weekday evenings or the weekend of October 16-17.

Please consider applying and forward widely! We are seeking new and innovative topics this year, and will be prioritizing proposals that do not repeat programming from the past few conventions. We encourage NLG members, committees, and entities to coordinate with allied organizations/activists in submitting proposals. If you have any questions about convention programming or the selection process, please email Traci Yoder at traci@nlg.org.

NOTE: Major panel and workshop proposals are open to NLG members only. To join the NLG, visit nlg.org/join.

Propose a Major Panel Propose a WorkshopThe post Call for 2021 Convention Programming first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Call for Nominations: 2021 Goodman, C.B. King, and Legal Worker Awards

DEADLINE: June 1, 2021

We are opening the nomination period for Ernie Goodman, C.B. King (Law Student), and Legal Worker Awards. Please consider nominating a Guild attorney, law student, or legal worker who you have worked with! See below for details on each award. Please email Traci Yoder at traci@nlg.org with any questions about the awards or the nomination process.

2020 ERNIE GOODMAN AWARD NOMINATION

Each year at the National Lawyers Guild Convention, the Ernie Goodman Award is awarded to a Guild lawyer whose career and life’s work engaged them in legal struggle against financial, political or social odds to obtain justice on behalf of those who are poor, powerless or persecuted (or, most likely, a combination of these). The Guild lawyer receiving the award shall be selected by the National Lawyers Guild Goodman Award selection committee.

Please provide the following information:

  1. List nominee’s name, email address, and (roughly) how long the person has been a Guild member.
  2. Name of nominating person(s) and your relationship to nominee
  3. Reasons why the Guild member nominee meets the award qualifications, such as examples from the lawyer’s body of work over the course of their lives

Please mark “Goodman Award” in the subject line and send nominations by June 1, 2021 to Traci Yoder at traci@nlg.org.

 

2021 C.B. KING AWARD NOMINATION (Law Student Award)

Each year at the National Lawyers Guild national convention, the National Office gives the C.B. King Award to a law student whose commitment to justice is an example to others. The student furthers the mission of the Guild and honors the memory of C.B. King through organizing and agitating on academic and local levels. Throughout their time at the NLG, this person has demonstrated the kind of skill and passion that inspires other members and significantly contributes to our organization.

Please provide the following information:

  1. List nominee’s name, email address, and phone number; law school, graduation year, and (roughly) how long the person has been a Guild member.
  2. Name of nominating person(s) and your relationship to nominee (e.g., fellow chapter member, professor, and how long you have known the person).
  3. List and describe Guild chapter(s), committees and/or projects in which the nominee is involved and their role
  4. What qualities most stand out about the nominee?

Please mark “CB King Award” in the subject line and send nominations by June 1, 2021 to Traci Yoder at traci@nlg.org.


2021 NLG LEGAL WORKER AWARD NOMINATION

The annual NLG Legal Worker Award is given to a legal worker member of the Guild who has demonstrated leadership in the organization marked by one or more notable accomplishments and recognized by their peers. Legal workers are “any person who is currently working, or who has worked, or who is training to work in any office, collective, or other institution which has as its primary function the provision or administration of legal services, information or education; or who, as an individual, provides or administers legal services, information, or education as a major component of her or his work.”

Please provide the following information:

  1. List nominee’s name, email address, and (roughly) how long the person has been a Guild member.
  2. Name of nominating person(s) and your relationship to nominee
  3. What NLG projects and activities is the nominee involved with and how have they added to the work of the Guild?
  4. Examples of leadership and of a commitment to social justice

Please mark “Legal Worker Award” in the subject line and send nominations by June 1, 2021 to Traci Yoder at traci@nlg.org.

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PRESS CONFERENCE 4/27: International Commission of Legal Experts Release Report on Racist Police Violence in the US

Finds US Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity and Other Violations of International Law

Event: Press conference for launch of the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the United States

When: Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 12 pm Eastern time (9 am Pacific)

Where: Watch the livestream: https://www.facebook.com/internationalcommissionofinquiry  (Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook. com/events/817774308945699/)

On Tuesday, April 27th 2021  the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence in the United States will release a final report of its investigations. The report is the culmination of weeks of live hearings of cases of people of African descent killed by police, as well as months of review of relevant documents. The report also contains findings of fact and recommendations addressed to national and international policy makers.

Hear from:

  • distinguished panel of international legal experts from eleven countries who served as Commissioners with extensive backgrounds in the fields of social justice and human rights
  • Collette Flanagan of Mothers Against Police Brutality; and Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner
  • Members of the Steering Committee that organized the Commission of Inquiry, including Lennox Hinds and Kerry McLean

The International Commission of Inquiry was organized by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the National Lawyers Guild. Special thanks to the NLG Foundation for its support for the Commission’s work.

During and after the report’s release, the full, 188-page document will be available at the Commission’s website, https:// inquirycommission.org/ .Videos and transcripts from the live hearings in 44 cases are available at the website.

For questions or more information about the press conference or the release of the report, please contact Kerry McLean, Esq. at kerrymclean@gmail.com

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In Response to Chauvin Verdict and Ongoing Police Violence, NLG Continues to Support Calls for Abolition

In response to the guilty verdicts of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last summer’s murder of George Floyd, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) reaffirms its support for communities calling for the abolition of policing. As the verdict was being announced, Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, was killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, and just last week, police killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright 10 miles away from where Chauvin was being tried for murder. As Black-led movements have asserted for decades, policing is an inherently violent, racist institution that cannot be reformed. The NLG continues to be in solidarity with the families and communities of George Floyd, Ma’Khia Bryant, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and too many others killed, hurt, and traumatized by police violence and racism. The NLG remains committed to supporting people’s movements in demand of a better world. 

As an abolitionist organization, the NLG is embracing the wide range of emotional responses to a guilty verdict for Chauvin. We continue to support calls for meaningful, systemic change—rather than superficial reform—as a matter of survival, and of justice for those murdered, harmed, and traumatized by this institution. We also reaffirm our support for survivors of police violence, both personally and communally, through all the complexities and tensions of navigating abolition and the trial of Derek Chauvin. 

Lawmakers threatened by the power of community organizing are actively attempting to quash peoples’ legal rights to dissent. Citing the uprisings for Black lives sparked by George Floyd’s murder last summer, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an “anti-riot” bill into law Monday, which would increase the severity and scope of punishments the state can use against protesters, raising serious civil liberties concerns and claims of unconstitutionality. 

In an attempt to mitigate the massive state repression of anti-racist protesters last summer, the NLG continues to call for support in demanding the Biden Administration to drop the charges against the more than 350 people facing federal charges for participating in last summer’s uprising for Black lives. Though an imperfect solution, it would be a means to reducing harm, and we are hoping to extend the bare minimum of freedom from legal trouble to those demanding an end to racism.

With 200 anti-protest bills across multiple states attempting to regulate protest and dissent, the need for abolition is past due. The NLG will continue supporting communities demanding liberation, using the law in service of the people.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

Featured image: George Floyd by Chad Davis /  CC BY 2.0

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Letter to NLG Members on Legal Worker Membership

Dear NLG Members, 

Over the past four years and throughout the uprisings of 2020, many people joined the National Lawyers Guild through the selection of our “legal workers” membership category, in order to help with the vital mass defense efforts taking place in nearly every city around the country. For this reason, we wanted to take a moment to explain our interpretation of who is a “legal worker.”

According to the NLG ​National Constitution​, a legal worker is defined as: “​Any person who is currently working, or who has worked, or who is training to work in any office, collective or other institution, which has as its primary function the provision of administration of legal services, information or education; or who, as an individual, provides or administers legal services, information, or education as a major component of their work.”

In the local, non-staffed chapters for which the National Office administers membership, anyone can become a member of the Guild as a “legal worker” if they want to be a part of any chapter’s legal observing/mass defense efforts. Legal Observers (LOs) “work” (i.e. volunteer) in an “institution” (i.e. the NLG), which has its primary function the provision of administration of legal services and education (i.e. collecting LO notes in support of criminal defense and civil rights litigation for protesters). LOs play an extremely important function in our organization, and denying them membership is tantamount to extracting labor from people whom we are simultaneously disenfranchising in the organization, which contradicts all of our Guild principles.

We do not have a membership category that is entitled “Legal Observers.” We only have a category for “Legal Workers,” which is the category that includes legal observers. Our sliding scale suggested rates are different from our membership categories, which are still fixed to the four groups of lawyer, law student, legal worker, and jailhouse lawyer. Our membership rates are listed on the NLG website as a guide to suggest to someone what they might pay when joining and by no means represent their own membership categories. We added a sliding scale rate for Legal Observers because we wanted to grow our membership. There are too many people who are Legal Observers who aren’t members and we want that to change. We always want to make it very clear to our local chapters that if you have LOs who are not members you should get them signed up today!

We would also like to make it clear that there are no distinctions in professional status when it comes to who is considered a “voting” member, and therefore, anyone who joins as a member of the Guild through the National Office or through a staffed chapter  should have the ability to vote in local and national elections and receive all other member benefits (although some chapters may have their own restrictions on how long someone needs to be a member of their chapter in order to vote locally). There are no tiers. If someone joins the Guild and they are a legal observer, then they are a NLG member. Legal observers who have not joined the Guild are not members. It is not stated in any of our governing documents that LOs are not, or cannot be members. On the contrary, Legal Observing is one of the most vital actions we do as an organization, so LOs who sign up as members must be considered to be members both locally and nationally.

To be clear, chapters do have the autonomy to interpret the Guild constitution how they see fit for their chapter, as stated in the constitution. While chapters may choose to interpret our constitution’s definition of “legal worker” differently than the National Office, the Mass Defense Committee, and the Legal Worker Caucus leadership, it must be voted on as matter of local chapter policy. The NLG Constitution contains no provisions that unambiguously prevent LOs from being recognized as “legal workers;” to the contrary, an interpretation recognizing LOs’ contributions to the NLG as legal workers is the policy most consistent with the Guild’s mission and values. Our goal remains to grow the organization by including people who want to support our efforts, instead of being exclusionary. 

Signed onto by the following NLG entities (This is a running list and will be updated with additional endorsements through Wednesday, 4/21)

National Executive Committee

Mass Defense Committee

The United People of Color Caucus

Legal Worker Caucus

Anti-Racism Committee

The post Letter to NLG Members on Legal Worker Membership first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Abolition of Policing Resolution: FAQs

In 2020, the NLG membership passed the Resolution Supporting the Abolition of Policing, in which the NLG calls for “the defunding, dismantling and abolition of all forms of policing.” To provide clarity on this policy, the resolution’s proponents and the NLG National Office are sharing this FAQ to help members understand and incorporate the new policy into their work. 

We also hope this is helpful in light of continued oppression by law enforcement and ongoing calls from community members to abolish policing in response—we know reform is not enough.

This is a living document. If you have additional questions you’d like to see answered in this FAQ, please contact antiracism@nlg.org

Frequently Asked Questions

What about protecting people’s safety in the face of immediate physical danger? (e.g. calling 911)

  • Fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency services should be dispatched without police. People call 911 and police show up when really people just need a tow truck. Police do not protect people’s safety, but 911 is the easiest number to memorize. Groups around the country have compiled “who to call instead of the police” info-sheets. Look for a resource specific to your locality. If you can’t find anything, consider connecting with organizers and advocates in your area to create something! Consider also doing advocacy in your town to end practices of police involvement in local social service organizations, and/or creating formal organizations or dispersed networks who are trained in trauma-informed de-escalation, basic medic skills, how to administer Narcan, and other needed services.
    • Externalizing the intervention in emergencies and other situations that call for people with medical/deescalation/generative conflict/bystander intervention skills is something abolitionists caution against. Prominent abolitionists are calling for people to learn skills and practice interventions in a variety of scenarios without just calling a hotline (even if it’s a non-police one), because our communities can and must build the capacity to take care of each other. Mariame Kaba is highlighting this with the call of 1 Million Experiments to keep each other safe.   
  • In addition, this resolution calls for the abolition of “policing” instead of just the “police,” because we know that social workers, Departments of Child & Family Services/Child Protective Services can and do engage in forms of policing, particularly against Black people. Policing is a social relation that involves coercive power, which means that anyone has the ability to engage in it depending on the situation. Therefore, reading, going to workshops, and skill building and sharing are all critical pieces of practicing abolition. 

What about community-based efforts like Civilian Review Boards?

  • CRB’s are not abolitionist measures because they do not decrease police funding, authority, or presence in a community. CRBs legitimize police by claiming that the institution of policing can be a positive contribution to a community, if only policing is “done better.” This ignores that policing as an institution is inherently problematic, beyond its operation. For a more thorough description on why “reformist reforms” are counter-productive and for tips on how to identify and avoid them, see this chart from Critical Resistance.

How do we support families impacted by police murder calling for prosecution?

  • We should be in transparent and respectful solidarity with families impacted by police murder and respect their rights to define accountability and justice for themselves. We should not seek to silence families calling for prosecution of a cop who has murdered their loved one. However, we can refrain from joining or amplifying that call for prosecution. If asked by a directly impacted family member or loved one to support calls for prosecution, such as by signing a petition or co-sponsoring a protest where this is a demand, this can be a challenging situation to navigate. We should strive to be clear but sensitive about this boundary and why we don’t support prosecution, while finding ways to stay supportive of people in healing on their own terms from the trauma and grief of police violence. What other ways has the family requested support? Instead of sharing a petition calling for the indictment of XYZ murderous cop, we could ask the family members if they have a donation link for funeral or other expenses and promote that. We can amplify the family’s demands that align with our politics (such as calls to defund the police department).
  • Be open, gentle, and communicative when sharing abolitionist perspectives around prosecuting killer cops, especially if you are talking to someone who has been directly harmed by police murder.

Is it abolitionist to call for “investigations” but not necessarily prosecution?

  • Using state resources to determine “guilt” is police and prison logic. Investigations are the precursor to prosecutions, and involve the state applying (and attempting to legitimize) its definitions of criminality which are rooted in anti-Blackness, classism, ableism, xenophobia, etc. Just because the investigation might in one instance be against someone who has actually caused harm, does not excuse the reality that investigations as a tool are ultimately part of an inherently oppressive system.

What would non-prosecutorial accountability for right-wing violence or insurrectionists look like?

  • In general, non-prosecutorial responses look to increase safety for people who are immediately at risk or are currently being threatened/attacked, and also to examine and address the reasons that these attacks happen.
  • Harm reduction and safety can look like many things depending on the severity of the violence, resources available to the people being targeted, and other personal and community circumstances. No one harm reduction strategy will be right for everyone. For example, getting a gun and learning how to use it might make one person who is being targeted by white supremacists feel safer, but others may feel less safe having a gun nearby. Another issue is whether the targeting is happening to one specific high-profile organizer, or whether right-wingers show up at protests to target larger groups of people. Physical and emotional security measures for individual or group targets of fascist violence might include self-defense and security culture trainings, group security details at actions, and clear community guidelines on how to interact (or to specifically not interact) with known fascists so as not to escalate situations. Another tactic is deplatforming bigots who threaten or use violence, such as tech security folks discovering and posting people’s names and employers online, thereby removing the anonymity that can sometimes enable fascist violence. As with any harm reduction or mitigation effort, we should be victim-centered and take cues from the people who are most directly affected as to what will make them feel safer.  
  • Addressing the root problem of right-wing bigotry will not happen through the punishment logic of the state or through mobilizing police, because these are institutional tools that prop up white supremacy in our society in the first place. The state benefits by conditioning poor white people who are disenfranchised by their government to be anti-Black, xenophobic, racist, and transphobic, and to approach liberation, security, and respect with a scarcity mindset — as exemplified in the destructive reasoning that saying Black Lives Matter means white lives shouldn’t, or that immigrants “steal jobs.” For white anti-racists especially, if you have the capacity to do this you can and should connect with white people who are (or are on their way to becoming) violent fascists and to have conversations that counteract white supremacist ideology through relationship building and political education. Meeting people where they’re at, acknowledging their own suffering and that their own needs aren’t being met, and pointing to the real root causes of oppression might be more effective to deter fascist violence than using tools of white supremacy (prosecutions) to “teach people a lesson” for being racist.

What does accountability look like in the international sphere for human rights violations/humanitarian crimes? 

  • At the end of the day, an international criminal court has the same problems as US courts writ large, albeit with very different histories. Similarly to how prosecutors charge police with murder as a way to quell bottom-up rebellion (but rarely convict officers), these scraps of recognition fueling our hope that the system is “working” legitimize the oppression the system otherwise enables. International prosecution is just another way of saying “don’t try to achieve justice for yourself, let a higher authority decide what harms are ‘criminal’ and what harms you must accept.” Prosecution at any level is a deliberately and almost categorically ineffective “answer” to very real and catastrophic problems, but by putting faith in it we are reinforcing its value in the first place. 
  • While we need accountability for people who do horrific things, this is not going to come by administering punishment or even “consequences” as determined by institutions like the United Nations who are driven by hierarchical power structures, when such power is acquired and maintained through imperialist and colonialist violence. The ICC exemplifies some of these problems because it selectively prosecutes people in the continent of Africa and doesn’t do much or anything to recognize western imperialist countries as perpetrators of war crimes. Joe Biden won’t be prosecuted for bombing Syria, so having an ICC provides a false sense of “accountability” that channels energy away from more direct forms of justice and towards “peaceful” aka enabling processes.

Is it abolitionist to call for reforms on immediately dangerous prison conditions?

  • Yes, it can be! Reforms to dangerous prison conditions can reduce harm in the short term. Similar to the analysis with police reforms, immediately dangerous prison conditions should be reformed with the goal of taking funding and resources away from the corporations and governments that run the PIC and giving direct relief and respite to people suffering in the PIC. For example, prison reforms that require the construction of new prison buildings and facilities or the expansion of prison contracts are ultimately cementing the power of the PIC. In contrast, prison reforms that expand rights of and protections for people on the inside (i.e. access to classes and programming, better food, prohibiting particularly violent forms of torture like solitary confinement and the death penalty) are an important interim step towards completely abolishing prisons. 

How do we talk about consequences for recent surges in anti-Asian & anti-Black interpersonal violence?

  • First off, we are choosing the intentional language of “anti-Asian, anti-Black, etc. violence,” as opposed to “hate crimes,” because the latter term has been constructed by the state to obfuscate how this violence is facilitated by the state. Racialized harm and violence that happens on an interpersonal scale (i.e. a white person attacking a person of color) is not separate from structural white supremacy that imperialist nations (especially the U.S.) rely on to maintain power. In addition, abolitionists do not use the language of “crime,” because we know that the state uses that term & concept to uphold notions of Blackness, queerness, poverty, etc. as “criminal.” 
  • Distinguishing self-defense (and consequences) from punishment is important when planning responses to racist violence. Prison logic, which is rooted in white supremacy, ingrains in us that punishment is the appropriate response to someone causing harm. When planning a response to a “hate crime,” imposing “punishment” is not the most effective strategy for healing the victim or neutralizing the threat of a future attack, but to the contrary actively contributes to a major cause of the harm, which is white supremacy culture. However, people and communities can impose consequences and employ self defense as strategies designed to block immediate and future acts of violence. These are very important strategies to avoid or reduce harm, and do not replicate prison logic in the same way as punishment (or revenge). 
  • One question to ask might be: what is the least invasive means we can use to stop this harm from happening? When someone is using a position of power or employment as a platform to spout racism, taking that platform away is an appropriate consequence and is not a punishment. If someone’s access to a group enables their abuse, removing that access can be a consequence. Consequences can be initiated immediately and without warning or, if someone in your community has a connection they feel comfortable using to engage the aggressor in dialogue, consequences can be imposed gradually, as part of a conversation, and escalated as needed. Sometimes the victim of the racist violence might want a highly public response, such as a public action denouncing the act and/or the aggressor. 
  • Acts of racist interpersonal violence are visible manifestations of white supremacy culture. Maintaining white supremacy culture is a primary function of police and prisons. A root cause of white supremacy culture cannot be a solution to a particularly noticeable and violent symptom of white supremacy culture.

What does it mean re: civil liberties/accountability?

  • As framing, we must emphasize that, from an abolitionist perspective, accountability cannot come from state actors whose existence is to use violence to uphold systems of oppressive power. True accountability requires an intervention in and halting of the harm/violence being caused, and that cannot happen while police exist. No matter what types of reforms are implemented, police are going to continue to cage, control, harass, attack, and murder Black, Indigenous, and other colonized and oppressed people.  
  • When pursuing civil remedies in court, abolitionists can ask ourselves the same questions we ask when calling for police reforms. Does the remedy diminish the life and scope of policing? Does it take money, legitimacy, and/or power away from the police department and bring it back towards the community? If so, this civil claim, like a reform, can be in line with abolitionist politics. For example, when a police officer murders someone, a claim brought under 42 USC 1983 may redirect resources towards the community in the form of monetary damages. However, civil claims must be brought with an awareness that any appeal to the court system, whether civil or criminal, is an appeal to a system rooted in genocidal, settler-colonial origins and set up to protect the status quo of hoarded wealth and white supremacy. We must hold a nuanced perspective here — the civil rights movement was an incredible, world-changing liberatory effort led by radical Black organizers whose work abolitionists benefit from and build on to this day. The US government co-opted much of the revolutionary energy of the civil rights era to pass reforms in order to preserve itself. 
  • Ultimately, we know that judges are not neutral, because the US judicial system of stare decisis locks courts to the precedent of their violent and oppressive history. Nor should the limited remedies outlined in federal or state civil rights legislation be considered sufficient, when the protections are microscopic in comparison to the exploitation and violence against Black, Indigenous, and people of color, immigrant, disabled, trans queer and/or gender nonconforming, women, and poor people that our current legal system not only allows but is actively set up to facilitate. Not to mention the inaccessibility of the process of getting a lawyer and going to court. 
  • TLDR: Civil rights lawsuits are not solutions to any systemic causes of oppression, but can be harm reduction tactics when applied with a critical analysis of their origins and the limits of their utility.

Further Resources:

The post Abolition of Policing Resolution: FAQs first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

JOB OPENING: NLG Executive Director

The NLG is hiring an Executive Director! Please see the full job description and application below—and please circulate far and wide! Download the PDF of this job posting here.

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) National Office

Position Remote; Office Located in New York, NY

About the Executive Director

Are you a strong leader who is passionate about using the law to support people and ecosystems over property? The National Lawyers Guild (NLG / Guild) National Office seeks a dynamic Executive Director (ED) who will build relationships, support our membership, develop and support staff, and lead the organization into its next chapter through strategic and innovative approaches. Successful candidates will be collaborative; capable of building and supporting an engaged staff, board, and membership; skilled at developing strong external relationships; and possess a strong fundraising and development track record. Specific expertise in law and social justice movements are a plus.

The ED works closely with the Executive Council (EC), the larger NLG board (National Executive Committee / NEC), and National Office staff to ensure the organization’s overall reputation and key relationships are sustained and that our work remains accountable to the movements we support. On a day to day basis, the ED is responsible for the fiscal, administrative, and legal oversight of the NLG National Office (NO) in accordance with its mission, values, and governing documents.

About the National Lawyers Guild

The National Lawyers Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest progressive bar association and was the first one in the US to be racially integrated. The Guild’s mission is to use law for the people, uniting lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force, valuing human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests, in support of peoples’ struggles for liberation. 

This is achieved through the work of our staff, members, and the Guild’s numerous organizational committees, caucuses, and projects, reflecting a wide spectrum of interrelated issues. Guild members effectively network and hone their legal skills in order to help create change at the local, regional, national, and international levels. The NLG is a member-supported and member-funded organization. The Guild is committed to working in partnership with allies and in coalition with broader social justice movements, and we strive to be accountable to grassroots movement leaders.

Key Responsibilities
  • STRATEGIC PLANNING: Work with the National Executive Committee, staff, and key NLG leaders to develop and implement strategic plans at various levels of the organization. Plan the direction and leadership of key programs, relationships, and strategic partnerships to amplify the mission, vision, and impact of the organization. Monitor the political and advocacy landscape and make adjustments, as needed, to organizational goals, strategies, partnerships, and approaches.
  • BOARD DEVELOPMENT: Cultivate, develop, and nurture the NEC into a strong board and an effective force for good governance. Co-lead bi-weekly EC meetings and quarterly NEC meetings; Work with NEC to meet urgent organizational oversight needs; Communicate NO concerns and updates; Participate in priority board level committees.
  • FUNDRAISING & DEVELOPMENT: Create the conditions for fundraising success within the organization. Cultivate relationships with members and donors and solicit major donors to increase financial support; Represent the organization at fundraising and public relations events; Serve on the board of the NLG Foundation, the 501(c)3 arm of the Guild; Write and submit grant applications and reports for foundation funding.
  • FINANCIAL PLANNING & MANAGEMENT: Develop and maintain a business model that produces exceptional mission impact and sustained financial health. Work with the Treasurer, Finance Committee, and operations staff to develop and implement financial policies and oversee financial management of the organization. Actively engage in complex fiscal management through hands-on budgetary development and oversight; Manage organizational cash flow, forecasting, and reporting; Approve expenditures as laid out in annual budget; Oversee audit and preparation of federal and state tax filings.
  • MEMBERSHIP DEVELOPMENT & SUPPORT: Guide strategic membership engagement projects and chapter development, working closely with the Director of Membership. Collaborate with staff, EC and consultants to establish processes to resolve issues and conflicts among members, chapters, and committees, using best practices that reflect the principles of the Guild.
  • STAFF DEVELOPMENT & MANAGEMENT: Ensure that onboarding, recruitment, retention, management, and compliance are carried out with excellence. Provide leadership and oversight of National Office staff; Nurture and foster staff capacity, growth, and development to best serve the Guild’s programs and mission; Supervise consultants and full-time staff working on communications, membership, research and educational programming, operations, and mass defense (protest support).
Desired Qualifications
  • Eight (8) or more years of nonprofit or organizational management and leadership experience; familiarity of and professional experience in nonprofit settings required.
  • Demonstrated success leading and stewarding organizations or programs through periods of change or growth; comfort with multi-tasking, delegating, and prioritizing among competing priorities.
  • Experience leading or collaborating with a Board of Directors.
  • Proven ability to nurture and sustain relationships with mission-aligned donors.
  • Superb written and oral communication skills, with experience communicating diplomatically, clearly, concisely, and effectively one-on-one and in large groups.
  • A collaborative leadership style that fosters both effective teamwork and shared accountability. Experience managing virtual teams is a plus.
  • Strong relationship-building and conflict resolution skills and the ability to authentically listen, engender trust, and act with intentionality.
  • Competence in reading, creating, and understanding financial documents, including budgets, cash flow, income statements, balance statements, and statements of functional expenses. Understand the basics of 990 tax returns, audits, and compliance.
Required Qualification
  • An unwavering commitment to Guild principles (including, but not limited to, anti-racism, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, and anti-oppression), with an ability to serve as an exemplar for the organization’s values and to foster an inclusive and respectful workplace.
Work Environment

The work environment described here is representative of what an employee will encounter while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with different abilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Job largely takes place remotely, with virtual collaboration with other staff and members. Must be able to participate in online virtual communications including email and video conferencing used to facilitate virtual office culture and work sharing.
  • This position is full-time and exempt. This position requires availability during core office hours of 12:30pm – 5:30pm Eastern Time. Work on evenings and weekends as needed.
  • Must be able to conduct business in English; however, fluency in languages other than English is a plus.
  • Some work at off-site locations required (i.e., annual convention, National Executive Committee meetings) once it is safe to travel; the NLG aims for accessibility in any off-site location.
  • This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, and webcams. Employees are regularly required to communicate effectively via computer, via phone, and in person.
Salary and Benefits

The salary range is $90,000-100,000. Desired start date is mid-June 2021. Benefits include employer-paid medical and dental benefits; 401(k) plan with employer match; paid family leave, disability, and life insurance; three personal days, seven fixed holidays, four floating holidays, 18 sick days, and 20 regular vacation days annually.

How To Apply

Candidates should submit a letter of interest, a resume, and three references in one PDF document to jobs@nlg.org, with “[Full Name] – Executive Director” as the subject of the email. Materials will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, with a final deadline of May 3, 2021. Early applications are strongly encouraged. Initial interviews will begin in early May. References will not be checked until the last round of interviews and candidates will be given an opportunity to notify their references in advance. This position is remote with some travel once it is safe to do so, and candidates must be legally authorized to work in the United States.

The NLG National Office complies with federal and state disability laws and makes reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities. If reasonable accommodation is needed to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and/or to receive other benefits and privileges of employment, please contact jobs@nlg.org.

The NLG is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. People of color, trans and LGBTQ people, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, and people who have lived in poverty are strongly encouraged to apply.

The post JOB OPENING: NLG Executive Director first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Tell the Biden Administration #DropTheCharges Against BLM Protesters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: massdef@nlg.org

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) demands that charges against demonstrators who participated in the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests be dropped immediately. During last spring and summer’s protests against police violence, more than 10,000 people were arrested and many are still facing legal consequences. Many legal experts have said that these cases are nothing more than an overreach on the part of the Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump, and should never have been filed in federal court. As such, the NLG is launching a petition requesting that President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Attorney General Merrick Garland drop the charges against these protesters as a step toward condemning white supremacy and federal repression. 

While the NLG does not believe that substantial, systemic change can happen through existing channels of power, we also believe that people exercising their right to protest deserve to do so without facing lawsuits. The Trump administration made blatant attempts to silence and punish leftist and progressive movements, and the Biden administration has the power and duty to mitigate these harms.

We urge our members, affiliates, supporters, and anyone else who believes in racial justice to sign the following letters to Biden, Harris, and Garland. Once signatures have been collected, these letters—written by NLG Chicago Mass Defense Committee members Matthew McLaughlin and Sharlyn Grace, in collaboration with the national Mass Defense Steering Committee—will be sent to the Biden administration.

Please join us in our call to #DropTheCharges by signing the petition at bit.ly/DropTheChargesBLM and helping us spread the word on social media!

Below are some active local petitions we’ve compiled related to specific arrests in various localities. Please consider supporting them as well!

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

# # #

The post Tell the Biden Administration #DropTheCharges Against BLM Protesters first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

NOW OPEN: 2021 Weinglass Memorial Fellowship Application

This page is visible to current, dues-paying NLG members only. Login by clicking the “Login” button at the top of the page. Once logged in, re-enter the URL of the page you’re trying to view in your browser.

Online membership accounts are just one benefit of NLG membership! To join the NLG or to renew your membership, visit nlg.org/join. If you are already a member, you can create your account at nlg.org/register.

If you have questions, email membership@nlg.org.

2021 #Law4thePeople Virtual Convention: 10/11 – 10/17

SAVE THE DATE! This year’s NLG’s #Law4thePeople Convention will be: October 11 – 17, 2021

We will once again be convening a virtual convention. While we missed gathering in person with you all last year, our digital gathering was a huge success, with 1,000 attendees participating around the U.S. (and the world)!

Like last year, we will schedule events to accommodate attendees across multiple time zones and aim to make programming as accessible as possible—including, but not limited to, having live captioning available for programming.

As always, we will offer sliding-scale registration, with waivers available upon request. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Even if attendees aren’t available to join every event live in real time, registrants will be able to access video recordings of programming to watch and engage with at their convenience.

In addition to workshops, major panels, CLEs, and governance events, we will be sure to include online social events and other ways our attendees can connect with each other.

Stay tuned for an upcoming call for workshop and major panel proposals, nominations for awards, and other ways to help shape #Law4thePeople 2021!

In the meantime, revisit some highlights from last year’s convention!

The post 2021 #Law4thePeople Virtual Convention: 10/11 – 10/17 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Member Recap: March 26, 2021

Welcome to the rebranded Member Recap, formerly known as the Member News Digest, where you can catch up on NLG news from the last two weeks.

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Upcoming & Recorded Webinars TONIGHT: 7 PM EST/4 PM PST: I GOT A MONSTER Book Talk with NLG Maryland

Join NLG Maryland and authors of I Got a Monster (Brandon Soderberg, Baynard Woods, Lisa Snowden-McCray, and Debbie Levi) as they discuss corrupt policing in Baltimore and beyond.

REGISTER BY 6 PM EST/3 PM PST HERE.

PANEL: April 3, 5 PM EST/2 PM PST: Guardians or Warriors: Copaganda: How the Media Influences Our Perceptions of Law Enforcement with NLG Las Vegas

Save the date for this panel with Nissa D. Tzun, Daniel Lachance, and Lawrence Mower for part three of NLG Las Vegas’ “Guardians or Warriors” teach-in series on policing. The event will be streamed live at: fb.com/VegasNLG

Know Your Rights: Organizing Workplace Safety During COVID-19

Missed NLG San Francisco’s webinar last night? You can click here to read and learn more about their latest publication, the Know Your Rights: Employment & Labor During COVID-19 guide.

March 31st WEBINAR: How the Federalist Society’s Philosophies Took Over the Courts…& How Movement Lawyers Can Fight Back

Come by this webinar to learn more about the Federalist Society, a counter-establishment organization turned establishment. “This webinar will ask: How did they get there? What are the details of their agenda? How do they fund it? How are they organized? What can the left learn from them?”

Speaker: Michael Avery, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and one of the founders of the National Police Accountability Project. Moderator: Rachel Pickens, Executive Director, National Police Accountability Project.” REGISTER HERE

 

 

National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News NLG LA Condemns LAPD’s Militant Use of Force against Protestors Advocating on Behalf of Unhoused Residents at Echo Park Lake

Read this recent statement from NLG Los Angeles: “Last night, more than 200 people gathered in Echo Park to exercise their First Amendment Rights to protest the Los Angeles Police Department’s (“LAPD”) massive sweep of the houseless encampment community at Echo Park Lake. They were met by several hundred LAPD officers in riot gear who proceeded to brutalize, kettle, and detain not only protestors, but also NLG-LA’s Legal Observers, and journalists documenting the protest. Approximately 80 of these protestors were placed under formal arrest. LAPD’s unlawful and shameful policing tactics have been repeatedly called out by activists and organizers and extensively reported on by local and national media.”

Former NLG President Michael Ratner Publishes Memoir: MOVING THE BAR: My Life as a Radical Lawyer

The late Michael Ratner, who served as the President of both the NLG and the Center for Constitutional Rights, has published his memoir: MOVING THE BAR: My Life as a Radical Lawyer. Michael was committed to justice, representing incarcerated people at Guantanamo Bay after 9/11, and serving as Julian Assange’s principal lawyer in the U.S. You can read more and purchase the book here.

NLG Supports Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s August and September Shut ‘Em Down Demonstrations

The NLG is proud to support the upcoming Shut ‘Em Down demonstrations at jails and prisons, organizing around the horrendous impact that COVID-19 has had on incarcerated people. In the words of the JLS press release: “Lives could have been saved if America was on the path of Abolition. We must struggle harder to close prisons, jails and to free people from the grips of American prison slavery. This is all stated while recognizing that we must develop effective strategies to have the billions of taxpayers dollars used to grow the prison industrial slave complex (PISC) redirected to the communities.”

Read more about the demonstrations, and find ways to support JLS, here.

NLG In The News 3/23/21 | The Justice Artist Shana Merola combines political activism and photography in artist talk

Take a look at this profile of NLG Michigan legal worker and artist Shana Merola, whose work weaves “in and out of activism and conceptual art” and “lies at the intersection of photography, grassroots organizing and the legal system.”

3/19/21 | The LA Times Judge strikes ordinance Beverly Hills used to charge protesters

“If convicted under the ordinance, demonstrators faced up to six months in jail. Friday’s ruling was met with relief by attorneys affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild, many of whom volunteered to defend clients in the case.

“Today’s ruling was the result of a tremendous group effort of dedicated volunteer attorneys who were collectively dumbfounded and deeply concerned by the Beverly Hills ordinance,” said attorney Jerod Gunsberg. “A law requiring silence from any public gathering of 10 or more people is absurd and unconstitutional on its face.”

 

3/16/21 | Chicago Tribune New legal clinic concentrates on cases of women languishing in the system for crimes against alleged abusers

Read through this cover story on NLG Chicago Board Member Rachel White-Domain and her work as Director of the Women and Survivor’s Project at Illinois Prison Project. Rachel’s work focuses on clients with a history of gender-based violence.

“Since getting funding last year the Women and Survivors Project has represented 30 clients in 15 clemency petitions, 14 administrative advocacy cases, four resentencing cases, one post-conviction case, and one appeal.

So far, five women have been released. Collectively that has added up to about 30 years of incarceration saved, White-Domain said.”

 

3/11/21 | The LA Times | Report faults LAPD for mishandling George Floyd unrest

A new report by the City Commission finds LAPD at fault for mishandling the protests.

“In one of the largest lawsuits, brought by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, the National Lawyers Guild [LA] and others, protesters alleged the LAPD brutalized them with projectiles and batons and violated their constitutional rights by subjecting them to hours of inhumane treatment for infractions that warranted only street citations.”

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement-related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

The post Member Recap: March 26, 2021 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Paid NLG Review Positions Available!

The NLG Review is seeking an Editor in Chief and Layout Editor! Deadline to apply is May 15, 2021. See below for more information on each position.

NLG Review

The NLGR is the Guild’s intellectual journal, which aims to publish timely, insightful articles that address and respond to the interests and needs of the progressive legal and activist communities. Our readership includes lawyers, scholars, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and activists.

The NLGR board is composed of an inter-generational group of Guild members, including attorneys, law professors, law students, and legal workers. This is a wonderful opportunity for an interested activist, lawyer, student, or legal worker to work on a professional law review with some of the most brilliant minds in the NLG and shape the direction and content of the review.

Due to staffing shortages and other logistic issues related to COVID, the NLGR has been on hiatus since late Fall 2020. The new EIC and Layout Editor will join NLGR editorial board members and Guild staff to re-vision and re-launch the journal this spring.

Available Positions

EDITOR IN CHIEF

The NLG Editor in Chief receives a stipend of $6,000/year. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing NLGR editorial and managerial tasks
  • Planning, organizing, and coordinating editorial board meetings and activities
  • Working with Articles and Executive Editors to select and assign content
  • Reviewing and approving final content for each issue
  • Maintaining publication and production schedules
  • Acting as primary external representative for NLGR 
  • Writing a preface to each issue (750+ words)
  • Participating in teleconferences with the editorial board every other month
  • Availability to publish three issues per year

Qualifications:

  • NLG Review editorial board seats are reserved for NLG members. To join/renew your membership, please go to nlg.org/join.
  • Ability to commit to position for three full calendar years
  • Prior law review experience strongly preferred

To apply, please send a resume and statement of interest to nlgreview.execeditor@nlg.org by May 15, 2021. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee of the NLG Review Editorial Board.

 

LAYOUT EDITOR

The Layout Editor receives a stipend of $4,000/year. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Participating in teleconferences every other month
  • Working with Editor in Chief and Executive Editor to finalize content and format the layout for each issue within a one-month deadline
  • Availability to publish three issues per year

Qualifications:

  • NLG Review editorial board seats are reserved for NLG members. To join/renew your membership, please go to nlg.org/join.
  • Ability to commit to position for one full calendar year
  • Access to, and fluency in, Adobe InDesign or other similar software
  • Experience with copyfitting

To apply, please send a resume and statement of interest to nlgreview.execeditor@nlg.org by May 15, 2021. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee of the NLG Review Editorial Board.

The post Paid NLG Review Positions Available! first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

[WEBINAR] How the Federalist Society’s Philosophies Took Over the Courts… and How Movement Lawyers Can Fight Back

Wednesday, March 31 at 3pm ET/12pm PT

Register: bit.ly/FedSocWebinar

The Federalist Society, which began as a student counter-establishment organization, has become the establishment. With six Justices on the Supreme Court, hundreds of others on the lower federal courts and state appellate courts, and control of the Justice Department and much of the federal bureaucracy when a Republican is president, their influence on law and public policy is paramount. 

This webinar will ask: How did they get there? What are the details of their agenda? How do they fund it? How are they organized? What can the left learn from them?

Speaker: Michael Avery is a former president of the National Lawyers Guild and one of the founders of the National Police Accountability Project. He is the co-author, with Danielle McLaughlin, of The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals

Moderator: Rachel Pickens, Executive Director, National Police Accountability Project

Co-Sponsored by the National Police Accountability Project of the NLG, and the NLG Review.

This event is free and open to the public. Register to attend: bit.ly/FedSocWebinar

The post [WEBINAR] How the Federalist Society’s Philosophies Took Over the Courts… and How Movement Lawyers Can Fight Back first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

#WAMI2021 Roundup

 

NLG Law Students Organize Around Abolition

During this year’s Week Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI), NLG law students organized around the theme of “Abolition and Beyond,” including all locations and instances in which people are held against their will, including jails, immigration detention, juvenile detention facilities, psychiatric wards, and more. We encouraged students to include consideration of the abolition of policing as part of the larger mass incarceration system (and in line with the Guild’s 2020 resolution supporting the abolition of police).

Now a full year into the pandemic, NLG law students created an entirely online week of events, incorporating the specific issues facing incarcerated people during the COVID-19 crisis. And, as the world has taken a closer look at our healthcare and medical systems, our law students took on the task of examining these locations as an expansion of the carceral complex.

Read below for highlights, and thank you to our law students for your fantastic work this past week!

#WAM2021 recap:

  • Pepperdine University NLG organized a full week of programming, including panels including: “The Death Penalty: Inequities and Realities of Capital Punishment,” “The Broken System for Incarcerated Women,” “Recidivism and Reintegration: Returning to Life After Incarceration,” and “Juvenile Injustice: Policy and Reform in our Criminal Justice System.”
  • University of North Carolina NLG put together multiple online panels and programs, including creating police accountability scorecards for Emancipate NC, presenting a panel on the intersection of mass incarceration and civil legal services, and screening the film Judas and the Black Messiah
  • NLG DePaul worked in collaboration with various organizations to put together events including a screening of the film Belly of the Beast, a panel on COVID-19 in carceral facilities, a panel discussion, “Attica: 50 Years Later,” with Michael Deutch of the People’s Law Office and Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971, among other events
  • Moritz NLG put together multiple different projects, including a zine on abolition, a letter-writing campaign, a series of panels on Zoom, and two drives for both books and period products for folks incarcerated in local jails and prisons
  • Harvard NLG students put together an online event in collaboration with organizers from Families for Justice as Healing (FJAH) to learn about successes and ongoing struggles to free women from Framingham and block the construction of a new women’s prison in Massachusetts
  • New England Law NLG student chapter put together various social media campaigns on policing in the U.S., prison abolition, disability justice, immigrant detention, and the war on drugs, ending the week with a Zoom movie night watching 13th
  • Loyola New Orleans NLG held an online panel discussion, “Imagining a Decarcerated Louisiana,” with speakers from various community organizations, and put together an online collection of testimonials from their correspondance with folks incarcerated at Angola in New Orleans
  • Widener University NLG held multiple panels on Progressive Prosecutors, Juvenile Detention, and Voting Rights, as well as organizing a book drive for LGBTQ+ incarcerated people
  • Georgetown NLG launched a letter writing hour, to continue throughout the rest of the semester, and put together a panel on abolition
  • University of Michigan NLG held a panel on Abolition at UMich, featuring GEO organizers to discuss campus abolitionist movements, and screened the movie The Prison in Twelve Landscapes
  • University of Alabama NLG organized a week long book drive for incarcerated folks, and held three online events, including a discussion on student-led abolition movements, a screening of Visions of Abolition, and a panel on impact litigation
  • Cardozo NLG students presented a Q&A panel with Baz Dreisinger, author of Incarceration Nations, and a discussion on grassroots abolition movements across the country, with speakers from NYC, Texas, Georgia, and St. Louis
  • Wayne State University NLG students coordinated a panel discussion between Washtenaw County prosecutors and representatives from Detroit Justice Center and the Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit to discuss the role of prison abolition in the larger movement to end mass incarceration
  • Fordham NLG students organized a panel, “A Country Without Prisons: Dispelling Myths that Deter Abolition,” to deconstruct scare-tactics surrounding abolition
  • Maurer NLG hosted a panel, “Prison Abolition and Beyond: Addressing Mass Incarceration in Our Community,” with Public Defender Kyle Dugger and author Jeanne Bishop
  • University of Oregon NLG Chapter is putting on a week of interactive online programming, including sessions on Disarming University of Oregon Police Department, Abolition and Climate Justice, and Intro to Abolition
  • University of Connecticut Law NLG Chapter is presenting a series of panel discussions centering those most marginalized by the policing system, including discussions on Women and LGBTQ+ People in Prisons, the Worldwide Movement for Black Lives, Ending the War on People Who Use Drugs, and Pandemic Priorities: the Inequitable Impact of COVID-19 on People Who Are Incarcerated
  • Notre Dame Law NLG organized two events, a talk on Prison Abolition Activism with “IDOC Watch”, a network of prisoners in Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) and legal workers outside, as well as a talk on the School to Prison Pipeline with local educators who teach students in Indiana’s Westville Correctional Facility
  • University of Minnesota NLG hosted a two-week book drive for Women’s Prison Book Project, held event on the fight for abolition with Kevin Reese from Until We Are All Free, and began preparing for Derek Chauvin’s murder trial
  • University of Montana NLG put together a full week of events, speakers, and workshops with attorneys and abolitionists from across Montana and the country, including: “Mass incarceration, COVID-19 and extreme sentencing,” “The Federal Death Penalty: Against the Will of Navajo Nation,” “Police Abolition v. The January 6 Coup,” and “Tribal and Local Criminal Justice Reform Opportunities”
  • Temple Law NLG organized a series of events, including “Mental Health and Medical Care: Inside and Outside Prison,” “Judges and Lawyers Addressing Mass Incarceration,” and “Reform vs. Abolition”
  • TAMU NLG hosted a panel on “Public Defense and Mass Incarceration,” and put together a series of educational materials on mass incarceration, prison abolition, and accountability
  • Quinnipiac NLG hosted a week of panels and events including “Racial Justice and Equal Rights” and “Felony Disenfranchisement in Connecticut,” among others

 

Instagram post screenshots from: New England Law – Boston (@nelb_nlg), Loyola New Orleans NLG (@loynonlg), UNC NLG (@unc_nlg), Moritz NLG (@nlgmoritz), Temple Law NLG (@templelawnlg), and Pepperdine Law NLG (@pepperdine_nlg)

 

 

The post #WAMI2021 Roundup first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

Member Recap, March 11, 2021

 

Welcome to the rebranded Member Recap, formerly known as the Member News Digest, where you can catch up on NLG news from the last two weeks.

Be sure to keep up with us in real time on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

 

Upcoming & Recorded Events, Programs, & Campaigns Week Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI2021) Student Organizing Recap

Keep an eye out for our upcoming WAMI2021 recap, where you’ll be able to find a comprehensive summary of the work our law school chapters did for their WAMI programming around the theme “Abolition and Beyond,” along with any links to resources, recordings, and articles put together by the students.

National Office ACTION ALERTS: Support Mumia-Abu Jamal and Steve Martinez

Political prisoner and jailhouse lawyer Mumia-Abu Jamal has tested positive for COVID-19, and water protector Steve Martinez has been jailed for a second time after resisting a grand jury. The National Office, alongside the Free Mumia campaign, the Water Protector Legal Collective, and the Support Steve Martinez campaign, released the following action guide for things you can do to demand justice for Steve and Mumia: CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ALERT.

WED, MAR. 17, 12:45 PM EST: Abolishing ACS: Pushing Child Welfare Beyond Reform

Join the Brooklyn Law School NLG chapter in a panel featuring speakers from the Parent Legislative Action NetworkBronx Defenders, and the Movement for Family Power. Email NLG@Brooklaw.edu for more information.

 

 

National, Committee, and Chapter Statements and News NLG Detroit and Michigan Chapter and Detroit Will Breathe Get City of Detroit to Dismiss Baseless Counter-Suit Against BLM Protesters

The Michigan NLG Chapter played a critical role in getting the City of Detroit to DISMISS their baseless counter-suit (that would have cost taxpayers $200,000) against protesters with Detroit Will Breathe during the uprisings for Black lives over last summer.

NLG International Committee, Loyola Chicago Chapter, and National Office Sign Onto Palestinian Student Solidarity Campaign

The National Office is joined by the International Committee and Loyola Chicago Chapter in a “global call to urge the immediate freedom of imprisoned Palestinian students and the protection of Palestinian students’ right to education, right to political expression and involvement and right to determine their own futures.”

Read the full list of demands and co-signed organizations here.

NLG Supports Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s August and September Shut ‘Em Down Demonstrations

The NLG is proud to support the upcoming Shut ‘Em Down demonstrations at jails and prisons, organizing around the horrendous impact that COVID-19 has had on incarcerated people. In the words of the JLS press release: “Lives could have been saved if America was on the path of Abolition. We must struggle harder to close prisons, jails and to free people from the grips of American prison slavery. This is all stated while recognizing that we must develop effective strategies to have the billions of taxpayers dollars used to grow the prison industrial slave complex (PISC) redirected to the communities.”

Read more about the demonstrations, and find ways to support JLS, here.

From the NLG blog: The Case for Abolition, for Skeptics

The final piece in the policing blog series is written by Kira Kelley, NLG Anti-Racism Committee Co-Chair and one of the proponents of the 2020 policing resolution. The piece makes the case for the abolition of policing and offers examples of individuals and projects taking power and resources away from police and prisons to create non-carceral, non-punitive alternatives.

You can find the whole article here.

From the NLG blog: People’s Tribunals, Holding Power to Account

For the NLG blog, former NLG President (and current Legal and Advocacy Director at Project South) Azadeh Shahshahani writes about people’s tribunals, “forums of justice set up by social justice movements and organizations to adjudicate cases often against states and state-backed corporations.” The full article can be found here.

NLG In The News 3/11/21 | Capital & Main Commission Considers Freedom From Police Brutality a Human Right

Read this great coverage about the recent the recent International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the US held by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the NLG, and the NLG International Committee:

“It’s almost impossible to hold the United States accountable,” says international human rights attorney Kerry McLean. “It won’t submit to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, for example, and there’s only so far you can take matters against the U.S. in the Inter-American system. Though the U.N. as a structure is problematic, you use it in the ways that could potentially benefit you as an activist.”

2/2/21 | Clark County Bar Anti-Blackness and Immigration Law

NLG Las Vegas member Martha Menendez writes: “Immigration law is by nature a practice of exclusion; its very premise based on elastic borders that, though they may change over time, exist for the sole purpose of separating one predefined category of human being from another.”

Jobs Members-Only Job Board

Are you searching for a movement-related legal or organizing job OR internship?

A reminder that all current NLG members have access to our Members-Only job board! This resource includes open positions for attorneys, paralegals, organizers, legal workers and law students.

Check it out at nlg.org/job-board (NOTE: you must be logged in with your nlg.org account to view this page). Have a job or internship listing you’d like to share with fellow Guild members? Send it to jobboard@nlg.org.

The post Member Recap, March 11, 2021 first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

People’s Tribunals: Holding Power to Account

“People’s tribunals are forums of justice set up by social justice movements and organizations to adjudicate cases often against states and state-backed corporations. Rather than courts and other judicial apparatus set up by states, organizers instead convene jurors from around the world to adjudicate. The judgments rendered through people’s tribunals are non-binding, as their decisions are not backed by forces of the state. However, these tribunals render significant power.”

Read the full article below, or download the PDF version.

Azadeh Shahshahani is the Legal and Advocacy Director at Project South. She has worked for a number of years in the U.S. South to protect and defend immigrants and Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities. She previously served as president of the National Lawyers Guild and as National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the ACLU of Georgia. Azadeh serves on the Advisory Council of the American Association of Jurists and on the Board of Directors of Defending Rights and Dissent. Azadeh has served as a trial monitor in Turkey, an election monitor in Venezuela and Honduras, and as a member of the jury in people’s tribunals on Mexico, the Philippines, and Brazil. She has also participated in international fact-finding delegations to post-revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt as well as a delegation focused on the situation of Palestinian political prisoners.

Image: 2018 International People’s Tribunal focused on the Philippines held in Brussels

Download the PDF file .

The post People’s Tribunals: Holding Power to Account first appeared on National Lawyers Guild.

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