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Clara Kent posted a blog on Dec 3, 2015

More on Chicago Reform

Today the New York Times published an op-ed piece by Charles Blow summarizing the reasons investigation and reform is needed with respect to the Chicago Police Department and the political actors who suppressed the Laquan McDonald police shooting videotape.

Blow sets the tone of the op-ed at the beginning, "This week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago sacrificed police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in order to save himself, as anger raged about the killing of Laquan McDonald in what read to many as a politically motivated effort to cover up video of that killing."

To read the article, click here

Clara Kent posted a blog on Dec 2, 2015

City of Chicago Should Release Videotape of Second Police Shooting

 The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights today calls for the release of police video of the police shooting of Ronald Johnson III.  Following the long delay in release of the video showing Laquan McDonald’s murder by police, the public should not have to wait further for release of another police video that may show use of excessive force in a police shooting that led to death.

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee has recently called for an investigation of the operations of the Chicago Police Department by the United State Department Civil Rights Division; for passage of the FAIR COPS ordinance that would create an independent Police Auditor to monitor civilian complaints of police misconduct, discipline imposed on police, and the operation of the agencies that are supposed to protect the public from police who use excessive force; for a special prosecutor to handle future cases of police shooting, taking that role away from State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez; and for a full, independent investigation of unanswered questions relating to the Laquan McDonald shooting, including the absence of audio on the police videotapes and the role of other officers on the scene.

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights is a consortium of leading Chicago law firms that provides pro bono litigation services to people with civil rights claims and transactional legal services to not-for-profit organizations.   The Lawyers’ Committee has been involved in leading civil rights cases in Chicago for over four decades.

For questions or comments, contact Paul Strauss Co Director of Litigation at (312) 202-3649.

Clara Kent posted a blog on Dec 1, 2015

CLCCRUL Supports Call for Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights Investigation of Chicago Police Department

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights endorses the request made today by the Chicago Urban League for a federal pattern or practice investigation of the Chicago Police Department by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights.

The Laquan McDonald shooting, captured on videotape, only starts a necessary conversation about failure to provide effective oversight of the Chicago police, in the face of repeated citizen complaints of police excessive use of force and misconduct.  The institutions in Chicago that are supposed to provide protection for the public are complete failures: police officers accused of misconduct are almost never disciplined, no matter how egregious the misconduct.

A task force created by the Mayor or investigation by the Police Department itself, or by other local officials, would not be sufficiently independent to be trusted by the public – it could not be relied upon to demand and cause the necessary, fundamental reforms.

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights is a consortium of leading Chicago law firms that provides pro bono litigation services to people with civil rights claims and transactional legal services to not-for-profit organizations. The Lawyers’ Committee has been involved in leading civil rights cases in Chicago for over four decades.

Click here to read a letter from the Chicago Urban League to the Attorney General. 

For questions or comments, contact Paul Strauss Co Director of Litigation at (312) 202-3649.

Clara Kent posted a blog on Dec 1, 2015

CLCCRUL Fully and Enthusiastically Supports the FAIR COPS Ordinance

The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights fully and enthusiastically supports the FAIR COPS Ordinance proposed by the Community Renewal Society.

The institutions in Chicago that are supposed to handle civilian complaints of police misconduct and excessive force are completely dysfunctional and need to be completely reformed. We refer particularly to the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) of the Chicago Police Department, the Police Board, and the arbitration procedure entailed in the police collective bargaining agreement. These institutions are complete failures: police officers accused of misconduct are almost never disciplined, no matter how egregious the conduct. 

The Community Renewal Society has called for passage for the FAIR COPS Ordinance, which would result in creation of an independent Police Auditor, selected by an independent third party, with access to all police records and complaints of misconduct, and subpoena power. The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights fully supports this proposal. Creation of a Police Auditor pursuant to the FAIR COPS Ordinance would open the records of civilian complaints about police misconduct to the public and would force the institutions that are supposed to discipline police to do their job.

The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a consortium of leading Chicago law firms that provides pro bono litigation services to people with civil rights claims and transactional legal services to not-for-profit organizations. CLCCRUL has been involved in leading civil rights cases in Chicago for over four decades. To donate to this critical work, click here

For questions or comments, contact Paul Strauss Co Director of Litigation at (312) 202-3649.

Clara Kent posted a blog on Nov 20, 2015

It Should Not Take a Decade to Get Records of Police Misconduct

 As described on Thursday, November 19, 2015 in the New York Times, recently released police data show that police officers repeatedly accused of misconduct are rarely penalized by the Police Department.  Time and again there are complaints of excessive use of force or other misconduct – nothing happens.  The existing mechanisms for police accountability are completely ineffective.  And there are disturbing racial patterns.  The facts are found in data gathered and released by the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization, and the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University Of Chicago Law School.  They have done a great service by gathering this data and making it available.  But according to the Times, they got the data only after a ten-year legal struggle.  It should not take a ten year legal fight to learn about our police.  Basic data about public complaints against police officers and the discipline – or lack of discipline – that results has to be made known to the public.  We cannot hold police accountable without it.  Bad police officers – and there are bad police officers – won’t be terminated without public exposure and public pressure.

Read the New York Times article here

Clara Kent posted a blog on Nov 20, 2015

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Applauds Decision Ordering Release of Fatal Police Shooting Video

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Inc. applauds the decision of Cook County Circuit Judge Franklin Valderrama requiring the City of Chicago to release the police video that shows the shooting death, by police, of 17 year old Laquan McDonald.  The City has agreed to pay $5 million in settlement of a civil suit about the shooting, but the video has not been released to the public.  Police videos of this kind must be released for public scrutiny. Maintenance of police policies and practices controlling excessive use of force and unnecessary killing depends on it.  The public has a right to control its police.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune. 

Clara Kent posted a blog on Nov 6, 2015

Paper Tigers: Documentary Viewing and CLE Opportunity

From Director James Redford and Executive Producer Karen Pritzker, Paper Tigers follows a year in the life of an alternative high school in Walla Walla, WA, that used the science and framework of Adverse Childhood Experiences to radically change its approach to student relationships and discipline, and in the process has become a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families. The film provides important lessons for attorneys working in civil rights, health law, school law, criminal law, and most importantly, information about the impact of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on clients. 

Wednesday, November 11th

12:00-2:00pm

Loyola Law School

25 E Pearson St., Chicago

0.75 CLE Credits

Register Online at: http://www.hmprg.org/Events/PaperTigers

Click here to watch movie trailer

Clara Kent posted a blog on Nov 5, 2015

Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Announces New Executive Director

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 5, 2015


CONTACT:
Debra Walker Johnson
Director of Development and External Affairs
312-202-3653 (office)

dwalkerjohnson@clccrul.org

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Announces

New Executive Director

CHICAGO, IL, November 5, 2015– Today, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. (CLCCRUL) announced Bonnie Allen as its new Executive Director, effective December 1, 2015, succeeding Jay S. Readey, who served in this capacity for five years. 

Bonnie Allen has spent her professional life working for racial justice and civil rights. Ms. Allen most recently has operated her own national consulting firm, Choose-Change, which focuses on organizational change, fund development and leadership development in nonprofit organizations with social justice missions. 

“The civil rights mission of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee is core to my sense of purpose as a lawyer, said Allen.  “Growing up in the segregated South I witnessed horrific injustice and abuse of African American people and migrant farmworkers. These experiences shaped my social justice values and vocational direction. When I first left the South to pursue opportunities in Chicago and Washington, D.C., I learned that racial disparities and structural racism were rampant throughout our country. I believe that using the power of the law to address these pervasive challenges is the highest calling of the legal profession, and a mission I seek to advance as an organizational leader.”

Prior to her current position, Bonnie was director of the American Bar Association’s Center for Pro Bono and co-directed the Project for the Future of Equal Justice at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She also served as executive director of Just Neighbors Immigrant Ministry and the Center for Law and Renewal based at the Fetzer Institute. From 2007 - 2014, Bonnie served as access to justice partnerships director and development director at the Mississippi Center for Justice, an affiliate of the National Lawyers' Committee, where she helped build one of the most successful social justice fundraising operations in the country.

Bonnie also is a teacher and writer and helped launch a “Leadership, Ethics and Democracy Building” initiative at the University of Maryland School of Law in 2007. At the law school, Bonnie served as adjunct clinical law professor where she co-designed and taught a new seminar on “Ethics and Professional Responsibility: The Rules and the Reality,” as well as a Hurricane Katrina summer clinic in Mississippi.  Bonnie currently is senior faculty for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law’s Equal Justice Leadership Academy and has written numerous journal articles, book chapters and reports on social justice lawyering, leadership and community education.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, “I am delighted to welcome Bonnie Allen as the new executive director,” said Board Chair Nancy Maldonado. “Bonnie brings the right combination of experience, skills, and passion to lead the organization into its next exciting period of growth and development. We look forward to her expertise and visionary leadership as she engages the pro bono efforts of the private bar and our other partners in securing a more just and equal Chicago.” 

Bonnie holds a law degree from the University of Florida College of Law, a master’s degree in theological studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College.

“Bonnie is an ideal individual to continue the growth initiated by outgoing Executive Director Jay Readey”, said Max Stein, Chair of the Search Committee.  “Jay spent five years devoted to the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, during which time he led the revitalization of existing programs such as the Voting Rights Project, started new programs responsive to community needs, such as the Educational Equity Project, and provided creative, visionary leadership.  We extend our utmost gratitude to Jay for his service as executive director.”

               

About the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee


The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. protects and promotes civil rights by bringing the strength and prestige of the private bar to bear on the problems of poverty and discrimination. Founded in 1969, the CLCCRUL champions equal justice and community development for underrepresented people by partnering with volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono litigation and transactional representation. For more information, visit www.clccrul.org or call (312) 630-9744.

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Clara Kent posted a blog on Nov 5, 2015

CLCCRUL Making National News in Gerrymandering Case

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s gerrymandering suit in Wisconsin, Whitford v. Nichol, is making headlines across the nation. Featured today in the National Journal, the lawsuit is sparking conversations about political gerrymandering and may, for the first time, help set a limit on extreme partisan gerrymandering across the country.

To read the National Journal article, click here.

To read the original press release on the case, click here.

Clara Kent posted a blog on Oct 26, 2015

Making a Difference in the Fight Against Discrimination

In early October, the 7th Circuit Bar Association held a training on Employment Law, Settlement Techniques, and the U.S. District Court, N.D. Ill., Settlement Assistance Program.

The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Settlement Assistance Program (SAP) is a unique pro bono opportunity for attorneys in Cook County looking for experience in the courtroom through their volunteer work. SAP provides pro bono representation to low income individuals with meritorious discrimination cases in federal court settlement conferences and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission mediations. The majority of cases are employment disputes, but SAP also addresses housing discrimination, prisoners’ rights, and excessive force cases against the police department.

The experience is rewarding for both the attorney volunteers and the pro se litigants. Litigants are provided with professional legal help in their settlement conference, while attorneys receive not only the gratification of helping someone defend themselves from discrimination, but also the experience of appearing in Federal court.

Hosted by the U.S. District Court, N.D. Ill., the training began with Honorable Ruben Castillo, Chief Judge, who gave opening remarks and stressed the importance of this program to the court. Our own J. Cunyon Gordon, Director of the Settlement Assistance Program, introduced SAP, what one might expect when taking on a case as a volunteer attorney, and the positive effect the volunteer attorneys have on both the pro se litigants and the court. The training continued with presentations from Margot Klein, Attorney at Valorem Law Group, LLP; Laura K. McNally, Partner at Loeb & Loeb, LLP; and Alejandro Caffarelli, Founder of Caffarelli & Associates, Ltd. The program concluded with an incredibly helpful and informative question and answer session with U.S. Magistrate Judges Hon. Jeffrey Cole, Hon. Sheila Finnegan, and Hon. Mary Rowland.

CLCCRUL was thrilled to see a packed room and hope that many in attendance will reach out to the Settlement Assistance Program for a pro bono opportunity.