Perspectives: Zimmerman Acquitted; Racism Found Guilty

Ahmad Abuznaid is an attorney in Florida, and the Legal & Policy Director for The Dream Defenders, a non-profit organization intent on ending the systemic criminalization of communities of color. Contrary to the weather report, there’s no sun shining in the sunshine state today.  One of our own has been gunned down and brushed to the side by those who were sworn to protect him.  We have witnessed a jury of…

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Florida’s Strange Fruit

I hear you when you say don’t be surprised by the acquittal of George Zimmerman. With the lingering stench of racism, even the enlightened of us can begin to forget that our criminal legal system is rotten at its core.   Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition reminds us of the pungency of Florida’s Jim Crow atmosphere. We are all lulled by the sweet scent that a trial…

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Perspectives: Pass Immigration Reform or Forfeit the Immigrant Vote

On this Fourth of July, 11 million undocumented immigrants –Americans –wait with eagerness as the Senate bill S. 744, also known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 passed by a vote of 68-32 on June 27, 2013.  Over 300 amendments had been introduced since May 7, 2013. Fourteen Republicans voted to support immigration reform including John McCain, Mark Rubio and Lindsey Graham.  The stakes…

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Aftermath of the Rana Plaza Tragedy: Social and Health Issues Emerge Amid Struggle for Workers’ Rights

Two months after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar, Bangladesh on April 24, where over a thousand workers died and countless others were injured, families who lost a loved one or workers who were seriously injured face obstacles in obtaining compensation for lost wages, adequate health care for issues related to their injuries, and counseling for severe post-traumatic stress from the tragedy.  It is hard to imagine the full…

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(inter)Generation Movement Lawyer 2.0

In the 1960s, the term movement lawyer emerged to identify the lawyer that provided legal support to the social movements of the time from civil rights to women rights.   Movement lawyers fell along a wide ideological spectrum from Thurgood Marshall as the lawyer for NAACP to William Kunstler.   There were less publicly known lawyers such as Leo Branton Jr. who represented Angela Davis. Since then, lawyers who see their work…

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Perspectives: Let Our Diversity Define Us – The New America

According to the 2010 Census, ‘minorities’ in the United States now represent more than half of the US population under the age of 1.  Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans are on track to become the majority of this country’s population by 2050, they currently make up 37 % of the US population.  Yet 95% of the US Senate is white, as is 81% of the House of Representatives.  Our…

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Monsanto – A Legal Bully

A basic tenet of our American democracy is that where there is an injury there is a remedy as articulated in Marbury v. Madison, a landmark Supreme Court decision which established judicial review of executive decisions.  There, the court wrote: The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the laws whenever he receives an injury. That basic principle is…

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New York’s Pro Bono Requirement: Impetus to Incorporating a Social Justice Curriculum in the First Year of Law School

— Martin Luther King, Jr. , 18th April, 1959 Last year, in 2012, Chief Judge Lippman announced a new pro bono requirement for all applicants seeking admission to the New York State Bar to perform 50 hours of legal services under the supervision of an attorney.  Pro bono service is defined generally as any law-related activity performed for low income or disadvantaged individuals.  This new requirement was intended to address…

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Perspectives: Civil Rights as Labor Rights

On this May Day, an internationally recognized workers’ day, we are reminded that thousands of American workers continue to face discrimination on the job each year based on a protected status, such as race, gender or religion, despite a patchwork of existing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. In recent years, for example, nearly 100,000 workers have filed discrimination claims annually with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and about…

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