Member News Digest 5/8/20: Member News Digest:#MakeChevronCleanUp, Modernizing Ballot Initiatives, NPAP Victory, Upcoming Webinars

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Apply for NLG Leonard Weinglass Fellowship by May 18!

A reminder that the NLG Weinglass Fellowship deadline is May 18, 2020! For more information about the fellowship and how to apply, visit: www.nlg.org/2020-nlg-leonard-i-weinglass-memorial-fellowship/

Thanks to a generous bequest from the Weinglass estate, the NLG Foundation has established a fellowship for recent law graduates. Each year, one fellow will receive a stipend to work for the NLG on a specific civil rights or civil liberties project. Previous fellows have developed projects to assist with parole and sponsorship for LGBTQ+ migrants, reunite American citizen-children with undocumented parents who have been deported to their country of origin, support community bond funds, and fight a new maximum security prison planned for construction on a former coal mining site. One Fellow will be chosen annually and receive a $4,250 award to work on a 10-week project that is in line with the mission of the NLG and the career of Leonard Weinglass. The Fellow will also receive free registration for one year to the NLG #Law4thePeople Convention, and will be highlighted on the Guild website, social media sites, and Guild Notes.


5/4/20: NLG Seattle and Tax Amazon Campaign Call for Electronic Initiative Petitions 

The NLG Seattle Chapter called on the City of Seattle and the Secretary of State to reform their initiative petitioning rules to allow for digital signature collection for ballot initiatives and candidates during the pandemic, rather than rely on the currently dangerous method of in-person signature collection. NLG-Seattle joined the Tax Amazon Campaign and City Councilmember Kshama Sawant in a digital press conference about the issue on Monday.

As NLG Seattle member ​Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin​ stated: “Direct democracy doesn’t need to be another victim of this pandemic.”


4/30/20: NLG to Harvard Law: Drop Investigation Against Student Activists

Last week, the NLG sent this letter to the Harvard Law School administration urging them to drop their investigation against student activists (including an NLG member) who participated in a 10-minute silent protest over Harvard’s investments in prisons in 2019.

“Even more disconcerting is the fact that most of the students being sanctioned for this protest are people of color, although many white law students participated […] We call on Harvard Law to focus their attention on divesting from the broken mass incarceration system rather than punishing individual students using their right to free speech to advocate for incarcerated people,” the letter reads. Read the full letter and sign the petition.


4/23/20 | Newsweek | Nearly 92% of Inmates Tested at Indiana Correctional Facility Positive for Coronavirus Amid Calls for Inmates to Be Released

“Nearly 92 percent of inmates tested for coronavirus at a correctional facility in Westville, Indiana, were reportedly found to have the virus.  According to The Chicago Tribune, out of 137 prisoners tested for COVID-19 at the Westville Correctional facility, 126 received a positive result for the virus […]

Indiana immigration advocates and attorneys have been pushing for lawmakers to take similar steps, with the Indiana chapter of the National Lawyers Guild recently calling on officials to release prisoners who are at risk of dying or becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus outbreak.” Read the full article here.


NPAP: $6 Million Settlement in San Diego Police Misconduct Suit

The NLG’s National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) celebrated a victory this week, when a team of their San Diego lawyers won a recent wrongful death suit that took nearly 5 years from inception to completion.

Kevin Brown, pictured with his wife, Rebecca, died by suicide in October of 2014 after a nearly year long investigation into his involvement in a murder from 1984 upended his family’s life. In February, a jury ruled in favor of Rebecca, awarding her $6 million in compensatory damages, as well as $40,000 in punitive damages from the detective who insisted on continuing the investigation despite an absence of any meaningful evidence against Kevin. Read more about the case: https://www.nlg-npap.org/project/brown-suit/


NPAP Webinar: Asking for Damages During a Pandemic

Friday, May 22, 2pm-3pm ET

This FREE one hour program by the NLG’s National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) will discuss how to present damages at settlement and trial after a catastrophic event.

Register for the webinar here.


NIPNLG CLE Webinar: Fighting for Due Process in the Immigration System

Friday, May 15, 11am-5:30pm, ET

Join the National Immigration Project of the NLG’s  all-day CLE webinar, “Fighting for Due Process in the Immigration System.”

Read the full agenda here and register for the CLE here.


NLG IC + IADL: Open Letter Demanding an End to Unprecedented House Arrest of Human Rights Attorney Steven Donziger and a Call to the International Human Rights Community to #MakeChevronCleanUp

The NLG International Committee and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers is calling for signatories to this open letter calling for the release of human rights attorney Steven Donzinger, an investigation into Jude Lewis A. Kaplan, and accountability by Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The letter calls this “one of the most important corporate accountability and human rights cases of our time” and includes three demands: #FreeDonzinger, #InvestigateKaplan, and #MakeChevronCleanUp.

Legal and human rights organizations, lawyers, legal workers and law students may sign onto the letter here. The full text of the letter is available at https://bit.ly/donzigercaseletter.


Alan Lawrence Hirshman (1930-2020)

We are deeply saddened to report the passing of long-standing member Alan Hirshman from complications of COVID-19. Alan joined the NLG NYC Chapter in 1952, while a student at Brooklyn Law School. At almost 90, Alan remained an active member and attorney, running a Brooklyn-based law practice for over 60 years.

“A proud and active National Lawyers Guild member since 1952, he defended anti-war protesters, political prisoners, confronted housing discrimination, and proudly represented disenfranchised and wrongfully accused people,” stated his obituary in the New York Times.

Rest in power, Alan. We’ll miss you.


5/6/20: Military Law Task Force (MLTF) of the NLG Statement on COVID-19

The Military Law Task Force of the NLG has issued the following statement regarding the U.S. government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic:

The NLG Military Law Task Force is outraged that the Commander in Chief apparently ignored direct warnings from the National Center for Medical Intelligence and other agencies of an impending pandemic.  As a result, servicemembers around the world are in real danger.  The Department of Defense was similarly slow in its response.  The DoD has made conflicting statements and issued conflicting policies concerning the virus as have the individual services.  Those statements that suggest that military readiness is more important than protecting its people are offensive.  The recent events concerning the U.S.S. Roosevelt with nearly 600 infected and one dead demonstrate that the military needs to vastly improve its response to this crisis and protect its enlisted sailors, soldiers and marines.  The MLTF stands ready to support servicemembers who are affected by DoD’s policies on COVID-19.  Servicemembers and their families who are denied appropriate medical care or personal protective equipment are encouraged to contact the MLTF at nlg.mltf@gmail.com or (619) 463-2369.

MLTF will be publishing a memo on the U.S. Military’s COVID-19 policies, which can be read/downloaded by the public without charge. For future updates or new MLTF material on this matter, check this site’s COVID-19 tag page.


Submit an NLG Amicus Proposal

The NLG Amicus Committee is accepting proposals for amicus briefs to be submitted on behalf of the Guild!

This form is for NLG members, chapters, committees, and projects to propose cases well-suited for Guild involvement, and to help us identify who in our membership might assist in drafting and reviewing briefs: Amicus Proposal Form for NLG Members. Please answer the questions in as much detail as possible.

If you would like to request that the NLG sign onto a brief from another organization, please fill out the NLG Amicus Form for Outside Organizations.

After a proposal has been submitted, it will be reviewed by the NLG Amicus Committee and sent to the Executive Council of the NLG National Executive Committee for final approval. Because of time and monetary restraints, we may not be able to accept all proposals, but we will do our best to represent the interests of our members and entities.

If you have any questions, please email amicus@nlg.org.  Please allow 2-3 weeks for the Amicus Committee and EC to review the proposal and respond.


5/6/20 | NLG Joins 100 Organizations in Calling for Robust Funding to Save USPS

The NLG is proud to be one of 101 organizations that signed onto this letter organized by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, calling for robust funding for the US Postal Service in the next coronavirus response package.

“Congress must act now to save the USPS, the hundreds of thousands of jobs included in its diverse workforce, and the communities that depend upon this critical federal agency. A vote against adequate, timely funding for the USPS is an anti-civil rights vote,” the letter stated. Read the full letter here.


4/30/20 | NLG joins 164 organizations to demand: Stop Deportations to Haiti

As three deportees to Haiti and 75 deportees to Guatemala test positive for coronavirus, 164 organizations from the U.S. and Haiti declare deportations to be Trump’s cruel, and usual, punishment of Haitians in an open letter.

“Rather than be deported where they face serious harm if they fall ill and risk infecting thousands of others, they should be released from detention into the care of their friends and families so that they may safely quarantine, especially those who are more vulnerable to serious complications from the virus due to age, medical condition or other factors,” the letter stated. Read the letter here, and coverage about it in the Haitian Times.


5/5/20 | Law360 | NY Ordered To Reinstate Presidential Primary Despite Virus

“A federal judge on Tuesday ordered New York to reinstate its June 23 presidential primary that had been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.” US District Judge Analisa Torres ruled that “canceling the primary deprived both delegates and voters of their constitutional right to influence the party platform.”

“Sanders’ delegates are represented by J. Remy Green and Elena Cohen of Cohen Green PLLC, Arthur Z. Schwartz of Advocates for Justice, and Jonathan Wallace of Ratschko Wallace PLLC”—all NLG-NYC members!


5/5/20 | New York Times | An N.Y.P.D. officer was stripped of his gun and badge after footage of him punching a bystander went viral.

Even during a global pandemic, racialized police violence continues. An NYPD officer has been placed on modified duty after a video showing him punching a bystander to the ground, who was witnessing the arrest of two other people in NYC’s Lower East Side on Sunday, went viral. NLG-NYC member Dave Rankin is representing the bystander, Mr. Donni Wright.

“David Rankin, a civil rights lawyer representing Mr. Wright, said the arrest fit within the police department’s long history of violating people’s rights to observe an arrest and called on the officer to be investigated ‘fully, quickly, and thoroughly.’ … ‘The idea that he is doing this without any gloves and no masks, and using profanity and racially charged language, is just completely unacceptable,’ he said.”


5/6/20 | Colorlines | ‘Please Help Us’: Those on the Inside Are in Grave Danger [Op-Ed]

“There are now more COVID-19 cases among the employees and detained immigrants at the Stewart Detention Center than there are in all of Stewart County. These numbers are gross underestimates as jails and prisons across the country are reporting lack of testing, and ICE has only tested 1,285 out of the 32,000 immigrants currently in its custody…The lives of thousands of individuals are on the line,” writes past president Azadeh Shahshahani in this op-ed, co-authored with Priyanka Bhatt.


5/2/20 | Truthout | Israel’s New Government Is Exploiting Pandemic to Annex 30 Percent of West Bank

“Trump’s approval is key to Israel’s ability to commit the war crime of annexation with impunity. The U.S. government bankrolls Israel’s illegal occupation to the tune of $3.8 billion annually. In fact, the Netanyahu-Gantz unity deal requires that Trump assent to its terms, which is all but certain,” writes NLG past president Marjorie Cohn in this Truthout op-ed. Read the full article here.


SAVE THE DATE: September 21-October 4 / #Law4thePeople 2020: A Digital Convention

The NLG National Office is thrilled to announce that we’ll be holding the first-ever all digital convention this fall, September 21-October 4! Unlike our usual five-day format, we’re spreading out events over two weeks 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. As always, we will offer sliding-scale registration, with waivers available upon request, and no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

One of the most treasured aspects of the convention is the community and relationship building that takes place in between programming. That’s why in addition to workshops, major panels, meetings, CLEs, and governance, we will be sure to include online social events and other ways our attendees can connect with each other. Read the full announcement here, and RSVP at the Facebook event.


Recap: May Day / International Workers’ Day 2020

5/1/20 | BLOG: May Day 2020 and the State of Protests During the Pandemic

NLG Mass Defense Director Tyler Crawford wrote this important piece on how the pandemic is shaping protest tactics and solidarity demands.

“Workers, immigrants, and tenants are finding new forms of resistance and activism that are safe and socially distant, from vehicle caravan protests to virtual town halls,” said Kath Rogers, Executive Director of NLG-LA. “We want to make sure people’s right to organize, build collective power, and express themselves is respected because that is our best hope of creating a more just and equitable future out of this time of great suffering.”

5/1/20 | NLG Labor & Employment Committee: May Day Demands During COVID-19 and Beyond

Read this statement by the NLG Labor & Employment Committee: “This May Day the working class is immersed in a crisis of historic magnitude. The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding economic crisis have revealed the incompatibility of the capitalist system with basic human rights. The profit-driven economy laid the foundation for the loss of income by billions around the world, pushing communities into deeper precarity even as the wealthy continue to grow their wealth in a new stage of disaster capitalism.”

5/2/20 | Eagle Times | Caravan draws attention to at-risk populations amid virus

For May Day, the NLG New Hampshire and Vermont Chapters participated in a coalition with other community groups iin a three-stop “quarantine caravan.” The NH and VT NLG also sent a joint letter to urge the states’ governors to decarcerate.

“In this pandemic, people who are incarcerated and in immigration detention in Vermont and New Hampshire face a potential death sentence,” said Hartford resident Asma Elhuni of the National Lawyers Guild New Hampshire. “Our message is: ‘Care, Not Cages.’”


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.

Posted in Member News Digest.