Member Recap: May 2022

Welcome to NLG’s Member Recap, our monthly virtual newsletter to keep you up-to-date with the latest NLG National, Chapter, and Committee news, programs, and announcements!

Upcoming and Recorded Webinars and Events

Each year, NIPNLG hosts an extended CLE program prior to the AILA conference. This year, the program will include sessions on the categorical approach, winning post-conviction relief, CIMTs, pushing back on discretionary denials, strategies to fight “reason to believe” drug trafficking, and recent developments at the BIA and circuit courts. The program will take place over two days; you can register for one or both days.

Accessibility information: Live captioning is not provided.

NLG International hosted a webinar on the crisis in Ukraine with a wide-ranging discussion covering the present situation of war in Ukraine, international law analysis, and examination of the role of the United States and NATO. The webinar featured speakers: Yevgenii Gerasymenko, Ukrainian Association of Democratic Lawyers; Marjorie Cohn, National Lawyers Guild International, International Association of Democratic Lawyers; and Jan Fermon, secretary-general, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and was facilitated by Suzanne Adely, NLG President and NLG International co-chair.

Accessibility information: Auto-generated captioning available.

Join NLG’s Housing Committee for the first installment of our #Law4thePeople2022 programming! This webinar will explore legal support in tenant organizing and methods of getting housing out of the speculative market and into the hands of tenants. Register now and learn more by clicking the button below!

Accessibility information: Live captioning will be provided. While registration is open, you can let us know if there are other accessibility features you need in order to attend.

The International People’s Tribunal on U.S. Imperialism: Sanctions, Blockades & Economic Coercive Measures will challenge the economic atrocities committed by the United States through the use of the law, highlighting the unlawful, unjust, and colonial nature of economic coercive measures. It is co-sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild alongside a number of anti-imperialist organizations from around the world. In collaboration with international scholar activists and legal experts, the People’s Tribunal hosted an introductory webinar to discuss the urgent need to take legal action against U.S. sanctions and economic coercive measures.

Accessibility information: Closed captioning available.

Each year the National Immigration Project honors a member doing outstanding work for immigrant justice. In 2021, NIPNLG named this annual award after Lisa Brodyaga, a longtime National Immigration Project and NLG member whose career representing asylum seekers, other immigrants, and U.S. citizens spanned more than 40 years. This year, we honor Laila L. Hlass, a nationally recognized immigrant rights advocate, practitioner, and legal scholar. Join us for an evening of celebration. Light hors d’hoeuvres and a cash bar will be provided.

Accessibility information: This event is in-person in NYC.

Upcoming and Ongoing Campaigns

MLTF’s Virtual Literature TableAs a part of our commitment to learning and growing together, we invite you to join us in reading Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom by Derecka Purnell as part of an NLG-wide reading group.

We encourage Chapters, Committees, and other NLG groups to use our reading guide to organize their own reading groups and discussion circles.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is selling these t-shirts to raise commissary for locals currently in jail or prison due to their alleged roles in the George Floyd Uprising.

$15 – $30 sliding scale.

The t-shirts are currently sold out, but the webpage will be updated when the next shipment comes in.

Chapter and Committee Announcements

The Colorado Chapter would like to give a big shout out to Jes Jones and Z Williams for receiving the “Advancing Justice” Award from the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar on May 20, 2022. This award was given in recognition of the many months and long hours they spent supporting BLM protesters who took to the streets in response to George Floyd’s murder. Jes and Z tracked over 160 cases across the state, answered hundreds of legal line calls, and coordinated and supported over 60 pro bono attorneys, helping with everything from transportation to court hearings to strategic planning meetings with defense attorneys, and so much more, all with the help and support of NLG members here and across the nation!

Photo by Phil Cherner; Jes is on the left, Z on the right.

In PLEADING OUT: How Plea Bargaining Creates a Permanent Criminal Class (Basic Books; March 8, 2022), NLG member, civil rights lawyer, and professor Dan Canon investigates the practice from its origins in 1830s Boston to its present-day ubiquity among American courts, arguing that we cannot achieve criminal justice reform without addressing the system’s biggest enabler.

Western New York’s history with white nationalism and the militia movement is sadly extensive, long predating the events of J6, which led to prosecution for many Western New Yorkers, and the recent fascist attack on Buffalo’s Black community. Local law enforcement institutions are a distressing part of that history. Our county’s long-time sheriff, Timothy Howard, spoke at multiple events organized or heavily attended by groups such as the Oathkeepers, once while in uniform in front of a confederate flag. Additionally, the leader of the NY Watchmen militia, Charles Pellien, claims to have worked in several law enforcement capacities, including at the Erie County Holding Center (though this particular claim was denied by ECHC). 

It is in this environment that the Buffalo chapter of the NLG pursued answers from local law enforcement, candidates for sheriff, and the mayor regarding what was being done and what could be done to remove LEOs involved in organized white nationalist groups or illegal militias. From spring through fall of 2021, we sent FOIA requests to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the Buffalo Police Department, demanding to know what policies were currently in place to screen for such individuals. Their responses were that no information was available on that matter, leading us to conclude that either no policies were in place or that whatever was in place was not subject to public oversight. We sent letters to the ECSO, BPD, and mayor’s office, seeking an explanation, but have to date received none. Candidates for sheriff’s office were likewise unresponsive as to how they would handle the issue. 

NLG-Buffalo will continue to seek answers to the questions that underlie our letters and FOIA requests. What are law enforcement’s ties to organized white nationalism? How many employees are also militia members? What, if anything, is being done about this problem internally? The community deserves to know.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) joins statements concerning the upcoming presidential elections in Colombia. We implore the current government and its functionaries to abide by the will of the people and ensure the safety of members of El Pacto Histórico regardless of the election outcome. We also reaffirm our solidarity with progressive organizations and individuals doing accompaniment and electoral observation work in Colombia.

Kerry McLean, co-chair of the NLG International Committee, participated in a delegation to Morocco to meet with the family members of political prisoners from Western Sahara, under Moroccan occupation. The delegation, May 7-10, conducted meetings with the families of the 19 “Gdeim Izik” prisoners, prominent Sahrawi human rights defenders who were arbitrarily arrested in 2010 and sentenced to lengthy terms in prison following two trials marred by allegations of torture and numerous other irregularities; they are currently held under brutal conditions in six different prisons on Moroccan’s soil and denied medical, legal and family visits. The full report and video of the press conference is available here:

Opportunities to Get Involved with NLG Committees

[JUNE 8, 2022] Join MLTF in Planning a Webinar/CLE Series on Anti-Imperialist Military Law

NLG’s Military Law Task Force planning the first of a series of CLEs and activist webinars on military law on June 8, with an introduction to military law and a discussion of why anti-imperialists/anti-militarists do this work; people should email James Branum ( or Kathleen Gilberd ( for more information.

Please visit MLTF’s Virtual Literature Table for more information on what the Task Force is up to and how you can get involved!

Posted in News.