The Equal Justice Society is transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts. A national legal organization focused on restoring constitutional safeguards against discrimination, EJS’s goal is to help achieve a society where race is no longer a barrier to opportunity. Specifically, EJS is working to fully restore the constitutional protections of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause, which guarantees all citizens receive equal treatment under the law. We use a three-pronged approach to accomplish these goals, combining legal advocacy, outreach and coalition building, and education through effective messaging and communication strategies. Our legal strategy aims to broaden conceptions of present-day discrimination to include unconscious and structural bias by using cognitive science, structural analysis, and real-life experience. Currently, EJS targets its advocacy efforts on school discipline, special education, and the school-to-prison pipeline, local service and municipal disparities, and inequities in the criminal justice system.
Repealing Proposition 209 (ACA 5) – In a milestone towards efforts to repeal Proposition 209 initiated by the Equal Justice Society, Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber (D–San Diego) and a broad coalition of colleagues and business leaders on March 10 announced ACA 5, which would initiate a ballot initiative to officially repeal Proposition 209, California’s ban on affirmative action. ACA 5 is authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber and Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson, and co-authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, and Senator Holly Mitchell. ACA 5 is supported by a broad multiracial coalition of civil rights organizations across California including the Equal Justice Society, the California Black Chamber of Commerce, Chinese for Affirmative Action, EdTrust West, and scores of community-based organizations.
Sanders v. Kern County High School District – Since achieving their landmark settlement agreement with the Kern High School District in July 2017 which requires the District to implement measures to reduce the disproportionate suspensions, expulsions and transfers of Black and Latino students, EJS and co-counsel have closely monitored the District’s compliance. There has been some progress as shown by the District’s adoption of tools and policies designed to emphasize positive behavior reinforcement and services over discipline and the overall change in the discipline rate that has brought Latino and White students closer to parity. But Black students continue to be disparately punished. EJS and co-counsel are preparing for a hearing to enforce the agreement against the District and seek justice for Black students. In related litigation (Collins v. Torlakson) where Plaintiffs sued the State Superintendent and the California Department of Education for failing to correct the District’s racial discrimination against African American and Latino students, the state Court of Appeal sided with Plaintiffs holding that the State has a duty to monitor whether school districts are obeying anti-discrimination laws and that the State can be sued when is fails to do so.
Black Parallel School District v. Sacramento City Unified School District – In September 2019 EJS and partners filed a class action against the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) on behalf of the Black Parallel School Board and three Black students with disabilities for flagrant race and disability discrimination. That suit charges that SCUSD routinely segregates students with disabilities from their classmates in general education, and, particularly for Black children with disabilities, unfairly punishes and harasses these students rather than provide them with the supports and services the law requires to help them to do well at school. In December 2019, the District entered into a preliminary agreement with plaintiffs to, among other things, stop all District suspensions of students in grades K through 8 for “willful defiance” and certain other types of suspensions. Plaintiffs and the District are currently in negotiations for a potential settlement agreement to protect the District’s students with disabilities and Black students with disabilities for the long term.
Smith v. Regents of University of California – On December 10, 2019, EJS, Public Counsel and other law organizations representing four students, six nonprofits and the Compton Unified School District sued the UC Board of Regents for its use of SAT and ACT test scores in admissions decisions. The UC System’s top researchers know that SAT and ACT scores do not significantly correlate to how students will fare in college. Thus, the lawsuit alleges that the tests are mere barriers to higher education for students of color and students with disabilities that decide students’ future based on their race and socioeconomic status and not on individual merit. 2018 SAT data for California shows that 44% of White students scored 1200 or above, compared to only 10% of Black students and 12% of Latinx students. And though Asian students have the highest scores when grouped together by the College Board certain subgroups among Asians and Pacific Islanders score much lower than average. The lawsuit demands that the Regents instruct all admissions offices in the University of California system to stop requiring SAT and ACT scores from prospective applicants. Though the Regents have suspended use of these tests for admissions temporarily in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have thus far refused to end use of the tests permanently. The plaintiffs, EJS and its co-counsel press on with their original demands.
CGS v. Becerra – In January 2019, EJS joined plaintiffs the Center for Genetics and Society and individual plaintiff, Pete Shanks, in a suit against the State of California for its collection and retention of genetic profiles of hundreds of thousands of Californians arrested but never convicted of any crime. After the DNA samples are collected, the DNA is analyzed and uploaded to the nationwide Combined DNA Index System, or “CODIS,” which is shared with law enforcement across the U.S. The DNA profiles remain in the state and national database indefinitely. Innocent people whose DNA profiles remain in the database have been mistakenly arrested, charged, or even imprisoned—in some cases for years—based on crime-lab and other errors that found a supposed CODIS match between their profile and DNA found at a crime scene. The Court ruled against EJS and the other plaintiffs on October 1, 2019 on the state’s motion to dismiss the case; the case is on appeal. The Law Office of Michael Richer and the ACLU are representing EJS and other plaintiffs.
Implicit Bias Training for Probation Officers Legislation – Last year EJS helped usher the historic passage of two implicit bias bills that will require implicit bias training for healthcare professionals, judges, court personnel and attorneys in California—the first laws of their kind in the country. Following this success, EJS is sponsoring AB 2977 (Wicks) this legislative session, a bill that will require implicit bias training for correctional officers. The current language of the bill recognizes that “[p]sychology studies show that Americans are likely to associate Black faces with criminality, to misidentify common objects as weapons after being shown photos of Black faces, and to label photos of Black people as threatening[,]” and that “[c]orrectional personnel harbor the same kinds of implicit biases as others.”
Progressive Pipeline to the Federal Judiciary – People seeking their day in federal court and justice for voting, employment and myriad other civil rights violations are facing a hostile judiciary who are putting up daunting barriers. Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate have succeeded in filling judgeships at an unprecedented rate with ultra conservative judges, several with controversial credentials, drawn from the Federalist Society’s vast network of conservative law students, professors and attorneys. EJS is collaborating with ChangeLawyers and others to develop a countervailing force—a progressive pipeline to the federal bench. EJS is focused on developing the first segment of the pipeline – supporting law students of color and other progressive students to clerk after law school and get the critical experience they need to become judges.
Voter Empowerment Summit – EJS spearheaded a Voter Mobilization & Protection Summit on April 4. There were nearly 800 unique viewers of the summit, which was held online. livestreamed on Facebook, and available for viewing at https://votersummit.org. EJS co-sponsored this event with: California Civil Rights Coalition, New Georgia Project, SEIU 1021, She The People, Advancement Project (National Office), Advancement Project California, Indivisible East Bay, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Disability Rights California, Free Speech for People, The Bar Association of San Francisco, Transformative Justice Coalition, and The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
EJS Launches ‘Remembering 1619’ Observance – The Equal Justice Society hosted Remembering 1619, a series of events and activities throughout 2019 to observe the 400th anniversary of slavery in the United States. 1619 was the beginning of much misery, degradation, evil, and pain in our country.
‘Remembering 1619’ Commemoration at SFJAZZ – The Equal Justice Society presented a special “Remembering 1619” event marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans at Jamestown, Virginia, on August 20, at SFJAZZ. The evening featured a four-act artistic presentation with The Marcus Shelby Quintet, Joanna Haigood and Zaccho Dance Theatre, Actor Steven Anthony Jones, The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol, Pianist Joe Warner, Directorial Consultant and Dramaturg Kim Euell, Set Designer Wayne Campbell, Filmmakers Cheo Tyehimba Taylor and David Goldberg, and Executive Producer Eva Paterson. The video of the performance was released on March 27, 2020.
Panel: The Impact of American Slavery on American Jurisprudence on Activism – On February 21, 2019, a panel that included Lisa Holder, Interim Legal Director, Equal Justice Society; Shauna Marshall, The Honorable Raymond L. Sullivan Professor of Law UC Hastings College of the Law; Dale Minami, Partner, Minami Tamaki LLP; Megan Ming Francis, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Washington; Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, National ACLU; and Eva Paterson, President & Co-founder, Equal Justice Society was held in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco.
EJS President Eva Paterson Testifies on White Supremacy at House Judiciary Hearing – Equal Justice Society President Eva Paterson testified on April 9 at the hearing on Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary.
Eva Paterson PBS NewHour Discussing Reparations and the 2020 Election – The April 12, 2019, PBS NewHour featured a segment by Yamiche Alcindor with EJS President Eva Paterson on reparations and the 2020 presidential election.
Board of Equal Justice Society Unanimously Votes to Support Impeachment Inquiry Based on Trump’s Racist Abuses of Power – On September 7, the EJS board voted unanimously to support the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. In August, the staff of EJS met and unanimously voted to ask our Board to support an impeachment inquiry. Legal Director Mona Tawatao wrote a memo outlining the legal and moral rationale for our position.
Implicit Bias Bills Introduced by Calif. Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove – In early October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 241 and AB 242, requiring implicit bias training for judges, attorneys, court personnel, and healthcare professionals. The new laws make California the first state in the nation to require implicit bias training for these positions in the state judiciary and healthcare system. In collaboration with the Equal Justice Society, Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 241 and AB 242 as part of a bills package designed to help reduce disparities in health care, the justice system and law enforcement. Yoana Tchoukleva, EJS Judge Motley Civil Rights Fellow, and Lisa Holder, Of Counsel to EJS, were instrumental in drafting bill language, providing amendments, testifying at hearings, and garnering support for the bills. EJS has been laying the groundwork for this legislation for decades by educating the public on the underlying mind science and by affording institutions tools for managing bias at the individual, interpersonal and institutional levels.
EJS and Co-Counsel Sue Sacramento School District Over the Segregation and Mistreatment of Students with Disabilities, Particularly Black Students with Disabilities – On September 9, a coalition of nonprofit advocacy groups led by the Equal Justice Society have filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar, and others on behalf of the Black Parallel School Board and three students in the District. The suit alleges flagrant districtwide discrimination against students with disabilities, especially Black students. The District has organized its programs in a way that segregates and denies students with disabilities, particularly Black students with disabilities, a meaningful opportunity to be educated side-by-side with their peers in an inclusive environment. Further, the suit alleges the District imposes excessive and exclusionary discipline on students with disabilities for behavior caused by their disabilities. The District disciplines Black students with disabilities more frequently and more harshly instead of providing the services and support they need to thrive.
Students, Community Groups, Kern County Office of Education Reach Settlement – A coalition of Latino and Black students, their parents, community groups and the Kern County Office of Education (KCOE) in May reached a settlement of a lawsuit involving a dispute over the enrollment of students in KCOE-operated schools. The lawsuit was filed in 2014 against the Kern High School District, the KCOE and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS), the State of California, the California Department of Education, and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Plaintiffs were represented by the California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Equal Justice Society, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc. (GBLA), and by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, PC. The plaintiffs include families of KHSD students enrolled in KCOE schools, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, National Brotherhood Association, and Faith in Kern. The KCOE and KCSOS were represented by Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud, & Romo. The lawsuit as originally filed included causes of action alleging the KCOE unlawfully discriminated against students of color, and those causes of action were dismissed as to KCOE by the assigned judge during the course of the litigation.
Eva Paterson, Gloria Steinem, Neal Katyal as Special Guests on Mueller Book Club – Equal Justice Society President Eva Paterson joins women’s rights icon Gloria Steinem and former Acting Solicitor General of the United States Neal Katyal on the June 3, 2019, Mueller Book Club. EJS was part of the Not Above the Law coalition, calling on Americans to start local reading groups and participating in a weekly broadcast to discuss the Mueller Report.
Panel on ‘Creating a Progressive Pipeline to the Federal Judiciary’ – The Equal Justice Society, American Constitution Society for Law & Policy, and California ChangeLawyers co-hosted on August 26 a presentation and panel discussion for lawyers and law students exploring how progressives can develop a pipeline to the federal judiciary from law schools through clerkships and legal careers resulting in qualified progressive jurists appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Speakers included: U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson; Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky; ACS President Caroline Fredrickson; EJS President Eva Paterson; California ChangeLawyers Executive Director Christopher Punongbayan; and law student Oscar Sarabia Roman.
Antioch school district must face trial on agreement to remedy bias against Black students – In February, a state court rejected the Antioch Unified School District’s (AUSD’s) attempt to renege on an agreement made with the East County NAACP to address federal civil rights and disability rights violations against African American students. AUSD agreed in March 2015 to retain experts to investigate the District’s alleged discriminatory practices. The experts—chosen from the fields of school discipline, special education, and social psychology—were to make recommendations to address discrimination, which stemmed in part from implicit bias. Although the District initially complied with its obligations under the agreement, it ultimately refused to move forward, and the experts were unable to complete their investigation or recommendations as a result. Attorneys for East County NAACP were forced to sue the District in July 2016 for breaking their promise.
EJS-produced video features “Jack McCoy” drawing the line on firing Rosenstein – On April 16, TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw.org, a collaborative effort of dozens of organizations from across the political and ideological spectrum, released a video featuring Sam Waterston, the Academy Award nominated star of The Killing Fields and NBC’s Law & Order. The brainchild of Eva Paterson, the video was produced and directed by Valerie Stadler, written by Linda Burstyn and Norm Eisen, and edited by Eurie Chung. In the video, Waterston introduces Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, “the most important U.S. prosecutor you’ve never heard of,” and the DOJ official overseeing Robert Mueller. He discusses how Trump firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be the first step to firing special counsel Robert Mueller.
EJS Mind Science Conference: Fighting Racism and Other Forms of Bias: What’s Working!? – On June 22-23, EJS held a Mind Science Conference at the Oakland Marriott City Center. This conference was made possible through generous grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Henry L. Hecht Family Fund, The California Wellness Foundation, The California Endowment, and Open Society Foundations. In 2017, EJS hosted the Resilience of Racism Conference, which explored mind science concepts such as implicit bias and racial anxiety in an effort to better understand and ameliorate racism in all of its manifestations while also acknowledging the unfortunate resurgence of white supremacy. Building upon the foundation of understanding racism and its impact, the “Fighting Racism and Other Forms of Bias: What’s Working!?” was a more intimate two-day convening of activists, academics, and attorneys focused on how we can reduce or counteract bias.
EJS Judge Constance Baker Motley Fellowship Restarted – Elizabeth J. Cabraser’s generous gift helped the Equal Justice Society reactivate its Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellowship. Ms. Cabraser, who funded the 2001 conference that led to the founding of EJS, pledged to fund the fellowship for five years. EJS established the Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellowship in 2006 to nurture the talents of a new generation of progressive lawyers to transform anti-discrimination law and policy. Judge Motley (September 14, 1921-September 28, 2005) was the first African American woman to serve on the federal bench and the first African American woman to serve as chief judge.
Eva Paterson Op-ed on Kavanaugh in SF Chronicle – “Opinion: Kavanaugh will undermine progress made on justice for all” by Eva Paterson was published on September 5 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Excerpt: “Brett Kavanaugh has been nominated by President Trump to fill the vacancy created by the premature retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Civil rights activists, abortion rights advocates, the disability rights community, and those concerned with limiting the authority of the executive branch are alarmed by this nomination. As an African American civil rights attorney who has been practicing law since 1975, I am certain that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, the hands of the judicial clock will be turned back to the ’50s — and by that I mean the 1850s.”
EJS Report: Breaking The Chains 2: The Preschool-To-Prison Pipeline Epidemic – The increasing trend of suspending students is part of a phenomenon known as the school-to-prison pipeline (“STPP”). Equal Justice Society’s previous publication, “Breaking The Chains”, explains the STPP as the process by which at-risk high school and middle school students are pushed out of learning environments and into the juvenile justice system. A new report, “Breaking The Chains 2: The Preschool-To-Prison Pipeline Epidemic”, launched on October 10, aimed to broaden the scope of this inquiry by detailing how disproportionate discipline in preschool through 3rd grade can inhibit a child’s social development and academic success.
EJS at ‘Good Ally’ Strategic Engagement Conference – The Equal Justice Society participated in “How to Be a Good Ally: A Strategic Engagement Conference” on Friday, January 6, 2017, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. EJS Legal Director Allison Elgart moderated a panel on voting rights. The conference brought together more than 1,000 participants in response to the post-election climate of rising hate, intimidation, and discrimination. The conference was organized by a team led by Kelly Dermody and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and Yolanda Jackson and the Bar Association of San Francisco.
Good Ally Collaborative, an EJS Grand Alliance Effort – The Rosenberg Foundation awarded the Equal Justice Society with a discretionary grant of $15,000 to support EJS’s “Grand Alliance” efforts, specifically the coalition management of the Good Ally Collaborative. The Good Ally Collaborative was a network of attorneys and activists that grew out of the “How to Be a Good Ally Strategic Engagement Conference” held on January 6, 2017, in San Francisco. The team at EJS served as coordinators of the Good Ally Collaborative, transitioning the Good Ally conference attendees into a 600-member coalition designed to connect skills and resources with needs, intersect with existing movements, and develop solutions to unmet challenges. EJS’s work with the Good Ally Collaborative was part of its “Grand Alliance” approach, which reflects the organization’s vision of justice that explicitly acknowledges the interconnectedness between various issues, struggles and constituencies.
Eva Paterson Joins Legal Advisory Board of Impeachment Campaign – Equal Justice Society President Eva Paterson joined the Legal Advisory Board of the Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump Now, the national movement for an impeachment investigation of President Trump. The campaign, launched on Inauguration Day and led by two public interest organizations, Free Speech For People and RootsAction.org, called on Congress to start an investigation based on the President’s direct and ongoing violations of the two anti-corruption provisions of the US Constitution and based on the President’s apparent interference with a criminal investigation by his improper attempts to influence, and his ultimate firing of, FBI Director James Comey.
Resilience of Racism Conference – The Resilience of Racism Conference, hosted by the Equal Justice Society, was held June 1-3, 2017, at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. The conference explored mind science concepts such as implicit bias and racial anxiety to better understand and ameliorate racism in all its manifestations.
Launch of National Implicit Bias Network – EJS launched the National Implicit Bias Network on June 1. The network aspires to be a leading resource and voice on implicit bias and the phenomenon’s interaction with structural racism. We will also address other mind science phenomenon including racial anxiety and stereotype threat. The Network will focus on implicit bias education outreach to allies in the progressive and the resistance communities to reduce structural race and gender barriers impeding progress of our movement. The Network will also be a platform for scholars, organizers, and advocates to translate academic research into practical information and tools that can be used to explain and address inequality. The Network had a founding membership of more than 40 attorneys, jurists, social scientists, scholars, and advocates.
Kern Latino and African American Students Achieve Victory in Landmark Settlement with Kern High School District – Latino and Black students enrolled in the Kern High School District, together with their parents and community activist organizations Dolores Huerta Foundation, National Brotherhood Association, and Faith in Kern, announced a historic settlement on July 26 in their challenge to discriminatory practices. The plaintiffs were represented by a coalition of civil rights lawyers, including California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), Equal Justice Society, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc. (GBLA), and Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, P.C. The settlement with the Kern High School District (KHSD) Board of Trustees is the result of a three-year court battle to stop years of discriminatory discipline practices that deprived African American and Latino students of their right to an education. The settlement, the first of its kind in California, included an immediate change to Kern High School District discipline practices and an acknowledgment by the school district that students of color face higher rates of discipline than white students. KHSD agreed to implement major policy changes to reduce the disproportionate suspensions, expulsions and involuntary school transfers of African American and Latino students.
Launch of ‘This Week in White Supremacy’ – On September 8, EJS launched “This Week in White Supremacy,” a new feature detailing actions and policies that further the cause of white supremacy as part of EJS’s fight against white supremacy. The weekly email grew from a suggestion by Susan Baronoff and Virg Dzurinko.
Daily Journal Op-Ed by Allison Elgart on Post-Election SCOTUS – EJS Legal Director Allison Elgart penned an op-ed in the Daily Journal legal newspaper shortly after the election. Allison shared her thoughts on how the Trump’s future Supreme Court nominee could impact issues before the Court, such as diversity in higher education.
Lawsuit Against Kern High School District to Stop Discriminatory Disciplinary Policies, Practices – This case challenged the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of Brown and Black children. EJS won a number of rulings in this case thwarting the attempts of the defendants to dismiss this case. Our organizational clients, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Faith in Action-Kern County, and the National Brotherhood Association have been attempting to gain equity for these students for many years. The litigation allows their grievances to be taken seriously. EJS is co-counsel with MALDEF, the California Rural Legal Assistance, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati. In addition to successfully resisting attempts to dismiss the case, co-counsel has been engaged in extensive discovery activity. On May 25, 2016, all activity in the case was stayed pending the adjudication of the appeal of the dismissal of the State of California from the case. Plaintiffs were successful in getting our experts Jeff Sprague and Rachel Godsil to work with experts retained by Kern High School District (KHSD) who are implementing a number of reforms aimed at reducing the disproportionality. EJS’s expertise in implicit bias has been critical in that mind science concepts are being introduced to the teachers and staff of KHSD.
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin II – The Equal Justice Society, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society filed amicus briefs in Fisher II on behalf of several dozens of the country’s prominent social scientists. Although the Court’s deciding opinion in Fisher II on June 23, 2016, did not reference social science, the Court’s 4-3 decision held that carefully crafted admissions policies that consider racial diversity as one factor in creating a well-rounded student body are constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. When correctly applied in the law, social science can transform our nation’s consciousness about race. EJS believes social science research helped transform Justice Kennedy’s views on race and racism and impacted his decision in the State of Texas v. ICP case. The late Justice Antonin Scalia argued a variation of the mismatch theory in Fisher I. The decision in Fisher II avoided it, even in the minority’s dissent, as pointed out by Loyola Law Professor Kimberly West-Faulcon in a piece she wrote on SCOTUSblog. Despite the Supreme Court’s affirmation of race-conscious admissions, conservatives remain committed to rolling back the law and removing what protections are left of the 14th Amendment. EJS will continue its work to ensure that the Supreme Court continues to reaffirm the principles set by its 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld a race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Michigan law school and broadly affirmed the educational importance of diversity. The Fisher Court ruled in favor of equal opportunity in higher education and recognized that schools must remain able to create diverse and inclusive student bodies.
Ruling in Vergara v. California – On April 14, the California Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the provisions of California’s Education Code governing tenure, the teacher discipline process, and reductions in force are constitutional. EJS signed onto an amicus brief of civil rights organizations, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, and the Education Law Center supporting the positions of the state and the California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers, who intervened in support of the statutes. We were particularly gratified that the Court’s reasoning in this case adopts, at least in part, the argument EJS has been making for years that proof of intent should not be required to make a constitutional challenge to a California statute on Equal Protection grounds.
Antioch Schools Settlement – Under new administration in 2016, Antioch Unified School District has continued to obstruct the work of the agreed-upon retained experts necessary to assess conditions in the district. Although our Interim Settlement Agreement set a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, for all reports and recommendations, the district’s refusal to communicate with the experts has now resulted in a breach of the agreement. Our team attempted once again to salvage the Interim Settlement Agreement through communicating with the District’s new counsel. However, it became clear that their goal was not to uphold the settlement and they have failed to communicate with the legal team. As a result, our team (NCYL, DREDF, and EJS) has decided to file a civil suit for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. To assist in this suit, we sought pro bono assistance from local law firms and were successful in securing the help of Morrison & Foerster LLP – namely partner James Schurz with associates Alexandra Laks and Lucia Roibal.
California Citizens Redistricting Commission – After a dormant period, this case is beginning to gain traction. As intervenors in the case supporting the State of California, alongside LCCR and pro bono counsel Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, we were recently served with interrogatories. We have been preparing research for dispositive motions. This lawsuit was filed by Ward Connerly and his conservative nonprofit American Civil Rights Foundation, as an Equal Protection attack on the diversity considerations codified into the selection process for members of the Citizens Redistricting Commission after Prop. 209. Our arguments are in defense of considerations of race, ethnicity and gender in selection criteria.
State of Texas v. The Inclusive Communities Project Amicus Brief – EJS collaborated with Mona Tawatao, Bill Kennedy of LSNC, Rachel Godsil of the Perception Institute, and Wilson Sonsini on an amicus brief in the case of State of Texas v. The Inclusive Communities Project. The Inclusive Communities Project (ICP) case was brought by a non-profit that assists low-income, predominately African American families eligible for the Dallas Housing Authority’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program in finding affordable housing in predominately white suburban neighborhoods. For several decades, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has awarded many millions of dollars to private developers to build affordable apartments through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. The ICP challenged the TDHCA’s practice of giving the developers tax credits when they largely concentrated the affordable housing units in in low-income African American neighborhoods in South Dallas, instead of in white neighborhoods and/or neighborhoods with no subsidized housing.
Settlement with Antioch Schools Results in Groundbreaking Collaboration to Address Civil Rights Violations – EJS, the East County Branch of the NAACP, DREDF, and the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) achieved a settlement in March with Antioch Unified School District (California) resulting in a groundbreaking effort to identify the causes of disparities in school discipline by examining the subtle, complex, and often unintentional ways in which race, disability and discipline intersect. The District will hire nationally recognized experts to conduct a wide-ranging review of the district’s disciplinary practices and special education services with particular attention to identifying implicit biases, stereotype threats, racial anxiety and other unconscious phenomena that could produce disparities. The agreement responds to complaints of violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1963, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 brought on behalf of the organizations.
Lawsuit Against Kern High School District to Stop Discriminatory Disciplinary Policies, Practices – EJS, MALDEF, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., and Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc., filed suit in October 2014 in Kern County Superior Court to compel Kern High School District (KHSD) to eliminate a variety of discriminatory disciplinary policies and practices that disproportionately impact students of color. The organizational plaintiffs include the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Faith in Action Kern County, and the National Brotherhood Association. The suit was filed on behalf of Latino and African American students and parents, as well as community members and community organizations, who have suffered the impacts of discriminatory expulsion and school assignment policies, and who have sought to bring equity to the KHSD system without success. The Kern High School District, located in California’s Central Valley, has a student population that is 62 percent Latino and 6.3 percent African American. Over the last five years, discriminatory school assignment policies have made it far more likely for Latino and African American students to be suspended, expelled, and assigned to alternative schools than the general school population.
EJS Pulls Student Out of School-to-Prison Pipeline – In a rare exception to our policy against representing individuals, EJS intervened in a case where a Bakersfield student was tasered twice, handcuffed, and sent to juvenile hall. Despite have a dean’s note to excuse his tardiness to class, the teacher refused to mark the student as present. In addition to having a dean’s note excusing his lateness, the student was also late because he suffers from anxiety issues, and his mother instructed him to take a few minutes when necessary to collect himself before returning to class. The student became upset and the teacher asked him to leave the class, which the student refused to do. Instead of working through the situation, the teacher called a school police officer, who proceeded to taser the student twice, and handcuff him. The student was sent to juvenile hall and was on track to be suspended. EJS’s Chris Bridges intervened in this process and at a “504” meeting on May 8 and was able get the school to agree to accommodations that would ensure the students had his academic needs met and reducing his time on campus where he generally feels unsafe. We also worked out a “safe space” location where the student can go when he is feeling anxious. The Bakersfield High School Principal also completed an independent investigation and the student’s suspension and recommendation for expulsion would be dismissed and wiped from his school record.
Fisher v. UT Austin Amicus Brief – EJS, along with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and the Haas Institute for A Fair and Inclusive Society, filed another amicus brief on Nov. 2 in the Fisher v. UT Austin case at the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief, filed on behalf of 35 social scientists, argued that the holistic admissions policy at UT Austin was necessary and narrowly tailored, and that it must consider race to promote equal educational opportunity for all students and account for the structural barriers, pervasive residential segregation, and disparate educational opportunities for students of color in Texas. The Daily Journal published an October 2 op-ed on Fisher II by EJS President Eva Paterson, Allison, and Wilson Sonsini’s David Berger and Lisa Davis.
Vergara v. California Amicus Brief – EJS joined the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area, Education Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles in filing an amicus brief (with the help of Reed Smith) in support of the State of California in the Vergara case, which involves California statutes related to teacher tenure, the process for teacher dismissals, and the teacher Reduction In Force (RIF) process. We argued that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the tenure statutes have caused a violation of students’ constitutional rights and that adequate funding is essential to provide a high-quality teacher workforce in California school districts.
Seattle Living Wage Amicus Brief – EJS signed an amicus brief with Free Speech for People, Courage Campaign, and Demos, arguing that Seattle’s living wage law should be upheld despite allegations by the International Franchise Association and other trade groups that the law violates the rights of corporations. The International Franchise Association and other trade groups contend that Seattle’s living wage law treats franchised corporations as “large” corporations instead of as “small” corporations. “Large” corporations must pay the $15/hour wage in 2018 while “small” corporations have until 2025 to comply. EJS, Free Speech for People, Courage Campaign, and Demos argued in our amicus brief that legislative history offers proof that Seattle’s living wage law fulfills, rather than violates, the Fourteenth Amendment. The brief cited historical materials, illustrating that the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment were concerned about the possibility of newly-freed slaves earning “fair, living wages” and wished to protect the newly-freed slaves’ rights. Likewise, Seattle’s living wage law positively impacts racial minorities and fulfills the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.
Connor & Gonzalez v. First Student, Inc., et al Amicus Brief – EJS signed an amicus brief with multiple other organizations, including East Bay Community Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Bay Area Legal Aid, and Drug Policy Alliance, in support of Eileen Connor and Jose Gonzalez, the Plaintiff-Appellants in Eileen Connor & Jose Gonzalez v. First Student, Inc., First Transit Inc., & Hireright Solutions Inc. At issue in this case is a challenge to the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (“ICRAA”) on void-for-vagueness grounds by consumer reporting agencies and employers determined to invalidate the ICRAA. The brief argues that the ICRAA provides critical protections to job and rental housing applicants, including applicants with criminal records trying to reenter their communities by securing stable employment. ICRAA allows Californians to protect their reputation by creating strong incentives for employers and landlords to disclose the name of the screening companies from where reports will be run, allowing applicants to dispute errors directly with the screening companies. ICRAA also provides for damages when background check companies sell criminal record reports that contain errors or violations.
LA Hotel Workers Minimum Wage Amicus Brief – EJS was approached by Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech for People, to sign on to an amicus brief in the Central District of California in support of Los Angeles’s new minimum wage for hotel workers. Hotels are challenging a minimum wage ordinance under the Equal Protection Clause. The brief is based on research developed for, and therefore very similar to, the brief Free Speech for People filed in the Seattle minimum wage case. Ron found legislative history of the 14th amendment in which its authors repeatedly expressed concern over whether the newly freed slaves could earn “fair, living wages.” The brief’s argument is that—particularly in a situation like LA’s hotel industry, where hotel workers are more than three-quarters people of color—a “living wage” law fulfills, rather than offends, the Equal Protection Clause, and any quibbles about which businesses it applies to pale in significance to the equal protection interests of the workers whom it would uplift. Because the parties agreed to extend the time for the City’s attorney to file its motion to dismiss until after the Hotels’ motion for preliminary injunction is resolved, the amicus brief will have to be filed after the City files its motion to dismiss.
Amicus Brief Related to Lead Poisoning of Children of Color – EJS signed onto an amicus brief along with Consumer Attorneys of California and the Prevention Institute in a case on appeal in the Sixth Appellate District in California. After fourteen years of litigation and a six week court trial, the Santa Clara County Superior Court ordered Defendants ConAgra, NL Industries, and Sherwin-Williams to pay $1.15 billion into a lead abatement fund dedicated to reducing or eliminating childhood lead exposure in ten of the largest counties and cities in the state. The groundbreaking judgment, available at 2014 WL 1385823 (Cal. Super.) (Mar. 26, 2014), found that Defendants had created a public nuisance by manufacturing and promoting lead paint for household use despite knowledge of its dangers. The court-ordered fund provides invaluable new resources for abatement efforts throughout the state. Defendants are appealing the judgment based in part on arguments that lead paint no longer poses a significant public health threat. That appeal is currently pending in the Sixth Appellate District (Appeal No. H040880.) If affirmed on appeal, the trial court’s judgment will hold the makers of lead paint accountable for remediating the damage their product continues to do, and thus avoid serious, permanent, and preventable injuries to tens of thousands of children. The amicus brief focused on the impact of lead poisoning in children, particularly children of color, as well as on the lack of resources to adequately address the problem.
Opposing Amendment NJ-05 to H.R. 2577 – On June 8, 2015, EJS was invited to sign a letter written by the National Fair Housing Alliance. The letter is addressed to the U.S. House of Representatives and opposes Rep. Scott Garrett’s amendment (amendment NJ-05) to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2577). The letter argues that Rep. Garrett’s amendment would severely undermine the ability to ensure that all families are treated fairly in their search for places to live by prohibiting the use of funds by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement, administer, or enforce its regulation titled the “Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard.” This particular regulation uses the disparate impact doctrine and has unified the standard for bringing complaints of housing discrimination. The disparate impact doctrine holds that to successfully challenge a neutral policy or practice that has discriminatory effects, evidence must be provided to show that the policy or practice does not serve a legitimate business reason and that a less discriminatory policy or practice could achieve the same business goals. Thus, the “Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standards” clarifies the disparate impact doctrine for housing providers, lenders, and insurers and also allows individuals to effectively challenge discrimination. Accordingly, EJS stands with the National Fair Housing Alliance and has signed the letter.
Opposing HUD’s Current Formula for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Renewal Funding – On June 16, 2015, EJS was invited to sign a letter written by CLPHA, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities. The letter is addressed to the office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and objects to HUD’s current formula for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) renewal funding, which would result in a zero-inflation factor for the coming year. Prior to 2012, the renewal funding formula used inflation factors based on regional variations in rent and utility cost increases in different geographic regions. However, in 2012, HUD changed its methodology and set inflation factors using projections based on prior trends in national voucher costs. This new approach produced low inflation factors even when per unit costs were increasing, but after sequestration, the formula has resulted in zero increases for inflation, even in regions with rapidly increasing costs.
Marquez v. Department of Health Care Services Letter – EJS signed onto an amici letter to the Supreme Court of California to urge the Court to review a California Court of Appeals holding that Medi-Cal recipients have no rights to notice or hearing when Medi-Cal improperly denies them health coverage. EJS joined The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California in writing the letter. The letter argued that this practice disproportionately impacts Low-Income individuals, Racial Minorities and Limited English Proficient (LEP) Medi-Cal beneficiaries (73% of people receiving Medi-Cal are Latino, African-American and Asian/Pacific Islander; and as of 2010, over one-third of Asian Americans statewide are Limited English Proficient (LEP) and more than one out of every ten Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander is LEP).
Police Misconduct/Pattern and Practice Litigation Against Wayward Jurisdictions – As a direct result of meetings EJS attorneys had with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, we are in conversation with Reverend Michael McBride of PICO, a faith-based organization with national reach. He was dismayed by the fact that there have been so few prosecutions at the federal level for police shootings of unarmed people. He feels that the intent standard is a deterrent to these cases being brought and won. On April 10, we met with Reverend McBride to discuss how we could work together as legal counsel and community organizers to explore litigation around police abuse of power and shootings. Nora Cregan, a former colleague of Ray Marshall’s at McCutchen (and EJS major donor) is doing pro bono research for us on what the current status of the law is. On Thursday May 14, 2015, we met with Reverend McBride, the PICO communications coordinator, Nora Cregan, and Jeff Adachi, to discuss potential strategies for collaborating on effective ways to engage in pattern and practice litigation. Nora provided a summary of her research on bringing 1983 claims and where the state of the law is presently. Jeff Adachi also provided a presentation highlighting gross disparities for African American women who are disproportionately arrested and prosecuted in the city of San Francisco. We will likely have follow-up meetings later this summer to continue unpacking the best strategy going forward.
AB 86: Independent investigation of police shootings – EJS worked with the California Civil Rights Coalition and persuaded Assemblyman McCarty, the bill’s author, to amend and strengthen his bill. The bill was pulled at the April 21st hearing. The hearing was rescheduled for April 28th. EJS Chair Mona Tawatao and EJS Board member signed the letter urging the adoption of the amendments. EJS ally Pamela Merchant, former federal prosecutor, will testify in support of independence. This was a way for EJS to deal with our collective grief and rage at the images and reality of Black and Brown bodies lying dead as the result of police shootings. Coalition members met with Bryan Singh, primary legislative aide to Mr. McCarty. It is now unclear if any legislation will go forward that will provide truly independent investigations and prosecutions of police shootings.
Meeting with California Governor Jerry Brown – On June 3, 2015, EJS joined representatives from NAACP, Onyx, Chinese for Affirmative Action, PICO, and PolicyLink to meet with Governor Brown to discuss the very high incidence of police shootings in CA and throughout the country and to address legislation that we want him to support that would bring about an independent investigator to examine these shootings. At the meeting, we touched on the community outrage and anguish in response to these police shootings. We also discussed AB 953, a racial profiling data collection bill, and AB 86, a 2-year bill held in suspense that would provide an independent prosecutor to investigate police shootings in CA. We also encouraged Governor Brown to look at recommendations from President Obama’s “Task Force on 21st Century Policing” as guidance for how best to move on legislation that would seek more police accountability. Governor Brown was very receptive to our comments and actively engaged the group in considering how he might go about supporting such legislative measures. He also asked about active steps we can take in the meantime to correct or improve already existing policies in place that seek to hold police accountable. At the end of the meeting, Governor Brown mentioned that he would read our legislation proposals in greater depth and that he was very intent upon making really strong reforms to the criminal justice system while in office. He also agreed to have follow-up conversations with our group in the future around these processes.
Mind Science Conference – EJS successfully hosted its second Mind Science Conference convening on June 1st– 2ndat the East Bay Community Foundation in Oakland. We had a total of 17 speakers, 101 registrants, and great attendance on both days. Our esteemed panelists spoke on a wide range of topics including: the impact of implicit bias in the media; the intersectionality of implicit bias and the social justice world; girls and implicit bias; trauma and implicit bias in the classroom and the “School To Prison Pipeline”; interventions/debiasing/neuroplasticity; police and lethal use of force against unarmed people of color; bias, anxiety, and inter-group relations.
Neighborhood Preferences – Eva Paterson met with Landon Williams and Zac McCrae from the San Francisco Foundation about the displacement of Black people from San Francisco. After this meeting, EJS researched and wrote a memo with legal analysis on how we can keep Black people in affordable housing in the City. EJS brought Public Advocates onto the team as well because of their expertise in working on affordable housing issues.
Meeting of the California Legislature Tri-Caucus – On February 23, EJS was invited by Senator Hernandez to attend a meeting with the legislative Tri- Caucus (Latino, Asian Pacific Islander (API), and Black legislators) to talk about the possible repeal of Prop 209. At the urging of Assemblyman David Chiu and CAA Executive Director Vin Pan, the group agreed to fund polling and focus group work to see if California voters are ready to repeal Prop 209. EJS will be part of the construction of the polling questions and focus group approach. Members of the API community will be over-sampled.
Legislative Hearing on the Impact of Prop. 209 on California MWBEs – On February 24, EJS helped coordinate a legislative hearing before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on the adverse effects on MWBE contractors that resulted from the elimination of the use of race and gender in the award process. This hearing was seen as a way to heal the wounds between the API community and the Black and Latino communities that were created by the dust-up around SCA 5. Since all communities of color have been harmed in the contracting arena, it was thought that these hearings could have a palliative effect. We also released the Surdna-funded report that shown that contractors of color and women contractors have lost one billion dollars a year since 1996, the year Prop 209 was passed. Our report was issued on February 24 at an information hearing by the Calif. Assembly Judiciary Committee. Eva secured a grant from the Surdna Foundation allowing us to hire researcher Tim Lohrentz to collect data and write a report on the impact of Prop. 209 on MWBEs. The data collected indicates that one billion in contracts dollars (in today’s value) has been lost annually by MWBEs because of Prop. 209.
AAPI Support for Affirmative Action – EJS Director of Communications Keith Kamisugi was part of a national coalition of AAPI civil rights organizations working to change the narrative about AAPIs and affirmative action. The coalition announced that more than 160 groups signed on to three amicus briefs in Fisher II supporting affirmative action. Keith developed and is managing the coalition’s website.
Petition in Support of the ‘Black Friday 14’ – Keith developed an online petition for an effort led by Eva to pressure the Alameda County DA to drop all charges against the “Black Friday 14” – the Black Lives Matter activists who shut down portions of BART service last Black Friday. The petition achieved nearly 500 signatories and is being submitted to the DA this week.
Redistricting Litigation – EJS is joining Lawyers Committee, Munger Tolles & Olsen, and other potential attorneys to represent plaintiffs Common Cause, League of Women Voters, and other supporters to file a motion to intervene in Ward Connerly’s lawsuit challenging the use of race in selecting members of California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission. MTO has drafted the motion, and the primary argument we make in favor of intervention rests on the California Supreme Court’s decision in Perry v. Brown, 52 Cal.4th 1116, 1125 (2011), which confirmed that an official proponent of an initiative measure has a right to intervene in an action challenging the validity of the measure, merely by virtue of its status as an official proponent, and regardless of whether or not the state defendants are defending the measure, or whether the intervenor’s own personal interests would be affected by invalidation of the initiative. Based on this, we have a strong argument to support Common Cause’s intervention, given that they were the leading proponent of Prop. 11. The hearing date on this motion was set for October 30, but Plaintiffs filed a notice of non-opposition, so the hearing date is off. We are waiting to receive the Judge’s order granting our motion.
Comment Letter to U.S. Dept. of Education – On August 1, EJS joined Dan Losen of The Center for Civil Rights Remedies, Diane Smith Howard of National Disability Rights Network, Christopher Scott of Open Society Policy Center, and other organizations in a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Education. The Department is proposing a revision of existing information collection and invited interested parties to submit comments regarding mandatory civil rights data collection. The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) collects data on key education and civil rights issues in public schools. The CRDC collects a variety of information including discipline, student enrollment and educational programs and services, disaggregated by race/ethnicity, sex, limited English proficiency and disability. The letter fully supported the CRDC data collection and recommended that the data be reported annually, that CRDC report the data to the public as quickly as possible, and that the Department of Education enforce timely and accurate reporting of the data by states, districts and schools. In addition, the letter argued that the Department should make mandatory the collection of some specific additional data elements.
Eyes on the Prize Translation – Keith completed a two-page overview of the project. Eva and Keith met the principals of “Eyes on the Prize” in Los Angeles on Feb. 27 to finalize an MOU on the our partnership that will translate the series into Spanish and Mandarin so the stories can be better shared with the Latino and Chinese communities and used to build and strengthen bridges between communities of color in general. The principals are Blackside (owner of the Eyes on the Prize documentary) and the Media Policy Center. Wilson Sonsini is reviewing the draft MOU.
Racial Fairness in the Provision of Care in Nursing Homes Project – On August 6, 2015, we signed a contractor agreement with Bonnie Noble who will develop continuing education curriculum and training models for nursing home administrators and care providers in an effort to address racial disparities in nursing home care. This project is the result of cy pres funds we received last year. Braz Shabrell (our former Fall 2013 law clerk) has been conducting research and compiling a summary report on disparities in nursing home quality and treatment, resident health outcomes, and the role bias in health care generally. We are still exploring what training modules currently exist and looking at potential ways to reach nursing home staff.
Thank You Dinner for Supporters – The La Boulange “thank you for supporting EJS dinner” was held on Friday, April 24th. We had a small crowd of about 16 but had a fun and engaging time. La Boulange awarded EJS a $5,000 grant which we received shortly after the dinner and their partner Next World Capital sent a $5,000 matching grant to EJS.
EJS endorsed letter by CCCR and DREDF on special education and disproportionality – On July 28, 2014 EJS submitted a statement in support of letters from both the UCLA Civil Rights Project and Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund to the Department of Education. The letters addressed issues of school discipline, disproportionality, and special education services in response to an RFP about federal oversight of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from the Department. The letters described disproportionalities in school discipline, the damage caused by the failure to identify students with disabilities, and the issues with needlessly assigning students to receive special education services. The letters urged that the Department create additional safeguards to prevent the over-disciplining of students of color, in addition to safeguards to protect against over- and under-enrolling students of color for special education services.
EJS organized Restorative Justice meeting – On August 5, 2014, EJS hosted a meeting for restorative justice practitioners to share their insights regarding implementing restorative justice in schools with advocates who are seeking to address the school to prison pipeline. Sujatha Baliga and Nuri Nusrat of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and Rita Renjitham Alfred of the Restorative Justice Training Institute were in attendance, as were representatives from California Rural Legal Assistance, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and the National Center for Youth Law. Alfred shared her insights on how restorative justice systems could be implemented in schools. The restorative justice practitioners stressed that the actual restorative processes of dealing with conflict are a small part of a broader cultural shift that needs to happen to change schools and foster student development. They underlined the need to come to this work with humility and to partner with teachers and administrators in creating solutions. The meeting gave the advocates new insight into the process of restorative justice and a better sense of how to approach the problems in school discipline.
Consent decree in U.S. ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center v. Westchester County – On August 8, 2014, EJS signed onto the Anti-Discrimination Center’s letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressing concern about the “continued failure” of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to enforce each and all of the provisions of the consent decree in U.S. ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center v. Westchester County (06-CV-2860). The decree was entered five years ago as the result of a False Claims Act suit brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC) in New York, New York on behalf of the government. The 2009 suit challenged Westchester County’s certification to HUD that it would affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH) as a condition to its receipt of federal funds. The county devoted its efforts only to increasing affordable housing, without analyzing race-based impediments to fair housing, as required. The consent decree outlined the HUD and AFFH obligations of the county. The letter to the Attorney General cited numerous ways in which Westchester County has violated this consent decree, and requested that the Department of Justice take action. We were happy to support this cause, and are interested to see what develops.
Opposition to Bill Related to Criminal Records Exemption – EJS issued a letter of opposition for AB 2632 on July 29, 2014. Currently, anyone convicted of any offense (other than a minor traffic violation) must apply for and obtain a criminal record exemption from DSS prior to beginning employment or presence in a community care facility. AB 2632 would change the law so that persons with “arrest only” records seeking employment at community care facilities may not be employed until DSS completes an investigation of a non-conviction arrest. This policy would apply regardless of the date of the arrest. Investigations into arrests can take months, and employers are unlikely to hold positions open for the time it takes to complete a background check. In practice, this policy will prevent persons with “arrest only” records from obtaining employment, not on the basis of misconduct, but solely because they have an arrest record. The National Employment Law Project, the Social Justice Law Project, and the Youth Law Center also signed letters of opposition. There will be a hearing on the bill on August 4, 2014.
CERD Shadow Report on Residential Segregation – EJS signed on to the CERD shadow report on residential segregation (written by NFHA, AARP, and PRRAC). The report was submitted to the U.N. for the review of U.S. compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as part of the 85th Session of the Committee in Geneva in August.
Amicus Brief in Syngenta Seeds v. County of Kaua‘i – EJS joined Free Speech for People, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and EarthRights International in filing an amicus brief on June 2, 2014 before the US District Court for the District of Hawaii in the case of Syngenta Seeds v. County of Kaua‘i, arguing that agribusiness corporations do not have a constitutional right, under the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, to flout a law requiring disclosure of pesticides and genetically-engineered crops used on the island of Kaua‘i. The brief argued that the Equal Protection Clause does not prevent local communities from adopting agricultural regulations. Furthermore, the companies’ reference to Supreme Court precedent involving vulnerable minorities threatens to dilute the protections of the Equal Protection Clause and endanger those who need it the most. Unfortunately, the motion for leave to file the amicus brief was denied (along with all other pending motions for leave to file amicus briefs) on the grounds of being “duplicative of the parties’ briefs.” FPOC will see how the district court decision plays out and then decide next steps after the Equal Protection claim is decided on the merits.
Judicial nominations and diversity – EJS signed AFJ letter to U.S. Senators re: professional diversity in the federal judiciary. In March 2014, EJS signed onto a letter from AFJ and other organizations to the U.S. senators regarding professional diversity of the federal judiciary. The letter urged the Senators to work toward filling judicial vacancies with judges who reflect the full diversity of the legal profession – in terms of the gender, ethnic, sexual orientation, and racial diversity of the nation, but also including judges who come from all corners of the legal profession, and particularly those who have worked in the public interest. On April 18, EJS also signed a similar letter to Senators Boxer and Feinstein about the need for and importance of federal diversity on the bench. Over 40 groups based or operating in California joined the letter. In addition to sending the letter to the Senators themselves, AFJ also sent it to members of their judicial selection committees.
Connerly (Challenge to redistricting commission diversity) – Edited Connerly amicus brief written by Munger Tolles (EJS is co-counsel with Munger, ACLU Foundation of S. California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and LCCR for amici California Common Cause, League of Women Voters of CA, and CA NAACP). Amicus brief filed in CA Court of Appeal on 1/22.
Shaking the Foundations: The West Coast Progressive Lawyering Conference – On October 17th, Butler Koshland Fellow Chris Bridges attended the Shaking the Foundations Conference at Stanford Law School. Chris served as a co-panelist with Jennifer Eberhardt, the recent recipient of the MacArthur Genius award. Professor Eberhardt and Chris both spoke about Implicit Bias. Chris specifically addressed the relevance of implicit bias in the law, and strategies that can be used to correct or eliminate explicit bias using legal actions and court resources.
‘Civil Rights at 50’ Events
- June 19 – EJS co-sponsored and Eva participated on a panel for an EEOC event on Title VII and the LGBT community
- June 25 – EJS co-sponsored another EEOC event – Celebrating and Collaborating: The 50TH Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Our friend and collaborator, Steven Anthony Jones, performed and talked about his role at our gala last August and his upcoming performance at our gala this September 13th.
- July 2nd – Saperstein House Party in Piedmont. EJS staff and the Saperstein’s welcomed about 100 guests as we marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act. The party was not designed to be fundraiser for individual donations; instead a pitch was made for sponsors for our September gala. One of our current sponsors increased their sponsorship by 50% after attending the event and we are following up with a few individuals that expressed an interest in becoming sponsors. We were joined by Joanna Haigood and Travis Rowland from Zaccho Dance Theatre, Marcus Shelby, and Steven Anthony Jones. They performed a riveting collaborative piece that added texture and context to the evening. It was a wonderful event.
Association of Business Trial Lawyers 41st Annual Seminar “The Science of Decision-Making” – On October 17th, EJS was part of a panel entitled: “Shining a Light on the Hidden Recesses of our Brains: Are We Subject to Implicit Bias and What Can We Do About That?” This was a great opportunity to communicate with attorneys who represent some of American’s largest corporations about how implicit bias, racial anxiety, and misuse of stereotypes can adversely affect hiring and promotion decisions as well as the climate of the workplace. After consultation with our friend David Berger and with our friends at the Perception Institute, we presented some interventions that employers can use such as “blinding,” establishing clear criteria for what would make an ideal hire, establishing a check list when hiring, and institutionalized mentoring. Some major U.S. orchestras used blinding when hiring new musicians and had those auditioning play their instruments behind a screen so that the gender of the musician would not be known. This resulted in an increase in the hiring of women musicians of between 25% and 46%. The presentation, which took place in Honolulu, was well received.
Eva’s Remarks at Ninth Circuit Conference – Eva’s remarks at the July 2014 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference received a standing ovation and rave reviews. Eva wrote about the appearance, “Justice Kennedy, Implicit Bias, Racial Anxiety and Dismantling the 14th Amendment’s Intent Standard” and it also attracted the attention of the Daily Journal. At the paper’s invitation, Eva submitted an op-ed covering the issues she included in her remarks. Communication drafted the op-ed and worked with the editor on the process.
Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal Article – We submitted an article with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in April that was published in Hastings Race & Poverty Law Journal entitled: “Lessons from Mt. Holly: Leading Scholars Demonstrate Need for Disparate Impact Standard to Combat Implicit Bias”. The article has now been published.
Law Review Article – Eva wrote a law review article that is being published in December 2014 in The Harvard Journal of Race and Ethnic Equality, entitled: “Implicit Injustice: Using Social Science to Combat Racism in the United States.”
Fisher book (Affirmative action/race-conscious remedies) – We submitted a draft of our chapter at the end of July that incorporated the editors’ suggestions and comments. The chapter that will be part of the book on Fisher and race-conscious remedies. We worked with Vicky Plaut, Professor at UC Berkeley School of Law, and Nicole Hirsch, Harvard University Department of Sociology. The chapter is entitled “The Promise of Diversity in Remedying the Harms of Identity-Related Threats and Racial Isolation”. We are still waiting to hear from the editors about the chapter.
Cy Pres Award to EJS for Study in Racial Disparities in Nursing Homes – Attorneys in a case involving abuses in nursing homes asked a court in Humboldt County to approve an application for $150,000 in cy pres fees that would go to EJS. Funding was approved on August 8.
CCRC Update – CCRC submitted a mini-grant proposal to the California Endowment to convene stakeholders around the state to discuss a statewide mandate on civilian oversight over law enforcement. We hope this convening will take place in summer of 2014 with the goal of seeking legislation in 2015. Newman’s Own Foundation approved our proposal and a $10,000 grant was received in late November.
EJS Commemorates 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – The Equal Justice Society was joined by hundreds of guests at our event on August 28 at the Oakland Museum. The performances by the Marcus Shelby Jazz Organization, the Zaccho Dance Theatre, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre received rave reviews from the audience. The event was just the start of our “Civil Rights at 50” campaign. We already have sights on July 2, 2014, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. We are also providing civil rights lesson plans co-presented by Heyday Books and the California Teachers Association, based on Wherever There’s a Fight, the award-winning Heyday book by Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi about the struggle to develop and protect rights in California.
EJS and Calif. Advocacy Groups File Brief Opposing Race-Based Prison Lockdowns – The Equal Justice Society and other organizations filed an amicus brief in Oct. 2013 in federal court opposing the race- based lockdown policy used in California prisons, saying the practice is unconstitutional because it uses race as a proxy for gang affiliation. The brief was filed with the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, in Mitchell v. Felker, supporting the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Morrison & Foerster LLP submitted the brief on behalf of the amici, which included (in addition to EJS): Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus; Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles; Asian Prisoner Support Committee; Chinese for Affirmative Action; Equal Rights Advocates; Impact Fund; LatinoJustice PRLDEF; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area; Lifelines to Healing Campaign (of PICO National Network); NAACP Bakersfield; and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Robert Mitchell, a California inmate, filed the lawsuit in 2008 to stop the Department of Corrections from locking down prisoners based on race. The department uses lengthy race-based lockdowns purportedly to control violence in overpopulated prisons – the only corrections system in the county that employs this method. Current and former prison administrators from other states find California’s race-based lockdowns “astounding” and “reprehensible.” In the brief, the amici state that the lockdown policy fails the “strict scrutiny” test for race-based policies as set forth in Grutter v. Bollinger.
Mount Holly Supreme Court Case Challenges Disparate Impact Standard – The Equal Justice Society filed an amicus brief in Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc. with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. The Mt. Holly case was brought by residents of the Township of Mount Holly, New Jersey to halt a plan to demolish all homes in the only Township neighborhood where residents are predominantly African American or Hispanic. Mt. Holly is a critical case because it provides the Court with an opportunity to review an important section of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the leading law that protects against housing discrimination in this country. Specifically, the case implicates the “disparate impact” standard under the FHA, which allows a plaintiff to bring a claim based on the disproportionate harmful effect of a governmental or private action, regardless of the motive behind that action. Without the disparate impact standard, many of the harms stemming from those biases will go unaddressed. This is why it is so important that the civil rights community work together to convince the Supreme Court to uphold the disparate impact standard being challenged in Mount Holly. The case was settled after after amicus briefs were submitted.
Washington State Supreme Court Cites Law Review Article by EJS on Implicit Bias – The Washington State Supreme Court recently cited a law review article on implicit bias co-authored in 2008 by Kimberly Thomas Rapp, Sara Jackson, and Eva Paterson. Kimberly was our Director of Law and Public Policy and Sara was our Staff Attorney at the time. In its August 1, 2013, decision in Washington v. Saintcalle, the Court asserted that the Batson procedures for challenging race discrimination in jury selection were not “robust enough,” since “a growing body of evidence shows that racial discrimination remains rampant in jury selection.” The Seattle Times invited and published an op-ed by Eva Paterson on racial bias in jury selection after learning that our law review article was cited by the Washington State Supreme Court in Saintcalle.
Strategy Meeting with Social Psychologists at Stanford – EJS Legal Director Allison Elgart and EJS President Eva Paterson met with Professor Jennifer Eberhardt, a well-respected Professor of Psychology at Stanford University to discuss ways EJS can collaborate with department researchers. EJS’s legal team also met with 14 social psychologists from Stanford University’s Center for Social Psychological Answers to Real-world Questions (SPARQ) in November 2013. This meeting explored why students of color are disproportionately disciplined along with initial inquiries from a scholarly perspective as to how this situation can be ameliorated.
Addressing Constitutionality of Michigan’s Anti-Affirmative Action Proposal – EJS signed on to the brief submitted by The Leadership Conference in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which challenges the constitutionality of Michigan’s anti-affirmative action proposal. EJS authored the civil rights amicus brief in the 6th Circuit. The Supreme Court heard arguments on October 15.
Panel on Race-Conscious Remedies – On September 24, 2013, Legal Director Allison Elgart participated in a panel sponsored by the Bay Area Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society entitled “Affirmative Action in California: Where Do We Go From Here?” Allison’s co-panelists were David Oppenheimer, Clinical Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law, and George Washington, Principal of Scheff, Washington & Driver, P.C. (who represents BAMN in the Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action case). Allison talked about EJS’s experience in defending race-conscious remedies both the Fisher and Caltrans cases and the consequences of Prop 209 for both education and public contracting.
Protecting the Rights of Same-Sex Couples – EJS signed on to amicus briefs in both landmark gay marriage cases recently decided by the U.S.Supreme Court. In Hollingsworth v. Perry EJS signed on to a brief filed by Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP arguing that California’s Proposition 8 should be held unconstitutional. In Windsor v. United States of America, EJS signed on to a brief filed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) should be subject to heightened judicial scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.
Eva Paterson at Beyond the Bench XXII Conference – Eva Paterson was a panelist on a workshop titled “From Oscar Grant to Trayvon Martin: A Dialogue about Race, Public Trust and Confidence in the Justice System,” at the Beyond the Bench XXII conference December 2-4, 2013, in Anaheim, Calif. The gathering was hosted by the Administrative Office of the Courts, State of California. Beyond the Bench brought together judicial officers, court professionals, social workers, probation officers, attorneys, educators, and others working with families and children coming to court. The title of this year’s conference was “Equal Access to Justice for Children and Families: The Legacies of Clarence Earl Gideon and Martin Luther King, Jr.” The “From Oscar Grant to Trayvon Martin” workshop reflected on the persistent and intractable issues and questions regarding race and public trust in the criminal justice system raised in the aftermath of the recent high-profile cases in Florida and California. This interactive session was a dialogue about race in the justice system, the role that courts and society can and do play in reducing racial bias, disparity and disproportionality in the criminal justice system.
Victory for Minority Business Owners – In 2009, Associated General Contractors (AGC) brought suit seeking to invalidate the California Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, which seeks to ensure that minority and women-owned businesses are on equal footing to compete for federally-funded contracts. Along with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Bingham McCutchen LLP, and ACLU-NC, the Equal Justice Society represented the Coalition for Economic Equity and the San Diego Chapter of the NAACP in the case, two groups that intervened to ensure that the perspectives of DBEs themselves would be represented in the litigation. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Caltrans program in April.
Eva Paterson Keynotes ABA Task Force Hearing – The American Bar Association National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws invited Eva Paterson to be the keynote speaker at its Aug. 9 Western Regional public hearing.
Local Media Appearances by Eva Paterson Related to Trayvon Martin Murder – Recognized as one of the prominent civil rights leaders in the region, Eva appeared on KQED ‘This Week’, KQED Forum, KALW and other media outlets to discuss race in light of the Trayvon Martin murder and George Zimmerman’s subsequent trial.
Legal Director Honored by The Recorder – In April 2013, Legal Director Allison Elgart was named to The Recorder’s “50 California Lawyers on the Fast Track.” This annual program honors lawyers whose early career accomplishments indicate they will be tomorrow’s top lawyers and leaders.
EJS at ‘The Future of Law and Neuroscience’ Conference – Eva Paterson and Allison Elgart attended a conference in Chicago sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience.
EJS Mind Science Conference in Chicago – EJS hosted a Mind Science conference. Scholars, researchers, activists, and attorneys all convened in Chicago at Northwestern University’s law school to talk about implicit bias. Thanks to the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation, EJS hosted a conference featuring some of the nation’s most brilliant thought leaders in both the social science and legal realms. On April 25-26, 2013, EJS, the American Values Institute, and Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, with support from the Ford Foundation, hosted a Mind Science Conference at Northwestern University’s School of Law. The two-day conference provided an intimate forum for social science researchers, attorneys, judges and activists to discuss the nature of unconscious bias and structural racism, and also strategize ways to disseminate current research to legal scholars and practitioners.
Appearance at Thelton Henderson Center at Berkeley Law – Eva Paterson gave the kickoff presentation for the Thelton Henderson Center at Berkeley Law and spoke about how law students can help advance the cause of racial justice.
Speech on Implicit Bias and the Law – Eva Paterson spoke November 21, 2013, about Implicit Bias and the Law to the Stanford Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society and the BALSA Chapter at Stanford Law.
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin – On August 13, 2012, EJS, in partnership with the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and the Haas Diversity Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote an amicus brief on behalf of 13 of the nation’s leading social scientists. The brief offered a deeper understanding of how a diverse educational environment benefits White students as well as students of color, and why diversity benefits society as a whole, even more than previously understood. The brief also argued that the University’s holistic admissions policy is narrowly designed to consider race as only one of many factors when evaluating a student’s personal and life experiences, preserving individual assessment. The brief was submitted by legal counsel Eva Paterson, Allison S. Elgart, and Fabián Rentería from EJS, a team of attorneys from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and john a. powell and Stephen Menendian of the Haas Diversity Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Oral arguments were heard on October 10, 2012. EJS organized a panel about Fisher amicus efforts, hosted by Wilson Sonsini in Palo Alto, on October 9, 2012. Fabián Rentería from EJS moderated the panel. On the panel were Legal Director Allison Elgart, Savith Iyengar of Wilson Sonsini, and Stephen Menendian of the Haas Diversity Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, who all collaborated on the Brief of Social and Organizational Psychologists; Cecilia Chen of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, who helped author the Brief of 29 Undergraduate and Graduate Student Organizations Within the University of California and California State University; and Jay Rosner of The Princeton Review Foundation, who assisted with the Brief of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Black Coaches and Administrators Organization, and 43 Current and Former Basketball Coaches and Administrators.
Connerly v. State of California – The California Citizens Redistricting Commission was created by California voters through the passage of Proposition 11. The purpose of Proposition 11 was to ensure that the Commissioners that serve on the Commission and are charged with redrawing California’s legislative and Board of Equalization districts reflect California’s diversity. The Proposition was also designed to give the State legal cover from a lawsuit based on Proposition 209. The Pacific Legal Foundation has brought suit on behalf of Ward Connerly against the State in Superior Court in Sacramento. The lawsuit claims that the Redistricting Commission’s member selection process violates Proposition 209, which prohibits “preferential treatment” on the basis of race or sex in public education, contracting, and employment. EJS helped draft an amicus brief in support of the State of California, along with co-counsel the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. The case is now on appeal.
Spreading the Word about Implicit Bias – In October, EJS President Eva Paterson joined California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Richard Berk, Ray Bonner, and Shawn Henry as presenters in a talk, “Criminal Justice: Beyond the Verdict,” at the 2012 Chicago Ideas Week. Eva discussed the social science behind implicit bias and what can be done by the government, law enforcement, and the public to mitigate its effects.
Magner v. Gallagher – In Magner v. Gallagher, the Supreme Court of the United States was to decide whether disparate impact claims were cognizable under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and which test should be used to analyze whether a practice has a discriminatory effect. EJS signed on to an amicus brief submitted in January 2012 by The Opportunity Agenda, urging the Court to rule that the FHA includes a disparate impact standard. Several of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations, including the ACLU, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, twelve state Attorneys General, and the federal government filed briefs in favor of allowing disparate impact claims under the FHA. The case was dismissed by agreement of both parties and will not be heard in the Supreme Court.
Collaboration with the Habeas Corpus Resource Center (HCRC) on Criminal Justice Disparities – EJS is collaborating with HCRC to fight discrimination in the criminal justice system. With a focus on jury pool composition and selection and the abuse of prosecutorial discretion, EJS and HCRC are targeting problem counties for investigation with an eye towards future litigation. Key problems include discriminatory use of peremptory strikes; surveyed prosecutorial training materials and approaches to the use of peremptory strikes in some District Attorney offices; failure to draw a fair cross-section of the community for jury pools; and racially coded language that used in prosecutors’ arguments.
Expert Panel: ‘Achieving an Impartial Jury: Removing Bias in Voir Dire and Deliberations’ – EJS Legal Director Allison Elgart was asked to serve on an Expert Panel for a grant-funded project by the ABA Criminal Justice Section entitled Achieving an Impartial Jury: Removing Bias in Voir Dire and Deliberations. The ABA is forming the Expert Panel with individuals and representatives from a broad-based coalition of criminal justice groups that are experts in implicit bias, cultural competency, jury voir dire/jury deliberations, and racial justice issues, including leaders in Neurology, Social Science (psychology), Criminal Law (defense, prosecution and academia) and the Judiciary. The Expert Panel will meet at least three times a year by telephone. Additionally, they will have a meeting in February in Dallas, Texas as part of the ABA Midyear Meeting.
Inadequate Special Education Services for Young Men and Boys of Color in Public Schools – In 2012, EJS was called in by the Disabilities Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) to discuss how the Intent Doctrine hurts people in the disability community and to forge ties between the movements for racial and disability justice. DREDF asked EJS to assist with the case of a teenage African American boy whose diagnosis of ADHD was inadequately addressed by special education services in his school. EJS and the team located a psychologist to conduct an independent evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment plan for this student, and DREDF helped resolve the student’s case. The team is currently investigating how ADHD and other learning disabilities are more likely to be dismissed as behavior problems or “conduct disorder” and thus found ineligible for special education services when the student is a young person of color. EJS, DREDF, and Bill Lann Lee, attorney at Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson specializing in class actions, are collaborating on a potential administrative complaint related to implicit bias against children of color with disabilities in public schools who are being denied needed special education services. EJS is gathering data on school districts to better understand the racial context in which these educational decisions are being made. The team met again on September 28 to discuss progress in the case and to participate in a presentation by Berkeley Law’s Vicky Plaut (who worked with us on our Fisher amicus brief) on implicit associations and special education. Our next meeting with DREDF and the rest of the team is scheduled for December 17, 2013.
Section 1983 Legal Training – On June 11, 2012, EJS sponsored a lunchtime training on 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The training was conducted by Bill McNeill, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center (LAS-ELC). McNeill explained the basics of pleading a 1983 claim, gave numerous case citations and treatises to use as authorities on researching 1983 case law, and explained how 1983 claims interact with the Intent Doctrine and affect EJS’s legal strategy.
Avondale-Glen Elder and the Sacramento Natural Gas Storage Project – EJS investigated a potential environmental justice case in the Sacramento community of Avondale-Glen Elder, with the assistance of primary counsel at the Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) and the Avondale-Glen Elder Neighborhood Association (AGENA). The Sacramento Natural Gas Storage (SNGS) Project attempted to site eight billion cubic feet of natural gas under the neighborhood, despite the fact that the unprecedented and unnecessary project posed a significant risk to the district’s inhabitants. Avondale- Glen Elder is a historically African American neighborhood and today 85 percent of its residents are people of color. Other environmental hazards in the neighborhood, as well as a long history of neglect from Sacramento County, made this reservoir an even greater burden on an already burdened community. EJS brought to the case an interest in legal arguments of environmental justice under the Equal Protection Clause to fight the Intent Doctrine. The CPUC decision marked a huge victory for the community and for EJS and other legal advocates working alongside community members. When EJS first became involved in the case, the outlook was very bleak, and the consensus was that the CPUC would likely vote to approve the proposal. After multiple delays, the advocates and community members were able to sway the Commission members and prevent this potentially harmful proposal from going forward.
Proposition 34 Steering Committee – EJS sat on the Steering Committee of the Yes on Proposition 34 SAFE California Campaign to replace the death penalty with life without parole. As a steering committee member, EJS participated in monthly conference calls and provided in-kind donations, including promoting campaign materials on its website, Facebook page, and email list serve. On September 18, 2012, Judge Constance Baker Motley Fellow Layla Razavi spoke in support of the proposition during a joint, informational hearing before the Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees at the State Capitol.
Legal Director Guest Lecture – On October 16, 2012, Legal Director Allison Elgart was a guest lecturer for Professor Vicky Plaut’s Berkeley University class on implicit bias. Allison spoke to the students about EJS’s work on implicit bias and structural racism and how they relate to areas such as employment law, housing law, criminal justice, and environmental justice. Allison also talked to the students about her career trajectory, since many of them want to go to law school.
Richard Sander v. State Bar of California – Richard Sander and his research team requested from and subsequently sued the State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners for access to sixteen broad fields of data for every bar applicant between the period of 1972 and 2007. EJS filed an amicus brief in support of the State Bar on behalf of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and Asian Pacific American Legal Center on February 17, 2012. Amici urged the Supreme Court of California to protect the privacy of State Bar exam takers by safeguarding their personal and confidential applicant data from disclosure to a third party and affirming the trial court’s judgment denying Plaintiffs’ request for bar applicant data. The court heard arguments on Oct. 9, 2013.
Legal Director on Fisher Panel – On October 16, 2012, Allison was a panelist at Berkeley Law School’s Pro Bono in Practice Discussion on the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case heard by the Supreme Court. The panel used Fisher as a case example of the collaboration between public interest lawyers, social scientists, and pro bono lawyers from firms to advance important civil rights and social justice goals. Other panelists included Savith Iyenger of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Stephen Menendian of the Haas Diversity Research Center at Berkeley Law, and Professor Victoria Plaut, all of whom worked with EJS on its Fisher amicus brief. David Oppenheimer, a long-time friend of EJS and the Professional Skills Program Director and Clinical Professor of Law at Berkeley, moderated the panel.
Legal Director Speaks at Fisher Forum in Michigan – On October 18, 2012, Legal Director Allison Elgart spoke at a luncheon for invited guests following the forum hosted by the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan entitled “The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action in the 21st Century: Michigan, Texas and Beyond.” The forum was an opportunity for leading experts to discuss the Fisher affirmative action case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 10, 2012, and its key role in the extended arc of legal challenges to affirmative action, including the University of Michigan’s U.S. Supreme Court cases of 2003. The event drew several hundred participants from the University’s administration, student support, admissions, and human resources departments, and students from the graduate schools and undergraduate campuses. At the luncheon, Allison talked about EJS’s work at the intersection of law and social science in affirmative action and in other areas of the law.
Legal Director on CLE Program Panel – EJS Legal Director Allison Elgart was a panelist for a session entitled “Implicit Bias and Criminal Justice” at the ABA Criminal Justice Section Fall 2012 CLE Program, “Fifth Annual Fall Institute: Sentencing, Reentry, Juvenile Justice, Legal Education,” on October 26, 2012, in Washington, DC. Allison described EJS’s work and discussed social science studies relating to criminal justice and how implicit or unconscious bias has an undeniable impact on behavior, decision-making, and policies.
Berkeley Law Disability Rights Symposium Invites Eva Paterson to Speak – On March 22, 2012, Eva Paterson was part of a roundtable titled “A Comparison Between Disability and Other Civil Rights Lawyering.” Featured on the panel with her were Michael Waterstone and Bill Lann Lee. Ms. Paterson highlighted the need for support of all social justice causes and noted EJS’s silo-busting work. Additionally, Eva responded to the notion that the legal team behind Brown was out of touch with the community by citing literature indicating that individuals like Thurgood Marshall were involved in community concerns.
Eva Paterson Speaks at SALT Social Justice Retreat – Society of American Law Teachers Invites Eva Paterson to Speak at the 2012 Trina Grillo Social Justice Retreat – On March 24, 2012, Eva Paterson was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Trina Grillo Social Justice Retreat. The retreat was hosted by Golden Gate University School of Law. Ms. Paterson discussed income inequality and issues concerning student debt and focused on “connecting the dots” between various monetary interests, the wealth gap, and tax breaks. Her speech encouraged students to continue the tradition of making a difference and pursue social justice law, highlighting the role students played in overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.
Community College Student Success Equity Roundtable – On May 3, 2012, EJS staff attorney Fabián Rentería was invited to the Equity Roundtable hosted by the Campaign for College Opportunity. This Roundtable brought together civil rights organizations, education stakeholders, and former legislator and current Community College Chancellor Jack Scott to discuss the Student Success Act of 2012, Student Success Task Force Recommendations, and improving student success in California.
White Housing Briefing on Judicial Nominations – On May 7, 2012, EJS Legal Director Allison Elgart and EJS Board Member Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, were among 150 leaders who went to the White House in early May to share their experiences and concerns about judicial nominations with administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder and the President’s judicial selection team.
Eva Paterson Speaks at the UC Hastings Public Interest Celebration – On May 11, 2012, Eva Paterson was the keynote speaker at the Public Interest Celebration, which honors graduating students and rising 3Ls on their commitment to public interest work and service to the community while at UC Hastings College of the Law. Ms. Paterson spoke about aspects of modern-day lawyering that affect current law students and graduates. In particular, she focused on (1) present day political challenges that new advocates will face; (2) professional career challenges and opportunities as recent graduates; (3) the effect of student debt; and (4) the importance of personal health and balance during bar exam preparation.
MCLE with the Bar Association of San Francisco – On May 23, 2012, EJS collaborated with Kimberly Papillon and the Bar Association of San Francisco to present “Neuroscience, Decision-Making, Implicit Bias and Intent in Legal Practice,” an hour-long Elimination of Bias MCLE. Legal director Allison Elgart opened the presentation by discussing the history of EJS and the importance of neuroscience in our practice. More than fifty participants explored emerging research in neuroscience showing how we assess and react to one another. Ms. Papillon used brain imaging and decision-making studies to explain how we determine intelligence, threat, competence, and collegiality in a diverse society. The presentation discussed the effects of the legal framework of the Fourteenth Amendment on implicit bias and demonstrated how the principles of eliminating implicit bias and altering decision-making can be implemented in the day-to-day practices of attorneys.
Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law Book Launch Conference, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School – On June 14, 2012, Eva Paterson, Allison Elgart, Nicole Medeiros, and consultant Kimberly Papillon attended the “Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law” Book Conference hosted by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. Professor Charles Ogletree, the founding board chair of EJS, established the Institute in 2005. Eva was a panelist on “Courtroom Implications of Implicit Bias,” along with distinguished federal district court judges and academics. Eric Yamamoto, also a founding board member of EJS, and Susan Serrano, EJS’s founding research director, also spoke at the conference. The conference, designed to coincide with the launch of the book “Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law,” edited by Justin Levinson and Robert Smith, examined both the continued subordination of historically disadvantaged groups and the legal system’s complicity in this subordination through the lens of powerful and pervasive implicit racial attitudes and stereotypes.
Eva Paterson Speaks at the National Center for Youth Law’s Kick-Off Event in the 2012 Summer Seminar Series for Law Students – On June 6, 2012, Eva Paterson was the keynote speaker at the National Center for Youth Law’s (NCYL) kick-off event in the 2012 Summer Seminar Series for Law Students. The series is intended to bring together a wide variety of public interest law clerks and interns from the Bay Area to discuss the most critical topics facing the next generation of public interest lawyers and advocates.
National Bar Association Invites Eva Paterson to Speak at 87th Annual Convention – On July 14, 2012, Eva Paterson spoke at the National Bar Association’s 87th Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.
CCRC Tax and Budget Policy Video – EJS launched a website in early October for the video produced by CCRC on California’s tax and budget crisis. The announcement of the video reached 24,125 users on Facebook and 12,400 users on Twitter through sponsored posts. Filmmaker Abby Ginzberg reacted to the video: “I love ‘WhoTook The Gold?’ Good work helping people understand the issue and how to work to fix it.”
CCRC Communications Roadshow – Claudia Peña, Statewide Director of the California Coalition for Civil Rights and EJS Director of Communications Keith Kamisugi planned a statewide series of workshops to take place in October for small nonprofits, advocates and activists fighting for civil rights in California. This free communications workshop will include tips and techniques related to social media, email marketing, media relations, and website creation and management. This workshop is geared for those nonprofits and individuals who do not have dedicated communications staff or resources but want to learn how to best integrate strategic communications into their operations and activities. We will also share information about joining the California Coalition for Civil Rights (CCRC) and its work on tax and budget policy reform; recent polling information about Prop. 209, which banned affirmative action in public institutions; and a brief overview of some key U.S. Supreme Court cases that will impact civil rights in California.
California Civil Rights Coalition Conducted Workshops in Bay Area and Southern California on Budget and Taxes – In collaboration with Non-Profits Talking Taxes, Claudia Peña, Statewide Director for CCRC, has traveled around the state facilitating a 2-hour workshop in an effort to reach 10,000 non-profit employees in the state of California. The goal of the workshop is to encourage participant interest in the budget and taxes such that Californians will learn enough to vote for tax and budget policy from an informed perspective.
CCRC successfully lobbied for Election Day Registration – Working along with Common Cause and other allies, CCRC pushed for AB 1436 which allows for same-day voter registration. By leveraging the power of our Steering Committee, CCRC played a significant role in the passage of AB 1436.
Communications Director Provides Training in DC – EJS communications director Keith Kamisugi was invited to deliver a communications training at an annual nonpartisan leadership seminar hosted by the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. He also attended Netroots Nation 2012, the largest conference of online progressive activists in the country.
McCleskey v. Kemp 25th Anniversary – In April, the NAACP LDF and the Equal Justice Society spearheaded an outreach effort to raise awareness of the 25th anniversary (April 22) of the Supreme Court’s McCleskey v. Kemp decision. The outreach effort included the partnership of organizations involved with the Abolition 2025 Campaign and the Engaging Communities of Color Working Group. The NAACP LDF served as the lead voice for the outreach, with the Equal Justice Society staffing the effort.
California Fairness – After conducting the eight focus groups, California Fairness concluded that a statewide survey was needed to test the viability of a state-wide campaign. Lake Research Partners and David Binder Research designed and conducted the telephone survey in September 19-22, 2011. Overall, poll results indicated that most voters support affirmative action than oppose it (35% vs. 27%, with 37% unsure). Likewise, for two versions of the drafted initiative, respondents indicated a similar level of support – 35% yes and 28% no when “prohibiting quotas” was mentioned, and 33% yes and 29% no when quotas were not mentioned. Lake Research Partners explained that such results, “indicate a continued need for ongoing public communication on the lack of equal opportunity in California and the need for policy change.” The results demonstrate that – in the long-term – EJS and California Fairness can craft frames and messages to elicit support for equal opportunity. We now know how effective our messages are, among whom, and future targets for on-going messaging. EJS and California Fairness are discussing how to best use these results, including the possibility of launching a state-wide educational campaign to further healthy dialogue race and equal opportunity.
SF District Attorney Candidate Debate – In August, EJS joined forces with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, ACLU-Northern California, Asian Law Caucus, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Citizen Hope, Equal Rights Advocates, and the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal to host the first debate among major candidates for San Francisco District Attorney to focus on critical issues in civil rights. DA candidates George Gascon, David Onek, Vu Trinh and Sharmin Bock engaged in a lively discussion that delved into a number of controversial topics — including the war on drugs, the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on people of color and low income people, the death penalty, criminal justice realignment under AB 109, and the three strikes law — before a crowd at the African American Art and Culture Complex.
In August, EJS convened with key litigation allies in Montgomery, Alabama, including Bryan Stevenson, a visionary litigator and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, to develop a long-term death penalty litigation strategy.
Eva Paterson was named by the Recorder, one California’s leading legal newspapers, to its 2011 list of Women Leaders in Law. Eva is among 20 women, all of whom have been practicing law for at least 35 years, who were selected by editors for helping to “blaze what was then a dimly lit trail.”
The Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at Berkeley Law will present Eva Paterson with its
2011 Trailblazer Award at its annual gala on October 27 at the Oakland Museum of California. Established in 1999, the Center for Social Justice was named for the first African-American Chief Judge for the Northern District of California. The Center serves as the hub of the law school’s vibrant social justice community, providing training and research opportunities to prepare students to represent underserved communities on issues of race, sex and poverty.
In June, in Torrance, Calif., Eva Paterson served as an expert on the California initiative process for “What’s Next California,” the first statewide deliberative poll. More than 300 Californians representing a scientific random sample of the entire state engaged in a weekend of face-to-face and small group discussions, and in dialogue with competing experts. The in-depth discussions ranged from legislative representation and taxation to the initiative process. After being provided with factual information, attendees considered the critical arguments on both sides of issues, then articulated their priorities for fixing the state. The weekend was moderated by Judy Woodruff of the PBS Newshour and videotaped for a documentary to be broadcast on PBS stations in California and elsewhere in September and October 2011. Learn more about What’s Next California.
EJS participated in 2011 Netroots Nation, the country’s top gathering of online progressives. President Eva Paterson joined Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Nan Aron (Alliance for Justice), Dahlia Lithwick (Slate), and Carl Pope (Sierra Club) on a panel organized by Alliance for Justice titled “The Corporate Court: Your Rights vs. Corporate Interests.” The panel addressed the growing influence of corporations within the American judicial system, particularly in the Supreme Court. Director of Communications, Keith Kamisugi, and Taz Ahmed, California Fairness Coordinator, were co-chairs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus.
EJS connected South African Constitutional lawyers to U.S. Constitutional lawyers, who were seeking advice regarding the South African Judicial Services Commission’s dismissal of a complaint.
In honor of Brown v. Board of Education, President Eva Paterson reflected on the multi-pronged strategy used to end the tyranny of separate but equal policies in the Huffington Post article, “On Its 57th
Anniversary, Three Lessons From Brown v. Board of Education.”
President Eva Paterson attended the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s “America Healing Conference,” a racial healing conference in North Carolina.
The National Bar Association, the nation’s oldest and largest network of predominately African American attorneys and judges, awards Eva Paterson the Gertrude E. Rush Award in recognition of her pioneering spirit, leadership and perseverance in the law, public policy and social activism.
President Eva Paterson joined unions and supporters during their “We Are One” march through downtown San Francisco to protest attacks on public sector unions in Wisconsin and other states.
In a significant victory for equal opportunity, a federal district court judge granted EJS and its litigation partners’ motion for summary judgment in the case Associated General Contractors v. Caltrans, thereby upholding the race- and gender-conscious provisions of Caltrans’ Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program. EJS partnered with the ACLU, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP as defendant intervenors in this suit, representing the interests of women and minority business owners.
EJS continued to refine its litigation strategy by determining the areas of the law where its mission to transform the Intent Doctrine is likely to be most effective. After convening litigation experts and allies and a series of internal meetings attended by key staff, we concluded that racial disparities in the application of the federal death penalty and in the provision of municipal services are the most fruitful areas to pursue.
EJS continued its amicus work in some high-level cases, most notably Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, in the Supreme Court, National Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States Food & Drug Administration, in the Second Circuit, and Friendly House v. Whiting, in the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona.
EJS joined efforts supporting the appointments of Edward Chen to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit, urging the U.S. Senate to provide timely confirmation hearings to deserving nominees.
EJS published opinion-editorials in the California Daily Journal, Huffington Post and New America Media, highlighting the need to protect the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to ensure that victims of discrimination can seek justice in the courts.
EJS was invited to be part of a national convening of legal organizations that focus on racial justice. The event was cosponsored by the American Constitution Society and the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and took place in DC in February. EJS is part of the group that has taken responsibility for organizing a joint communications strategy.
The California Civil Rights Coalition (CCRC), of which EJS is co-chair, hosted the “Civil Rights State of the State”. Member organizations shared their policy priorities, determined next steps for CCRC and also began the process of creating a more cohesive communications structure for progressives. In conjunction with the State of the State, CCRC hosted a civil rights policy briefing at the California Secretary of State building, addressing issues regarding criminal justice, workers’ rights, health access and education equity.
Eva Paterson received the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association.
Eva Paterson and Tim Wise joined forces on the panel, Racism, White Rage & Wanting “Their” Country Back: Fighting for Justice in an Age of Backlash, at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education.
Eva Paterson was a member of California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ Civil Rights Enforcement, Smart on Crime Transition Team Work Group.
Reggie Shuford gave a keynote speech to the Bay Area Association of Muslim Lawyers.
EJS and partners co-authored and submitted an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit case, Farrakhan v. Gregoire, which will determine whether Washington State’s felon disenfranchisement law violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
EJS and allies filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of a Seventh Circuit decision in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation regarding whether oral complaints should be protected under the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
EJS supported the implementation of the “San Francisco Local Hiring Policy for Construction Projects” in the city’s public work and improvement contracts.
EJS supported the Alternative Currency Program for Oakland Residents & Neighbors to increase investment monies in Oakland, provide local identification to residents to those unable to obtain one, and provide no-interest merchant loans to local businesses.
EJS requested that the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights & the Law ratify the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
EJS worked with the national civil rights community to educate the U.S. Senate about the nomination of Sharon Browne to serve on the board of the Legal Services Corporation.
EJS co-presented a panel on race and Hollywood at the Kirwan Institute’s Tranforming Race 2010 conference; two EJS blog posts on race were published by the Huffington Post in conjunction with the conference.
EJS fellow Brando Starkey authored two law review articles accepted for publication: Inconsistent Originalism & the Need for Equal Protection Re-Invigoration; and Criminal Procedure, Jury Discrimination & the Pre-Davis Intent Doctrine: The Seeds of a Weak Equal Protection Clause.
EJS convened an exploratory committee for a potential repeal of California Proposition 209 on the 2012 ballot.
EJS and partners developed and conducted a survey of national equal opportunity advocates to assess the current landscape, inquire about organizations’ existing advocacy work, and identify the needs, capacity and strength of organizations engaged in pro-active equal opportunity efforts.
EJS and allies filed amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Staub V. Proctor Hospital, urging the Court to recognize employer liability for the unlawful bias of a supervisor.
Reggie Shuford, EJS director of law & policy, participated in panel discussion on racial disparities in the criminal justice system at the National Black Prosecutors Association Conference in San Francisco.
Reggie Shuford participated in a panel discussion entitled New Developments in Social Cognition at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association Conference in Chicago.
Reggie Shuford participated in a panel discussion on Whether President Obama’s Election Made a Difference in Race Relations at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.
EJS and the National Coalition to Restore Civil Rights co-hosted a national strategy convening on progressive communications in Washington, DC, focusing on affirmative action, immigration, marriage equality and judicial nominations. The Leadership Conference, Alliance for Justice, The Opportunity Agenda, American Constitution Society, NAACP-LDF and MALDEF were among the organizations participating.
EJS hosted a 10th anniversary celebration at the Newseum in Washington, DC. The celebration featured a performance by Frédéric Yonnet, Urban Jazz Harmonicist, and was co-sponsored by ACLU, Alliance for Justice, American Constitution Society, Asian American Justice Center, Federal Rights Project of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, Justice at Stake Campaign, Lake Research Partners, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, MALDEF, NAACP, National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights, National Health Law Program, Poverty and Race Research Action Council.
EJS joined amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in Ninth Circuit appeal of the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger finding California Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
Eva Paterson was the keynote speaker at the NAACP of San Diego’s Freedom Fund Dinner whose theme this year is One Nation-One Dream.
Eva Paterson was honored by the Ella Baker Center and the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club.
Reggie Shuford delivered the Ruth Chance Lecture at UC Berkeley Law School on the use of unconscious bias theory in litigation.
Reggie Shuford delivered the keynote address at the National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area Progressive Lawyering Day Conference.
EJS participated in ACLU’s anti-death penalty coalition through work such as supporting the Racial Justice Act (SB 1331) introduced in the California Senate.
EJS participated in the Leadership Conference’s Americans for a Fair Chance convening to discuss developing a national, proactive equal opportunity agenda.
EJS director of communications, Keith Kamisugi, began serving on Netroots Nation’s special advisory committee to develop long-term strategies related to improving diversity in the blogosphere and among online activists.
EJS and the Impact 209 Coalition collaborated with Drew Westen of Westen Strategies and Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners to conduct messaging and polling research regarding Californian’s feelings about diversity, inclusion and affirmative action. Although the results evidenced a wide range of opinions and some mixed feelings, they also indicated general appreciation of California’s diversity, and some willingness to support programs aimed at expanding opportunities for marginalized groups.
EJS organized the convening, Litigation Strategies in the Roberts Court Era, at the UC Irvine School of Law to discuss judicial trends of federal courts and strategies to improve antidiscrimination protections in future decisions.
EJS began advising the City of San Francisco on the use of its disparity study and ability to resume race and gender conscious contracting.
Claudia Peña, EJS staff attorney, participated at UCLA’s Student/Practitioner Roundtable: How Race Functions in Colorblind Law Schools & Legal Workspaces.
Claudia Peña and Sara Jackson participated in a panel at National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Radical Collaboration for Racial Justice Conference, Race, Class & Legal Services in the Obama Era.
Keith Kamisugi participated on briefing with the Alliance for Justice about filling Justice Souter’s seat.
EJS launches ConfirmSotomayor.org, a website aimed at major announcements, news and developments about the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court and to display syndicated content from other organizations.
In collaboration with the Writers Guild of America-West, EJS co-presented a discussion about unconscious bias in popular entertainment to inspire writers with ideas for incorporating modern racial issues into scripts.
EJS co-facilitated a voting rights convening with All of Us or None and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
President Obama signs bill authorizing the Port Chicago Memorial as the newest National Park.
Eva Paterson and former EJS research director Susan Serrano published a book chapter, “Cuyahoga Falls v. Buckeye: The Supreme Court’s Intent Doctrine – Undermining Viable Discrimination Claims & Remedies for People of Color” in We Dissent: Eight Cases that Subverted Civil Liberties & Civil Rights.
EJS authored and filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in State v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, arguing that the state’s commitment to reconciliation with its Native peoples requires the partial return of certain Hawaiian lands to a representative of the Hawaiian people.
EJS organized convening, Progressive Litigation Strategies at Duke University in partnership with Erwin Chemerinsky to discuss the Intent doctrine and strategies for civil rights enforcement in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Kimberly Thomas Rapp, former EJS director of law & policy, facilitated open plenary session, Toward a Transformative Agenda Around Race: Redefining Legal Services Practice for the 21st Century, at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association conference.
Kimberly Thomas Rapp was keynote speaker at the California Teachers Association Summer Institute.
The Id, the Ego and Equal Protection in the 21st Century: Building upon Charles Lawrence’s Vision to Mount a Contemporary Challenge to the Intent Doctrine was authored by Eva Paterson, Kimberly Thomas Rapp and Sara Jackson and published in the Connecticut Law Review.
Keith Kamisugi, EJS director of communications, helped organize a panel on unconscious bias and the media at the UNITY Journalists of Color conference.
EJS staff attorney Sara Jackson co-coordinated national opposition to Ward Connerly’s “civil rights initiatives” in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio and Nebraska.
EJS organized the conference, Building a Win-Win Immigration Platform & Creating Multiracial Alliances to discuss the relationship between immigrants’ rights struggles and those of native-born communities of color.
Eva Paterson helped ease tensions and build bridges between members of the LGBT and African American communities following the passage of California Proposition 8.
EJS issued a report, “Framing Race and Class in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina: A Natural and Unnatural Disaster,” by Shannon Seibert and Elaine Elinson. EJS examined coverage by different kinds of media of this unique natural and unnatural disaster in an effort to understand how the story of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath were being presented to American audiences.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission invited EJS to educate it on unconscious bias research so that they may incorporate it into litigation and workplace issue resolution. This resulted in a Convening on Unconscious Bias and the Workplace with EEOC regional directors.
EJS joined amicus brief in support of same sex marriage.
EJS organized symposium at UCLA, Economic Opportunity in California: The Labor & Employment Impact of Proposition 209, focusing on how Proposition 209 impacted public contracting and employment opportunities for women and people of color.
EJS organized the convening, Reclaiming & Reframing the Dialogue on Race & Racism at Boalt Law School.
EJS organized the convening, Supreme Court Litigation Strategies, at Duke University to discuss progressive litigation strategies and overturning the Intent Doctrine in the Roberts Court era.
EJS became fiscal sponsor to the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial and advocated for recognition of the site as a national park.
The Black Alliance for Just Immigration and EJS organized a community event with over 300 people at the Oakland Museum to connect the struggles of immigrants, African Americans and other people of color.
Under the leadership of EJS board member Eric K. Yamamoto, the University of Hawaii Law School launched the EJS Scholar-Advocate program aimed at developing the racial justice advocacy skills of current law school students and exposing them to cutting-edge scholarship on unconscious bias, the Intent doctrine and critical race theory.
EJS hosted “Harriet Tubman and Jazz” by Marcus Shelby Quintet featuring Faye Carol in Chicago’s Millennium Park. San Francisco jazz composer and bassist Marcus Shelby will present excerpts from his oratorio for orchestra and vocal ensemble “Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land.” The event was co-sponsored by Northwestern University’s Black Alumni Association.
EJS organized convenings on California Proposition 209 in Berkeley and Los Angeles, identifying key research needs and reviewing initial polling data.
EJS inaugurates its Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellowship for recent law graduates.
EJS filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Randall v. Sorrell, arguing that the absence of campaign spending limits severely restricts access of minority and low-income communities to the political process.
Class action lawsuit prompts judge to stop FEMA from forcing Katrina victims out of hotels. U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. extended a deadline for hurricane evacuees to remain in hotel rooms across the country. The ruling allows those displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to remain in hotels until February 7 or two weeks after they receive a notice regarding their application for assistance. The ruling was in response to a class action lawsuit filed in November by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights along with the New York law firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP; John Pierre, Attorney and Professor at Southern University Law Center; the Public Interest Law Project; and the Equal Justice Society.
EJS played a major role in Impact209, a statewide coalition of civil rights advocates, community organizations, research centers, academics, scholars and students assessing the impact of Proposition 209 on individuals, society and the economy of California. The coalition included Impact Fund/Discrimination Research Center, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Davis, Hastings College of Law, Power PAC, National Economic Development & Law Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, The Applied Research Center, the Greenlining Institute, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and AGENDA L.A.
EJS co-hosted panel with Society of American Law Teachers, Strategic Scholarship: Opportunities & Obstacles for Progressive Faculty at the Association of American Law Schools conference.
EJS launched fairandindependentjudges.org to provide media with subject matter from ally organizations regarding judicial nominations.
EJS researcher Bill Kidder co-authored The Black Student Mismatch Myth in Legal Education: The Systemic Flaws in Richard Sander’s Affirmative Action Study for the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
EJS researcher Bill Kidder co-authored The Real Impact of Eliminating Affirmative Action in American Law Schools: An Empirical Critique of Richard Sander’s Study for the Stanford Law Review.
EJS authored and filed an amicus curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Doe v. Kamehameha Schools, arguing that the school’s Hawaiian ancestry admissions policy did not violate civil rights laws.
EJS facilitated retreat, Rights, Liberties & Justice Project, bringing together scholars, practitioners and activists to discuss a shared progressive vision.
EJS organized conference, Protecting Equality: Dismantling the Intent Doctrine & Healing Racial Wounds at the University of Michigan Law School, involving students, journalists, legal scholars and advocates to discuss unconscious bias theory.
EJS commissioned Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra to compose a piece inspired by the Port Chicago mutiny of 1944.
EJS co-authored Blend It, Don’t End It: Affirmative Action & the Texas Ten Percent Plan after “Grutter” & “Gratz”, documenting the continuing lack of racial/ethnic diversity at Texas universities, despite efforts in attempting race-neutral alternatives.
Eva Paterson published And Still We Rise in UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law’s African-American Law & Policy Report.
Eva Paterson, Lee Cokorinos, Susan Kiyomi Serrano & William C. Kidder published Breathing Life into “Brown” at Fifty: Lessons about Equal Justice in The Black Scholar, the Journal of Black Studies & Research.
EJS and others filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Albuquerque v. Homans, a case addressing the constitutionality of mandatory campaign spending limits in city elections.
As part of the fifth annual Trina Grillo Public Interest & Social Justice Law Retreat, EJS presented
Structural Racism: Examining the Intersection of Race & Poverty.
EJS facilitated discussion on how to counter anti-affirmative action in the media with the African American Policy Forum.
EJS participated in A Few Good Queers: How the U.S. Keeps its Military Priorities “Straight” in Times of War at Boalt Law School.
Eva Paterson debated Ward Connerly regarding his “Racial Privacy Initiative” (California Proposition 54) on National Public Radio.
EJS participated in “Race Information Ban Legislative Day” to educate California legislators on the harmful effects of Proposition 54 if passed.
EJS co-organized conference, The Politics of Controlling Racial & Ethnic Data, at Stanford University with social scientists, journalists, attorneys, advocates, policymakers and law professors.
EJS co-sponsored conference, Colorblind Racism! Mapping a Strategy for Social Justice, to develop long- range strategies and create links between progressive individuals and organizations.
EJS authored and filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger, arguing in support of the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions program.
EJS co-authored Facts & Fantasies about UC Berkeley Admissions: A Critical Evaluation of Regent John Moores’ Report, showing that students with low SAT scores at elite universities did well academically.
EJS organized a regional forum, Opening the Courthouse Doors, regarding legal developments restricting judicial access to marginalized groups.
EJS organized a conference at Harvard University, The Assault of Federalism on Civil Rights: Developing New Strategies to Civil Rights Protection in a Conservative Era.
EJS established a law school chapter at University of San Francisco and supported organization of Care not Cash debate regarding a homelessness ballot initiative affecting the distribution of services & funds.
EJS organized a summit, Reclaiming Progressive Justice, in Berkeley. Over 50 legal academics & practitioners from throughout the country attended.
EJS organized a forum series, Justice During Wartime, at Boalt, Hastings and Santa Clara law schools to facilitate dialogue with students & professionals about the implications of 9/11.
EJS board emeritus Charles Ogletree reaches out to the Ford Foundation regarding the Equal Justice Society. EJS begins as a group of leading civil rights attorneys and law professors in response to the rollback in civil rights law and the rightward drift of the federal courts.
EJS made a presentation to Black federal judges, including the late Judge Constance Baker Motley. Upon learning of EJS’s vision, Judge Motley responded, “Now I can rest.”
Updated as of April 16, 2020 (10 a.m.)