NOTE: This our last post for 2011. Our office is closed for the rest of the year and will re-open on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.
Texas Death Row exoneree, Mr. Anthony Graves, testified that “the only sound I heard for four years was the sound of my own voice.” Mr. Graves used his voice last week to educate the Bay Area legal community on the life-changing ramifications of a justice system that continues to negligently overlook implicit and explicit racism. More than 300 friends and allies heard him speak at our Gala last week.
In McCleskey v Kemp, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that without evidence of conscious, deliberate bias by law officials, evidence of racial sentencing disparities in the death penalty was “an inevitable part of our criminal justice system.” Mr. Graves’s harrowing testimony of a wrongful murder conviction, and 18 years spent in Texas’s prisons and Death Row, affirmed that the consequences of McCleskey are real.
This summer, attorneys from the Equal Justice Society spent time in the South working with key litigation allies on our long-term strategy to reclaim the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment. At the end of our travels, we concluded that in addition to litigation, finding ways to help people understand that bias is alive and well in all our psyches – as well as working on ways that we can de-bias ourselves and our institutions – is critical to our efforts. In 2012, EJS will partner with an esteemed legal bias expert to educate attorneys and judges on how implicit bias affects their decision-making processes.
In addition to our Southern sojourns, we also continued litigation in Associated General Contractors of America v. Caltrans currently at the Ninth Circuit, strengthened the California Coalition for Civil Rights, wrote and signed on to more than half a dozen amicus briefs, and published an article, “Litigating Implicit Bias,” in the September/October issue of Race and Poverty. Your support enabled us to make great strides.
In 2012, EJS is considering filing an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in a fair housing case, Magner v. Gallagher, will present our litigation strategy at Yale Law School, and develop a series of bias workshops across the nation.
To fulfill our goals, we are planning to add an additional member to our Legal Department. Will you help us?
If you donate by December 31, 2011, your gift will be doubled thanks to a generous Matching Gift Challenge. Please renew your support as a sign of solidarity.
Stories like Mr. Graves’ are infuriating – but they also set fire to our courage to keep moving our strategy forward.
Onward and Upward!
President, Equal Justice Society
P.S. Don’t forget! As a result of our $100,000 Matching Gift Challenge, if you give online or mail a check to our offices by December 31st, your gift will be doubled. For example, if you donate $100 now, your gift will be matched by an additional $100 for a total of $200. Now, more than ever, is the time to invest in EJS’s legal strategy.