Selected Signficant Legal Involvement
School of Americas Civil Disobedience Defense
- Discovery Request
- Motion & Memo -International Law
- Motion & Memo – Use of Experts
- Motion & Memo – Jury Trial
- Motion & Memo – Necessity Defense
- Trial Memo on SOA-WHINSEC
- US Magistrate Decision Denying Motions for International Law, Necessity Defense, and Use of Expert
- US Magistrate Decision Denying Jury Trail
Chisom v Jindal, USDC, 86-4075, 2012 successful federal voting rights challenge to Louisiana Supreme Court efforts to deny Justice Bernette Johnson, court’s only African American Justice, her rightful position as Chief Justice, by reopening earlier case to enforce consent decree. Also filed Section 5 complaint. Cocounsel.
- ACORN v. Blanco, February 2006. Suit to secure voting rights in April New Orleans elections. [Pleadings]
- ACORN, Urban League and Unity 04 v McKeithen et al, CDC, #2004-15624, Lawsuit by voting rights groups to keep New Orleans polls open extra hours on November 2, 2004 to remedy system-wide problems with voting machines and provisional ballots. Co-counsel with Alaina Beverly, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Ron Wilson. Request for injunctive relief denied.
- Louisiana House of Representatives et al v Ashcroft et al, USDC, DC, DC, # 02-CV00062. April 2002. Intervention on behalf of African American voters to challenge reapportionment of Louisiana House of representatives. Co-counsel with NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Settled Summer 2003 with modest improvements.
- Maxwell v Foster, USDC, W.D. LA, #98-1378. Intervention on behalf of African American voters into challenge to black-majority legislative district in north Louisiana. Co-counsel with NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF).
- Hays v Edwards, USDC, W.D. LA #92-1522 c/w 95-1241 “S”, Intervention on behalf of African American voters into challenge to black-majority Louisiana congressional district by white voters. Intervention originally denied by District Court, Fifth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court; subsequently allowed. Case lost in three judge court, January 1996; cert denied as moot by U.S. Supreme Court, summer 1996. Co-counsel with NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF).
- Chisom v. Roemer, 111 S.Ct. 2354 (1991) successful federal class action seeking creation of first black majority district on Louisiana’s Supreme Court. Decision on legal issues by U.S. Supreme Court, 111 S.Ct. 2354 (1991). Co-counsel with LDF.
- Major v. Treen, 574 F.Supp 325 (E.D.LA 1983), federal class action resulted in reapportionment of Congressional districts of Louisiana. Created Louisiana’s first black majority congressional district and one of the first cases to interpret the newly amended Voting Rights Act. Co-counsel with LDF.
- Valteau v. Edwards, (#84-1293, USDC, E.D.LA 1984), three judge court, federal statewide class action resulting in the reinstatement of the Presidential Primary in Louisiana which was canceled after Rev. Jesse Jackson announced he sought Democratic nomination. Lead counsel with LDF.
- Quant v. Edwards, (#84-3841, USDC, E.D.LA 1984), unsuccessful federal statewide class action challenging Louisiana’s voter registration laws. Lead counsel with LDF.
- Jones v. Edwards, 674 F.Supp 1225 (E.D.LA 1987), three judge court, unsuccessful class action challenging voter purges prior to elections. Co-counsel with LDF.
- Numerous Section 2 and Section 5 VRA challenges to: Louisiana House of Representatives on behalf of the Legislative Black Caucus (in 1980s as cocounsel with LDF; in 1990s as cocounsel with The Lawyers’ Committee and LDF; in 2000’s with LDF) the Louisiana Senate in 1991 and local governmental electoral actions in Orleans, Plaquemines, East Carroll, East Feliciana, St. Tammany, Pointe Coupee, Madison, Washington, Basile and others.
- Cooper v. Fowler, (#87-19205, CDC), successful statewide class action against State of Louisiana and all 64 parish governments improving access to polls for physically handicapped. Lead counsel with Advocacy Center.
- Rodney v McKeithen, (USDC, M.D. La), successful challenge to failure to redistrict Louisiana parishes of Pointe Coupee, Madison, West Feliciana, East Carroll. Cocounsel with Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Washington, DC.
- Wilson v St. Francisville, (#92-765 B USDC, M.D. LA), successful challenge to town council elections. Result: consent creation of additional black majority voting district. 1996 effort of town to set aside consent judgment. Matter reheard and new black majority district created. Cocounsel with Voting Rights Project of ACLU, Atlanta, Georgia.
- Perschall v Louisiana, (various Louisiana state and federal courts), effort to set aside federal court consent remedy in Chisom v Roemer (see above). Intervened to represent African American voters. Case was filed in state court, removed to federal court, transferred back to state court, to decide if remedy is consistent with state and federal law. Lost advisory opinion in Louisiana Supreme Court, 7-1-97; dismissed as moot in USDC.
United States of America v New Orleans City, USDC 2:12-cv-01924 SM – JCW, filed motion for intervention into proposed consent decree oversight of New Orleans Police Department on behalf of Community United for Change. August 2012 – Co-counsel.
State of Louisiana versus 6 people without counsel. June 2012 challenge to Orleans Parish Criminal Court prosecutions of people without appointed counsel. Ask that prosecutions be stayed and those in jail awaiting trial without counsel be released. Section K.
Doe v Caldwell, USDC 2:12-cv-01670, June 2012 class action challenge to Louisiana sex registry listing of 400+ people for crime against nature. Co-counsel.
Enziaya v Landrieu, USDC #11-2977 “I”, federal First Amendment challenge to actions by City of New Orleans to demolish Occupy NOLA encampment at Duncan Plaza. Won Temporary Restraining Order December 6, 2011 ordering City to let protestors in tents back into plaza. Lost preliminary injunction. Co-counsel.
Doe v Jindal, USDC ED LA, February 16, 2011 federal constitutional challenge to Louisiana law which makes a person convicted of solicitation of oral or anal sex a registered sex offender. Co-counsel. Successful on motion for summary judgment, April 2012.
Al-Aulaqi v Obama, USDC DC – challenge to extrajudicial targeted killings of US citizens by US government. Hearing USDC November 2010, lost December 2010. Co-counsel.
CCR and ACLU v OFAC, – USDC DC – challenge to requirement that lawyers get permission of government to sue government on behalf of people on terrorist list, won settlement fall 2010.
ACORN v USA, USDC – 09-04888, E.D. NY, November 2009, challenge to Bill of Attainder by Congress cutting off all federal funding to ACORN and affiliates, subsidiaries, and allies. Won in USDC, lost in US Second Circuit, cert petitioned to USSCt February 2011;
City Council of New Orleans v Tracie Washington, CDC, First Amendment appeal of district court gag order and prior restraint on publication of emails of city council members, March 2009. Co-counsel.
Joshua v City of New Orleans, USDC, 07-0425 – class action challenge to lack of due process in home demolitions in New Orleans. Co-counsel.
Bentley v La Dept Education, USDC, 07-0571 S-4. Children signing up for public school in RecoverySchool District wait listed. Violation of homeless children education act. Over 300 children turned away from school. Case settled with removal of wait list policy. Assistant counsel to NAACP Gulf Coast Advocacy Project.
- Kirk v City of New Orleans, 2005-13471 “I”, 12.28.05; class action challenge to Christmas Eve announcement of bulldozing by City of NO without notice action brought first in state court, got TRO stopping all bulldozing; removed to USDC, settlement, January 2006 giving notice to all homeowners of city intention to demolish; no houses demolished until February, after newspaper, mail and web notice; Co-counsel with Advancement Project.
- Sylvester v Boissiere, USDC, ED La. # 05-0527, negotiated successful due process challenge to inadequate notice by tacking for absentee renters after Katrina. Co-counsel with Advancement Project. November 2005
- Gizelle Smith et al v Lambert Boissiere et al, CDC 2005-12029, 10-24-05, successful state court constitutional challenge to holding Orleans eviction hearings in Gonzales Louisiana because New Orleans courts were damaged. Won TRO and Permanent Injunction.
- Bourgeois v Peters, 387 F.3rd. 1303 (11th cir 2004) October 15, 2004, successful First and Fourth Amendment challenge to city policy of subjecting political protestors to metal detector searches. Trial in USDC November 2002, appeal to 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. Co-counsel.
- Hamdan v Foti, USDC #03-1420 C, ED LA. First Amendment challenge of Muslim prisoners to lack of accommodation to their religion at Ramadan. Appointed by USDC. Settled 2004.
- Parents for Educational Justice, et al v Picard, USDC #00-0633 N, E.D. La. Due Process constitutional challenge on behalf of parents of public school children to use of Louisiana LEAP test for retention purposes. Case Dismissed on Standing. Lead counsel.
- Charlet v Edwards, Louisiana state court constitutional challenge to inadequate educational opportunity. Filed 1992. Lost appeal to Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, 713 So. 2d 1199 (La. App 1st Cir. 1998). Appeal to Louisiana Supreme Court denied. Cocounsel with New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation, ACLU, and others.
- Short v Bridwell, successful federal housing discrimination case received $57,000 award in 1993. Reported as “largest lump sum ever obtained in the South” by cocounsel Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
- Louisiana v Leonard Peart, appointed by Criminal District Court to litigate issue of funds for court-appointed DNA experts. Awarded $10,000 July 1992.
- Thompson v. City of New Orleans, (#85-5475, USDC, E.D.LA), successful class action challenge to municipal criminal ordinance “sleeping in public” used to harass homeless. Lead counsel.
- Roshan v Smith, 615 F. Supp. 901 (DC.DC. 1985) unsuccessful action to challenge the construction of Oakdale Alien Detention Center on grounds that people confined there would not have adequate access to counsel because of its size and isolated location. Co-counsel with Lawyers Committee International Human Rights and ACLU.
- Ringe v. Romero, 624 F.Supp 417 (W.D.LA 1985), successful constitutional challenge invalidating Louisiana statute and local ordinances “consent to search” laws. Lead counsel.
- Shirley Jones v. City of New Orleans, (1983, E.D.LA), successful class action resulting in improvements in law enforcement computer identification in Greater New Orleans area. Lead counsel.
- Meadows v. City of New Orleans, (#83-703, USDC E.D.LA), successful action improving rights of hearing-impaired persons in interrogation, arrest and incarceration. Lead counsel.
- Melvin Jones v. City of New Orleans, (#85-2897, USDC E.D.LA) successful class action challenging municipal restrictions on campaign signs. Lead counsel.
- Medvid v. Lambert, (#85-5150, USDC, E.D.LA) unsuccessful habeas petition for defecting Russian seaman by next friends U.S. Senators Grassley, Helms and Humphries. Lead counsel.
- Drefchinski v. Regan, 589 F.Supp 1516 (W.D.LA, 1984), unsuccessful constitutional challenge to I.R.S. penalty imposed on pacifist tax protester. Lead counsel.
- Bates v. Phelps, (#89-65, USDC, W.D.LA), successful constitutional class action by death-row inmates concerning access to courts issues. Co-counsel with National Prison Project.
- Hamilton v. Morial, (#88-3736, USDC, E.D.LA), class action by 3000+ inmates in Orleans Parish jails challenging conditions of confinement. Successful settlement of medical issues, psychiatric issues, and environmental issues. Other issues pending include a recently filed sub-class action for all female inmates: Lambert v Morial. Co-counsel with National Prison Project.
- Schultz v. Edwards, (#86-4926, USDC, E.D.LA), successful class action by 450,000 Medicaid recipients to restore illegal program and budget cuts. Lead counsel with New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation.
- Oakdale Legal Assistance v. Bureau of Prisons, (1986, USDC, W.D.LA), successful challenge to BOP curtailment of access of paralegals to incarcerated clients. Lead counsel.
- Copeland v Rice, CDC 97-2452, (1997) Amicus brief on First Amendment issues for ACLU of Louisiana urging dismissal of defamation action by fried chicken king versus vampire novelist.
Allen v HANO, CDC 07-15799 (F)(10) – successful action for injunction to halt demolition until approval by New Orleans City Council. Cocounsel.
Anderson v Jackson, USDC 06-3298 (B)(5) (2006) class action on behalf of 4000 families seeking to return to public housing in New Orleans and to prevent HUD from demolishing 5000 affordable housing units – co-counsel with Advancement Project and Jenner & Block;
Community Development Block Grant $10 billion objections filed on behalf of ACORN, PHRF, others, March 2006, April 2006 – co-counsel with many other advocates
McWaters v FEMA, USDC 05-5488, In February 2006, played a small part in a very big case brought by other lawyers. Filed intervention on behalf of 12,000 families to stop FEMA hotel evictions. Temporary restraining order denied 2.13.06. Cocounsel.
- Powell v Maison Inn St. Charles, CDC, 1.7.06, successful class action to stop evictions of FEMA residents at hotel;
- Mitchell v. Housing Authority of New Orleans, (#87-1446, USDC, E.D.LA), successful class action to enforce federal regulations re: lead paint poisoning. Lead counsel. Motion for Contempt filed with New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation, Fall 1993.
- Jackson v. H.A.N.O., (#82-3907, USDC, E.D.LA), successful class action to utility allowances, eviction procedures and general conditions in St. Thomas Housing Development. Lead counsel.
- Alexander v. Landrieu, (#79-4040, USDC, E.D.LA), successful class action challenge to conditions in Desire Housing Development. Lead counsel.
- VanZan v. Harris, 1978, and Louisiana Black Assembly v. HUD, 1979, USDC, E.D.LA, challenges to 1978 and 1979 Community Development Block Grant programs in Jefferson Parish, LA. Lead counsel.
Co-counsel, Petition to International Criminal Court, September 2011, on behalf of survivors of clergy sex abuse, a human rights complaint asking the ICC prosecutor to investigate and prosecute the people responsible in the Vatican for systematic and widespread concealment of rape and child sex crimes committed around the world.
Co-counsel, Petition to Stop Forced Evictions in Haiti from Displacement Camps, Inter American Court for Human Rights, October 2010;
Co-counsel, Petition on Gender Violence in Displacement Camps in Haiti, Inter American Court for Human Rights – September 2010;
Death Penalty Post-Conviction Representation
- Co-counsel for David Earl Wilson. Overturned death sentence; given life, February 1990. Cocounsel with major Minnesota firm.
- Co-counsel for Andrew Lee Jones. Habeas challenge to conviction by all white jury. Executed July 1991.
- Co-counsel for Wayne Felde. Executed March 15, 1988. Co-counsel with Team Defense.
- Co-counsel for Timothy Baldwin. Executed September 10, 1984. Cocounsel with LDF.
- Co-counsel for Patrick Sonnier. Executed April 5, 1984. Cocounsel with Team Defense.
Other Social Justice, Poverty, and Public Interest Cases
Co-counsel for Michael Walli, USDC Eastern District of Tennessee, criminal charges arising from protest action at Y-12 plant as part of Transform Now Plowshares, 3:12-cr-107, September 2012 – ;
Co-counsel with Davida Finger and Judson Mitchell, for seven jailed Entergy protestors in New Orleans who sat in Entergy offices against renewal of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Brattleboro, Vermont, owned by Entergy, March 2012.
Co-counsel, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in litigation in Missouri where lawyers for Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse of children trying to subject SNAP, not a party to the litigation, to invasive and burdensome discovery.
Co-counsel, Roy Bourgeois MM. Efforts to remain a Catholic priest and member of Maryknoll community while still advocating for ordination of women to priesthood, 2009 -
Standby Counsel – US District Court, TacomaWA, federal felony jury trial, fall 2010. Disarm now Plowshares. Five activists who broke onto military base, cut through three fences and put up banners against nuclear weapons. Found guilty after 5 day trial.
Expert/testimony on Civil Resistance, Creech 14 criminal trial, Las Vegas, NV. 2010.
Standby counsel – District of Columbia v 24 Members of Witness Against Torture, misdemeanor criminal cases arising out of protests at US Capitol on the one year anniversary of President obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo. Main author and presenter of First Amendment, International Law and Necessity Defense brief. Cases of all 24 dismissed by judge after prosecution rested its case. June 14, 2010.
Co-counsel, federal criminal defense of School of Americas protestors November 2008-2009 – USDC Georgia
Co-counsel, detained immigrants in Laurel Mississippi ICE raid, September 2008 -
Co-counsel, Louis Vitale, USDC – CA – federal criminal trial for protest at Vandenberg Air Force base. 2008
Co-counsel, LeBlanc v Thomas, CDC #08-548 N8, state court action for healthcare reinstatement for the indigent – January 2008, co-counsel;
Co-counsel, Mary Burton Riseley, Betsy Lamb, and Jerry Zawada, federal criminal prosecution – anti-torture protest at Fort Huachuca USDC Arizona November 2007- February 2008;
Co-counsel, federal criminal defense of 11 protestors at SOA-WHINSEC, November 2007- January 2008;
Counsel, US v Louis Vitale, USDC # CR – 07-00576-TUC-HCE-(CVB) TucsonArizona and advisory counsel for Steve Kelly – trespass and other state charges at Ft. HuachucaAZ to challenge teaching of torture at Fort. April 2007.
Co-counsel, federal criminal defense of prosecution by 16 protestors at SOA-WHINSEC, November 2006 – February 2007;
Counsel for Michael Walli and advisory counsel for others in: US v Kabat, Boertje-Obed and Walli, 2006 Case # 4:06-CR-59-DLH-CSM-1-3, USDC North Dakota, three men poured their own blood on Minuteman III intercontinental nuclear missile, charged with felony damage to property – guilty as charged after jury trial – September 2006;
- Co-counsel, federal criminal defense of prosecution by US of 37 School of Americas-WHINSEC Protestors, USDC Middle District Georgia, November 2005 – February 2006.
- On site legal counsel advisor for Pax Christi USA, civil disobedience by 205 people at Nevada Test Site, August 6, 2005 to protest 60th anniversary of U.S. nuclear attack on Hiroshima
- Co-counsel, Pere Gerard Jean-Juste, arrested in Haiti July 2005, humanitarian medical release January 2006. Cocounsel with BAI and IJDH.
- Haiti testimony: Qualified as expert witness on human rights in Haiti, US Immigration Court April 14, 2005 in successful asylum case of Marie Antoinette in New Orleans
- Cocounsel with Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti – visits to Haiti during school year 2004-2005, 2005-2006 to investigate, report, and represent human rights cases
- Haiti testimony: Affidavit for Yvon Neptune in Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, April 2005; Affidavit for Rosemie David Joseph, wife of Mario Joseph, US Immigration Court, January 2005.
- Advisory Counsel, St. Patrick’s Four, federal criminal charges of conspiracy, trespass and criminal damage to property arising out of blood pouring civil disobedience at military recruiting center March 17, 2003 to try to stop the Iraq war, USDC -Northern District New York, 03-CR-73 et al. Spring 2005- Fall 2005. After 6 day jury trial found not guilty on felony charge of conspiracy (carrying up to 6 years) and guilty of misdemeanors.
- Counsel, US v A.M. et al, USDC Middle District of Georgia, 04-PO-1 through 15, GMF, criminal defense co-counsel for 15 nonviolent civil disobedience resisters at School of the Americas-WHISC, November 2004 – Spring 2005.
- Co-counsel, criminal representation of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, Port au Prince, Haiti, October 2004 – December 2004 – released December 2004. Co-counsel with Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
- Co-counsel, Election Protection Coalition Legal Committee, New Orleans, September-November 2004
- Counsel, School of Americas Watch protestors, NYC – RNC, August 2004
- Counsel, G 8 Protest Legal Collective, Brunswick, GA, May – June 2004
- Advisory Counsel, “St. Patrick’s Four,” Ithaca NY, state felony trial for criminal damage to property from pouring blood on walls of Marine Recruiting Station two days before invasion of Iraq, March 17, 2003. NY v Daniel Burns, Peter DeMott, Clare Grady, Teresa Grady, Tomkins County, # 03-0064. Defendants stipulated that they did the action. Six day jury trial resulted in hung jury, 9-3 for acquittal, April 13, 2004.
- Coordinating counsel in School of Americas Watch legal collective representation of SOAW 45 in US v Auf der Heide, USDC 4:03 – M – 658 GMF et al, November 2003-February 2004. Federal misdemeanor criminal charges arising out of civil disobedience at School of Americas, Ft. Benning GA, November 2003 to February 2004.
- Co-counsel, Henry v City of New Orleans, USDC 03-2493 N (2), civil rights complaint brought by homeless against NOPD for unconstitutional stop, search and arrest while waiting for work outside a temporary labor pool. September 2003 to present.
- Co-counsel, Office of Foreign Assets Control, US Department of the Treasury v Voices in the Wilderness, USDC District of Columbia, #1:03 CV 01356 attempt to get $20,000 in civil fines from VITW for bringing medicines to Iraq. Co-counsel Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo Partnership for Civil Justice. Lost 2005.
- Coordinating counsel in School of Americas Watch legal collective representation of US v Aguilar, et al. USDC 4:02-M-762 et al (M.D. Ga.) 85 federal misdemeanor criminal charges arising out of civil disobedience at School of Americas, Ft. Benning GA, November 2002 to February 2003.
- Co-counsel, New Orleans Campaign for a Living Wage v City of New Orleans et al, CDC 2002-1824 “N” c/w Small Business Coalition to save Jobs v City of New Orleans, CDC 2002-1840. February 2002 to Summer 2002. State court litigation to preserve the 75,000 to 45,000 victory of raise in New Orleans minimum wage. Won in trial court, April 2002. Argued in Louisiana Supreme Court May 13, 2002. Lost fall 2002.
- Lead trial counsel, SOA 43. Federal court representation of 43 defendants charged with trespassing in civil disobedience at Ft. Benning, Georgia, School of Americas, Fall 2001-Summer 2002. US v Booker-Hirsch et al, 4:02-M-253 et al. USDC Georgia. Trial July 8-12 resulted in dismissal of charges against 6, acquittal of 1, 8 persons given probation, 14 sentenced to 6 months in prison, 14 sentenced to 90 days in prison.
- Co-counsel, Just Cause Law Collective and Katya Komisaruk, participation in training and representation of 31 people engaged in Jail and Court Solidarity state court civil disobedience at Ft. Benning over the School of Americas, Columbus Georgia, November, 2001.
- Habeas corpus petition USDC #01-2971 C (1) on behalf of Chantakad Kota Niravong v Christine Davis (INS). Laotian prisoner in custody of Immigration and Naturalization Service Beauregard Parish Prison should be released under Zadvydas decision of US Supreme Court. September 2001. Co-counsel. Niravong released while decision pending before US District Court. Citizens for Change and Alliance for Affordable Energy administrative complaint filed with the US Departments of Energy and Justice challenging unfair natural gas pricing in New Orleans. April 2001.
- Citizens for Change and Alliance for Affordable Energy Emergency Petition for Relief from Utility Terminations filed in New Orleans City Council asking for ratepayers bill of rights and some flexibility for 40,000 families behind in utility bills and subject to termination. March 2001. Rock v Picard, (2000) 468-901 M, 19th JDC, public records act challenge to withholding of records by Department of Education. Unsuccessful. Sole counsel.
- Cressey v Foster, (1996-1997) 431-846 F, 19th JDC, challenge to Louisiana’s welfare reform. Lost most issues in trial and appellate court. Cocounsel.
- City of New Orleans v Julie Bourbon, (1996-1997) New Orleans Municipal Court prosecution of Loyola Community Action Project for handing out sandwiches to homeless in Lafayette Square. Charges ultimately dismissed. Counsel.
- Johnson v Carter, 97-8378 L, CDC, (1997) mandamus to force New Orleans City Council to put proposed amendment to City Charter raising minimum wage by $1/hour. Cocounsel. Lost in trial court 6-97; on appeal to Louisiana 4th circuit remanded to trial court. Trial 8-99. Lost at trial, won on appeal October 2000, writs denied by Louisiana Supreme Court.