Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Update on J20 prosecutions

More than 200 folks are facing very serious charges and jail time when they were mass-arrested during public protests at the Trump inauguration. For instance, prosecutors are using Facebook "likes" of the disruptj20 website as evidence of an intent to commit violent protest.

NLG's communications director, Tasha Moro, has an excellent update on the trial in this case and how it intersects with new surveillance initiatives against protests on the left, including Black Lives Matters.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Vigil/rally for Jason Pero

On November 8th, 14 year old Jason Pero was shot and killed by an Ashland County Deputy in front of his home in Odanah Wisconsin on the Bad River reservation. 

Neighbors and relatives challenge the official story put out by the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice, and their videos contradict the officer's claim that he was in danger from a middle school kid with a knife. The Bad River tribe has demanded a federal investigation.

Come bring lights, drums, and songs to remember this young singer, drummer, and keeper of his Anishinabe peoples' traditions. Demand justice for him and protection for indigenous people across the world as we close out Native American Heritage month in the U.S.A. Our heritage should no longer excuse violence against our indigenous relatives.

We will begin at Wisconsin DOJ's office on West Main Street and proceed to the US Attorney's office on West Washington Avenue.

Thursday, November 30th, 4:30-5:30pm

Please come and invite your friends.

Giving Tuesday for NLG

From NLG's executive director:
On this global day of giving back, please consider making a $50 donation to support the National Lawyers Guild.
As the first integrated bar association and the oldest and most extensive network of social justice activists working within the legal system, the National Lawyers Guild has been resisting oppression for 80 years. With over 150 chapters and 20 committees, the NLG continues to be at the forefront of movements for social justice both in the United States and internationally. In this time of increasing state repression and political uncertainty, we need your support now more than ever.

So please mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 28th and make a donation in support of the NLG’s work on #GivingTuesday.

Thank you,
Pooja Gehi
Executive Director
NLG National Office
132 Nassau Street, Rm. 922
New York, NY 10038
Given the current political climate, the NLG's efforts at protecting protests against pipelines, the young, gifted & black, criminal justice reform, the environment, and free expression and association for those on the left will be ever more important in 2018.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Comments on SB303 and SB304

On 19 October 2017, our own PK Hammel testified about SB303 and SB304. These bills "allegedly" address rioting and blocking of roadways. Here is her testimony:

The Madison chapter of the National Lawyers Guild opposes the proposals to further criminalize public protest which are the basis for SB 303 and 304, the “riot” act and adding penalties for blocking access to streets and buildings. This legislation is unnecessary and constitutionally over-broad in sweeping protected speech and assembly into the criminal code and making felons of law abiding citizens. 
To be clear, threatening an act of violence against a person is already a crime. Section 947 of the Wisconsin Statutes already prohibits disorderly conduct (misdemeanor), disrupting a funeral or memorial service (misdemeanor or felony for repeat offenders), intimidation or harassment including by use of a computer (forfeiture to felony), threats of bombs or biological or toxic substance release (felonies) terrorist threats (felony since 2015) and unlawful assemblies (misdemeanor) including blocking entrances to buildings and failing to disperse when ordered, with additional punishments for University of Wisconsin students and employees. 
Causing damage to property is also currently a crime in Wisconsin pursuant to sec. 943 of the statutes with enhanced penalties (felony) for damage to roads, public utility property and archaeological or cultural sites. Assault against another person is also a crime under sec. 940 of Wisconsin’s statutes; battery is generally a felony now, with increasing penalties for battery to vulnerable individuals and special provisions for vulnerable individuals, and law enforcement officers (threats are also felonies).

So what do SB 303 and 304, adding the “riot” provision and singling out groups of three or more (?) accomplish? They make “Whoever participates in a riot” in which someone else, who may be completely unknown or even adverse to the person being charged, a felon by association. 
These proposals are unnecessary and unconstitutional. It is worth remembering that the State has lost challenges to over-broad penalties against groups of four assembling in the Capitol without a permit as recently as 2013. U.S. District Court Judge William Conley issued an injunction against enforcement of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and Capitol Access policies on July 8 2013, finding that the Dept. of Administration’s assembly permitting scheme was improperly content based and overly broad, and that the plaintiff Michael Kissick had shown a likelihood of success in his case against DOA Secretary Huebsch and Capitol Police chief Erwin. 
To be constitutional, a statute limiting First Amendment rights of speech and assembly must be narrowly drawn to achieve a legitimate objective. A statute criminalizing the mere presence of a person with two or more others who are violent or threatening violence is NOT narrowly drawn. It is overly broad. It chills protected conduct by imposing a potential felony charge on someone who is not doing anything wrong, and may be participating in activity that deserves the highest level of constitutional protection. 
A felony charge is a serious matter. The number of attorneys who take cases of people charged with felonies is relatively limited because these are serious charges that can affect a person’s access to jobs, housing, education and the right to vote. Retainers for attorneys in a felony case are in the thousands of dollars. The State Public Defender’s office is underfunded and the number of attorneys who take private appointments has declined because private attorneys can’t keep their doors open getting $35 an hour. 
You may say that other states have “riot” bills so we should have one too. Those states (North Dakota being the one I am most familiar with) do not have unlawful assembly bills and the penalty for participating in a “riot” is a misdemeanor there. 
1. This crime is a B misdemeanor North Dakota has three levels of misdemeanors: Class A, Class B, and Class C. A class B misdemeanor carries a Maximum penalty of 30 days in prison, a $1,500 fine, or both. N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-32-01 (West). 
2. The terms of the crime A person is guilty of Engaging in a Riot if he participates in “a public disturbance involving an assemblage of five or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function.” N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-25-03 (West). N.D. Cent. Code Ann. § 12.1-25-01 (West).” 
Most of the people charged with “riot” in North Dakota last year have had their charges dismissed. Merely being there has not been found sufficient reason to sustain a misdemeanor charge. Wisconsin does not need a “riot” statute and people who assemble to exercise their free speech rights should not face felony charges. There are already penalties for committing acts of violence or being parties to such activity, and for blocking streets, and escalating penalties that adequately address any illegal activity. 
The Madison Mass Defense group, involving attorney and legal worker members of the National Lawyers Guild, ACLU and others concerned about federal and state constitutional rights to petition and protest the government, represented over 100 defendants given over 330 tickets in the “crackdown” ordered by Capitol Police Chief Erwin since he became chief in 2013. Only one case went to a jury trial resulting in a guilty verdict, nearly all of them were dismissed by the prosecuting Wisconsin Attorney General’s office after every Dane County judge assigned to the cases dismissed them. 
The Madison Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild is the local arm of the national organization of lawyers, legal workers, law students, and jailhouse lawyers. The National Lawyers Guild represents progressive political movements, and its motto is that human rights are more sacred than property interests.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Chicago Community Bond Fund Interview

Shadowproof has an interview with Max Suchan about the Chicago Community Bond Fund.
CCBF is a part of a local coalition, the Coalition to End Money Bond, which includes labor, legal advocacy, and faith-based organizations. They have put pressure on the city to reform the money bond system. Externally, Suchan said, the city also has noticed a national trend demanding reforms to the most racist practices in the criminal justice system.
Lawyers affiliated with the coalition launched a lawsuit last year that seeks a “declaratory judgment that Cook County’s bond-setting practices violate the Constitution; that actually they disproportionately impact people that don’t have money, and it’s a system that punishes people because they’re poor,” according to Suchan.
* * *  
Of 180 cases that we’ve tracked of people that were given money bonds, within seven days, only half those people were able to post their bonds,” Suchan added. “Fewer than 10 percent were able to pay their bond at their review hearing. Most people are not getting review hearings at all.”
“More than 90 percent of cases that we’ve been tracking are not given bond reviews within the seven-day review period or after.”
“It’s very rare that I’m sitting in court, where I don’t see something particularly disturbing. It happens. That’s the norm. It’s not actually the exception,” Suchan shared.
Listen to the interview of Max Suchan by going here.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Legal primer on DACA

The folks at Balkinization have created a detailed legal primer on DACA rescission along with descriptions (and links) to various efforts at challenging the rescission.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Police crackdown in St. Louis

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has details about military officers, med students, and many, many neighbors being abused by police officers in St. Louis. Here is one such incident:
A documentary filmmaker from Kansas City, visiting with his wife, said he was knocked unconscious during the sweep. Drew Burbridge, 32, said he never heard orders to disperse until officers started to advance, banging their batons and chanting, “Move back.”
“I turned my camera off and asked if there was anywhere I could go, but I was denied the right to leave,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a part of this.”
Officers ordered him to turn his camera off and get down on the ground, and he complied.
“The only thing I cared about then was putting my arms around my wife,” he said. “I just, I just kept saying: ‘It’s going to be OK.’”
Burbridge said officers then grabbed him by both his arms and dragged him away.
“I just said: ‘I am a member of the media, I am not protesting, I am not resisting,’” Burbridge said.
An officer sprayed his face with a chemical, his head was forced into the ground and an officer ripped his camera from his neck.
Burbridge claims his hands were then bound by zip ties before two officers started kicking him in the back, neck, arm and legs while he lay restrained on the ground. He said he was knocked unconscious on the pavement for about 10 to 30 seconds.
After he came to, Burbridge said an officer lifted his head by his hair and pepper sprayed him in the face again.
Naturally (or rather, un-naturally), these events trace back to Ferguson and the protests there:
When all hell broke loose in Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of a Black, unarmed teen, it was not clear, to the untrained eye, all of the intersecting forces that had collided. In the weeks— and months—following the murder of Mike Brown by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, those forces became more visible.
Political disenfranchisement. A majority African-American city (nearly 70%) was being ruled by a minority white city council, school board, and police department.
Segregated housing. As Black residents from the City of St. Louis were pushed north of the city limits, municipalities like Ferguson steered them into particular neighborhoods and wards.
Failing schools. Mike Brown made it to graduation, but unbeknownst to most people outside of St. Louis, his high school was part of an unaccredited Black school district. His diploma was worthless in the real world.
Militarization of the police. St. Louis County police were trained by the Israeli military in counter-terrorism tactics. During the Ferguson Uprising, police departments unveiled their arsenal of military weaponry made possible with the support of the 1033 Program that donates billions of dollars in surplus military equipment to mainly urban police departments.
Labor solidarity. It was difficult to ignore the role of labor, especially once it was revealed that Mike Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). In the aftermath of the Ferguson Uprising, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka met with key leaders on the ground, and proclaimed that racial justice would be central to his labor organization. This gutsy proclamation has resulted in tensions inside the labor movement, tensions that will have to get resolved as the demographics of workers become more Black and brown, and more female.
International solidarity. In a matter of days after unbridled anger manifested on the streets of Ferguson, messages of unity from other parts of the world, in struggling against capitalism and globalism, took social media by storm. Most notable were words of advice and solidarity from Palestinians who instantly recognized the military tactics used on them daily. There were lots of hashtags connecting Ferguson and Gaza, and soon #BlackLivesMatter protests were happening in major cities around the world, from London to Tokyo ...
Excerpt from Jamala Rogers, FERGUSON IS AMERICA: THE ROOTS AND RISE OF UNIVERSAL RESISTANCE, featured in Charlie Derber, Welcome to the Revolution.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hurricane help

Given the flooding and other problems arising from Hurricane Harvey and likely similar or worse problems from Hurricane Irma, keep in mind that not all donations to those in need are the same.

For Harvey, Colorlines has the following information. Other resources and guidelines are available at this link.

We hope to have info for Irma when it is available.

Guide to protecting your on-line identity

If you haven't thought about how to protect your on-line identity before, then make sure to look over this great outline from Equality Labs of what you should do.

Clipart - spy movie poster

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Enbridge Six" all bonded out

Thursday, August 31 2017

The water protectors arrested yesterday morning at the Line 3 construction site in Douglas County, WI have all been bailed out of jail. They all have restraining orders barring them from contact with Enbridge employees or their contract workers. Status conferences mid-October.

Thanks to Carl Lemke Oliver SackPatricia K HammelTara Zhaabowekwe HouskaHolly T. BirdAngela BibensDavid Joe BatesTa'Sina Sapa Win, Valentina Valle and everybody else who contributed to the bail fund, provided jail/court support or spent the better part of the day wrangling legal support for them yesterday.

Image may contain: 10 people, people smiling, people standing
Photo by Carl Sack

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Six Arrested Protesting Pipeline Construction in Wisconsin

Yesterday, August 29th, six water protectors were arrested in Douglas County, Wisconsin, while engaging in peaceful non-violent direct action to stop construction of the Line 3 pipeline project.

One water protector locked his body to construction equipment, while dozens of water protectors provided support and protection via media. When police arrived onsite, they gave a ten minute warning, but immediately began arrests, targeting anyone holding a camera or cellphone. One water protector was pulled out of a vehicle while attempting to comply with dispersal orders.

Line 3 is a proposed Enbridge tar sands line from Alberta, Canada, that will send nearly 900,000 barrels of tar sands per day through the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the shores of Lake Superior. After years of fighting environmental review in the courts, Enbridge was forced to engage in an Environmental Impact Statement in the state of Minnesota. Public hearings are scheduled for the coming months, with a final decision scheduled for Spring 2018.

Despite lacking approval in Minnesota, Enbridge has begun construction of Line 3 in Wisconsin and Canada. Indigenous resistance is growing daily, with the formation of several frontlines camps. Landowners in Wisconsin are currently suing Enbridge for failure to comply with state insurance requirements, in Dane County v. Enbridge.

 While locked to a machine, Alexander Good-Cane-Milk (Yankton Sioux Tribe) said, “We are the change...we want clean water, clean air, clean earth.”

 To donate bail funds, please visit: Michigan Water Protectors Legal Task Force on Facebook.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Court actions against Trump's anti-Muslim ban

Five federal courts have now stayed parts of Trump's order. Most require the government to allow entry to travelers who were en route to the United States and hold valid visas or green cards. The most far reaching, from a Washington State federal court, ordered Customs and Homeland Security officials not to rely solely on the executive order when making admittance decisions.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Standing Rock gets more legal protection

WPLC Wins Change in Rules For Out of State Attorneys to Defend Water Protectors 
Court Creates New Regulations for NoDAPL Criminal Cases

BISMARCK, ND: Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) applauds the ND Supreme Court’s ruling today in our Petition to Permit Temporary Provision of Legal Services by Qualified Attorneys From Outside North Dakota.

The request filed on December 14, 2016 sought to relax the rules governing pro hac vice admission for out of state attorneys in order to meet the urgent need for quality criminal defense lawyers to represent the over 600 Water Protectors who have been arrested since August.

Today the Court granted our request in significant part, allowing a “streamlining of our procedures for temporary admission of lawyers to provide pro bono services” including excusing the requirement that a North Dakota associate lawyer appear in-person and remain in court for all proceedings, and waiving the fee for pro hac vice applications from out of state attorneys wishing to provide criminal defense services to Water Protectors.

The court acknowledged “the potential for delay or inconvenience for litigants due to the relatively large number of arrests and finite resources to handle the judicial proceedings related to those arrests” and granted the change in rules “due to the significant increased caseload of the South Central Judicial District as a result of criminal charges stemming from the pipeline protests.”

“This will be a game changer for our ability to defend Water Protectors moving forward,” said WPLC cooperating attorney Bill Tilton of St. Paul, MN who filed the Petition along with 9 other lawyers. “The Court showed courage in crafting a creative response to this very grave and difficult situation.”
A public comment period that ended December 30, 2016 generated over 16,000 comments, including a letter from over 175 law professors urging the Court to grant the Petition in order to protect the Constitutional rights to adequate and effective counsel in these cases.

The Water Protector Legal Collective has been providing legal representation and coordination for Water Protectors engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline including coordination among local and out of state attorneys.

Sandra Freeman, Criminal Defense Case Coordinator for Water Protector Legal Collective said, “We are pleased the Court has recognized the peril posed to the over 175 people who are still without lawyers.”

Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination at Standing Rock, North Dakota in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG).

Fighting camera tickets

Great post at ArsTechnica about fighting a speeding ticket issued by a camera. The key court event:
On cross-examination, I established that:
- He [the police officer] was not present at the time of the alleged violation.
- He has no photographic evidence of the driver.
- There were no witnesses.
- He does not know where Adam MacLeod [the author] was at the time of the alleged violation.
And so on. I then asked the question one is taught never to ask on cross—the last one. “So, you signed an affidavit under the pains and penalties of perjury alleging probable cause to believe that Adam MacLeod committed a violation of traffic laws without any evidence that was so?”
Without hesitating he answered, “Yes.” This surprised both of us. It also surprised the judge, who looked up from his desk for the first time. A police officer had just testified under oath that he perjured himself in service to a city government and a mysterious, far-away corporation whose officers probably earn many times his salary.
Make sure to read the sections on why this case matters and the basic constitutional questions at stake, Also, the case typifies the merging/denial of criminal and civil procedure in these citation cases, which are a growing (and profitable) part of local government in this age of tax cuts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Being a Legal Observer

An interview aired on Wednesday, Jan. 11th, on WMUU 102.9 FM about legal observing and featured UW-Madison law student Dan Schneider and Amanda Leipold about being legal observers. This interview was recorded on January 9th, 2017, and can be heard on SoundCloud

Saturday, January 14, 2017

ICE Raid Toolkit

First Toolkit to Help Prepare Communities for ICE Raids in face of Trump’s Mass Deportation Plans 

Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) and Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) announce the release of Defend Against ICE Raids and Community Arrests: A Toolkit to Prepare and Protect Our Communities and an accompanying web page compiling tools and efforts to uphold rights of immigrants in the Trump era of racialized policing.

Based on years of community defense, litigation, and research, including hundreds of accounts of ICE raids, our joint #stopICEcold toolkit offers social justice advocates, lawyers, and community members critical information on our country’s massive detention and deportation system, as well as straightforward ideas on preparing for new waves of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. Defend Against ICE Raids and Community Arrests is the first comprehensive guide and organizing resource to help fight back against the Trump administration’s stated efforts to criminalize and deport millions of people.

What’s inside:
·         Definitive information on who ICE targets for deportation, priority locations for ICE activity, and common ICE arrest tactics and strategies.
·         Recommendations on emergency preparedness for those at risk of deportation, individual rights during ICE encounters, and potential legal and community challenges to ICE raids.
·         An initial forecast of what might happen under a Trump administration based on years of monitoring the world’s largest detention and deportation apparatus.
·         Select internal DHS/ICE enforcement memos and training documents secured through a pending FOIA litigation -- as well as summaries of raids reported.
Coming soon:
·         An online interactive map of the raids reported to IDP in the New York City area.
·         An online directory of FOIA documents from Immigrant Defense Project et al. v. ICE et al.
·         A web-based version of the toolkit.
·         Ongoing updates and more resources on emergency preparedness.

Help spread the word:

Use #stopICEcold to promote on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us on facebook and on Twitter at @ImmDefense and @theCCR to stay connected to campaign developments, including updates and added materials. Retweet this message or tweet your own!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Last Gasp

Last Gasp with the National Lawyers Guild-Madison
Thursday, January 19th ~ 5:30 - 8pm
Argus Bar & Grill
123 E Main St, Madison
Live Music!
First Drink is on us!

Calling all progressive lawyers, law students, and social justice organizers. The National Lawyers Guild will be hosting a last gasp solidarity celebration on the eve of the inauguration for local change-makers and folks on the left end of the legal community. Come join us in celebration and struggle!