Derailing the Polluters - Impact Litigation Stops Crude By Rail In Its Tracks

Derailing the Polluters - Impact Litigation Stops Crude By Rail In Its Tracks

Moving oil by train means that hazardous oil train routes would cross through eight of the state’s ten largest cities and through the downtowns of many smaller cities and towns. Increased oil train traffic is a threat to all Californians but brings the greatest risk to environmental justice communities: low income communities of color that already live with a disproportionate and elevated health and safety risk from industrial spills, fires and explosions, as well as, chronic, daily air and water pollution.

Failed Birth Control Device: Thousands Seek Justice

Failed Birth Control Device: Thousands Seek Justice

Anna Jennings, mother of two, was promised that the Essure birth control device was a safe, quick, and easy option for family planning. Sadly, it turned out to be anything but. Thousands of women are now suffering from severe side effects and complications they allege were caused by Essure. These include allergic reactions (to the nickel contained in the Essure coil), chronic pain, excessive bleeding, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy.

Think Your Rights Are Safe? Think Again...

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a million dollars (or even one-tenth that) to devote to suing anybody. Right now there is no line item in my family’s budget for “lawsuits.” So basically, in a no-class-action future scenario, if I get screwed over by a company or the government, there will be absolutely nothing I can do about it. This would be a huge win for anyone itching to start their own Ponzi scheme, but a terrifying disaster for the rest of us.

Class Action Victory for Racial Justice Protesters in Berkeley

Sam Wolson, a photojournalist who was on assignment by the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper at the protest, was clubbed on the head as he knelt to take a photo. Wolson remarked afterward that, “If you can’t have media safely holding all parties accountable, the whole system breaks down.”

A Class Action Hero Fights To End Gender Discrimination In High School Sports

We female athletes realized how much we were being wronged and we stood together to fight for what was right. It still baffles me that softball facilities were allowed to deteriorate while facilities used by male athletes were so much better. At the time, we truly were not aware that there was a law that protected our rights as female athletes to have equal opportunities, treatment, and benefits, nor were we aware that our rights were being violated. But we quickly learned and began exercising our rights.

Long Road to Justice for LGBTQI Jamaicans

As a lawyer defending the human rights of LGBTQI people in Jamaica, I am accustomed to receiving death threats. But when I received a particularly vulgar and graphic email threatening to immediately end my life, I was so shaken that I finally went to the police. What happened next shocked me...


Anderson Cooper would be the first to call out Donald Trump’s ridicule of a reporter with a disability with righteous indignation. Yet, on December 4, 2016 Cooper used the 60 Minutes broadcast to throw people with disabilities under the bus in the name of journalism. He used his power and prestige to denigrate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the honorable lawyers that enforce it. Cooper could not have been more successful, if his intent was to lead the parade of horribles against the ADA. I suggest that presenting a skewed piece of journalism which serves only to undermine the first national law providing civil rights protections for people with disabilities is at least as harmful as mocking a reporter with a disability.

The Impact Fund - From Living Room To Supreme Court

Brad Seligman’s father was a prosecutor at Nuremberg. Selig, as he was known, was a New Deal kid and lawyer-turned-TV/movie-producer who instilled in his son the value of public service and giving back. “Looking back,” says Brad, “it’s pretty obvious that I was destined to be a lawyer and, after a few of the obligatory 60’s detours, I decided to conduct a five-year experiment to see if I might be cut out for the legal profession.” He’s been renewing that experiment ever since.

Latino Families Fight For Fair Housing & Civil Rights in Richmond, VA

The final question we had for Ms. Molina was the kicker, as we prepared her to testify in an upcoming summary judgment hearing in federal court. We were asking about the effects of the city of Richmond’s aggressive maintenance code enforcement campaign against the residents of the mobile home park where she lives. City inspectors had threatened her, like most of her neighbors, with imminent displacement and the condemnation of her home (a later review of the inspectors’ notes showed that there was nothing to justify condemning the home, despite the city’s threats).  “How often do you think about it,” we asked the retiree from El Salvador. Ms. Molina’s eyes welled up with tears and, after a pause, her voice cracked, “All the time.” She paused as she wept. “All the time.”

Cleaning Up The Criminal Justice System in Paris, Texas

Under Texas law, individuals can be required to pay for their court-appointed defense attorney. While the Court of Criminal Appeals has clarified that a court must determine that a defendant actually has the ability to pay attorney fees before ordering them to do so, not all courts follow the law. In Lamar County, a local defense attorney, relatively new to Texas, was shocked when he saw defendants ordered to pay money they didn’t have for a court-appointed attorney, and then threatened with jail if they missed payments.

Grassy Narrows First Nation Fights New Mercury Poisoning Threat

The people of Grassy Narrows have sustained themselves for thousands of years on their traditional territory – 2,500 square miles of forest, lakes and rivers. These indigenous people are no strangers to environmental injustice. Between 1962 and 1970 the rivers and lakes they depend on for their sustenance and livelihood were poisoned by the Reed International Paper Mill. In spite of assurances that the logging and associated activities were safe, twenty tons of mercury was dumped into the river. So, when the people of Grassy Narrows learned that the Ontario government was planning to give the go ahead to resume clear cut logging, there was astonishment...

Beyond Outrage: Civil Rights, Not Pity

No doubt that Trump’s mocking arm movements and disgusted facial expression is a prime example of bullying. And no doubt that bullying is a major problem for people with disabilities. But I feel like everyone has jumped on this incident as a breach of decorum (don't stare, don't make fun), but no one is talking about it from a policy perspective. This type of mocking is not just a matter of manners, decorum and crossing lines, but has real and terrible policy implications. 

Prisoners Face Hepatitis C Death Sentence

Not only was a de facto death sentence a realistic possibility for many of the prisoners being denied treatment, it was a death sentence of liver failure.  I myself have witnessed people die this way.  It is a slow and horrifying process, far worse than any sentence, any punishment, or any manner of death penalty, imposed by any state, for any crime.  In light of that knowledge, “sentenced to die” is actually putting the matter quite lightly.

Black Lives Matter: Advocating for Racial Justice in St. Louis County

In May of 2016, Quinton Thomas, a native St Louisan was pulled over in Beverly Hills, a Missouri town of 574 people that is 93% black and receives 26% of its general revenue from court fines and fees. Mr. Thomas was driving his friend to a barber shop to get his haircut when he was stopped by police for having a “busted front bumper.” In the past three years, Mr. Thomas has been pulled over, arrested and jailed for unpaid traffic tickets, and as a result he has lost two jobs and one vehicle, not to mention days of his life, and a sense of safety when he gets behind the wheel.

Compton Schools Can Do Better For Trauma-Sensitive Children

There’s a saying in Spanish that goes, caras vemos, sentimientos no sabemos. In English it means, “We see faces, but we don’t know feelings.” I like to make people smile and help them, and I’m told that I seem like a really happy and positive person, but I’ve been through a lot.

When I was little, my mom struggled with drug abuse and often got into relationships with men who were abusive or drug addicts as well. When I was two or three, the man she was dating sexually abused me. This is one of my earliest memories.

Poisoned by Uranium, Navajo Nation Seeks Justice

Flint, Baltimore, Philadelphia ... Churchrock?  The list of communities facing drinking water crises is ever growing, but some communities don’t get mentioned in the media or the halls of power.  When the Flint water crisis made national headlines, Americans were shocked that any community's drinking water could be sacrificed just to save a few bucks.  But contaminated water is a fact of life for many communities impacted by this nation's fetishistic fascination with atomic power. 

The Navajo (or "Diné" in their native language) village of Churchrock straddles a dusty arroyo called the Puerco River in the northwestern corner of New Mexico.  This inauspicious village is ground zero in the fight to prevent uranium mining from doing further damage to the land and its people.  To fully understand the current fight, one must look to history first. 

Isabel's Story: Justice In The Face of Wage Theft

After a few weeks, all of us working on the night cleaning shift realized there were problems. The man who hired us stopped coming to work and did not pay us on time. When we tried to contact him, he refused to answer our calls. A supervisor from another company came and told us to keep working, promising that we would be paid. We were all eager to keep working and earning money, but the pay checks weren’t coming...

Just Doing Their Job? The Structural Roots of Police Abuse

I recall my first contact with police as a middle schooler.  Two of my friends and I, all Black youths, were walking in our neighborhood.  San Francisco’s Richmond district was diverse but mostly White then.  It was a dark early evening.  As the three of us were walking, a police car pulled up.  The officers ordered us to empty our pockets.  They searched us without asking for permission or explaining why they had stopped us.  Finding nothing illegal, they departed without explanation or apology.  We knew they had stopped us because we were Black.  To them Black kids in a “White neighborhood” was synonymous with suspicious.  They didn’t beat us or kill us.  So the physical toll was light, but the psychological effects were deep.  Afterward we had to question if the police would protect and serve us.