Program Overview

ABOUT JUSTICE LAB

The ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on Trial™ is an intensive litigation and storytelling effort to challenge racially discriminatory policing practices and combat police violence against people of color. The campaign enlists for-profit law firms and law school legal clinics in bringing cases challenging racially-motivated stops and seizures under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and any other applicable laws.

Through direct legal representation and community advocacy, Justice Lab aims to create a partnership among directly-impacted people, communities, private law firms, and legal clinics to challenge racially discriminatory policing practices in Louisiana. The initiative seeks to empower directly-impacted families and communities in taking on this fight.

Learn more about Justice Lab’s vision and mission.

FOR VICTIMS OF RACIST POLICING

Justice Lab provides free civil representation to and a storytelling platform for people victimized by unconstitutional and racially discriminatory policing.

If you experienced police misconduct in Louisiana, such as excessive force, wrongful arrest, racial profiling, or illegal search and seizure, contact Justice Lab as soon as possible at 504-350-0100 or by filling out our intake form.

Louisiana is one of just three states with a 1-year statute of limitations on civil cases challenging discriminatory policing, so don’t wait. Even if you have a pending criminal case against you, Justice Lab is here to help. Contact Justice Lab now, and one of our trained staff members or volunteers will reach out.

Justice Lab legal and storytelling services are provided free of charge. To respect your privacy and to prevent retaliation from law enforcement, all communications about those incidents with the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab are confidential. We will not take any action on your behalf or communicate with any outside parties without your express consent and knowledge.

Types of Claims

While racist policing can take many forms, Justice Lab seeks to bring claims that fall into six categories:

False Arrest: This occurs if an officer arrests you with no reason to believe that you committed a crime.

Excessive Force: An officer’s use of force is excessive if it is not proportional to the threat the officer perceives and you are injured as a result.

Racial Profiling: This occurs when you are intentionally treated differently than someone of another race would be in the same situation. For example, police should not stop and question you because of your race alone.

Unreasonable Stops: Police may briefly stop and question you only if they have a reason to suspect that you committed a crime, or might be about to commit a crime.

Unreasonable Seizure: This occurs when the police detain you or take your property without a concrete reason to believe that you have committed a crime or that your property was, or will be, used in a crime.

Seizure of your person does not always involve an actual arrest—it occurs when the police do something to make you think you are not free to leave.

Unreasonable Search: This occurs when law enforcement searches your person or property without a search warrant and without a reason to believe they will find evidence of a crime.

Non-Litigation Supports

The ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab initiative recognizes that litigation is not the only way to support and empower those who have been directly impacted by systemic racism.

For those whose claims cannot be litigated because the statute of limitations has expired or for other reasons, Justice Lab will offer storytelling, trainings, and other resources to empower people to confront and combat racist policing in their communities.

The ACLU of Louisiana has also partnered with the Louisiana Victims Outreach Program (LAVO), an organization that seeks to address the needs of victims of violent crime as they navigate the criminal legal system. LAVO provides an array of free services that aim to inform victims about the criminal legal system, facilitate healing on an individual level, and build a supportive community of victims, advocates, and service providers.

Learn more about our partnership with LAVO
Learn more about our storytelling initiative.

FOR LAW FIRMS, LEGAL CLINICS & PUBLIC DEFENDERS

Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on Trial™ enlists for-profit law firms and law school legal clinics in bringing cases challenging racially-motivated stops and seizures under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and any other applicable laws.

In partnership with the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab, law firms spearhead challenges to racially-motivated stops and seizures by bringing individual actions under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as any other applicable laws. Attorneys, law students, and other legal professionals also work as intake volunteers responsible for reaching out to potential plaintiffs and documenting their stories.

Participating law school legal clinics are responsible for appealing unfavorable constitutional and qualified immunity decisions that result from the trial court actions spearheaded by the law firms in the network. Legal clinics are organized to focus on distinct localities and/or police districts in Louisiana, and will be put in touch with the law firm(s) that brought related trial court actions.

Read a list of our law firm and legal clinic partners.

Intake Volunteer Training

Being victimized by racist policing is a profoundly traumatic and dehumanizing experience. That is why Justice Lab is committed to making sure all legal partners not only have a firm grasp of the legal and constitutional issues at stake, but are also acutely aware of the collective trauma these abuses have caused and the history of enslavement and oppression from which they evolved. All intake volunteers and participating law firms receive comprehensive training on anti-oppression and anti-racism principles, the history of policing, as well as potential claims that can be brought under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Learn more about intake volunteers.

Community Consulting Experts

To ensure that the cases Justice Lab litigates stay rooted in community and the larger goals of the movement for racial justice, the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab aims to pair each Justice Lab law firm partner with a local consulting expert—who has both lived and experienced injustice at the hands of law enforcement in or around the locality of a specific case. These Community Consulting Experts (CCEs) will provide localized boots-on-the-ground expertise that will inform Justice Lab litigation and trial strategy.

Learn more about community consulting experts.

Putting Civil Gideon into Practice

Justice Lab recognizes the need for synergy between our civil and criminal legal systems. At bottom, while there are civil remedies available for victims of unconstitutional policing, those remedies are generally waived if victims do not exercise their right to sue within one year of the date of the incident. Albeit counterintuitive, this means that—if criminal charges stemming from an unconstitutional stop, search, seizure, or arrest are pending, and the defendant does not timely file a complaint to preserve potential civil remedies related to those actions—those remedies are unlikely to be available once the criminal case is resolved. Collaboration between Justice Lab and public defenders presents an opportunity to preserve and, where possible, litigate the civil rights claims of people subjected to the criminal legal system. The claims at issue include unconstitutional stops, searches, seizures, arrests, excessive force, and racial profiling.

Learn more about putting Civil Gideon into practice.

FOR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

At Justice Lab, we recognize that litigation is not the only way to support directly impacted people. We also need the community’s input in order to develop resources that will meet the community’s needs. We want to facilitate bringing together those in our community who have been or want to be further engaged in this work in order to empower directly impacted people and their families.

Working with Community Partners, we are developing a set of non-litigation support tools to help empower directly impacted families and communities with information and opportunities to pursue other avenues for change. The avenues will include storytelling and writing workshops, know your rights seminars, trainings on how to advocate for reform, and wellness sessions.

Justice Lab Community Partners

A Justice Lab Community Partner is anyone who has been directly impacted by racist policing practices or misconduct, or anyone committed to supporting directly impacted people and their families. A Community Partner can be: an organization; a business; a directly impacted person or their family; an activist; a member of the legal community; an artist, photographer, or writer; or anyone who can provide or facilitate a service for a directly-impacted person.

Read more about how to become a Justice Lab Community Partner.

Community Consulting Experts

To ensure that the cases Justice Lab litigates stay rooted in community and the larger goals of the movement for racial justice, the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab aims to pair each Justice Lab law firm partner with a local consulting expert—who has both lived and experienced injustice at the hands of law enforcement in or around the locality of a specific case. These Community Consulting Experts (CCEs) will provide localized boots-on-the-ground expertise that will inform Justice Lab litigation and trial strategy.

Learn more about becoming a Justice Lab Community Consulting Expert.

OUR PARTNERS

PARTICIPATING LAW FIRMS:
Akerman LLP
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Alston & Bird LLP
BakerHostetler
Ballard Spahr LLP
Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver LLC
Boies Schiller Flexner LLP
Cohen & Gresser LLP
Cooley LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Durie Tangri LLP
Fish & Richardson PC
Foley Hoag LLP
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP
Gilbert LLP
Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP
King & Spalding LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Kuchler Polk Weiner LLC
Kutcher Tygier & Luminais, LLP
Linklaters LLP
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Perkins Coie LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Reid Collins & Tsai LLP
Roche Freedman LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Susman Godfrey LLP
The Law Office of Anthony Cecutti
The Law Office of Jennifer R. Louis-Jeune
Venable LLP
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC
Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP

PARTICIPATING LEGAL CLINICS:
Boston University School of Law’s Clinical and Experiential Programs
Cardozo Law’s Civil Rights Clinic
Denver Law’s Civil Rights Clinic
Fordham Law School’s Federal Litigation Clinic
Georgetown Law’s Appellate Courts Immersion Clinic
Howard University School of Law’s Criminal Justice Clinic
NYU School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Civil Clinic
Penn Law’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic
Penn State Law’s Civil Rights Appellate Clinic
Seton Hall School of Law’s Center for Social Justice
Southern University Law Center’s Externship Program
Tulane Law School’s Civil Rights & Federal Practice Clinic
UC Irvine School of Law’s Civil Rights Litigation Clinic
UNC School of Law’s Critical Race Lawyering Civil Rights Clinic
University of Georgia School of Law’s Appellate Clinic
University of Texas Law School’s Supreme Court Clinic
USC Gould School of Law Access to Justice Practicum
William & Mary Law School’s Appellate & Supreme Court Clinic

COMMUNITY PARTNERS:
First 72
Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (OPPRC)
Voice of the Experienced (VOTE)
Louisiana United International
Louisiana Victim Outreach Program (LAVO)

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