NYC Regional Hearing on Voting Rights

Posted on 04/10/2014 @ 04:49 PM

Tags: voting rights, protect the vote

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Posted on 04/09/2014 @ 07:17 PM

For Immediate Release: April 9, 2014

Contact: Jazmin Chavez, LatinoJustice PRLDEF,, 212-739-7581

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the members of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice, which will provide concrete, actionable recommendations regarding youth in New York's criminal and juvenile justice systems by the end of this calendar year. In his 2014 State of the State address, the Governor proposed establishing the commission to "Raise the Age" and help to ensure young people become productive and successful adults.

“It’s time to improve New York’s outdated juvenile justice laws and raise the age at which our children can be tried and charged as adults, Governor Cuomo said. “New York is one of only two states that charges 16- and 17 year olds as adults. It’s not right and it’s not fair. I am pleased to welcome these exceptional members of the Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice, who will work to make the system fairer and safer for our youth and communities.

New York remains one of the only two states in the nation whose age of criminal responsibility—the age at which youths are treated as adults—is just 16. As a result, in 2013, over 33,000 16- and 17-year-olds in New York had their cases handled in adult criminal court, where they are less likely to receive the services they need.

The members of the commission are:

  • Juan Cartagena, Latino Justice PRLDEF, President and General Counsel: Mr. Cartagena is President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. He is a constitutional and civil rights attorney who has vast experience litigating cases on behalf of Latino and African American communities in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, language rights, access to public education for poor and language minority children, and housing. He formerly served as General Counsel and Vice President for Advocacy at the Community Service Society of New York.
  • Joel Copperman, CASES, CEO & President: Joel Copperman joined CASES in 1990 as the organization's first Executive Director. Prior to joining CASES, Mr. Copperman held several positions in New York City Government during the administration of Ed Koch. Currently, Mr. Copperman is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Human Services Council; Chair of the Board of Directors of Youth Represent; and a member of the New York City Discharge Planning Collaboration.
  • Jeremy Creelan, Jenner & Block, Partner (Co-Chair): Currently a Partner at Jenner & Block in the firm’s Litigation Department and a member of the Complex Commercial Litigation and Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation Practices, Mr. Creelan perviously served as Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law and as Special Counsel to Governor Cuomo. His work has focused on election law, meaningful ethics reform, enhancing public protection through DNA reforms, and rebuilding community infrastructure following natural disasters.
  • Janet DiFiore, Westchester County District Attorney: Elected as District Attorney in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, District Attorney DiFiore is the County’s chief law enforcement officer of Westchester County, New York. She previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in Westchester County for more than ten years, and as Chief of Narcotics for the last four and a half of those years. Elected as a Judge of the Westchester County Court in 1998 and as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in 2002, District Attorney DiFiore presided over hundreds of cases in Westchester County Court, Family Court and the New York State Supreme Court. In 2003, District Attorney DiFiore was appointed by Chief Judge Judith Kaye to serve as the Supervising Judge for the Criminal Courts in the 9th Judicial District.
  • Soffiyah Elijah, Correctional Association of New York, Executive Director (Co-Chair): Ms. Elijah is the Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York. An accomplished advocate, attorney, scholar and educator, Ms. Elijah is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the nearly 170-year old organization in its mission to create a fairer, more effective and humane criminal justice system. Prior to joining the staff of the Correctional Association in March 2011, Ms. Elijah served as Deputy Director and a clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. She previously practiced criminal and family law in New York City for more than 20 years and was a member of the faculty and Director and supervising attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law.
  • Elizabeth Glazer, Director, NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice: Recently appointed to serve as Director of Mayor de Blasio’s Office of Criminal Justice, Ms. Glazer previously served as Deputy Secretary for Public Safety until June 2013. Ms. Glazer has also served as the Chair of the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and held a number of senior positions at both the federal and local levels, implementing crime control and prevention strategies.
  • Michael Hardy, National Action Network, Executive Vice President & General Counsel: Mr. Hardy is one of the Founders of the National Action Network and has been involved in Movement politics and the fight for a more perfect union since 1981. He has been a practicing attorney since 1988 and he officially assumed the position of General Counsel to the National Action Network in 2008.
  • Melanie Hartzog, Children's Defense Fund-New York, Executive Director: Prior to assuming her leadership role at the Children’s Defense Fund, Ms. Hartzog served as Family Services Coordinator in the New York City Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and was also Project Director for the Young Men’s Initiative. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, she served as the Deputy Commissioner for early childhood services at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, led a social services unit in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, and was Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Human Services Council of New York City, Inc.
  • Emily Tow Jackson, The Tow Foundation, Executive Director: Philanthropist Emily Tow Jackson is the Executive Director of her family's foundation. Under her leadership, The Tow Foundation grew more committed to solving social problems and soon emerged as a leading advocate for reforming Connecticut’s broken juvenile justice system. The foundation’s funding and advocacy efforts contributed to dramatic decreases in Connecticut’s rates of incarceration that paved the way for a major legislative change that moved sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds from the adult criminal justice system back to the juvenile justice system.
  • Honorable Barry Kamins, New York State Unified Court System, Chief of Policy and Planning: The Hon. Barry Kamins is Chief of Policy and Planning for New York State's Unified Court System. He was appointed at the end of 2013 and, in that role, is responsible for working with judges throughout the state to study and develop policies and strategies to improve the delivery of justice in New York. In addition, Judge Kamins oversees the New York City Criminal Court.
  • Steven Krokoff, Albany Chief of Police: Chief Krokoff was appointed Chief of Police in 2010, having risen up through the ranks from when he joined the Albany Police Department in 1993. As the leader of one of the largest police departments in New York, Chief Krokoff has taken a progressive approach to law enforcement. Under his leadership, the Albany Police Department continues to break down historical social barriers with complete dedication to a community-centered model.
  • Joseph Mancini, Schenectady County, Director of Probation: Mr. Mancini has worked for Schenectady County in the Probation Department for over 20 years. As the Director, Mr. Mancini is responsible for the overall operations, policies and procedures, goals, and objectives of the Probation Department. He provides leadership and guidance to both Probation and DSS staff in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities in public service and the mission of the agency. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Schenectady County Center for Juvenile Justice and has been its chief administrator since it was created in 2003.
  • Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive: Mr. Picente, Jr., the 10th Oneida County Executive, was unanimously appointed by the Oneida County Board of Legislators in 2006. In the fall of 2007, County Executive Picente won election to a full four year term to the seat. He previously served as Executive Assistant to then Oneida County Executive, Assistant Commissioner of Labor for New York State, and Regional Administrator for the Department of Labor.
  • Allen Riley, Madison County Sheriff: Sheriff Allen Riley is a lifelong resident of Madison County. He has 28 years of law enforcement experience and came to the position of Sheriff after completing a career with the New York State Police.
  • Elaine Spaull, Center for Youth, Executive Director, and Rochester City Council Member: Ms. Spaull has served as Associate Vice President at the Rochester Institute of Technology, practiced corporate and tax law at Nixon Peabody, teaches for the SUNY Buffalo Law School and RIT, and currently serves as the Executive Director at The Center for Youth. In this position, she is responsible for the administration of a youth-centered organization founded more than 30 years ago by a group of teenagers. She also serves as a member of the Rochester City Council.
  • Cyrus Vance, Manhattan District Attorney: Mr. Vance became District Attorney of New York County on January 1, 2010. He is a recognized leader in criminal justice reform and proposed a compelling vision for moving the Manhattan District Attorney's Office forward, with a focus on crime prevention. In July 2011, Mr. Vance was elected by his peers to serve as President of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York for the 2012 term. Mr. Vance also serves as co-chair of the New York State Permanent Commission on Sentencing.

The Vera Institute of Justice will offer technical assistance and substantive analysis to support the development of the Commission’s recommendations. ###

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Shop at Amazon Smile & Support LatinoJustice

Posted on 04/03/2014 @ 02:23 PM

Support our work while you shop on Amazon! It's easy, all you have to do is visit this link, and shop away on Amazon! Now you can shop consciously and support our work!

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

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Opening Doors: Providing Educational Access to College for Undocumented Youth

Posted on 03/12/2014 @ 06:13 PM

Tuesday, March 18th 2:00-3:00PM EST

Opening Doors: Providing Educational Access to College for Undocumented Youth

To view this video, you will need to install the Flash Player.

Join us, Kaplan Dreamers Education Initiative, United We Dream, Arab American Association of New York and as we discuss the opportunities and resources that are available to undocumented youth who are interested in accessing a college education.

We'll answer your questions and hope you'll join us and this important conversation.

Join the conversation on twitter with #TheDREAMus where we will be live tweeting from the hangout and taking your comments and questions.

You can also watch the Hangout on our Google+ page:

You can submit your questions directly to the panel via the Q&A /comment section or send us your tweet with #TheDreamUS

Will you watch? Tweet the love!

Tweet: I'm going to be watching #TheDREAMus hangout w/ @LatinoJustice @UnitedWeDream & so should you! #HigherEd #DREAMers

Tweet: I'm going to be watching #TheDREAMus hangout w/ @LatinoJustice @ArabAmericanNY & so should you! #HigherEd #DREAMers

Tweet: Where can you find money for college when you're #undocumented? Find out 3/18 2PM ET! #TheDREAMus w/ @LatinoJustice

Tweet: Join @LatinoJustice @KaplanDreamers @UnitedWeDream @LindaSarsour @ArabAmericanNY @TheDream_us for #TheDREAMus hangout

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Statement of Juan Cartagena President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF On the Cloture Vote for Assistant Attorney General

Posted on 03/05/2014 @ 11:10 PM

Tags: Debo Adegbile, Juan Cartagena, Assistant Attorney General

Pandering to Race and Fear the U.S. Senate Leaves a Gaping Hole in Civil Rights Enforcement By Refusing to Promote Debo Adegbile as Assistant Attorney General

Today the U.S. Senate refused to stop the debate and push the nomination of Debo Adegbile, an eminently qualified civil rights attorney, as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Every Republican member and seven Democrats rejected a cloture vote by pandering to the fear of American voters by reducing a stellar career in civil rights enforcement to one episode of his former organization, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, representing Mumia Abu-Jamal in a post conviction appeal that challenged his death sentence.

Today Mr. Adegbile is faulted for upholding the highest principles of the bar by representing on appeal a defendant that was vilified by the press, a black man convicted of killing a police officer in Philadelphia. Years ago John Roberts worked to defend a convicted mass murderer when his law firm took on the defense. During his confirmation hearings no one in the Senate questioned his qualifications based on the conduct of his client. He now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is impossible not to recognize the racialized nature of today’s decision by the Senate. Indeed, Senator Harking chastised his colleagues for this racial double standard. If you’re a white attorney working at a law firm that courageously defends convicted murderers your bona fides remain intact. If you’re a black attorney working for the nation’s premier Legal Defense Fund that courageously provides representation to a convicted murderer you are deemed “unfit.”

The consequences for African-American, Latino, Native American and Asian American voters and victims of discrimination are clear. It is one more day without an effective and accomplished leader at the helm of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. We urge the Senate to reconsider this development and vote in favor of the nomination of Debo Adegbile. More pointedly, we urge those Democrats in the Senate who impeded the cloture vote to recognize the confusing and disturbing messages the body is sending to America and change their positions on this excellent nominee.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF is one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations that works to protect the civil rights of Latinos throughout the country and promote their entry into the legal profession. It is on record in support of Mr. Adegbile because of its direct experience of co-counseling major civil rights litigation with him and with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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Anatomía de una campaña de odio

Posted on 03/03/2014 @ 10:59 AM

Tags: Suffolk County, Suffolk, Odio, inmigrante, corte suprema, supreme court, El Diario

Anatomía de una campaña de odio
Juan Cartagena. LatinoJustice PRLDEF

El odio, la ignorancia y el miedo son motivos potentes en las maniobras políticas de este país. Cuando se desempeñan estratégicamente, atraen votos. Y cuando el sujeto de las mentiras maquiavélicas es vulnerable – como son las comunidades de indocumentados latinos – la combinación de estos motivos casi garantiza logros políticos.

Esto es el plan de las fuerzas anti-inmigrantes. Y el arquitecto del plan es el abogado Kris Kobach. Para él y un núcleo extremo del partido republicano el plan es convencer a municipios, condados y estados a legislar la intolerancia. Es decir, adoptar proyectos de leyes que le hace la vida imposible para indocumentados y esperar que ellos mismos se vayan. Kobach y sus colegas han sido tan exitoso que ya la llamada “auto-deportación” llego dejar de ser una meta tan extrema. El último candidato republicano para la presidencia, Mitt Romney, fue un campeón de tal movida a principios de su campaña derrotada.

El plan tuvo antecedentes en comunidades pequeñas en California pero la inauguración comprehensiva fue en Hazelton, Pennsylvania en 2005, un lugar no muy lejos de comunidades hispanas de Reading, Allentown y más allá, Bethlehem donde el poder de números de tanta gente latina no hubiese permitido tal maniobra. Al contrario, Hazelton tenía una comunidad pequeña de inmigrantes latinos de México y Centroamérica que revitalizó la zona comercial de la deprimida ciudad con la fuerza de su sudor y sus negocios pequeños.

Pronto vino Kobach y convenció el alcalde de Hazelton Lou Barletta, quien ahora es el congresista de esa zona – más evidencia que ser anti-Latino en ciertos lugares atrae votos. Kobach y Barletta reclamaron que el peligro más grande que tiene Hazleton no es una economía letárgica, o escuelas sin recursos adecuados, o un infraestructura anciana, sino que lo que puede hundir a la ciudad para la eternidad es la presencia de latinos indocumentados. En 2006 Hazelton aprobó el modelo de leyes anti-inmigrante que después se utilizo en Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina y Georgia. Todo bajo el la guía del abogado Kobach. En Hazelton negocios fueron prohibidos en contratar a cualquier indocumentado, dueños de apartamentos fueron prohibidos en alquilar a personas sin papeles, y el poder completo de la fuerza gubernamental fue dirigida a eliminar a inmigrantes indocumentados. Pero como todo que nace de un odio irrazonable nutre a los odios personales, la ley anti-inmigrante en Hazleton fue implementada como una licencia anti-latina para hostigar a la comunidad entera.

Esta semana la Corte Suprema negó la última apelación de Kobach y Hazelton y dejaron intacto las decisiones que la comunidad latina ganó en su favor contra estas maniobras intolerantes. Los abogados de LatinoJustice y de la ACLU habían ganado cada round de esta batalla legal. Pero Kobach y Hazleton, ahora con un nuevo alcalde que comparte la misma miopía del anterior, siguieron su cantaleta que la ciudad tenía el poder legitimo de enforzar leyes federales como le da la gana. Aun después que la Corte Suprema advirtió 2n 2012 que el poder de decidir asuntos de inmigración en un contexto global está depositado exclusivamente en la rama federal, Hazleton no se detuvo. Siguieron invirtiendo cientos de miles de dólares – dinero del tesoro público que ninguna ciudad tiene en exceso – en los bolsillos del bufete de Kobach.

La noticia del rechazo de la Corte Suprema no fue esperada por Kobach y su equipo. El licenciado de la intolerancia dijo que es una pena que la corte no le dio otra oportunidad. El ex-alcalde Lou Barletta se enojó con la noticia y justificó la pérdida de más de medio millón de dólares en la defensa legal con la observación absurda que el país se beneficio con el liderazgo de Hazelton en el campo de la reforma imigratoria. ¿Y los residentes de Hazleton? Algunos cuestionaron porque cada apelación – más de 9 mil al año – no es oída por la Corte Suprema. Otros se preocuparon de algo más inmediato, la economía. Y los latinos dijeron ¡por fin!

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Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights Symposium

Posted on 02/20/2014 @ 03:18 PM

The Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law will host its third annual symposium entitled, “A Force for Change: Advancing the Rights of the Latino Community,” on Friday, February 21, 2014.

This national symposium brings together experienced practitioners, renowned academics, organizers, advocates, and law students from across the country to discuss the various areas in which the rights of the Latino community are being advanced or defended, from voting rights to local anti-immigrant ordinances to higher education.
Scheduled panels include:

     A Vote, A Voice: The Importance of the Voting Rights Act
Moderator: Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, Senior Attorney and Director of Voter Protection, Advancement Project.
Panelists: William Brewer, Partner, Bickel & Brewer Storefront; Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); and Ana Reyes, City Council member for the City of Farmers Branch, Texas.

  Lessons Learned from the Front Lines: Challenging Local Anti-Immigrant Ordinances in the Midst of a National Call for Reform
Moderator: Julia Preston, National Immigration Correspondent, The New York Times.
Panelists: Jose Perez, Deputy General Counsel, LatinoJustice/PRLDEF; James Renard, Partner, Bickel & Brewer Storefront; and Andre Segura, Attorney at the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    Realizing the Dream: Promoting Access to Education and Bar Admissions for Undocumented Students
Moderator: Alina Das, Associate Clinical Professor and Faculty Director of the Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law.
Panelists: Sergio Garcia, Undocumented Attorney; Cesar Vargas, Executive Political Director of the DREAM Action Coalition.

The symposium is scheduled for Friday, February 21, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at
New York University School of Law, Lipton Hall, 108 West Third Street, New York City.

There is no cost to attend the symposium. Lunch will be provided. CLE Credit may also be available. To register for the symposium please click here.

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For People of Color® Law School Conference at Columbia 2014.

Posted on 02/13/2014 @ 05:33 PM

Tags: FPOC, Law school, legal education, law, Columbia law

Presented by:
Columbia Law School’s Latina/o Law Students Association & For People of Color, Inc.

FPOC’s Law School Admissions Conference This event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, February 15, 2014 from 8:45 am to 4:00 pm

Columbia Law School

Event Description:
For People of Color, Inc. and Columbia Law School’s Latina/o Law Student Association are proud to announce that they will be holding a law school admissions conference at Columbia Law School. This event will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the application process. The conference will consist of an admissions workshop, various panels, and will culminate with the opportunity to have a current law student review your personal statement.

RSVP: Registration is required.
Click Here to Register

Personal Statement Review – Deadline: Feb. 8, 2014
Columbia Law students will be available to review your personal statement and other application materials. Please send the documents to no later than Feb. 8, 2014. (You must attend the conference in order to receive feedback.)

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Meet our 2014 Spring Interns

Posted on 02/13/2014 @ 04:34 PM

Get to know Andres Jaime Sanchez

Where are you from?
My parents are from Colombia and Mexico. I was born and raised in Queens, New York.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I wanted to intern in an office surrounded by passionate individuals dedicated to serving the Latino community in a transformative way.

Why do you want to be a lawyer? 
 It is a professional pursuit that challenges me every day and has brought out the best in me.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
I love to cook and eat everything! My favorite would probably be churrasco with chimichurri sauce or porchetta.

What is a hidden talent? 
 I can build a bookshelf out of gas pipes and scrap wood.

What is your motto or philosophy?
The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves.

Mets or the Yankees?
I'm a futbol fan. FC Barcelona!

Get to know Chrystina S. Lopera

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Queens. My parents are Peruvian and Colombian.

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I wanted to work for LJP because I knew I would get the experience I need to achieve my goals. More importantly, I really want to be part of the changes we can make and I knew I would learn about the real issues around the country here.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
I wanted to become a lawyer to help people and make changes.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Beware that we might request you make it for us!)
As a Peruvian I love ceviche but I am the worst cook.

What is a hidden talent?
I was on the Step Team in High School cheering for the Girls Varsity Basketball Team.

What is your motto or philosophy?
Though I am human, innately imperfect and bound to make mistakes, I do not use that inevitability as an excuse.

Knicks or the Nets?

Broncos or Seahawks?
Whichever uniform colors appeal to me more.

Get to know Manuel Antonio Lorenzo

Where are you from?
Tenafly, NJ

Why did you want to work at LJP?
I met Jose at a LALSA event honoring Juan during my 1L year and became interested in the work LatinoJustice does. We reconnected this past winter and I wanted to work on some interesting casework/issues affecting Latinos during my last semester of law school.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
I wanted to enter a career where I thought I could make a positive change in the world.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Beware that we might request you make it for us!)
Fried Chicken (homemade)

What is a hidden talent?

What is your motto or philosophy?
Success is when preparation meets opportunity (not mine, but one of my favorites)

Knicks or the Nets?

Broncos or Seahawks?

Get to know Ben Mejia

Where are you from?
New York City. My father is from Peru and my mother is from the UK.

 Why did you want to work at LJP? I wanted to intern with LJP because LatinoJustice has been a vital force in fighting for and securing equal rights for the Latino/a community.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?
I wanted to become a lawyer because I determined at least two things – that the practice of law could be an intellectually demanding, rewarding career, and that as an attorney, I could work to secure greater liberty and equality for all.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Beware that we might request you make it for us!)
Tough question since I love making and eating most kinds of food, but I’m going to have to go with lomo saltado or dumplings.

What is a hidden talent?
I was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

What is your motto or philosophy?
My alma mater’s motto – “mihi cura futuri” – which means “the care of the future is mine.”

Knicks or the Nets?
Nets first, Knicks second.

Broncos or Seahawks?

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Suffolk Univeristy Law School's Prelaw Seminar

Posted on 01/29/2014 @ 05:23 PM

Register at

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Join us for the Justice for Job Seekers Community Forum

Posted on 01/29/2014 @ 04:36 PM

Tags: justice for job seekers, EAAP, employment agency, laura huizar

A coalition of community, workers and advocacy organizations has come together to fight the Justice for Job Seekers campaign that represents low-wage workers throughout New York. There will be a special performance of the play "Ana Busca Empleo."

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Debo Adegbile deserves this

Posted on 01/15/2014 @ 02:20 PM

Debo Adegbile deserves this

Juan Cartagena. LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

It will not be easy to fill the shoes of Tom Perea, ex-chief of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. But in nominating Debo Adegbile, a champion among the newer generation of civil rights leaders, President Obama did well. And that goes for Latinos as well.

Adegbile is one of the best and brightest attorneys I’ve met in over thirty years of practice. For more than twelve years I have seen him represent African American communities from his work at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund – and in a large number of those cases he did so jointly with Latino lawyers representing Latino communities subject to the same forms racialized actions that victimize black communities. He has a profound mastery of the laws affecting the right to vote having argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He knows well the challenges victims of employment discrimination face when he helped challenge the exclusion of African Americans from the Chicago Fire Department. He’s adept at advocating against the discriminatory effects of the criminal justice system for both blacks and Latinos. He’s worked at one of the largest law firms in New York and has led the most exemplary of civil rights organizations in the country, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

It is for these reasons that the extremist wing of the Republican Party has attacked him.

It’s not easy. Even being one of the most qualified persons to lead this nation’s civil rights efforts to live up to the promises of equal treatment under federal law by representing communities of color for decades, it will not be easy. Right wing extremists will paint you as myopic. If you admit that unfortunately racism still exists, because either you’ve lived it or you’ve witnessed it, you are radical or you follow a racial agenda. Defend the right to vote? You are an obstructionist impeding the elimination of voter fraud. If you criticize a criminal justice system for excessively targeting blacks and Latino while looking the other way at white criminality, you are soft on crime.

All of this, and more, has reached Debo Adegbile. If Justice Sonia Sotomayor could be accused of being part of a “radical organization” like the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, which I now have the honor of leading, and she was only a Board member of PRLDEF, can we expect any less of the leader of a sister-legal defense fund in these times?

It will not be easy to pass this trial by fire in Washington, D.C. But it is necessary. And in Debo Adegbile we will have a person who can continue the work of Tom Perez. He is the son of immigrants from Nigeria and Ireland. He is of humble origins, overcoming poverty and even homelessness. From those beginnings he rose to be one of the most respected civil rights attorneys in the country.

I’ve known Debo for year. We’ve co-counseled cases with attorneys representing blacks and Latinos deprived of the vote because of a criminal history, brilliant students from those same communities excluded from the best public high schools in New York City, and youth subjected to racial profiling in the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk practices.

Years ago I organized a 40th Anniversary commemoration event for the Voting Rights Act where Herman Badillo, Gilberto Gerena Valentin and Gerson Borrero participated, among others. Standing at the rear of the room were two excellent attorneys from the new generation of the civil rights bar, Nina Perales and Debo Adegbile. They came to support my work and to learn more about the Puerto Rican contributions to the larger battle to ensure equal voting rights. Back then I realized I was eyening the future. Now Nina is a star among Latino attorneys heading up the legal division of MALDEF. Debo is another star arriving at the summit of a legacy of equality.

We hope he survives the attacks. Because we only wish him the best.

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Last Day to Vote for Jazmin Chavez for MillerCoors Lideres

Posted on 10/29/2013 @ 10:47 AM

Tags: MillerCoors Lideres, Jazmin Chavez, Youth Leadership Network

Today is the LAST DAY to vote for Jazmin Chavez for the MillerCoors Lideres Award.

Jazmin is our Coordinator of Communications and Digital Outreach and oversees our Youth Leadership Network. We could tell you what the program is all about, but we'd rather show you.

If we win, we will receive $25,000 for our youth leadership and education programs and it will allow us to continue to create 21st century leaders who are effective both online and offline and who can use their creativity for social justice.

Can we count on your vote? VOTE NOW!

Youth Leadership Network - More Than A Quota Campaign

To view this video, you will need to install the Flash Player.

Please vote for Jazmin Chavez at

Here's how to vote: Enter your date of birth.

Click on the gray box on the left side that says, "Vote for the 2013 Lider of the Year."

 Check the box under Jazmin Chavez.

 Enter the security code in the box provided, also known as the captcha code.

Click on the button that says, "Vote."

Then click on the Lideres Logo on the top left hand side to do it again. You can vote as many times as you want, and we encourage you to vote more than 10 x if you can.

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Know Your Rights Training for Immigrants and Allies

Posted on 10/01/2013 @ 07:38 PM

Know Your Rights Training for Immigrants and Allies

Friday, October 4, 2013

2:00 pm

To Register click here

LATINOJUSTICE PRLDEF located at 99 Hudson Street – 14th Floor between Franklin & Leonard Streets.

Nearest subway stop is #1 local Franklin St station which leaves you a block away, or #2/3 Chambers Street stop several short blocks away, or A/C/E to Canal Street which leaves you several long blocks away.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF will be leading this training in partnership with the New York Immigration Coalition. The training will help organizers and members know how to keep undocumented members safe and the do’s and don’ts of those who may come into contact with the police.

Contact # is (212) 219-3360,

Please send this out widely as this training will be useful not just for this event but for other days of action going forward.

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Meet our 2013 Fall Interns

Posted on 09/14/2013 @ 05:28 PM

Get to know Eric Eingold

Where are you from?

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

The opportunity to gain experience at one of the most important civil rights organizations in the county would have sounded too good to be true when I was applying for law school. More specifically, I want to learn what being a civil rights lawyer at an organization dedicated to reforming the law actually looks like on a day-to-day basis.

Why do you want to be a lawyer?

I went to college in Central Florida and was active with some of the community organizing efforts while I was in school. During my last year of college, the student organization I was a member of began to do work with an organization that represented immigrant farm workers in rural communities north of Orlando. The local sheriff, his actual name was Sheriff Borders (not a joke) was doing his best to emulate Sheriff Arpaio. He had his local officers deputized under 287(g) and there were countless accusations of racial profiling in the area. The thing that propelled me to want to become a social justice lawyer was the work we were doing with the local community. The more the local police terrorized the community, the more they organized and fought back. After that I knew I wanted to find a career in social justice and after a couple twists and turns I realized that I could best serve the individuals and organizations I want to work with as an attorney.

What is your favorite food to eat/make? (Be aware that we might request you make it for us!)

Really good ramen soup (not the 12 pack you can buy for $1).

What is a hidden talent?

Eerily good remembering archaic and irrelevant sports statistics.

What is your motto or philosophy?

"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time.But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, Aboriginal activist in Australia

Mets or the Yankees?

I'm from South Florida, and the Marlins owner is so terrible any person with a conscience can't support the team. The Heat and the Dolphins were my first loves!

Get to know Michelle Gonzalez

Where are you from?
Queens, NY

Why did you want to intern at LJP?

I wanted to intern at LJP to learn about litigation strategy in civil rights cases.

Why do you want to be a lawyer?

I want to become a lawyer because of LJP . Prior to going to law school, I worked at LJP for two years as the Executive Assistant and was very inspired by the work and accomplishments of the legal team. I want to effect the kind of change the LJP team has in the realm of racial justice and empower communities of color.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?

(Be aware that we might request you make it for us!) Pollo guisado. It’s probably the only dish I’ve really mastered!

What is a hidden talent?

My sense of hearing is almost superhuman.

What is your motto or philosophy?

The philosophy my mom passed on to me is, “No hay mal que por bien no venga.”

Mets or the Yankees?

Although I’m from Queens, I was raised to root for the Yankees.

Get to know Lino Diaz

Where are you from?:
Freeport, Long Island

Why did you want to intern at LJP?:
I first heard about LJP shortly after the passage of S.B.1070, and when I found that they did impact litigation, and thus would be working to take a stand against obviously racist and harmful legislation, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the organization

Why do you want to be a lawyer?:
I want to be a lawyer because I want to use the law as a sword to effect change for the communities I care most about.

What is your favorite food to eat/make:
Eat (as my cooking abilities are mostly limited to omelets): lasagna, drenched in hot sauce

What is a hidden talent:
I’m a pretty decent violin player

What is your motto or philosophy:
Life is for living

Mets or Yankees:

Get to know Versely Rosales

Where are you from?
Ridgewood, Queens

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I want to assist attorneys devise innovative litigation and legislative strategies that will lead to positive change and empower underserved communities.

Why do you want to be a lawyer?
Because I believe I can be an effective agent of change through the practice of law.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
Right now, grad school ramen.

What is a hidden talent?
Distance runner

What is your motto or philosophy?
Mihi Cura Futuri – the Care of the Future is Mine.

Mets or the Yankees? Yankees.

Get to know you Andres Jaime Sanchez

Where are you from?
My parents are from Colombia and Mexico. I was born and raised in Queens, New York.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?
I wanted to intern in an office surrounded by passionate individuals dedicated to serving the Latino community in a transformative way.

Why do you want to be a lawyer? 
 It is a professional pursuit that challenges me every day and has brought out the best in me.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?
I love to cook and eat everything! My favorite would probably be churrasco with chimichurri sauce or porchetta.

What is a hidden talent? 
 I can build a bookshelf out of gas pipes and scrap wood.

What is your motto or philosophy?
The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves.

Mets or the Yankees?
I'm a futbol fan. FC Barcelona!

Get to know Zion Rivera

Where are you from?
I'm from Brownsville, Brooklyn. My family, initially, was poor, but after my mom managed to open a family day care within our home, we became part of the working or rather, lower-middle class.

Why did you want to intern at LJP?  
 Although I intended to get a business related internship, I do not regret my decision to intern here. I chose LJP because of the location, type of work environment, and because I already had skills related to clerical work. I am very computer savvy and I the computers in my house have been salvaged, upgraded, and repaired by me.

Why do you want to be a lawyer?   
I am not sure if I would like to be a part of the law field. I was thinking that I would go to college for business, more specifically, business management or accounting.

What is your favorite food to eat/make?   
My favorite food to make chicken sauteed in white wine and served with tomato sauce.

What is a hidden talent?   
I enjoy being the one behind the camera, the cinematographer. I partake in parkour and capoeira.

What is your motto or philosophy?  
One of my favorite sayings is "Discretion is the better part of valor." I am non-confrontational and I try to live a peaceful existence. 

Mets or the Yankees?  
Although I may live in the city, it does not mean that I necessarily like what is normally associated with it. My brother and I used to play on a baseball team and since then I have not watched the sport, but if I had to choose, it would have to be the Yankees because they represent New York sports better.

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LAWbound Summer 2013

By Sonji Patrick on 08/15/2013 @ 06:27 PM

Tags: LAWbound, legal education, Sonji Patrick

August5th—9th was the 9th consecutive summer academy for our LAWbound program. The Luis J. DeGraffe Summer Academy is the week-long pre-law intensive for college students accepted into LAWbound. The goal of the program is to provide students with the tools they need to become successful law school applicants, and to expose them to the diversity of career paths in the law. The scholars spend a week at our offices receiving comprehensive instruction on the law school admissions process, participating in a mock Civil Procedure law class, and visiting with legal practitioners from different areas.

This summer’s class had 10 scholars from 9 different undergraduate schools. Two students came from Columbia University, and the rest were from Cornell University, Iona College, John Jay College, New Jersey City University, New School University, New York City Technical College of CUNY, New York University and Southern Connecticut State University.

100% of the scholars were of Hispanic heritage. This class was made of students that were primarily older. Six out of the 10 students are going to be seniors this coming academic year. Two were graduates and only two will be juniors. Women continue to make up the majority of the program. Out of the 10 scholars only two were young men. Historically, our program has been 68% female. This trend continues from last year, and may indicate a widening gap between the genders within the Latino legal community.

LatinoJustice thanks our loyal volunteer presenters: Prof. Fabio Arcila of Touro College Law Center, Yvonne Cherena-Pacheco of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and Angela Joseph of CUNY Law School who come to our offices annually to teach our scholars. We also thank the organizations who hosted our visits and organized panels and tours for LAWbound: New York Law School, The New York State Attorney General’s Office, Verizon Communications, Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP, and the District Attorney’s Office of New York County. This program would not be a success without the committed volunteer presenters and hosts. Of course, the Legal Education program team thanks our LatinoJustice family for not only participating in the week’s curriculum, but also for helping to maintain a smooth, efficient operation.

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If You Were a Teen, You Might Cross the Street Too If You Saw These Cops

Posted on 07/30/2013 @ 02:10 PM

“The point of police is not to instill fear, the point of police is to protect people.” - Kasiem Walters, LatinoJustice & Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Youth Leadership Network Fellow

Kasiem Walters is a high school senior from Flatbush, Brooklyn. Kasiem is also the target of the local police. Why? Because of his age and skin color. Kasiem has been stopped and frisked by the police seven times in his community.

Where I Am Going Kasiem

To view this video, you will need to install the Flash Player.

“The first time I was stopped and frisked I was about 13 years old. I was, of course, leaving my house on my way to school to pick up a friend,” he says in a new #WhereIAmGoing video. “I was just waiting outside, and the cops just pulled up and asked, ‘Oh, what are you doing?’”

“They went through my bookbag, threw my stuff on the ground and all that,” Kasiem recalls. “They were just asking me questions and being rough with me, telling me where I’m going to end up. ‘Do you want to end up in jail?’”

How is a 13-year-old boy supposed to react to this experience? Kasiem said he feels like “It forces you to have this mindset that you are a criminal.”

Kasiem and others don’t need to be afraid in their own communities – we can lift up voices of those impacted by stop and frisk to show that as a community we want to feel safe when we see a police officer. “[The police should] make us feel like we can go to them ... when we see them we can say what’s up.”

As part of the #WhereIAmGoing campaign, we will share a number of stories about stop and frisk – teenager Kasiem’s story, a mother’s story, a pastor’s story, and a police officer’s story.

You can help: sharing these stories is the first step in helping others understand the dangers of stop and frisk.

But we know there are many other stories out there. If you have an experience with stop and frisk that you want to share, let us know through Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #WhereIAmGoing. Where we are going with stop and frisk policies can change if you are heard!

Hashtag: #whereiamgoing

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The State of Law School Admissions: Is This Is A Good Time To Go To Law School?

By Sonji Patrick on 07/25/2013 @ 07:45 PM

Tags: law school, law school admissions, admissions, legal education, the state of law schools, Sonji Patrick

With everyone still wondering about the security of the legal job market and law school applications heading for historic lows, it has been increasingly difficult for law schools to recruit a diverse student body. Thus, there are some things that Latino prospective law applicants should consider during this downturn. If you are preparing for the October LSAT and planning for fall 2014 admission, the time is now. There is no time to waste.

In a presentation at this year’s Northeast Association of Pre-Law Advisors (NAPLA) Annual Conference, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) reported that many law schools’ median LSAT scores have dropped 3-5 points. In fact, the number of LSATs administered has steadily decreased since the 2009-10 admission season from 171,514 at that time to 112,515 for the 2012-13 testing season.

What does all of this tell us? This tells us that law schools are facing challenges across the board filling their incoming classes, which means even more of a struggle to achieve diversity. It also tells us that students who felt their LSAT score may not be competitive should really study the current climate and consider applying. We are encouraging students who have solid GPAs, and LSAT scores in the high 140s and 150s—but have been delaying law school—to go ahead and apply. I have heard many of our pre-law constituents argue for years that their score does not define their capabilities as a law student. Now may be your ideal chance to prove it.

For the fall of 2012, applicants that identified themselves as Hispanic/Latino had decreased by 3.9% from the previous year. Puerto Rican applicants had declined by 9.9% for the same period. As of the midyear (January) of this year, the Hispanic/Latino numbers were down 16% for fall 2013 entry. This number may have rebounded if it mimics the overall trend. For fall of 2013, as of January, applications were down 24% nationally with 84 schools reporting a 30% or more decrease and 61 schools reporting a 20—29% downgrade. However, as of June, the overall application count adjusted upward to a 19% decrease from the fall of 2012.

Interestingly, although the number of Hispanic applications decreased for the fall of 2012 (3.9%), the number of acceptances increased by 2.9%. The same is true for African American applicants: 6.4% decrease for last fall in applicants, but 5.3% increase in acceptances. Native American and Alaska Native applicants saw a decrease of 3.1% in applicant pool, but acceptances remained the same. For Puerto Rican applicants the news is more dismal. In the fall of 2012, the number of Puerto Rican applicants decreased by 9.9% and acceptances also decreased by 13.2%. This requires further study and means that we have more work to do to address this decline.

On the plus side, law schools have taken notice of the trends in the current job market that value experiential education. They have responded by incorporating opportunities in their curricula for more professional skills development, cross-training if you will. Some schools have chosen to condense their law degree into two years versus the traditional three. Others have enhanced their academic programs so that students may earn certificates in business management (for example); made it easier to earn a joint degree or have increased clinical, fellowship and other opportunities for on-the-job training. Every law school who made a presentation at this year’s NAPLA conference talked about the changes they have developed to make their graduates more competitive in this highly demanding and still limited job market.

So what is the takeaway? If you are a prospective law student who is either Latino or from another underrepresented group in law school, the decline in enrollment and the changes law schools are making suggest this might be a good time to carefully consider applying to make your dream of attending law school a reality. The question remains: how will you respond to this new law school landscape?

LatinoJustice PRLDEF offers a variety of workshops and programs to help you on the road to law school. Check our website for upcoming events and join us for our 31st Annual Law Day on Sunday, October 6th.

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Otra razón para apoyar a Tom Pérez

Posted on 07/16/2013 @ 12:11 PM

Otra razón para apoyar a Tom Pérez

Juan Cartagena Presidente, LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Los nombramientos del Presidente Obama son recibidos hoy día con demoras, dudas, y maniobras innecesarias. El partidismo extremo que domina al capitolio en estos años ha permitido un estancamiento en los procesos de nombramientos y ratificaciones. Si el senado sigue así el gobierno no puede gobernar. Pero cuando tiene que ver con nombramientos hispanos -- en una era de pocos hispanos teniendo voz a los círculos más íntimos del presidente – estas jugadas son intolerables. Especialmente para la minoría más grande del país, los latinos.

El super-cualificado Tom Pérez se encuentra en el ojo de esta tormenta. Con una trayectoria impresionante del servicio al público y los marginalizados en Maryland anteriormente, y a nivel nacional en su puesto de dirigente de derechos civiles en el Departamento de Justicia, el Sr. Pérez tiene poco rivales. El presidente lo nominó a ser Secretario del Departamento de Labor hace ya cuatro meses. La minoría republicana del Senado ha rechazado su candidatura y hacen todo lo posible para desviar el nombramiento del único latino que se sea parte del gabinete de Obama al presente. Al presentir que los votos no iban a favor del presidente, el liderazgo del senado decidió posponer hasta julio cualquier voto inicial al nombramiento.

Pero el jefe de derechos civiles, aun esperando buenas noticias, no dejó de proteger a las minorías del país. Y de ahí viene otra razón contundente para apoyar al Sr. Pérez. El Departamento de Justicia ofreció su opinión en el litigio en Nueva York contra “Stop & Frisk” del al policía nuevayorquina. Pérez y Eric Holder, el Secretario de Justicia, ofrecieron a la corte federal su asistencia si la juez federal decida a favor de los demandantes y en contra de la ciudad en el caso de discriminación por las prácticas del elenco policiaca que excesivamente detiene y revisa a más de 600 mil personas al año. Específicamente, Pérez indico que el puesto de un asesor independiente con poderes de informar a la corte sobre el progreso de implementar nuevos procedimientos para eliminar las practicas excesivas y discriminatorias por la policía sería un remedio apropiado en estos litigios. El mismo Pérez, que tiene un record admirable en demandar por discriminación y abuso a departamentos de policía a nivel nacional, le dijo a la corte que en varia ciudades como Los Angeles, New Orleans, Detroit y Pittsburgh, el papel del asesor independiente es saludable en estos litigios y es indispensable para ganar la confianza de las comunidades en estos casos.

Y no solo eso. El uso de un asesor independiente mejoraría la seguridad pública en la ciudad y aumentaría la eficacia de la policía en general. Y con este planteamiento a la corte federal, el Sr. Pérez señala que estará dispuesto de ayudar a resolver el problema de “Stop & Frisk”.

El hecho que Pérez y su jefe el Secretario Holder fueron inmediatamente criticados por el Alcalde Bloomberg y el Comisionado Ray Kelly en este asunto, representa otra razón para apoyar al Sr. Pérez. Porque cuando te encuentras en la mira de la ira del alcalde en cuanto a “Stop & Frisk” es porque estás haciendo algo justo.

Ahora tenemos que asegurar que lo que representa Tom Pérez, calidad, servicio al público, compromiso y valentía, serán representado en el gabinete del presidente Obama con su asunción a Secretario del Departamento de Labor.

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Applications Now Being Accepted for 2014 Public Interest Fellowship

Posted on 07/08/2013 @ 05:51 PM

About Us:
LatinoJustice PRLDEF is one of the foremost Latino civil rights organizations in the country, serving a pan-Latino constituency. Since 1972 we have brought precedent-setting impact litigation that has profoundly improved the treatment of Latinos in our society. Current areas of focus include constitutional rights, immigrants’ rights, redistricting, voting rights, housing, education, language and job discrimination, workplace justice issues, freedom of movement and treatment of day laborers, criminalization of Latinos, unlawful police practices, and all forms of bias that adversely affect Latinos. Recent landmark successes include Lozano v. City of Hazleton, enjoining a Pennsylvania town from enforcing its own immigration ordinance restricting access to employment and housing, and Doe v. Mamaroneck, prohibiting discriminatory police enforcement against day laborers in Westchester, NY. Our primary geographic focus is the Eastern United States with an expanded focus on the Southeastern U.S. particularly Florida.

LatinoJustice seeks applications from rising law students entering their third year of law school or recent graduates who will be engaged in a judicial clerkship for the coming year who will be eligible for a fellowship commencing in September 2014. We are seeking energetic, motivated candidates with a record of commitment to social justice issues, and who have excellent legal research, writing and communications skills. Bilingual Spanish/English fluency is required.

We invite applicants to submit a summary project proposal which should also describe how the proposed project fits within LatinoJustice’s mission and our current litigation priorities. Project proposals should also incorporate and include law reform litigation as part of the project. We will also work with candidates to create a winning fellowship proposal. Note that Skadden, Equal Justice Works and other fellowship programs each have their own specific eligibility criteria, and applicants should check their respective websites for further details and requirements.

Salary & Benefits:
Salary is determined by LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s contract salary scale, as set forth by collective bargaining, which is comparable to other NYC public interest organizations. Fringe benefits include health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance as well as vacation, sick, family, and medical leave.

To Apply:
Submit resume, academic transcript (unofficial copy ok) and cover letter describing your proposed fellowship project proposal by no later than July 26th, 2013 to Jose Perez, Associate General Counsel at: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until a fellowship candidate is selected.

2014 Fellowship Application

Public Interest Fellowships Are Available at LatinoJustice PRLDEF for Fall.


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