The Social Justice Legal Foundation (SJLF) is pleased to announce its first project: investigating cases of police misconduct in Louisiana.
SJLF and the ACLU of Louisiana will work together as part of the ACLU of Louisiana’s initiative, “Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on Trial,” which seeks to bring up to 1,000 cases to challenge racially motivated and illegal stops, searches, seizures, and arrests. The Justice Lab initiative aims to test the impact that litigation has on police conduct by focusing intensive efforts on a single state. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the highest ratio of police officers to residents of any state in the country. Launched in 2020, 24 cases have already been filed as part of the Justice Lab initiative.
SJLF was created in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, when its founders, partners at the Los Angeles-based firm Hueston Hennigan, sought to direct their resources towards addressing systemic civil rights issues. SJLF is dedicated to advancing social justice through trial litigation, and to training the next generation of lawyers to commit themselves to the fight for civil rights. To that end, SJLF provides two-year fellowships to recent law school graduates, who work alongside experienced litigators to develop their cases.
“With our collaboration with the ACLU of Louisiana, we seek to ensure accountability for unconstitutional policing practices and to prevent this type of policing from continuing to impact communities of color,” said Shubhra Shivpuri, SJLF’s Executive Director.
Nora Ahmed, ACLU of Louisiana’s Legal Director, said, “Bringing the SJLF fellows and our country’s next generation of civil rights lawyers on board is like a dream come true. Together, and through Justice Lab, we hope to establish a litigation blueprint for altering police conduct across the country. The killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks were not isolated incidents. They were, and are, enabled by a system where bad stops, bad searches, and non-fatal uses of excessive force are tolerated without repercussion. Justice Lab attacks the epidemic of racist policing at its source.”
At the outset, SJLF will be undertaking the investigation of five community members’ complaints against the police.