The California Lawyers Association (the “CLA”) Racial Justice Committee (the “RJC”) was formed in the response to the unlawful killing of George Floyd and numerous other African Americans by law enforcement. The genesis of the RJC occurred in May 2020 during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Litigation Section of the California Lawyers Association under the leadership of RJC Co-Founder and Co-Chair Adrieannette Ciccone; RJC Co-Founder and Co-Chair and Litigation Section Vice Chair Terrance J. Evans; Litigation Section Chair George Wailes; Litigation Section Officers Mary McKelvey and Jessica Barclay-Strobel; Litigation Section Immediate Past Chair Thomas Greene; and Litigation Section Executive Committee Member Katy Graham.
Following the creation of the RJC, CLA CEO and Executive Director, Ona Alston Dosunmu, elevated the RJC to be a CLA-wide committee. Thereafter, CLA Associate Executive Director Ellen Miller joined the RJC as a Co-Chair along with Co-Chairs Leif Dautch and Marjaneh Maroufi of the CLA Criminal Law Section Executive Committee. Together, we are working to promote diversity, inclusion, civil rights, and racial justice. We have joined with civil rights groups across the United States to dismantle systematic racism. To achieve these goals, we have taken the following steps:
- The RJC has sponsored or co-sponsored more than 60 educational programs on racial justice, civil rights, diversity, and inclusion in partnership with numerous affinity bar associations and community organizations and civil rights organizations across the United States. The programming would not be possible without the assistance of the RJC administrative team which includes Lauren Oakley, Brianna Hollingsworth, John Boxberger and Camren Butler.
- The RJC has advocated for legislation designed to promote racial justice and curtail excessive force by law enforcement. Notably, RJC Co-Chair Leif Dautch, with the assistance from Saul Bercovitch, lobbied successfully for the passage of the following three civil rights bills:
- AB 1506 (Officer-involved shootings): this bill from Asm. Kevin McCarty will transfer the investigation and prosecution of fatal killings of unarmed civilians from local District Attorneys to the State Attorney General;
- AB 3070 (Jury selection): this bill from Asm. Shirley Weber will limit the use of peremptory challenges during jury selection in criminal cases by creating a category of “presumptively invalid” bases for striking prospective jurors; and
- AB 3121 (Reparations): this bill also from Asm. Shirley Weber and will create a Task Force to study the issue of Reparations and make policy recommendations to the Legislature;
3) The RJC has created a resource group lead by Rebecca Maddox and Gregory Gillette, which is working to develop a tool-kit to promote racial justice and civil rights that can be implemented at the local level; and
4) The RJC has published its inaugural Racial Justice Journal, which is a culmination of articles on civil rights, diversity, inclusion, and racial justice. The historic Racial Justice Journal would not be possible without the driving forces behind this, Benjamin Shatz, the Honorable Justice Eileen Moore, George Wailes, Adrieannette Ciccone, Terrance J. Evans, Reuben Ginsburg, John Boxberger, Camren Butler, and the many authors and editors who made it possible.
Thank you to all of the regional, and affinity bar associations, and civil rights organizations who partnered with the RJC in 2020. We still have a lot of work to do, and we look forward to working with you well into the future. We are stronger together. Let’s continue to fight because #BlackLivesMatter.
RJC Co-Founder and Co-Chair