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Updates from the Lawyers’ Committee

Blog August 9, 2016

Whose movement is it anyway? Answers from the First Lady of the United States

Activism creates economic, political or social change. It comes in all forms, from litigating and lobbying to strikes and sit-ins. Fifty years ago, during the American Civil Rights Movement, a few good men led the fight for many who were suffering from economic and political oppression. Today, in what’s being considered the new civil rights movement, the leadership is diverse, the strategies are familiar but the beneficiaries of the movement remain the same. It’s been said many times, this ain’t your grandfather’s civil rights movement, a message to both critics and supporters that the 1960s male-dominated, centralized leadership style of activism is long gone.  This time, women are getting the credit they deserve not only for leading but also for starting movements that have mobilized thousands and continue to keep issues like police brutality and sexual assault by officers in the national spotlight.  Over the years, there’s been a dynamic […]

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An Arkansas Judge Sent A Cancer Patient To ‘Debtors’ Prison’ Over A Few Bounced Checks

August 24, 2016

Huffington Post

WASHINGTON ― Lee Robertson’s trouble began in late 2009, when he was undergoing his first stint of chemotherapy to battle the pancreatic cancer that had made it impossible for him to work. In the course of two weeks, Robertson wrote 11 checks at stores near his home for small amounts ranging from $5 to $41.

Arkansas city’s hot-check court called debtor prison

August 24, 2016

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The hot-check division of Sherwood District Court and presiding Judge Milas Hale III have for years violated the civil rights of the poorest residents in Pulaski County through a “never-ending spiral of repetitive court proceedings and ever-increasing debt,” alleges a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Poor defendants say they face modern-day debtors’ prison

August 23, 2016

CBS News

Since writing a check for $28.93 five years ago that was returned for insufficient funds, Nikki Petree has been arrested seven times, served 25 days in jail and paid $640 to the city of Sherwood, Arkansas, and the local county court. And her legal problems continue: The 40-year-old mother is currently incarcerated because she is unable to pay what has ballooned into $2,656.93 in court costs, fines and fees.

Civil Rights Lawyers File Suit Against Alleged ‘Hot Check’ Court That Entraps Poor People

August 23, 2016


Earlier today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU of Arkansas, and law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP, filed a class action civil rights suit that accuses a Sherwood, Arkansas, courthouse of jailing residents for their inability to pay fines and fees associated with low-level offenses or misdemeanors. The suit also names Pulaski County and Arkansas judge, Milas Hale, III.

The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar's leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity - work that continues to be vital today.

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