2013 Conference – Cleveland, OH

The Mideast (“Rustbelt”) Regional NLG Conference  will be held from Friday, March 22 through Sunday, March 24, 2013 at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio.

The conference announcement is available here. Flyers for the event are available here: full page  & quarter sheet. Please distribute them widely! The Facebook event is located here and the sharable image is here. Invite your friends!


Friday, March 22, 2013

8:30 pm – ?: Meet & Greet @ The Social Room, 2261 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

Saturday Conference Schedule
(* denotes 1.0 Ohio/Pennsylvania CLE credit hour approved. PA not approved for panel on OH HB 86. 2013 CLE materials are available here: https://nlgrustbelt.wordpress.com/cle-materials-2013.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013 – {An annotated schedule is available here.}

  • 8:30 – 9:00 am:  Registration (continuing throughout the day) & Light Breakfast (provided by Bruegger’s Bagels)
  • 9:00 – 10:15 am: Ohio HB 86: A Collaborative Model for Legislative Juvenile Justice Reform* (Rm A58); Fusion Centers & the Constitutionality of Surveillance* (Rm A57)
  • 10:30 – 11:45 am: No More Drug War: 100 Years of Failure is Enough* (Rm A57); The Remarkable Life and Tragic Death of Reggie Brooks: A Case Study (Rm A58)
  • 11:45 am – 12:15 pm: Lunch Break TBA
  • 12:15 – 1:15 pm: Layers of Injustice: The Lucasville, Ohio Prison Uprising* (Rm A57)
  • 1:30 – 2:30 pm: Labor Law Without the NRLB?* (Rm A57)
  • 2:45 – 4:00 pm: The “Cleveland 4” & FBI Entrapment Strategy* (Rm A57); Affirmative Action in College Admissions: A New Student Civil Rights Campaign (Rm A58)
  • 4:15 – 5:30pm: Civil Disobedience Representation: SLAPP & the Necessity Defense* (Rm A 57); Wage & Hour Justice: Issues Facing Working People in an Increasingly Part-time Contingent Economy (Rm A58); Drug Sniffing Dogs & the Fourth Amendment (A61)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

  • 10:00am – 10:30am – Light Breakfast (provided by Bruegger’s Bagels)
  • 10:30am – 2:30pm: Workshops & Meetings TBA (Workshops to include: Know Your Rights, Legal Observer Training, and more!)

Panel Descriptions & Speaker Bios

Layers of Injustice: The Lucasville, OH Prison Uprising (1.0 CLE hour)
Alice Lynd, 12:15 – 1:15pm (Rm A57)

Panel Summary: For 11 days in April of 1993, the Lucasville Prison was under control of the prisoners. This unprecedented show of force by prisoners, who had aligned despite ubiquitous racial tension, was reminiscent of Attica and other prison rebellions which took place in the 1970s. After exhaustive research through court materials and witness testimony, this presentation seeks to enlighten attorneys on the case built against the five inmates who were eventually sentenced to death.

Speaker Bio: Alice Niles Lynd has spent most of her life fighting for social change. In the early 1960’s, she traveled to the South to work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in order to establish the first Freedom Schools in Mississippi. As the U.S. military invaded Vietnam, Lynd worked to publicize the stories of conscientious objectors, in addition to being a draft counselor and paralegal.

In 1984, Lynd received her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and began practicing in Youngstown, Ohio. Lynd’s interest in social justice led her to study many notable legal struggles, including the Lucasville Prison Uprising. Lynd quickly became an advocate for prisoners confined in Ohio’s supermax prison and engaged in a prison conditions lawsuit.

Lynd has co-authored numerous books with her husband Staughton and currently lives in Youngstown.

Labor Law Without the NLRB? (1.0 CLE hour)
Staughton Lynd, 1:30 – 2:30pm (Rm A57)

Panel Summary:  Over the past two years the issue of labor rights and collective bargaining has reached the national conversation. Labor movements in the Midwest and Mideast have been at the forefront of these struggles. As a result, larger, more mainstream unions have seen growth; however, the trade union movement has largely been overlooked.

This presentation will inform attendees about the implications of recent developments within the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and propose a historical analysis to explain the weakness of trade unions. By providing a legal analysis of labor disputes, this presentation seeks to educate attorneys on the NLRB’s role in labor law.

Speaker Bio: Staughton Lynd is an activist and attorney who dedicated his life to a variety of political movements. After receiving his doctorate in history from Columbia University, Staughton played an integral role in the formation of the Freedom Schools in Mississippi. During his professorship at Yale University, Staughton gave speeches condemning the Vietnam War, as well as, engaged in acts of civil disobedience.

Staughton received his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1976 and utilized his knowledge of employment law to help workers during the closing of steel mills in Youngstown, Ohio. Serving as lead counsel for the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley, Staughton worked to return the mill to the hands of the workers, attempting to create a community-worker ownership.

Staughton has written multiple books, as well as, co-authored works with his wife Alice. The two still live in Youngstown, Ohio.

The “Cleveland 4” & FBI Entrapment Strategy (1.0 CLE hour)
Terry Gilbert, Amanda Derr, Evan Ecklund, & Gail Stevens, 2:45 – 4:00pm (Rm A57)

Panel Summary: Today FBI surveillance and infiltration of activists is arguably more extensive than at any point in U.S. history, media influence is widespread, and the web of statutes and sentencing guidelines are used to create potential draconian sentences. Significantly, in recent years, the FBI has not targeted longtime organizers, but rather people whom are relatively new and peripheral to activist communities. This presentation will focus on the “Cleveland 4” case and the use of FBI surveillance tactics, including the use of an agent provocateur, and discuss legal defense strategies and other tools that activists can use to protect themselves from repression.

Speaker Bio: Terry Gilbert of the firm Friedman & Gilbert has been in private law practice since 1973 specializing in criminal defense and civil rights litigation.  In the 1970’s, he represented American Indians in the aftermath of the Wounded Knee confrontation in South Dakota, and numerous anti-war and civil rights activists. Over the years, Gilbert has handled a variety of government misconduct cases involving police abuse, violations of free speech, prisoners’ rights, and victims of all forms of discrimination.

Terry Gilbert graduated from Miami University in 1970 and received his J.D. from Cleveland State University in 1973. Terry received the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award from American Bar Association Litigation Section in 2002 and is currently a faculty lecturer for Trial Advocacy at Cleveland State University School of Law.

Amanda Derr and Evan Ecklund are organizers with the Cleveland 4 Support Committee. The Committee formed in 2012 to support Cleveland-area activists targeted by the FBI and to create educational resources to resist FBI-sponsored repression of social movements.  Since its inception, the committee has worked to raise legal funds for four Occupy activists entrapped by a government informant, and presented about FBI tactics of repression at local venues.

Gail Stevens is an organizer with the Cleveland 4 Support Committee and the mother of Connor Stevens, one of the local Occupy activists dubbed by supporters as the Cleveland 4.

Fusion Centers & the Constitutionality of Surveillance (1.0 CLE hour)
Drew Dennis, 9:00 – 10:15am (Rm A57)

Panel Summary: Fusion centers are regional institutions originally created to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among different state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. For many, the scope of their mission has quickly expanded due to the support and encouragement of the federal government, to cover “all crimes and all hazards.” The types of information fusion centers seek to obtain has also broadened to include public and private sector data, as well as, criminal intelligence. Further, participation in fusion centers has grown to include other government entities such as the FBI and CIA, the military and even certain members of the private sector.

This discussion will seek to lay a background on fusion centers, the data they collect, and how these centers infringe on an individuals’ right to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights.

Speaker Bio: Drew Dennis is an attorney and Litigation Coordinator at the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. Mr. Dennis has been with the organization for two and a half years and in that time has assisted in numerous litigation, advocacy and outreach projects. Mr. Dennis was also a researcher on two ACLU of Ohio reports, Overcharging, Overspending, Overlooking: Cuyahoga County’s Costly War on Drugs and the second edition of Evaluating Juvenile Justice in Ohio: A Report Card. Mr. Dennis received his Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University School of Law and received is licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio.

Civil Disobedience Representation: SLAPP & the Necessity Defense (1.0 CLE hour)
Terry Lodge & Larry Hildes, 4:15 – 5:30pm (A57)

Panel Summary: SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuits are filed in retaliation for speaking out on a public issue or controversy and are commonly brought by corporations, developers, or government officials against individuals or community organizations that are in opposition to their actions. Though most SLAPPs ultimately fail when litigated fully, the threat of a time-consuming and expensive lawsuit often silences their targets. Though twenty-eight states have enacted anti-SLAPP legislation, Ohio is not yet one of them. This course will give an overview of potential defenses and procedural strategies to be used when representing civil disobedience defendants in a SLAPP lawsuit.

This course will also focus on the use of the necessity defense, in both the criminal and civil court context, as a method of defending civil disobedience activists.

Speaker Bios: Terry Lodge is a Toledo, Ohio, trial lawyer who has represented many clients in civil rights, civil liberties, corporate welfare reform, and environmental cases. A long-time critic of the corporate state, he has represented opponents of nuclear weapons, antiwar activists, and many who have stood against government-corporate combines that would destroy nature and pollute the land and water forever for one generation’s profit. Holder of bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees, he was recognized as an ACLU civil libertarian of the year in 2005, won an access to justice award in 2003, and was knighted as “redoubtable” by Ralph Nader in his book, Crashing the Party. Lodge served as co-counsel in defending civil disobedience protesters against mountaintop removal who were SLAPP-sued by Massey Energy in 2009, and by Alpha Natural Resources in 2011. One of the protest organizations, Climate Ground Zero, was listed as a low-to-moderate security threat in a newsletter of the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security for its completely peaceful, creative strategies of civil disobedience.

Larry Hildes is a Bellingham, Washington based civil rights attorney specializing in the civil rights of demonstrators in both criminal and civil cases, the Rights of Journalists, issues of domestic spying, police misconduct, and  race, gender, and sexual orientation discrimination.  He has been in practice for 17 years and has litigated cases on the rights of demonstrators and journalists around the country and in Canada.  In the past few years, he has been focusing on cases involving anti-coal demonstrators both criminally and defending against SLAPP Suits.  He has successfully argued for and gone to trial with the Necessity Defense in several states. Recently, he received a ruling from the 9th Circuit in Panagacos v. Towery upholding the right of peace activists to sue the military for domestic spying against them.

No More Drug War: 100 Years of Failure is Enough (1.0 CLE hour)
Michael Uth, 10:30 – 11:45 (A57)

Panel Summary: The aggressive enforcement of drug laws has resulted arrest for millions of non-violent, low-level offenses. Research shows these offenders are overcharged, over-incarcerated, and disproportionately people of color. This program will inform attorneys about the ramifications of these actions, constitutional issues associated with the enforcement of drug laws, and methods to change policies and  advocate for the rights of their clients.

Speaker Bio: Michael Uth is an attorney, ethicist, civic activist and volunteer with the American Civil Liberties Union. He is passionately committed to promoting a drug policy based on reason, science, compassion, justice and respect for civil liberties.

Current drug policy at many levels of government often criminalizes addiction and focuses enforcement on low-income communities and people of color. Mr. Uth dedicates much of his time with the ACLU to speaking with groups all over the state about the folly of these policies.

A graduate of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Uth has practiced law in various capacities since 1979. He currently serves as the corporate compliance and ethics officer for Progressive Group of Insurance Companies. Born and raised in Massillon, Ohio, Mr. Uth has lived in the Cleveland area since 1981 and currently resides in Chagrin Falls.

Ohio HB 86: A Collaborative Model for Legislative Juvenile Justice Reform (1.0 CLE hour)
Gabriella Celeste, 9:00 – 10:15am (Rm A58)

Panel Summary: In 2011, Ohio passed a landmark criminal reform bill, HB 86, which included significant juvenile justice reform provisions. While this juvenile justice legislative victory was the result of a significant groundwork – including litigation and zealous legal representation, data collection and analysis, piloting and experimentation, and coalition-building and awareness-raising – it was also due to the deployment of a disciplined, collaborative policy change model that effectively leveraged a political window.

This workshop will provide the context for this legislative success and the discuss how the various circles of activity, including legal advocacy, played critical roles in creating policy change that improves the juvenile justice system and the opportunities for young people involved in this system.

Speaker Bio: As the Director of Child Policy with Case Western Reserve University’s Schubert Center for Child Studies, Gabriella Celeste works to bridge child- related research to enhance community partnerships. She has worked as a youth- focused consultant with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Voices for Ohio’s Children, the Youth Law Center, and the National Juvenile Defender Center, and served as the Director for several Cleveland-area organizations, including the Alliance of Child Caring Service Providers and the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood.

Ms. Celeste has served on the board of dozens of nonprofit and governmental child-focused organizations, published extensive legal and academic research, and co-founded the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. With over two decades of experience as an advocate, educator, researcher, mediator, and administrator in the field of juvenile justice and children’s defense, Ms. Celeste has devoted her career to bettering the lives of children in Ohio and around the country through direct intervention and broad-scale public policy change.

Affirmative Action in College Admissions: A New Student Civil Rights Campaign
Shanta Driver, George Washington, Monica Smith, & University of Michigan students, 2:45 – 4:00pm (Rm A58)

Panel Summary: On November 15, 2012, the en banc Sixth Circuit struck down Michigan’s anti-affirmative action amendment and has thus opened the door to increased enrollment of black, Latina/o American students throughout Michigan and the Sixth Circuit.  The Sixth Circuit decision directly conflicts with an earlier Ninth Circuit decision sustaining California’s Proposition 209.

The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Immigrant Rights and Integration and to Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN) brought the lawsuit that resulted in this decision.  BAMN has supported the Michigan Attorney General’s petition for certiorari because we think we can win this case for the entire country in the Supreme Court.  This would strike down California’s Proposition 209 as well as the identical laws in Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Washington.  These laws have cut minority enrollment in the most selective schools by one third to one half.

If the Supreme Court grants review, we will need to build a new civil rights movement to win the case in that Court.  If it does not grant review, we will need to build a movement to force the University of Michigan and other universities to actually reinstate their affirmative action programs. We believe this case, plus the national debate on immigration, provides an excellent opportunity to build such a movement.

Speaker Bios: The speakers are three Detroit attorneys and members of the Guild who were the attorneys in the Sixth Circuit and who will be the attorneys in the Supreme Court if that Court grants the cert petition

Shanta Driver is the national chair of BAMN, led the student intervention in Grutter v. Bollinger, led successful efforts to keep Ward Connerly’s proposals off the ballot, and is currently leading efforts for the immigrant rights march on Washington.

George Washington is a labor and civil rights attorney from Detroit who argued the case in the Sixth Circuit and has represented persons in four states challenging Ward Connerly’s proposals.

Monica Smith is an immigrant rights attorney from Detroit who was admitted to the University of Michigan as an undergraduate and Wayne State Law School under the last affirmative action programs before Connerly’s proposal passed.

There will also be students from the University of Michigan who are currently organizing to increase minority enrollment at Michigan.

Wage & Hour Justice: Issues Facing Working People in an Increasingly Part-time Contingent Economy
Tony Paris, Kathleen Laskey-Donovan, Marisela Lopez-Ronquillo, & Jason R. Bristol, 4:15 – 5:30pm (Rm A58)

Panel Summary: Wage theft takes many forms and can include: not being paid at required minimum wage, prevailing wage, or living wage rates, not being paid for all ours work, having illegal deductions for equipment or uniforms taken from their paycheck, not being paid overtime for hours over 40 in a week, being forced to work off the clock, or not getting paid a last paycheck. Other problems include  being classified as a “independent contractor”  or being classified as a salaried employee to avoid federal and state wage laws.

Many temporary work agencies (also known as staffing companies) make illegal deductions from wages for badges, tools or rides. Time one is required to spend waiting at a temp agency in order to get a job for the day may also qualify as work time.  Employer theft of wages is especially common in the farming, food processing, restaurants, clothes manufacturing, long-term care and retail industries.

Speaker Bios: The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice is a national, non-profit organization, dedicated to providing legal support and advocacy for working people and their communities.  Sugar Law’s projects seek to raise the bar for corporate conduct, and to ensure enforcement of Federal, state and local laws governing corporate behavior.  The Sugar Law Center has stood in the national forefront on behalf of displaced workers, low-income communities, and the working poor. The underlying principle that drives Sugar Law’s work is the belief that economic rights and civil rights are inseparable.

El Comite De Trabajadores Hispanos De Detroit (The Committe of Hispanic Workers of Detroit) began in 2011 when a group of mostly undocumented workers decided to stand up against the abuse and injustices at their workplace.  The Worker Committee began to organize actions to pressure their employer to come to an agreement and settle on a class-action lawsuit filed with the help of the Sugar Law Center in Detroit.  This has resulted in more undocumented workers in Detroit knowing their rights at the workplace and fighting against companies who take advantage of undocumented workers.  The Workers Committee has also been at the front of the battle for a Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  They meet every single week at a Presbyterian Church in Detroit.

Kathleen K. Laskey-Donovan has been an attorney with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (Legal Aid) since September 2008.  She practices in the areas of employment and immigration law.  In her employment practice, she represents low-wage workers with wage-hour, barriers to employment, and unemployment compensation claims.  Ms. Laskey-Donovan is co-chair of the Ohio Legal Services Employment Law Task Force.

Before coming to Legal Aid, Ms. Laskey-Donovan was an Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellow at the D.C. Employment Justice Center (EJC) in Washington D.C.  As an EJW fellow, Ms. Laskey-Donovan focused her efforts on representing immigrant workers who were victims of wage theft and performing outreach to day laborers.

Ms. Laskey-Donovan graduated cum laude from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2006.  She is licensed to practice law in Ohio, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  Ms. Laskey-Donovan is a member of the Ohio Employment Lawyers Association and the Cleveland Employment Lawyers Association.  She is fluent in Spanish.

The Remarkable Life and Tragic of Reggie Brooks: A Case Study Presented in Narrative Form About Mental Illness, the Gross Abuse of Prosecutorial Power, and the Systemic Failures of the Capital Sentencing Scheme
Alan Rossman, 10:15 – 11:45am (Rm A58)

Panel Summary: Reginald Brooks was executed by the State of Ohio on November 15, 2011. This is the story of how our justice system turned its back on a good but severely mentally ill man and turned a blind eye towards a remarkably dishonest prosecution. As a newspaper recounted, one of the judges who sentenced Reggie to death lamented to the Parole Board that he would not have voted for the death penalty if he’d had information from recently discovered police reports that were withheld from the defense at trial. In telling the tale of Reggie’s execution, broader concerns specific to how the criminal justice system remains insensitive to the needs of the mentally ill will be considered.

Speaker Bio: Alan Rossman is the Director of the Capital Habeas Unit at the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio. The Unit, which has been in existence since June 2008, currently represents approximately 20+ individuals on Ohio’s Death Row in all stages of habeas litigation and Clemency. He received his Masters of Arts degree in political science in 1976, from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He received his Doctorate from Cleveland Marshall Law School in 1981, where he and Carter Dodge reinstituted the law school chapter of the NLG that had been defunct for several years. As an attorney he worked with the ACLU developing a juvenile rights project. In 1982 he became employed with the Cuyahoga County Public Defenders Office in Cleveland, Ohio. He transitioned to private practice in 1988, doing primarily criminal defense, Title VII employment discrimination, and civil rights litigation, specializing in Section 1983. He formed a legal partnership company of Schreiber, Rossman and Associates through 1992. Returning to private practice, he worked as a solo practitioner, devoting the bulk of his practice to the representation of death row inmates in Federal habeas corpus litigation. He joined the Federal Defenders Office in 2008 with the inception of the capital habeas unit.

Drug-Sniffing Dogs and the 4th Amendment
Michael Benza, 4:15 – 5:30pm (Rm A61)

Panel Summary: The use of drug-sniffing dogs by law enforcement has been a contentious issue in determining the rights of criminal defendants. Deciding in what situations the use of these animals constitutes a search, and how the results of the animal’s reaction establish probable cause will have a significant impact upon 4th Amendment protections. Recently, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the latter determination (Florida v. Harris) and is expected to rule in another case involving drug-sniffing dogs later this year (Florida v. Jardines.) Professor Benza will address these two cases and the potential impact the decisions will have on criminal defendants.

Speaker Bio: Professor Benza received his Bachelor of Arts (1986) and law degrees (1992) from Case Western Reserve University. He also received a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology (1988) from Pepperdine University. He was the 1992 Biskind Fellow from CWRU School of Law and spent a year working for the Legal Resources Centre, a civil and human rights law firm in South Africa. Upon returning to the States, he spent four years in the Capital Defense Unit at the Office of the Ohio Public Defender. He was assistant counsel at the Cleveland Bar Association working with the Certified Grievance Committee as well as other committees. Professor Benza teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure I, Death Penalty Issues, and the Death Penalty Lab, and coached the Mock Trial team. The Student Bar Association selected Professor Benza as the Professor of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2009 Professor Benza was elected as an alumni member to the Society of Benchers.


The Mideast Region of the National Lawyers Guild would like to acknowledge the following speakers, panelists, sponsors, NLG chapters, and organizers for their contributions to our inaugural Mideast Regional conference:

Speakers/ Panelists (in order of panel): Gabriella Celeste, Drew Dennis, Michael Uth, Alan Rossman, Alice Lynd, Staughton Lynd, Terry Gilbert, Amanda Derr, Evan Ecklund, Gail Stevens, Shanta Driver, George Washington, Monica Smith, University of Michigan Students, Terry Lodge, Larry Hildes, Michael Benza, and the Sugar Law Center.

NLG Chapters: Cleveland Chapter of the NLG, Pittsburgh Chapter of the NLG, Detroit & Michigan Chapter of the NLG, and the Case Western Reserve University School of Law Student Chapter of the NLG.

Organizers and Other Contributors: Rachel Rosnick, Jocelyn Rosnick, Sarah Honig, Kaylie Kinney, John Stone, Rebecka Hawkins, Catrina Otonoga, Tony Paris, and Cynthia Heenan.


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