Monday, August 31, 2020

LatCrit Fridays: A Virtual Symposium Series: Policing, Pandemics, Praxis & Power 


From the symposium organizers:

During these challenging times, critical conversations have become more important than ever. Critical conversations, always profoundly political in nature, have become an imperative tool in the struggle for liberation and against fascism, white supremacy, and austerity. In response to current events and sensible efforts to postpone major critical conferences in legal academia,  LatCrit is inviting all community members to a series of conversations addressing issues of the moment. These conversations - titled collectively LatCrit Fridays: A Virtual Symposium Series: Policing, Pandemics, Praxis & Power - will feature LatCrit community members who are doing scholarship, activism, and praxis in these areas. We invite the community to participate in these conversations and offer this space to do so. We also hope to continue producing knowledge and building beloved critical communities of solidarity, even during a time when prudence requires distancing and sheltering in place. 

For Fall we have scheduled three virtual meetings for the community and its friends. All conversations will be held virtually. Registration information and descriptions are below. If you have any questions, please contact Saru Matambanadzo at 


Criminal (In)Justice, Policing & Power (September 4, 2020) 

We will begin the conversations next Friday, September 4, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. EST. We will host a virtual conversation focused on criminal law, race, and social movements entitled Criminal (In)Justice, Policing & Power. 


Featured Participants: 

Stewart Chang, Professor of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law 
Anthony Farley, James Campbell Matthews Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Albany Law School 
Aya Gruber, Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School 
SpearIt, Professor of Law, Thurgood Marshall School of Law 

Please register in advance for this meeting:  

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 

Pandemics and the Crisis of Care (October 9, 2020) 

The conversation will continue Friday, October 9, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. EST. We will host a virtual conversation focused on care and work in the current moment entitled Pandemics and the Crisis of Care. 

Featured Participants: 

Shelley Cavalieri, Professor of Law, University of Toledo, College of Law 
Cyra Akila Choudhury, Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law 
T. Anansi Wilson, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of California, Hastings School of Law 
Lua Kamal Yuille, Professor of Law, University of Kansas School of Law 


Please register in advance for this meeting:  

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 


Law, Democracy, and Politics After the Deluge (November 6, 2020) 

The final conversation of the Fall series will be Friday, November 6, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. EST. We will host a virtual conversation focused on politics and the election entitled Law, Democracy, and Politics After the Deluge. 


Featured Participants: 

Nadia Ahmad, Associate Professor at Barry University School of Law 
Khaled Beydoun, Professor of Law Wayne State School of Law 
Atiba Ellis, Professor of Law, Marquette University Law School 
Athena Mutua, Professor of Law & Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar, University at Buffalo School of Law 
Christian Sundquist, Professor of Law, Albany Law School 


Please register in advance for this meeting:  

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 


August 31, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Remembering Katrina - Lessons for COVID


To mark the 15th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) together with the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU Law School, the ABA Criminal Justice Section and the ABA Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice present webinars on the impact of crisis on two key components of the criminal justice system: Jails and Prisons, and Public Defense. The programs will consider what happens to people trapped in the criminal justice system during times of extreme systemic stress and whether or not such times of crisis can be catalysts for reform.


These programs are free and open to the public.  They have not been accredited for CLE.

Monday, August 31, 2020:  3:30 pm – 5:00 pm ET

Left to Die: Incarceration from Katrina to COVID

Introduction – Judy Perry Martinez, Immediate Past President, American Bar Association

  • Eric Balaban, National Prison Project of the ACLU
  • Meghan Garvey, New Orleans Public Defender
  • Brendon Woods, Public Defender Alameda County, California
  • Moderator: Malia Brink, ABA SCLAID


Tuesday, September 1, 2020: 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Public Defense Reform from Crisis: Katrina to COVID

Introduction – Judy Perry Martinez, Immediate Past President, American Bar Association

  • Derwyn Bunton, Chief Public Defender, Orleans Parish, LA
  • Frank Neuner, Managing Partner, NeunerPate
  • Jason Williamson, Deputy Director, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project
  • Moderator: Pamela Metzger, Deason Center, Southern Methodist University



For more information or to register, click on the individual program links above or visit the ABA SCLAID website.

August 29, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

New Article: Reimagining the Death Penalty: Targeting Christians, Conservatives


The death penalty represents one of the most unfair and unjust practices that underscores the undervaluation of black life. This article, Reimagining the Death Penalty: Targeting Christians, Conservatives has just been published by the Buffalo Law Review and is available for download. From the abstract:

This Article is an interdisciplinary response to an entrenched legal and cultural problem. It incorporates legal analysis, religious study and the anthropological notion of “culture work” to consider death penalty abolitionism and prospects for abolishing the death penalty in the United States. The Article argues that abolitionists must reimagine their audiences and repackage their message for broader social consumption, particularly for Christian and conservative audiences. Even though abolitionists are characterized by some as “bleeding heart” liberals, this is not an accurate portrayal of how the death penalty maps across the political spectrum. Abolitionists must learn that conservatives are potential allies in the struggle, who share overlapping ideologies and goals. The same holds true for Christians—there is much in the teachings of Jesus to suggest that he aligned more with forgiveness than capital retribution. As such, abolitionists would do well to focus on these demographics more earnestly than in the past. The notion of “culture work” underscores these groups as natural allies in the quest to end the death penalty.

August 25, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

"Trade War, PPE, and Race" - new article by Professor Ernesto Hernandez

Professor Ernesto Hernandez of the Dale Fowler School of Law, Chapman University, has posted "Trade War, PPE, and Race" on SSRN.  The abstract is given below, and here is a link to the text:


Tariffs on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as face masks and gloves, weaken the American response to COVID. The United States has exacerbated PPE shortages with Section 301 tariffs on these goods, part of a trade war with China. This has a disparate impact felt by minority communities because of a series of health inequity harms. COVID’s racial disparity appears in virus exposure, virus susceptibility, and COVID treatments. This essay makes legal, policy, and race-and-health arguments. Congress has delegated to the U.S. Trade Representative expansive authority to increase tariffs. This has made PPE supplies casualties of the trade war. In political terms, the Trump administration has prioritized increasing tariffs over public health readiness. Regarding race, PPE shortages exemplify the socio-economic effects of trade policies and add to COVID’s racial disparities.


August 20, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 17, 2020

Chapter on Implicit Bias in Criminal Justice


The chapter, Implicit Bias in Criminal Justice: Growing Influence as an Insight to Systemic Oppression (The State of Criminal Justice 2020 (American Bar Association 2020)), has been posted on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Implicit bias continues its rise as an increasingly important concept among advocates of criminal justice reform. Also known as “unconscious” or “nonconscious” bias, the idea in recent years has enjoyed greater acceptance as a means of understanding how bias and bigotry can impact the decisionmaking of actors at all levels of the criminal justice system. Taken wholly, the decisionmaking creates structural biases against certain social outgroups. Implicit bias helps to explain some of the disproportionate and disparate aspects of the criminal justice system, and especially why prosecution and punishment are heavily skewed against certain groups. There are ample opportunities for the biased attitudes to manifest throughout the process, which effectively work to the detriment of those entangled in the system, from suspects to defendants to prisoners, probationers, and parolees. Of course, the first movers of this system are the police, but other parties include prosecutors, defense counsel, judges, and juries, among other officials in the system whose decisionmaking is susceptible to implicit bias. Even legislators who write the laws are susceptible. This chapter aims to describe this concept and the main challenges that implicit bias presents to the administration of criminal justice.


August 17, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 14, 2020

PODCAST - She Speaks: Academic Muslimah

Philosophy Professor Saba Fatima, a philosophy professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has a podcast, She Speaks, Academic Muslimah. Available on Apple Podcast and Spotify.

Muslimah is the feminine form of the word Muslim in Arabic. Professor Fatima speaks to academic Muslimahs about their research and life experiences. The episodes are released every other Friday only during the fall and spring semesters. She started the podcast because she sought to create a platform to discuss all things Muslim, women, and academia. I was recently a guest on Season 3 of her program to discuss elections 2020, mass incarceration, BLM, the need for the Green New Deal, and the impact of climate change on people of color. 


August 14, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 13, 2020

"Technological Tethereds: Potential Impact of Untrustworthy Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice Risk Assessment Instruments" - new article by Professor Sonia Gipson Rankin

Professor Sonia Gipson Rankin of the University of New Mexico School of Law has posted "Technological Tethereds: Potential Impact of Untrustworthy Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice Risk Assessment Instruments", which will appear in the Washington and Lee Law Review.  Here is the abstract:

Issues of racial inequality and violence are front and center in today’s society, as are issues surrounding artificial intelligence (AI). This Article, written by a law professor who is also a computer scientist, takes a deep dive into understanding how and why hacked and rogue AI creates unlawful and unfair outcomes, particularly for persons of color.

Black Americans are disproportionally featured in criminal justice, and their stories are obfuscated. The seemingly endless back-to-back murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and heartbreakingly countless others have finally shaken the United States from its slumbering journey towards intentional criminal justice reform. Myths about Black crime and criminals are embedded in the data collected by AI and do not tell the truth of race and crime. However, the number of Black people harmed by hacked and rogue AI will dwarf all historical records, and the gravity of harm is incomprehensible.

The lack of technical transparency and legal accountability leaves wrongfully convicted defendants without legal remedies if they are unlawfully detained based on a cyberattack, faulty or hacked data, or rogue AI. Scholars and engineers acknowledge that the artificial intelligence that is giving recommendations to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and parole boards lacks the common sense of an 18-month-old child. This Article reviews the ways AI is used in the legal system and the courts’ response to this use. It outlines the design schemes of proprietary risk assessment instruments used in the criminal justice system, outlines potential legal theories for victims, and provides recommendations for legal and technical remedies to victims of hacked data in criminal justice risk assessment instruments. It concludes that, with proper oversight, AI can increase fairness in the criminal justice system, but without this oversight, AI-based products will further exacerbate the extinguishment of liberty interests enshrined in the Constitution.

According to anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells-Barnett, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” Thus, transparency is vital to safeguarding equity through AI design and must be the first step. The Article seeks ways to provide that transparency, for the benefit of all America, but particularly persons of color who are far more likely to be impacted by AI deficiencies. It also suggests legal reforms that will help plaintiffs recover when AI goes rogue.

August 13, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 10, 2020

First-of-its-Kind Millennial/Xennial Scholars Roundtable on the Future of Legal Education - by Professor Veronica Gonzales-Zamora

In an effort to build community and inspire collective action, my co-moderator Marcus Gadson of Campbell School of Law in Raleigh and I invited 30 millennial (born between 1981-1997) [1]  and xennial (1977-1983) [2]  law scholars from 23 different institutions to join a Millennial/Xennial Scholars Roundtable on July 13. The purpose was to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on legal education. This is the first explicitly generation-based gathering of Millennial/Xennial law professors in the U.S. in law academia.

The idea for a roundtable was born when I began researching for a work-in-progress about the experience of millennials/xennials in the legal academy, with an emphasis on millennial women of color, an underrepresented group.[3]  Finding that there were not enough diverse voices from other millennial law professors from which to conduct my research, [4]  I set out to learn about the experiences of others in my cohort. A quick email to a couple of listservs and to colleagues I met at the AALS New Law Teachers Conference in 2019 led me to 30 different scholars, primarily BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color), including Professor Gadson, who offered to help. Together, we coordinated the program and invited these junior scholars from across the country to both create community and foster collaboration.

The Roundtable offered a chance for participants to build community over our shared worldview as a generational cohort and to reflect on the impact of race, class, gender, and place on our collective and individual identities. The scholars who participated in the Roundtable represented a variety of academic disciplines as diverse as our experiences. The expertise of the group included, for example, civil procedure, immigration, aging, clinical law, medicine, feminist legal theory, food justice, and community organizing to name a few. The agenda boasted an all-women group of mentors and renowned scholars including Professor Margaret Montoya (Latino/a critical race theory scholar), Professor Meera E. Deo (empirical data scientist studying barriers for underrepresented faculty), and Dean Laura Rosenbury (feminist legal theory scholar).

 “The convergence of the BLM movement with the COVID-19 pandemic with its disproportionately severe effects on Black and Latinx communities creates an opening that is particularly salient for millennial/xennial law professors. The street protests have been organized and led by inspiring young activists. Their counterparts in the legal academy, especially young law faculty of color, have compelling stories, a range of new skills, and innovative analyses to enrich and transform the legal academy’s culture and future trajectories. In this time of upheaval, they can chart new directions,” said Professor Margaret Montoya, Professor Emerita of Law and Visiting Professor in University of New Mexico’s Department of Family & Community Medicine, who presented at the Roundtable as a mentor.

Several law professors shared the challenge of being the only millennial or xennial law professor on their faculty. Professor Meera E. Deo noted the challenges in data collection amongst law faculty, [5]  making it difficult to know how many millennial/xennial law faculty there are in the legal academy. University of New Mexico School of Law, for example, has five law professors in the cohort including me, Joseph Gallardo, Alejandro Rettig y Martinez, Joseph Schremmer, and Lysette Romero Córdova. While this age cohort is growing in number, the general decline and latest freezes in hiring [6] and declines in admissions indicate that our cohort may be underrepresented in the legal academy in the future.

One thing I found interesting was that several young faculty of color reported that they had been mistaken for law students rather than being recognized as law professors. My research centers around the invisible labor that comes with overcoming biases about who does and does not ‘look like a law professor.’ Students may be signaling that they expect young people of color in their diverse student bodies but not necessarily in their law faculty, who are primarily older white males. Young faculty of color are burdened with the need to first build credibility in order to overcome presumed incompetence based on race, gender, and age, [7]  but some never overcome it. Once you factor in the disparities inherent in being the first generation to have experienced two economic recessions during our early careers, [8]  you see that we have our work cut out for us among students and colleagues.

Professors Alexander Boni-Saenz and Troy Andrade discussed the need for anti-racism policies to permeate every part of the curriculum, such as student evaluations, tenure review, and grant opportunities, beyond the statements issued by law faculty. Professors Lysette Romero Córdova and Kinda L. Abdus-Saboor shared the impact of the pandemic on women of color, both students and faculty who may be juggling classwork with caregiving responsibilities. Others shared that their faculty will sometimes not take their ideas seriously or will request that the youngest faculty on committees do the bulk of the administrative work without recognizing their contributions.

“The Roundtable was an incredible bonding experience. It was helpful to see a group of young scholars all encountering common challenges and being passionate about lifting up diverse voices and tackling difficult issues in the academy. The Roundtable was hopefully the first of many and we plan to continue meeting, whether to discuss how we can innovate in legal education, use our knowledge and resources to advance the cause of justice, or help each other produce scholarship at the highest level,” says Professor Gadson. This fall, Professor Gadson and I are working with others in our cohort to submit for publication a collection of essays developing the ideas discussed at the Roundtable.


[1] Millennials are defined as anyone born between 1981-1996. See Michael Dimock, Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins, Pew Research Center (Jan. 17, 2019),

[2] Shana Lebowitz, There’s A Term for People Born in the Early 80s Who Don’t Feel Like a Millennial or a Gen X-er – Here’s Everything We Know, Business Insider (Mar. 10, 2018, 6:45 PM),

[3] There has been some interest in the topic, variations of which were selected for presentation at the 2021 AALS Annual Conference. For example, the Section on Aging and the Law panel on Intersectionality, Aging, and the Law selected for presentation my paper on millennial women of color and Professor Alexander Boni-Saenz’s paper on age diversity. The Women in Legal Education AALS Panel on Gender, Power, and Pedagogy in the Pandemic also selected for discussion my topic on the consequences of social isolation for “super-moms” in the academy.

[4] There is some scholarship describing the experience of millennial law faculty, in some cases authored by millennial and xennial law faculty. See, e.g., Ashley Krenelka Chase, Upending the Double Life of Law Schools: Millennials in the Legal Academy, 44 U. Dayton L. Rev. 1 (2018), See also Millennial Leadership in Law Schools: Essays on Disruption, Innovation, and the Future (Ashley Krenelka Chase ed., to be published by Hein in 2020) and Call for Proposals (May 29, 2019), (“[This book] will seek to explore the role millennials will play – as faculty, administrators, or staff members – in shaping the future of legal education.”).

[5] See generally Meera E. Deo, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia (2019),

[6] See Sarah Lawsky, Spring Self-Reported Entry Level Hiring Report 2019, (June 04, 2019),  (indicating that in 2012 there were 143 total entry-level hires at 96 schools and in 2019 there were 82 total entry-level hires at 60 schools, based on self-reports). See also Dr. Karen Kelsky, “Incomplete/Unofficial/Unconfirmed List of Schools That Have Announced Hiring Freezes or Pauses,” The Professor Is In. (Apr. 18, 2020) (click on google document) (indicating as of Aug. 10, 2020 that 408 higher education institutions nationwide have announced hiring freezes or pauses based on self reports).

[7] See generally Renee N. Allen, & DeShun Harris, #SocialJustice: Combatting Implicit Bias in an Age of Millennials, Colorblindness, & Microaggressions, 18 U. Md. L.J. Race Relig. Gender & Class 1 (2018),

[8] See Zoe Fenson, For Millennials ‘once in a generation‘ came around twice, The Week (June 30, 2020), See also Catherine Bosley et al., How millennials are being set back by back-to-back global crises, Fortune (Apr. 11, 2020),; Hannes Schwandt & Toll von Wachter, Unlucky Cohorts: Estimating the Long-Term Effects of Entering the Labor Market in a Recession in Large Cross-Sectional Data Sets, 37 J. of Labor Econ. S161 (2019),

Verónica C. Gonzales-Zamora is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law.


August 10, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"The Pieces of Housing Integration" - new article by Professor Kristen Barnes

Professor Kristen Barnes of Syracuse University College of Law and University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law, has published "The Pieces of Housing Integration" - 70 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 717, Issue 3.  Here is the abstract:


Notwithstanding the enactment of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, accomplishing racially- integrated housing across the United States remains an unattained goal. The costs associated with this failure are innumerable. Black Americans have endured harms in many areas, including health, education, wealth, and employment. More broadly, the nation has incurred considerable socio-economic and political costs. In the interdisciplinary book, Moving Toward Integration, authors Richard Sander, Yana Kucheva, and Jonathan Zasloff analyze why the promise of racially-integrated housing remains unfulfilled and identify noteworthy strategies for changing course. Engaging with their arguments, this article highlights several structural impediments to altering racial housing patterns. Banks, cities, government agencies, and courts have been major contributors to the problem. Nonetheless, they have the power to ameliorate some of the lingering damage and to prevent future harms. Referencing several examples involving the Fair Housing Act, disparate impact theory, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, this work elucidates how lending and government entities have sometimes operated to compromise desegregation and integration efforts rather than to facilitate them. Understanding the counterproductive moves of these influential actors is essential to assessing proposals for change.

August 5, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 3, 2020

BLM, Blacks & the Elephant in the Room


The Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign, while seemingly targeting a white audience, is a message that needs to be internalized by all races, including black people. In the last decade, BLM has gained political traction by focusing on the mistreatment of Blacks by police. The campaign has enjoyed steady momentum due to the ongoing police killing of Blacks and the steady stream of videos attesting to the brutality.

But then came the killing of George Floyd.

The killing of Floyd was a watershed moment in the annals of police brutality and the BLM movement. It was a primetime killing of an unarmed, compliant, black man, whose life was extinguished over the alleged passing of a counterfeit $20 bill. Videos of the killing went viral in a world stuck in quarantine. Hence, there was literally a captive audience that was forced to sit and witness the plight of black America. That same audience would further witness assault after assault on protestors and the media by police, which laid bare the purpose of the protests.

The ensuing protests and news coverage skyrocketed BLM into a global phenomenon and household phrase. After George Floyd, regardless of what one thought of BLM, the organization, BLM as an idea expanded far beyond. The global resonance and response suggest that Blacks worldwide experience undervaluation. Floyd gave the world a stunning visual that proclaimed black life was not even worth twenty bucks.

The notion “black lives matter” is a sorely needed pathos in American culture, particularly since the country’s legal history is tied to the mistreatment of Blacks. This is especially true when considering that since the time of slavery, Blacks have had to transition from holding the legal status of property to becoming free civilians. From then on, the criminal justice system became the greatest menace to black America.

For example, when it comes to the death penalty, studies have shown that one’s likelihood of being sentenced to death varies according to the race of the murder victim. Statistics confirm that killing a white person is usually a ticket to a death sentence, whereas the killing of a black person is usually met with a prison sentence. Such racial injustice is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Consider that of all homicides in the country, Blacks suffer the greatest number of victimizations. According to the FBI, in 2018, of the total 14,123 killings, 7,407 were black victims, meaning that more Blacks were killed than all other racial groups combined. Hence, while Blacks make up roughly 13% of the total American population, they are victims in over one half of all homicides.

At a bare minimum, the figures suggest that black life is the least valued in America. But the story is more complex because a vast majority of those killings are carried out by Blacks. Of the total homicides described above, nearly forty percent of the perpetrators were black, and when it comes to black victims specifically, the numbers are more startling. According to the same report, of the 2,925 killings that involved a single killer and single black victim, 2600 involved a single black perpetrator.

These figures suggest a simple point: BLM must hone efforts to infuse its message in the psyche of Black America. Even though it is true that racial groups experience intra-racial crime predominantly, these numbers are extreme. Consider that Whites, who make up more than 70% of the American population, had only 77 more homicides in the same category, with Whites experiencing 3,315 single victim killings, 2,677 of which were by a single white perpetrator. Thus, even in the world of race on race crime, Blacks are killed by other Blacks in stunning disproportion to other racial groups.

This is not to say that the killings were because of race, but simply, that black life appears to be devalued even by Blacks. It may be no wonder given the long history of Blacks having to be brutal to survive, from vicious house slaves to the black slave drivers who cracked the whip in the fields, Blacks have been forced to hate their own to advance themselves. After centuries of holding the status of an object that could be beaten, raped, and killed without interference of law, the climb to obtain the status of human has been steep.

From this view, the elephant in the room are those Blacks who need to embrace this message. While Blacks are the overwhelming victims of racism, it hardly means that BLM is a message for whites only. Understanding trends in homicide victimization points to the notion that BLM is a message that we all need to embrace. More critically, it points to the need to promote self-love and other life-affirming practices in black communities. Failure to spot this elephant will doom any movement seeking to promote black lives.

August 3, 2020 | Permalink | Comments (0)