December 2010 Patriot Award Winner: Jeffrey LightFriday, December 24, 2010 at 11:27 am by My Nguyen
Each month, BORDC recognizes an individual who has done outstanding work in support of civil liberties and the rule of law by honoring him with our Patriot Award. This month we recognize attorney Jeffrey Light for his significant efforts toward protecting First Amendment rights.
As a student at Georgetown Law, Jeff originally intended to work in patent law. As he studied the law, however, he discovered the importance of protecting civil rights and liberties. He found a passion for the public interest, specifically in the criminal justice arena, and now works as a criminal appeals lawyer in Washington, DC.
Jeff does substantial pro bono work in addition to his day job bringing cases to the Court of Appeals. He represents groups including the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) and the animal rights group Defending Animal Rights Today and Tomorrow in cases involving First Amendment rights. Jeff also does extensive work with the National Lawyers Guild.
BORDC is grateful that Jeff has found time in his busy schedule to work with us in litigating a case against two fusion centers in DC. Across the country, more than 70 DHS-funded “fusion centers” make private data readily available to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Very little is known about the kinds of information gathered and shared at these centers, with whom it is being shared, and on what basis. Oversight for fusion centers remains inadequate, prompting BORDC’s FOIA campaign seeking transparency into their operations. With Jeff’s counsel, BORDC has filed FOIA requests regarding two DC fusion centers, including the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center (WRTAC).
No stranger to FOIA, Jeff has also filed a request to the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency as well as requests on behalf of DCTC. He is passionate about LGBT rights, but focuses more broadly on First Amendments freedoms and their protection for all individuals and organizations. This is evident in the breadth of Jeff’s work, which includes a case involving an illegal search of a freelance photojournalist’s home whose personal computers, cameras, and movies were seized by the FBI. Jeff’s passion for defending civil liberties is palpable, and we appreciate his many contributions to constructive change on a national level.