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Legal Professionals Affinity Group

Our affinity group for legal professionals is building momentum, and we are seeking volunteers to assist with a number of projects. Contact Emma Roderick, our grassroots campaign coordinator, for more information or to participate in any of these projects.

Ordinance on Executive Accountability for Torture

The ordinance on executive accountability for torture is an exciting organizing tool for local organizers building the public case for prosecution by federal authorities. Contact Emma if you're willing to research and write a short memo on one or more of the following legal issues:

  1. To what extent may state courts assert jurisdiction to adjudicate alleged war crimes under universal jurisdiction principles established in international law?
  2. To what extent does federal law pre-empt states from seeking to hold accountable federal officials for violations of constitutional, state, local and international law? What grounds might the federal government assert to seek an injunctive remedy precluding state prosecution?  Would a Supremacy Clause challenge be viable? 
  3. To what extent may local officials extradite former federal officials sought by foreign countries to stand trial?  Were state officials to pursue unilateral extradition, what remedies would remain available to federal officials either (a) vis-a-vis the locality, or (b) vis-a-vis a foreign country (e.g., Spain, Italy) with respect to recovering custody of a former official extradited there?
  4. Could qualified immunity offer a defense for public officials accused in state court of international war crimes?
  5. What can a city do to explicitly declare complicity in torture a crime? Is there any language we could add to the model ordinance that would more clearly grant jurisdiction to the local DA and police? The current language imposes a mandate; what language could give that mandate further insulation from judicial invalidation?

We also need drafting help to reformat each model ordinance to conform to the norms of particular local jurisdictions.  This assignment entails no research, but rather the comparison of documents and heavy editing to match a stylistic example while maintaining the substance of the original.

Disbarment of Torture Lawyers

We seek volunteers to prepare ethics complaints challenging the bar licenses of former government lawyers involved in torture.  We can offer prior complaints in five jurisdictions as examples.

Domestic Surveillance and Fusion Centers

Advised by subject matter experts, volunteers are researching state FOIA and Sunshine laws and preparing record requests to uncover (and eventually help review) documents relating to domestic surveillance.  Over 70 fusion centers across the country remain largely opaque and subject to little meaningful oversight, despite presenting compelling privacy and civil liberties problems.

This effort includes the following projects:

  1. Serving a FOIA request on a local fusion center
  2. Litigating denials of records requests under state FOIA laws
  3. Helping review documents disclosed in response to requests and index them according to a classification system being developed by students at the Media Reform clinic at Yale Law School.

For more about this project, see the fusion center project page or contact Emma.

Mandatory Vaccinations

BORDC has been contacted by a retired Marine Lt. Colonel who has filed suit in Florida state court seeking injunctive relief and invalidation of a state statute that requires vaccination in the event of a pandemic.  More information about the case is available online and we can share the entire set of pleadings upon request.