Happy New Year!

As we head into February, it's hard to believe all that's happened already in just the first four weeks of 2021.

While still in the midst of an ongoing worldwide pandemic, we joined millions of Americans to watch President Joe Biden take office last Wednesday. Within hours of his swearing-in ceremony, the President moved forward on turning a new chapter of our nation's history with a slew of executive orders, which included addressing a number of issues from curbing the spread of COVID to dismantling many of the harmful policies Trump left in his wake such as reversing the travel ban targeting Muslim countries and halting funding for the construction of the Mexico border wall.

Already, we are beginning to see promising signs of a new era, from the DOJ's new leadership appointees to rejoining the Paris climate accord. However, our work is far from over, and our nation faces a long journey toward repairing the harm of the last four years, where the enormity of such a daunting task was made evident just weeks before the inauguration. On January 6, our nation experienced a horrifying attack on democracy, where white supremacy and racism reared their ugly heads, reminding us that the hate that drove the mob to the U.S. Capitol is born from an ideology that has been able to thrive and persist within our society, made only worse by the last four years of Trump's presidency. As the day unfolded, we saw how the rioters acted with impunity and lack of shame or fear, fueled by a president who had lauded and perpetuated their culture of hate, allowing for it to grow and take center stage in our nation's capital. Following the events of Jan. 6, we condemned the violence that took place in Washington, and we demanded that those who fomented and executed the hateful insurrection be held accountable for their actions.

Despite a change of leadership, we know that our work is far from over, as evidenced by the events at the Capitol, and neither is the pandemic that has affected so many lives and hurt those who are most vulnerable. Last November, we laid out our priorities and goals for the incoming president's agenda, and we are committed to holding Biden and his Administration accountable in addressing many of these key issues that will move our nation in the right direction.

Our team has accomplished a great deal in 2020, and we're ready to do the same this year. And we're not done growing yet. Public Justice is recruiting for a Development Communications Associate, Grants Officer, 2021-2023 Food Project Legal Fellow, and Salary Consultant to join our incredible team of advocates. If you know someone who might be interested in joining our team, please forward the job announcements along.

As always, we are so thankful for each and every one of you, as our work could not be possible without you all. Your support enables us to head into the new year, well-equipped and ready to fight for the civil rights of every American, as we continue our work alongside the Biden Administration and forge a path that seeks justice for all.
Despite a nearly impossible-to-follow news cycle, Public Justice staff have continued to garner press coverage for their vibrant case docket and other legal advocacy. Here are just a few recent highlights:
In response to the hateful and violent insurrection that took place on January 6, our Executive Director Paul Bland released a statement on behalf of Public Justice. He expanded on the statement in Bloomberg's coverage of the attack: "[The] events [on January 6] dramatized that racism is rife in policing—no one could miss the often deferential and largely hands-off approach that the police showed yesterday to a mob of people filled with white supremacists to the military-style response aimed at peaceful BLM protesters."

We are proud to be listed alongside other civil rights advocates who spoke out against the violence, including the Institute for Criminal Justice Training Reform, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Police Accountability Project, and the Brennan Center's Justice Program. To learn more about how we're tackling these important issues of police accountability and systemic racism, visit our Qualified Immunity Project's webpage, which includes information on QI-related cases and other resources for holding perpetrators accountable in court.

This month, Paul was also a guest on Tad Thomas's Lawyer Minds podcast, where he discussed Public Justice's work against court secrecy, forced arbitration, corporate immunity and more.
"[The] events [on January 6] dramatized that racism is rife in policing—no one could miss the often deferential and largely hands-off approach that the police showed yesterday to a mob of people filled with white supremacists to the military-style response aimed at peaceful BLM protesters."
On January 25, Kazan Budd Staff Attorney Alexandra Brodsky argued before the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in favor of a motion for a new trial in Doe v. Fairfax County School Board, on behalf of a student survivor of sexual assault who alleges violations of her rights under Title IX. At trial, the jury found that Ms. Doe had been sexually assaulted and deprived of educational opportunities as a result, but that the school board was not liable because it lacked “actual knowledge” of the assault allegation. 
Reston Now covered Alexandra's oral argument, in which she claimed that there was no evidence to support the jury's finding on "actual knowledge" and that the finding was based on confusion over the court's instructions. Alexandra argued: "There may be hard actual knowledge cases, but this isn’t one of them. This family did all they could to put the school on notice. This court should remand a new trial so a jury can reach, for the first time, the question of whether the school did enough.”

Click here to access a recording of the Jan. 25 oral argument.
Public Justice Food Project Senior Attorney Brent Newell spoke with USA TODAY regarding Rochelle Foods, a meatpacking plant in northern Illinois, and its request for the CDC team tasked with inspecting the plant to sign nondisclosure agreements last May: "This is a more formal suppression tactic that I have not seen. But it is part of a broader strategy among various meat processing corporations to suppress information about outbreaks at their plants.”

This coverage of the Illinois plant's failure to protect its workers during the pandemic follows an all-too-familiar pattern that has emerged across the nation's food processing plants. Read about our Maid-Rite (Justice at Work v. Sec. of Labor Eugene Scalia) case in Pennsylvania, which we jointly filed a lawsuit with Towards Justice, Nichols Kaster, and Justice at Work, against Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia for OSHA's failure to protect slaughterhouse workers from contracting COVID. Testimony from this case revealed that COVID complaints to OSHA were being treated as "non-formal," and that OSHA officials were tipping off the facility before the inspection so that the inspector would be kept safe from exposure.
"This is a more formal suppression tactic that I have not seen. But it is part of a broader strategy among various meat processing corporations to suppress information about outbreaks at their plants.”
Early this month, Food Project Litigation Director David Muraskin was interviewed on the most recent episode of Mike Papantonio's America's Lawyer on the dangers of corporate immunity. During the interview, Muraskin discussed how Mitch McConnell sought to delay any COVID relief bill, insisting that there must be a provision granting temporary corporate immunity for businesses facing COVID-related lawsuits. On why corporate immunity is so dangerous, David said: "What you end up doing is limiting a variety of suits that are meant to change employer conduct."

To learn more about Public Justice's stance on corporate immunity and why we are pushing for it to be excluded from any future COVID relief bill, view our piece on the Daily Kos.
You can always find news stories mentioning Public Justice on the In The News page on the Public Justice website.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau used to be one of the most effective agencies in Washington, working to enforce consumer protection laws and adopt regulations protecting consumers, aimed at making banks and other lenders operate in fairer and more honest ways. In recent years, the CFPB has become a shell of its former self under the direction of Kathy Kraninger and her predecessor, Mick Mulvaney, where the agency's unwillingness to take on predatory lenders and crooked corporations has allowed lenders to cheat consumers in millions of dollars.

Under the Biden Administration, this needs to change. At Public Justice, we believe the CFPB must reinvigorate its enforcement activities and protect American consumers. This starts with a new director who will help turn the agency back to being a pro-consumer force for good. On January 6, our Executive Director Paul Bland appeared on Mike Papantonio's America's Lawyer, where he discussed President Biden's nomination of Rohit Chopra as director of the CFPB: "It's a particularly hopeful appointment."

Paul was also recently featured in Yahoo Finance, where he discusses the previous Administration's failure to protect consumers and a hopeful future that no longer thrives on chaos or an anti-consumer agenda: "It was very hard to have conversations where people could focus on broader systemic problems of corporate power, deceptions, predatory lending, [and] civil rights violations." Learn more about our vision for a better CFPB on our recent blog, where we call for a new CFPB Director who believes in carrying out the agency's mission and supporting the working men and women it was meant to protect.
Photo of Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year logo
Who should be our 2021 Trial Lawyer of the Year? You tell us.

We're still accepting nominations for this year's Trial Lawyer of the Year Award! Help us recognize an outstanding lawyer or legal team by submitting a nomination today! Each year, this prestigious award showcases the best of our profession, and highlights the remarkable impact lawyers have on clients, communities and our country.

Nominations must be submitted to Public Justice no later than Monday, March 1 at 5:00 PM ET. Our nomination guidelines and link to our online nomination form are now available on our website here.

Finalists for the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award are profiled in a short Public Justice documentary film, which premieres at our annual gala. Winners are regularly lauded in the press and throughout the legal profession. This year's winner will be announced at our 2021 Annual Gala in July.
If you, or someone you know, deserves to have their work honored, please submit a nomination today, and please share with friends and colleagues who might be interested in making a nomination. Together, we can celebrate positive change that makes a real difference in people's lives.
In mid-December, Public Justice President Eric L. Cramer pledged to match all gifts to Public Justice, dollar-for-dollar, up to $30,000. Following the announcement of Eric’s generous match, Public Justice Member Anthony Paronich generously stepped up with an additional $25,000 matching gift challenge, doubling the impact of supporters’ donations to Public Justice.

We are so excited to announce that thanks to the generous support of our members, we exceeded our special end-of-year matching gift goal!
Public Justice can now start 2021 strong and equipped with the resources needed to begin restoring true access to justice for everyone. A big thank you to all of our supporters who helped us reach our goal! 
Public Justice welcomes this month's new members - your unwavering commitment to our mission to combat injustice helps us reach our goals.

Questions? Contact us at memberservices@publicjustice.net.