First Amendment Strike Force and Mass Defense Unit
Established by the NFCJ and NACDL, the goal of this project is to provide qualified counsel to represent protesters when the exercise of First Amendment rights results in arrest and prosecution. Irrespective of political ideology, the right to protest and petition the government for a redress of grievances is the foundation of American democracy. People who are charged with criminal offenses, many of whom are not persons of means, while standing up for their principles should receive vigorous representation irrespective of their economic status.
NACDL has a long tradition of fighting to protect constitutional principles, and standing up for the individual against the government. In keeping with that tradition, the NFCJ and NACDL have committed to establish a First Amendment Strike Force and Mass Defense Unit. Specifically, NACDL supports a cadre of criminal defense lawyers who will be available to provide pro bono assistance to protesters throughout the country in the event of mass arrests. While the charges brought to date against most protesters are often relatively minor misdemeanors, the consequences of a criminal record have never been greater in American society. For those lawyers who volunteer, NACDL will maintain a database of available counsel, and will provide training and support at no cost to assist these volunteers.
Lawyers Wishing to Volunteer: Sign-Up
Required Video Trainings
- Representing Protesters webinar presented by Martin Stolar, criminal defense and civil rights attorney (October 11, 2017)
- Defending Protesters Facing Criminal Charges webinar presented by Jeffery Robinson and Lee Rowland, ACLU (June 27, 2017)
- NACDL’s Fourth Amendment Center has resources available to assist attorneys seeking to challenge the use of new law enforcement technologies in their cases. Specifically, counsel should be alert to unlawful device searches, seizures, and compelled decryption orders, as well as police access to cell phone location information and the use of facial recognition. The Fourth Amendment Center has manuals and sample motions available as well.
- Digital Hygiene for Defense Lawyers webinar by Matt Mitchell
- The Fourth Amendment Center is available to consult with defense counsel and provide direct litigation assistance in cases involving these issues. Contact 4AC@nacdl.org for more resources or litigation support.
- Criminal Docket Episode #52, released Sept. 19, 2017
- Pending State Legislation
- Priority Federal Legislation
National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Program
- National Lawyers Guild Volunteer Lawyer Contacts – To donate your services, contact the nearest chapter. If you don’t find one in your area, please email the NLG Mass Defense Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Know Your Rights
- CNN: If you're planning to take part in protests, know your rights. Read this. by Scottie Andrew (June 3, 2020)
- ACLU: Know Your Rights: Protesters’ Rights
- Electronic Frontier Foundation: Digital Security Tips for Protesters by Bill Budington (November 16, 2016)
- Electronic Frontier Foundation: Surveillance Self-Defense: Attending a Protest (June 2, 2020)
- First Amendment Watch, NYU: A Citizen's Guide to Recording the Police (June 2020)
Shuli Carroll, National Affairs Associate
Phone: (202) 465-7638
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