Morrison & Foerster’s history of advocating for individual victims of police brutality and fighting for sweeping criminal justice policy reform goes back decades. Taking on pro bono cases in this area is part of the fabric of our firm, thanks in large part to MoFo partner and trial titan Arturo González.
During his 35-year tenure at the firm, Arturo has worked on more than 100 pro bono cases, many of which have been civil rights cases resulting in meaningful changes to the policies and procedures practiced by law enforcement and government agencies. Because of his vast experience in this area of the law, we wanted to get his thoughts on the current state of policing and civil misconduct in the United States.
In this MoFo Perspectives podcast, moderated by MoFo litigation partner Alexis Amezcua, Arturo speaks about his experience handling these cases, in addition to the important policy reforms that he’s pushed for, and what he thinks needs to happen to establish true equality in the eyes of the law.
In light of the ongoing events surrounding the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Morrison & Foerster has been mobilizing its resources to help put an end to episodes of police brutality racial injustice, like the police custody killing of George Floyd.
In May, MoFo Chair Larren Nashelsky addressed the firm, pledging that “We will not be casual observers to injustice. We will do more, and we will do it together.” Taking up this call to action, MoFo’s Diversity Strategy Committee, Diversity + Inclusion team, and firm leadership created four firmwide engagement committees organized around the areas of need identified in Larren’s message, including education, community action, legal services to support racial justice, and charitable giving through The MoFo Foundation.
On Monday, June 8, 2020, Larren led over 30 leaders of major New York-based law firms in writing to Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature, urging the repeal of Section 50-a of the state’s Civil Rights Law—an immense barrier to police misconduct accountability.
Another recent effort with far-reaching consequences was led by San Diego litigators Suzy Marinkovich and Ben Kagel, who were successful in getting their client’s name removed from California’s controversial gang member database managed by the San Diego Police Department—commonly known as “CalGang.” Their petition was one of the first filed under a recently enacted California statute that permits residents to legally contest their entry into this database.
Currently, Los Angeles litigators Wendy Ray, Andrew Stanley, Maggie Buckles, and Alison Frost are representing a client in an excessive force action against the Los Angeles Police Department. The client, who was unarmed and was not resisting arrest, was shot several times in his wrist and arm—after being asked to raise his hands—causing permanent nerve damage and scarring. The trial is set to take place in September 2020.
These are just a few examples of how MoFo has been actively engaging with the community and our nonprofit partners to fight back against racial and criminal injustice—a fight we plan to continue until we see real and lasting change.
Listen to the full podcast:
Learn more about how MoFo is responding to racial injustice.