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Power the Civil Rights Work of Our Time

     Each day members of our community are experiencing wage theft, the effects of gentrification, discriminatory policing, collateral consequences, marginalization in schools, and barriers to public accommodations. 
     We fight alongside people facing the effects of gentrification like Amira Moore. Our work empowers the people and communities who need it most, “We can do more than we think. There’s a path to equity, we just have to step to it.” –Ms. Moore
     For more than 50 years, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee has been on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights in our community. We deploy the best legal talent, we tackle the tough cases, we fight, and we win. 
     Our work is as important today as it has ever been. Through your support, you can play a role in creating justice for thousands of marginalized members of our community. Together, we will dismantle injustice and pursue lasting change.
     Join us! Donate & subscribe: https://www.washlaw.org/support-us
     Volunteer with us: https://www.washlaw.org/get-involved/
     For more information, contact Gregg Kelley at Gregg_Kelley@washlaw.org​

Justice Dept. Drops Subpoena
Seeking USA Today Readers

     The Justice Department withdrew its subpoena this month that ordered media organization USA Today to turn over records that identify readers of a story about a Feb. 2 shootout in Florida that killed two FBI agents and injured three others.
     The FBI was trying to track down a child sexual exploitation offender for reasons it did not explain. The agency withdrew the subpoena after finding the suspect through other means.
     "Being forced to tell the government who reads what on our websites is a clear violation of the First Amendment," USA Today publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth said in a statement. "The FBI's subpoena asks for private information about readers of our journalism."
     She also called the subpoena surprising considering President Joe Biden’s recent statements condemning law enforcement investigations directed at the media.
     Gunfire erupted at the Sunrise, Fla. apartment while FBI agents served a subpoena on a man suspected of possessing child pornography. They found him through his IP address.
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D.C. in Brief

Legal Briefs

We Could Use Your Help

     Thousands of DC residents need a lawyer, but can’t afford one. They could be illegally evicted from their homes, lose custody of their children, experience domestic violence, and more, all because they lack legal representation. 
      You could make a difference. By making a donation to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, you will provide free, high-quality, zealous legal representation to low-income DC residents. Click the photo above to make a donation today. 
      Your support could prevent homelessness, domestic violence, hunger, or family separation. In fact, if just 10 people who see this ad give $28 to Legal Aid, it will be enough to staff an experienced attorney at the courthouse for a day.
      That way, DC residents like Keith King (pictured above) can get the legal representation they need to win their cases. As Mr. King put it, if it wasn’t for his Legal Aid lawyer, “I would have been homeless again.”
     Here is the link to the Legal Aid website for donations: https://www.legalaiddc.org/donate-to-legal-aid/

     For more information, contact Rob Pergament at Legal Aid at rpergament@legalaiddc.org

    The Legal Forum welcomes letters to the editor at tramstack@gmail.com, which will be published here.

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Latest News

D.C. Mayor Announces Grants
To Discourage Gun Violence

     Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) last week announced the District of Columbia’s response to a rising tide of gun violence with a $750,000 grant program to promote public safety.
     The Building Blocks D.C. program is directing the money at neighborhoods where the violence has been worst. April 14 was the start date for applications.
     Persons who develop activities to promote public safety will be eligible for grants as high as $5,000. Organizations could get as much as $50,000 for restorative justice efforts, neighborhood restoration and community engagement.
     Homicides in Washington reached a 16-year high in 2020. High levels of violence continue this year in the Washington area and nationwide.
     Like for much of the United States, psychologists believe a contributing factor is frustration and depression brought upon by the COVID-19 quarantine​.

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Maryland Restricts Police Use
Of Consumer Genealogy Websites

     A new law scheduled to take effect Oct. 1 will make Maryland one of the first states to limit police use of popular websites and databases that track genealogy through DNA testing.
     Police in Maryland, the District of Columbia and elsewhere have used sites like 23andMe and AncestryDNA to make arrests in heinous cold crimes that sometimes are decades old. Sometimes the only evidence consisted of trace amounts of DNA evidence that had not been linked to anyone previously.
    Recently, the tests have been facing complaints about privacy. A single test could lead to as many as 300 people with similar DNA profiles, according to research published in the journal Science.
     The people could be located through state databases, which is banned under the new law.
     Maryland police still can use geneaology websites but only if all other investigatory methods fail and a judge supervises the procedure for compliance with due process.
     Continue Reading

Senate Confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson
To U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit

     The Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit this week in what could be a move for her toward the Supreme Court.
     Jackson, 50, was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by President Barack Obama in 2013. She won easy confirmation in the Senate.
     The nomination by President Joe Biden fulfills part of his pledge to appoint more women and minorities to the federal bench. He also said he wanted to be the first president to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, which puts Jackson on his short list.
     Jackson was born in Washington, D.C. but raised in Florida. She attended Harvard Law School, where she was editor of the law review.
     Prior to becoming a federal judge in 2013, Jackson worked in private legal practice and as a federal public defender. She served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2010 until 2014, where she participated in guideline revisions that reduced sentences for some crack cocaine offenses.
      Among her most notable rulings:
      - On November 23, 2018, Jackson held that 40 lawsuits based on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 should be brought in Malaysia.
     - On September 4, 2019, in Center for Biological Diversity v. McAleenan, Jackson held that Congress had stripped federal courts of authority to hear environmental challenges to the Trump administration’s construction of a wall along the Mexican border.


Mexican Drug Kingpin’s Wife
Pleads Guilty in D.C. Court

     The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 15 after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to drug trafficking and money laundering charges.
     Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, pleaded guilty last week after assisting her husband to run the murderous Sinaloa Cartel.
     She was arrested Feb. 15 at Dulles International Airport as she entered the United States for a trip unrelated to drug activities.
     Her husband is serving a life plus 30 years prison term on charges that include murder, money laundering, drug trafficking, racketeering and organized crime. He was sentenced two years ago to serve his prison term at a supermax facility in Florence, Colorado after escaping twice from Mexican prisons.
     In 2016, Guzman’s net worth from his international crime syndicate was estimated between $2 billion and $4 billion.
     His wife is accused of helping Guzman in his last escape from a Mexican prison in 2015. She also acted as a go-between and courier for some of his drug deals.
     Coronel, a dual Mexican and American citizen, is a former beauty queen known for her flair with fashion. During her guilty plea last week, she wore a green jail uniform and spoke through an interpreter.
     She was charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine for importation into the United States; conspiracy to launder monetary instruments; and violating the Kingpin Act by engaging in illegal transactions on behalf of her husband.
     She could face life imprisonment.