Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center
NEWS: Thousands of arrestees presumed innocent and eligible for pretrial release are being kept in Cook County Jail solely because they cannot afford to pay the amount of bail set by circuit court judges — a clear violation of their right to pretrial liberty and other constitutional rights, according to a class action lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Details HERE »
The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center is a public interest law firm founded in 1985 by the family of J. Roderick MacArthur to advocate for human rights and social justice through litigation. The MacArthur Justice Center became part of Northwestern University School of Law's Bluhm Legal Clinic in 2006. As one of the premier civil rights organizations in the United States, the MacArthur Justice Center has led battles against myriad civil rights injustices, including police misconduct (leading the charge to appoint a special prosecutor in the Jon Burge torture cases in Chicago), executions (helping to abolish the Illinois death penalty), fighting for the rights of the indigent in the criminal justice system, and winning multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for the wrongfully convicted.
The MacArthur Justice Center has been at the forefront of challenges to the detention of terrorism suspects without trial or access to the courts. MacArthur Justice Center lawyers have appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court to argue for the rights of detainees.
"We are outraged when the rule of law is abandoned in favor of expediency," says Center Executive Director Locke Bowman. "And so we fight for the rights of folks whose voices don't get heard in the criminal justice system. We're concerned about people on death row, about people accused of crimes but who cannot afford lawyers, about folks who are innocent and must be compensated for the time they wrongly spent in prison."
Students are involved in nearly every case the MacArthur Justice Center takes. They serve on litigation teams, conduct and apply legal research, and plan next steps to advance litigation. Some cases, such as wrongful conviction compensation cases, are complex; involving lengthy pre-trial process, motion practice, written discovery, depositions, and, sometimes, a trial. Students gain first-hand experience in court, and in certain instances, get opportunities to make presentations to a Federal judge.