About Us

Who We Are

Sheila Bedi, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center Attorney

Prior to joining the Justice Center team in September 2012, Bedi served as the deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center in New Orleans where she represented people who are imprisoned in federal class action litigation challenging abusive prison conditions and worked on policy campaigns aimed at reducing incarceration rates and reforming criminal and juvenile justice systems. Issues she has worked on during her legal career include sexual abuse and violence in prisons and jails, access to counsel for indigent defendants and for individuals who are imprisoned, and the development of alternatives to prison. She also served as the executive director of the Justice Policy Institute, a think tank and advocacy group focused on reducing reliance on incarceration, in Washington, DC. Some of her honors include the 2010 The Peter M. Cicchino Award for Outstanding Advocacy in the Public Interest and the 2007 Fannie Lou Hamer Award. Bedi received her LLM from Georgetown University Law Center; her JD, cum laude, from American University; and her BA from Michigan State University.

Locke E. Bowman, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center Director and Clinical Associate Professor

Locke Bowman believes "that our principal role, in addition to being teachers and lawyers, is to be public advocates. We have a remarkable opportunity as clinical teachers to expose students to new ideas, to new ways of thinking about the legal system. We have a responsibility to be leaders in our community."  Bowman has handled a variety of civil and criminal litigation, including police misconduct litigation, civil suits seeking damages for the wrongfully convicted, cases about the rights of the media in the criminal justice system, suits seeking resources for indigent criminal defendants, firearms control litigation and suits on a variety of other topics. Bowman was named an Illinois "Super Lawyer" in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 for his work in constitutional law and civil rights. He also is a recipient of the "First Defender Award," presented by the First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA) annually  to someone who has helped to advance the cause of providing effective representation to indigent persons in the criminal justice system; the "Citizens Alert Rev. Willie Baker Award, given by Citizens Alert for contributions toward community justice; the Clarence Darrow Award, given by the Clarence Darrow Commemorative Committee for leadership efforts to reform the death penalty system; and the Illinois Public Defender Association Award for Excellence and Meritorious Service, among other awards and honors.

David J. Bradford, founding attorney of the MacArthur Justice Center

A senior partner in the Chicago law firm Jenner & Block, and general counsel to the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, Bradford has successfully litigated death penalty cases in trial, post-conviction, and federal habeas corpus proceedings. In 1997, he taught a seminar on habeas corpus and death penalty jurisprudence at the University of Chicago Law School, from which he graduated cum laude in 1976. He clerked for Judge Alvin B. Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit before joining Jenner & Block, where he specializes in complex litigation.

Joseph Margulies, Assistant Director of the MacArthur Justice Center and Clinical Associate Professor

A renowned civil rights and capital defense attorney, Margulies has represented scores of death row inmates around the country, and currently is lead counsel for four detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in Rasul et al. v. Bush et al. In May 2005, the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights awarded Margulies with the Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Award for his outstanding work in the human rights arena, particularly his work on post-9/11 civil liberties litigation, including challenging indefinite detention policies at Guantanamo Bay.

David Shapiro, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center Attorney

Shapiro joined the Justice Center in October 2012 after working as a staff attorney for the ACLU's National Prison Project. During his time with the ACLU, Shapiro represented a monthly journal on legal issues involving prisoners, obtaining what is believed to be the largest award ever in a case involving censorship by a prison or jail. Shapiro also led the first major challenge to Communication Management Units, a new type of federal prison unit designed to radically limit the communications of federal prisoners suspected of links to terrorism. He has also worked for the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, in Washington, DC, and clerked for the late Hon. Edward R. Becker, Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia. Shapiro received his JD from Yale Law School, and his BA, summa cum laude, from Harvard College. Shapiro also studied in Russia as a Fulbright Scholar.

Alexa Van Brunt, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center Attorney and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law

Since 2010, Van Brunt has served as an attorney on the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center team working on key cases including litigating on behalf of victims of the Jon Burge police torture scandal, and bringing suits to address such issues as conflicts of interest within the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the violation of prisoners’ rights in Illinois correctional facilities. Van Brunt also instructs teams of students in the Justice Center’s civil rights litigation clinic and manages their participation as junior counsel on the Center’s cases. Prior to joining the Justice Center, she clerked for the Hon. Myron Thompson, U.S. District Court – Middle District of Alabama. Van Brunt received her JD, with distinction, from Stanford Law School, and her BA, magna cum laude, from Brown University.

Founding of the MacArthur Justice Center

The following is adapted from a longer article about J. Roderick MacArthur, founder of the MacArthur Justice Center, that appeared in the August 1984 issue of Chicago Lawyer, shortly before Mr. MacArthur's death.

If J. Roderick MacArthur weren't J. Roderick MacArthur, he would be a good candidate for one of those genius grants his father's foundation gives out. Everyone agrees he is a genius—mad genius, say his critics.

Not only is Rod MacArthur, 63, the son of a billionaire, he also is a self-made multimillionaire. He made his money in just a little more than a decade in the collector's plate business.

MacArthur is the genius behind the Bradford Exchange, "the world's largest trading center for limited-edition collector's plates, the most widely traded art form."

The Bradford Exchange, in north suburban Niles, looks like a miniature New York Stock Exchange. It has a computerized "instaquote" trading system that "handles more than 11,000 transactions each business day."

The genius of the Bradford Exchange is that it establishes an orderly secondary market for this "art form," which MacArthur happens to be heavily into producing and selling. His plate sales in 1983 totaled about $90 million.

Using some of the profits, he established the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, with assets currently of about $22 million. Known as "Little Mac," as opposed to "Big Mac," its purpose is "to foster democracy" by helping persons "who are inequitably treated by established institutions."

One of Little Mac's principal beneficiaries is the American Civil Liberties Union, which honored MacArthur recently with its Roger Baldwin Award for supporting human rights causes worldwide.

In accepting, MacArthur, who is dying of cancer, told the group that at one time he thought civil liberties were important just because they guaranteed the survival of antiestablishment viewpoints.

"But now I believe I was wrong," he said. "Civil liberties are really more than that. They are really ends in themselves. They are part of what makes us personally human with human integrity. They need no further justification. Standing up for civil liberties is simply part of our loyalty to our human race."

After thanking the ACLU and everyone present, he concluded: "I know you know that my time is short. I wish I could be with you, shoulder to shoulder, in all the coming battles. But I have to be content with our footprints briefly mingling on the line of march. There is much to do. I am reassured by the knowledge that any empty ranks I and others leave will be filled by those who believe that civil liberties are not just a means but the essence of ourselves as humans."

© 1984, Chicago Lawyer, All Rights Reserved

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