History

Over the past 70+ years, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Lawyers Guild has been involved in many high- profile political and legal battles.

Early battles

  • We represented the 17 Mexican American defendants in the infamous and racist Sleeping Lagoon murder trial in 1942.
  • We defended the Hollywood Ten, Hollywood writers and directors called before the House Un­American Activities Committee in 1949, during the McCarthy witch­hunt/red scare era.

1960s-1980s

  • In general, along the way we’ve secured permits for, and legally monitored, more political protests than we can quickly count; defended a great many of those arrested in such protests; won victories for the Car Wash Workers and Loncheros; defended in the streets and in the courts the DREAMERS movement, and secured permits for, and defended, the workers and immigrants rights marches that take place every May Day in L.A.;
  • are fighting against efforts to silence dissent on the campuses of the University of California around the issue of Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people;
  • created the Bill Smith Military Resistance Project through which we forced the L.A. School Board to change its policy regarding how it treats the results of Army administered aptitude tests, and have provided information to countless numbers of high school students on the lies military recruiters tell;
  • forced the police department of the City of L.A. to reform its seizure and impound policy with respect to cars driven by immigrants without valid California driver’s licenses;
  • defended those in Los Angeles who have protested various killings of black youth by police around the country;
  • hosted periodic MCLEs on issues of interest to public interest lawyers;
    currently defending the thousands of Street Cart Vendors who, in the face of persistent harassment by the police and the wrongful confiscation of their property, are seeking legalization;
  • have created an Immigration Court Watch Program that monitors and reports on the great many due process abuses experienced by immigrants in Immigration Court proceedings;
  • are fighting for the rights of the homeless on multiple fronts; and

1990s-Present

  • The L.A. Chapter was the only legal defense organization in town that supported and demanded a fair trial for those falsely accused of beating Reginald Denny in the course of the 1992 racial uprising in L.A.
    for the past 26 years have hosted The Lawyers Guild Show, a weekly public affairs show heard each Thursday from 3:00­4:00 p.m. on KPFK, 90.7 FM.s about the NLG followed by NLG-LA facts.
  • California Summer 1994. Inspired by our work thirty years earlier in the South on behalf of the civil rights movement, this L.A. Chapter project brought nearly 200 lawyers and law students to Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere in California to volunteer with groups fighting for affirmative action, immigrants rights, against police brutality and on behalf of other progressive causes.
  • During the 2000 Democratic Party National Convention in Los Angeles, hundreds of innocent protesters, as well as many Guild legal observers, were brutalized by the LAPD, being struck with truncheons and rubber bullets during otherwise peaceful protests. Initially, our Chapter went to court to secure the right of the protest rallies to take place immediately across from the convention hall. We then provided legal observers for all of the marches and rallies, and in the wake of the massive police brutality during the protests, ultimately sued the City for millions of dollars and affirmative relief, and won!
  • After the LAPD engaged in massive acts of brutality against pro-­immigrant rights protesters in Mac Arthur Park in 2007, we sued the City and again secured a huge settlement.
  • In 2014, we initially secured the use of the lawn at City Hall for the Occupy Movement in L.A.; monitored and provided legal counsel to Occupy LA during its entire time in operation; and, defended the hundreds arrested when the Occupy LA encampment was finally broken up.