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In the Belly of the Beast: Criminal Justice Impact Litigation in the Deep South

September 28, 2022

12:30 pm - 1:15 pm

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WCC; 2009 Classroom

Join OPIA for a community discussion with Wasserstein Fellow Mercedes Montagnes HLS ‘09, Founder and Executive Director of the Promise of Justice Initiative, in which she will discuss the benefits and risks of using impact litigation as a tool to create positive change for people in the criminal legal system. We will explore litigation as one tool and how community organizing, direct services, and other strategies can be used in parallel with litigation to end the death penalty, challenge conditions of confinement, expose prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, and fight racism. Rooted in New Orleans, Mercedes will also discuss the implications of being placed based versus national in your scope of practice.

Lunch provided. RSVP below.

Mercedes Montagnes is the Executive Director of The Promise of Justice Initiative. Her first impact litigation case challenged the alarming heat conditions on Death Row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, otherwise known as Angola. Today, her litigation team is tackling a myriad of issues ranging from medical care to over detention. In addition to leading the litigation team, Mercedes oversees the projects at PJI. In the last year, this has included designing and building a project looking at forced labor in Louisiana called the End Plantation Prisons Project, building Louisiana Survivors for Reform- a groups of justice minded survivors, and coordinating litigation and policy responses to Hurricane Ida for those in prisons and jails throughout the state. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Carl Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana and Chief Judge Roger Gregory on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

If you or an event participant requires disability-related accommodations, please contact HLS Accessibility Services at two weeks in advance of the event.


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September 28, 2022, 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm

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