Demosprudence on Trial: Ethics for Movement Lawyers, in Ferguson and Beyond
Demosprudence on Trial: Ethics for Movement Lawyers, in Ferguson and Beyond
Justin Hansford 0
0 Saint Louis Univeristy School of Law
Recommended Citation Justin Hansford, Demosprudence on Trial: Ethics for Movement Lawyers, in Ferguson and Beyond, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 2057 (2017). Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol85/iss5/7
We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted
by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose
deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this
atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops
corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices
matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.1
A complex, dynamic, and creative tension endures between law and
social movements. Not only can law affect and even help form social
movements, but social movements can affect and even help form law. In
“Changing the Wind: Notes Toward a Demosprudence of Law and Social
Movements,” Professors Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres describe how
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg engaged the law in the fight for equal pay for
women.2 For nineteen years, Lilly Ledbetter, a seventy-year-old
grandmother, put on her overalls and went to work as a supervisor at a
Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Alabama.3 She did this even though she
made up to 40 percent less than her male counterparts. When she later
sued, a trial court awarded her millions in punitive damages and back pay.
However, in 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the damage award on
a technicality.4 Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench. The dissent
* Associate Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law. I would like to thank
the editors of the Fordham Law Review for their timely and professional work in helping to
bring this article to fruition. Special thanks to Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center
for providing the support for this project and also to Titilayo Rasaki, Ambur Smith, Imelme
Umana, and Richard Marsico for providing research assistance. This Article is part of a
colloquium entitled Civil Litigation Ethics at a Time of Vanishing Trials held at Fordham
University School of Law. For an overview of the colloquium, see Judith Resnik, Lawyers’
Ethics Beyond the Vanishing Trial: Unrepresented Claimants, De Facto Aggregations,
Arbitration Mandates, and Privatized Processes, 85 FORDHAM L. REV. 1899 (2017).
legitimized the claims made by the movement for women’s rights, inspiring
them to press forward even in the face of this Supreme Court loss. The
ongoing, determined activism of the women’s rights movement resulted in
the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act two years later.5 The Act
eliminated the technicality that denied Ledbetter her damage award.6
In her dissent in Utah v. Strieff,7 I believe that Justice Sotomayor sought
to similarly legitimize and inspire the Black Lives Matter movement. For at
least three years, the movement has thrust narratives of race and the law to
the forefront of American democratic debate. Most are familiar with the
tragic death narratives of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown,
Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and Aiyana Jones. However, fewer people
know that prosecutorial discretion,8 racial profiling,9 and use of force10
jurisprudence has provided the legal infrastructure that allows for the
violence to go unpunished. To this day, no national legal victory has
pierced a hole in this structure; even attacking the problem in structural
terms has been outlawed.11
Reform has seemed imminent only in a closely related legal regime
involving money bail and debtors’ prisons. A white paper from the Saint
Louis based ArchCity Defenders helped to focus the nation’s attention on
the harsh ticketing racket through which municipal governments meet their
budget goals via ultraenforcement of minor quality of life laws and
escalating fees.12 The Department of Justice’s investigation of the
Ferguson Police Department also demonstrated that the ultraenforcement
targeted the least powerful and marginalized communities that lack the
social and political capital necessary to consistently defend themselves13—
Black and poor communities like the section of Ferguson where Mike
Brown lived.14 This dynamic played a role in the community outrage that
led everyday people to stand up to the physical death brought upon Mike
Brown, which then sparked the movement.
(2007), superseded by statute, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Pub. L. No. 111-2, 123 Stat. 5
5. Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Pub. L. No. 111-2, 123 Stat. 5.
7. 136 S. Ct. 2056 (2016).
8. See generally Armstrong v. United States, 517 U.S. 45 (1996).
9. See generally Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996).
10. See generally Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985).
11. See generally McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987).
12. THOMAS HARVEY ET AL., ARCHCITY DEFENDERS, MUNICIPAL COURTS WHITE PAPER
13. Press Release, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Justice Department Announces Findings of
Two Civil Rights Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri (Mar. 4, 2015),
14. As with the names for other cultures, ethnicities, and groups of people, I capitalize
“Black” when referring to people of the African diaspora. See generally Lori L. Tharps, The
Case for Black with a Capital B, N.Y. TIMES (Nov. 18, 2014), https://www.nytimes.com/
Consider the story of Qiana Williams, a thirty-seven-year-old single
mother and long-time resident of St. Louis.15 She got her first ticket for
driving without a license when she was nineteen. She went to jail because
she could not afford to pay the $250 bond.16 Since then, she has suffered
the reoccurring nightmare of the jail carousel, trapped in a spiral of unpaid
tickets, warrants, and ever-increasing fines. She could not pay these debts
because of her low income. She wanted to go to college and lift herself out
of this spiral, but she was arrested for unpaid traffic tickets just twelve
credits shy of obtaining her degree.17 On one occasion, she was assaulted
by an ex-boyfriend, and when the officers arrived, they asked her to step
outside to identify the perpetrator. Once outside, she was arrested on an
outstanding warrant stemming from parking tickets.18 The man who
assaulted her was released. She was (wrongly) told that she could not press
charges with an outstanding warrant.
Although the state has yet to kill Qiana Williams physically, the type of
social death that she experiences limits her capacity to experience the full
measure of American citizenship and arguably has roots in the social stigma
of race that arose from the period of enslavement that her ancestors
endured.19 The lifelong stigma of criminalization that the state has visited
upon her on relatively trivial grounds could affect her prospects for
employment, housing, voting rights, health care, and, as demonstrated
above, even her capacity to assert her rights to her own bodily integrity
became jeopardized. In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander describes
how in the aftermath of enslavement, the rebirth of caste emerged when
criminal status took root as a surrogate method of creating second class
citizenship.20 Williams’s story demonstrates how racialized targeting and
hyperenforcement of minor infractions can devastate communities.
Municipal governments use the profits from the tickets to get rich, at the
expense of everyday people.
This Fordham Law Review colloquium addresses the question of how
civil litigation ethics should respond in a time of vanishing trials. For those
of us deeply interested in the potential of social movements to create change
and create law, certain questions predominate: How does the vanishing
trial affect social movements? How does the movement lawyer adapt?
How will it affect our ability to help Qiana Williams or get justice for Mike
This Article suggests that although civil litigation remains a viable tool,
the vanishing trial has limited impact on movement lawyers because we can
use the law to promote social change outside of the courtroom. The
demosprudence framework helps us to understand this process.21 By
applying this framework to the movement lawyering context, movement
lawyers can adapt to the void in voice created by the vanishing trial in civil
litigation and still help the movement.
Part I of this Article outlines the scholarly debate surrounding the
capacity of civil litigation to produce social change. Tradition suggests that
litigation-based strategies for social change represent a “hollow hope.” A
more optimistic line of argument has recently suggested that we should
consider the positive indirect impact that movement lawyers can have on
social movements and democratic debate. Demosprudence provides an
alternative entry point to the more optimistic line. Part II seeks to glean
ethical principles from the demosprudence framework. It asks, “What
ethical and professional principles may help movement lawyers avoid the
ethical pitfalls that await movement lawyers who seek to promote
demosprudence in their movements?” Analyzing Guinier and Torres’s
work from an ethical lens, I offer a simple three-part framework for ethical
demosprudential lawyering in social movements. In Part III, I explore how
the demosprudential movement lawyering work done in Ferguson by civil
litigators on the debtors’ prisons issue shows how, even in the time of
vanishing trials, social movement lawyers can engage in work that meets
our highest professional ideals.
The movement will be led by the inspiration of the grassroots, and
knowledge workers like lawyers will often play a follower’s role. That can
involve different tasks. Sometimes lawyers can do more for the movement
than guide activists through the quotidian tinctures of legal procedure.
Sometimes lawyers can engage in conceptualizing how the movement itself
can change the theory and content of the law, expanding “the horizon of the
possible and sustainable.”22 Sometimes the tasks turn inward, and engaging
in self-reflection on how to best support the movement in light of changing
realities in the profession becomes movement work. This Article hopes to
support self-reflection for movement lawyers so that they can become
In light of recent electoral realities, it seems that now more than ever,
activists will turn away from lobbying federal executive and legislative
branch officials for racial reform, leaving civil litigation as one of the last
21. Demosprudence is “the study of the dynamic equilibrium of power between
lawmaking and social movements”; it “focuses on the legitimating effects of democratic
action to produce social, legal, and cultural change.” Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at
22. Id. at 2752.
bastions of possibility—an avenue which has had some success.23 I hope
this short Article can make a contribution in the effort to accomplish the
movement’s objectives, the vanishing trial notwithstanding.
I. SCHOLARLY DEBATES
ON LAWYERING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Part I.A addresses the nature of the link between civil litigation and
social movements as either causation or a conversation. Part I.B then
addresses another approach to lawyering for social change: the lawyer’s
role as a promoter of demosprudence.
A. Causation or Conversation?
The debate has endured for decades and could constitute an entire field of
study itself. How can lawyers best promote social movements? Does civil
litigation promote social change? The civil litigation campaign that
culminated in Brown v. Board of Education,24 has served as the launching
site for this argument. Legal historians note that because of interposition
and nullification by southern lawmakers, Brown had almost no immediate
direct impact on desegregation and indeed provoked immediate backlash.25
During the first decade, only 2.3 percent of Black children attended
integrated public schools.26 Significant integration followed only after the
grassroots activism that culminated with the civil rights movement, forcing
lawmakers to seek to fulfill the promises of Brown.27
In the shadow of Brown and the subsequent half century of debate, legal
scholars have formulated a number of arguments that support either the
pessimistic view or the optimistic view of the role of the courts in social
change. The arguments range from the practical to the theoretical to the
institutional to the jurisprudential.28 On the pessimistic side, scholars have
expressed both pragmatic and ideological concerns. For instance, some
have argued that civil litigation (
) is slow and difficult to enforce29 and (
drains a movement’s financial resources for uncertain results.30 Others
argue that civil litigation (
) frames movement demands to identify with
claims of inherently liberal rights that fit within the universe of existing
jurisprudence and (
) is limited by the conservative judicial temperament
that hesitates to depart from stare decisis, breeding fidelity to the very status
quo being challenged. The most prominent of these theories emerged from
the scholarship of political scientist Gerald Rosenberg, who wrote The
Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?31
Other scholars take a more expansive view of the role of civil litigation in
social change.32 They note that civil litigation has (
) attracted financial
resources from those who want to donate to the legal effort, (
legitimization for the movement’s agenda, and (
) opened up new claims
and cultivated friendly venues and good precedent for future litigation.33
For example, during the 1990s, civil litigators unleashed a largely
successful offense against the harmful effects of tobacco.34 The tobacco
litigation at the trial level did not shift precedent at the appellate level. But
by providing new analogies and applying facts to doctrine in new ways, the
creativity of the trial lawyers in the tobacco litigation led to social change
by shrinking the social space occupied by big tobacco.35
Both the Brown and the tobacco litigation campaigns sought to create
social change through civil litigation.36 They had varying measures of
success. Although Brown may not have had significant direct effects on
desegregation prior to the direct action that motivated integration and
busing, the decision laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement and
contributed to an eventual shift in the hearts and minds of citizens around
the country, stoking the groundswell of support needed to create the
movement’s infrastructure.37 Taking a second look at Brown through the
lens of demosprudence theory suggests that, like the tobacco litigation,
provoking “mass conversation” can, in turn, lead to mass change.38 In this
case, the bracing effect on the nascent civil rights activists of the Brown
decision would set in motion circumstances that made the country
Demosprudence represents a philosophical commitment to the
lawmaking force of meaningful participatory democracy.39 According to
Guinier, we should not limit our focus to how law affects social movements
directly, as reflected in the issuance of a judicial order or a direct line of
causation, but we should remember the power of social movements to make
law, interpret law, and change law indirectly through sparking
conversation. The persuasive rulings of lower courts and international
human rights courts, for example, work in this manner. By interpreting the
law in new ways, movements can then perform functions similar to the
functions that any of these persuasive authorities would perform.40
Guinier “envisions law and politics as continuously in dialogue. Law
inspires and provokes the claims of politically engaged agents, as it
simultaneously emerges from these claims.”41 For Guinier, “[i]t is not
essential . . . that courts ‘cause’ changes in public opinion. It is only
essential that courts are one voice within the national discussion.”42
Demosprudence moves us away from the question of whether civil
litigation causes good or bad legal precedent for social movements and
shifts us away from a focus on judicial rulings. Demosprudence mobilizes
law in a way that improves the quality of our dialogue. The complex
notions of justice that people in grassroots communities articulate, often
without the burden of academic or legalistic jargon, can be enriched by the
conversation begun by civil litigation conducted with an eye toward
demosprudence. One scholar describes Guinier’s position in this manner:
“Most persons would think it odd to say that the only important aspects of
conversations with friends are those that result in quantifiable changes in
measurable opinions. . . . [W]hat matters is the texture and substance of
dialogue.”43 In other words, the legitimizing effect of a lawsuit, successful
or unsuccessful,44 may not bring any more of an immediate tangible result
than a statement of support from a Nobel Peace Prize winner would in
39. Id. at 553 n.97.
40. See generally Robert Cover, Violence and the Word, 95 YALE L.J. 1601 (1986)
(discussing the power of legal interpretation).
41. Robert Post, Law Professors and Political Scientists: Observations on the
Law/Politics Distinction in the Guinier/Rosenberg Debate, 89 B.U. L. REV. 581, 581 (2009).
42. Id. at 584–85.
43. Id. at 585.
44. NeJaime, supra note 37, at 969 (describing that a movement can benefit from “two
internal movement effects of litigation loss: (
) [l]oss may help a specific organization stake
out an identity in a competitive social movement by committing itself to a meaningful issue
susceptible to judicial rejection; and (
) loss may contribute to mobilization and fundraising
by inspiring outrage and signaling the need for continued activism in light of courts’ failure
to act,” as well as “two external effects of litigation loss: (
) [l]oss may prompt advocates to
shift more attention and resources to other law-making institutions, but it may do so in a way
that allows advocates to carve out a specific need for action by other state actors; and (
advocates may use loss to appeal to the public by encouraging citizens to rein in an ‘activist,’
terms of immediate concrete gains for the movement. Even so, such a
statement would embolden movement activists and provide a sense of
gravitas to the political debate.
B. Demosprudence Through Narrative
The demosprudential approach emphasizes public dialogue and
conversation. Consequently, it shifts the focus from the lawyers and the
laws to the issues and ideas being debated.45 According to Guinier,
“Demosprudents examine the collective expressions of resistance (whether
through counter-narratives or paradigm-shifting mobilizations) that test the
democratic content of the formal institutions of lawmaking.”46
Paradigmshifting mobilizations are not under the lawyers’ purview, but lawyers can
contribute to the production of counternarratives as expressions of
Narratives provide the lifeblood of the law, as well as the lifeblood of
social movements. Clients construct narratives to share what happened in
their lives to trial lawyers in order to prepare the case. Trial lawyers tell
their clients stories about the law in order to inform them of their rights.
Litigators then tell stories through pretrial submissions to the judge and
again in opening statements and testimony to juries. Judges and jurors
retell stories to themselves and each other through jury instructions and
deliberations and certify one or another narrative through the issuance of a
verdict or a judicial opinion. Journalists tell the story of what happened to
the public.48 A trial is a competition of stories, and the best story wins.49
The phenomenon of the vanishing trial does not portend the end of
stories in the law. In some ways, a trial introduces barriers to the
presentation of narrative that the vanishing trial will eliminate. At trial, any
witness’s narrative will have to face cross-examination. Narratives
provided by one side will usually be contradicted by opposing counsel
during cross-examination. Narratives crafted for trial are often winnowed
down to the essentials for the purpose of surviving objections. Elements of
the story that are perhaps not legally important, but important for other
reasons, disappear from the retelling. Court-focused narrative must be
designed to survive objections and cross-examination, not to move the
Outside of the courtroom, stories lawyers tell continue to have legal
impact. Lawyers tell stories during settlement negotiation with opposing
counsel. In the social movement context, the story told to the public that
allows them to identify with the case may determine whether the settlement
45. Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2753 (describing demosprudential lawyering
practice as “a transformative process [that] depends upon a participatory, power-sharing
46. Id. at 2755.
48. ANTHONY G. AMSTERDAM & JEROME BRUNER, MINDING THE LAW 117 (2000).
49. See generally David Luban, Difference Made Legal: The Court and Dr. King, 87
MICH. L. REV. 2152 (1989) (discussing how storytelling influences legal outcomes).
benefits from outside pressure from activists. The story told to the public
allows them to identify the case as a movement story.
Broader cultural narratives also migrate into the legal environment and
may influence outcomes. One scholar has surmised that, during the half
century between Plessy v. Ferguson50 and Brown, the changing societal
narrative about race in the country benefitted from the proliferation of
narratives about Black life during the Harlem Renaissance.51 The literary
masterpieces of Zora Neale Hurston,52 Langston Hughes,53 Richard
Wright,54 Ann Petry,55 Claude McKay,56 and others helped to redefine the
narrative about Black people in at least the elite liberal imagination, perhaps
affecting the sympathies of the Supreme Court Justices in Brown.57
Critical race theory scholars have contributed greatly to legal discourse
by being among the first to privilege stories, particularly noting the power
of outsider narratives.58 Richard Delgado explained that we all have “stock
narratives” in our minds.59 Many of those stories include the stereotype of
the Black male as criminal, or the Latino as illegal immigrant, or the
Muslim as terrorist. Often the data do not back up the stereotypes.60 Still,
these narratives greatly impact the law and its application.
Well-crafted stories suspend our disbelief, pulling us into the drama.
Narratives help facilitate communication when people want listeners to see
the world from the standpoint of the oppressed.61 These stories that
contradict stock narratives are called “counternarratives.” They speak to
more than just an incident, they teach listeners lessons about society.
According to scholars, telling these stories works as a cure for silencing by
helping an outsider find his or her voice, as a way to combat embedded
preconceptions that marginalize outsiders and allocate suspicion, or as a
way to mobilize social movements.62 Some have asserted that it can
engender empathy in listeners.63 It is difficult to measure when a narrative
will engender empathy, but from the perspective of storytellers, I can say
that I have seen it engender dignity. When I provided representation for the
parents of Mike Brown and Ferguson protesters as they testified before the
United Nations during the periodic review of the Convention Against
Torture,64 I saw firsthand how the story of Mike Brown’s mother, forced to
stand outside in the sun and watch her child’s body lie on the ground for
over four hours, left officials from around the world visibly shaken. More
than any legal arguments, her narrative persuaded officials to note in their
concluding observations that racialized police violence in the United States
deserved to be noted as a possible violation of the convention.65
II. PRINCIPLES OF PROFESSIONAL
In “Changing the Wind,” Guinier and Torres demonstrate that a lawyer
can engage in either effective or ineffective, professional or unprofessional
demosprudential lawyering.66 They demonstrate this by giving examples of
both in the context of the civil rights movement. In this part, I try to glean a
framework from these examples, supplemented by my own experiences,
leading me to conclude that, to fulfill the ethical ideals of professionalism, a
demosprudential movement lawyer should aspire to maintain fidelity to
core movement principles, stay accountable to movement actors, and
promote client stories that function as public narrative.
In August of 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP)
challenged the right of the all-white segregationist Mississippi Democratic
Party (MDP) to represent the state of Mississippi at the Democratic
National Convention.67 The MDP would not allow Blacks to register,
locking the doors or moving to different locations when Blacks tried to
attend the precinct meetings.68 So the MFDP held its own convention with
nearly 2,500 attendees.69 It elected Lawrence Guyot as the chair, and
Fannie Lou Hamer as the vice chair.70 The activists then decided to go to
the Democratic National Convention.71 The activists were determined to
challenge the idea that a segregationist Democratic Party could represent
their interests without their participation.72
Most importantly, the MFDP made it clear that they did not just want a
seat on the floor of the convention. They wanted to “dispute the very
legitimacy by which the seats were allocated.”73 This point was a
nonnegotiable core movement principle for the MFDP. As Bob Moses,
field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a
key organizer of the MFDP, said at the time, “We’re not here to bring
politics to our morality but to bring morality to our politics.”74
A. Principle One: Fidelity to Core Movement Values
The MFDP lawyer, Joseph Rauh, was a Democratic Party insider who
did not clearly understand the principles of the MFDP.75 He was himself a
party delegate from the District of Columbia and assured the members of
the MFDP that the chances for being seated were excellent.76 He composed
a thorough, professional legal brief which cited twenty-six “credentials
contests” dating back to 1836, all of which had been resolved by
negotiation and splitting the difference.77 Although the MFDP asked Rauh
to take an uncompromising positon, he came back and expressed
enthusiasm for a compromise: two seats instead of a full, equal
representation.78 Rauh said, “[W]e’ve got a great deal out of this. I think to
call this a loss is a bad . . . is a bad mistake . . . [y]ou always talk ‘no
compromise’ in a Convention until you get the best you can then you
quit.”79 As Guinier tells it, Rauh valued “bargaining rather than justice,
law, and the rights of Black Mississippians to participate,” failing to realize
that, for the activists, “[t]he challenge was not about getting the best deal;
the challenge was not to abandon fundamental values.”80
Social movements gain their energy from hope and idealism, not the
prospect of backroom deals. Even though perhaps prone to negotiation by
traditions of professional practice, a movement lawyer must understand
what principles hold pride of place in the movement and never compromise
those. Social movements attain their broad following through the moral
force of a brighter vision for a local, state, or national community of
identity. The force of that vision, that group narrative, pushes the
movement forward. It is what social movement scholar Marshall Ganz
describes as “the transformation of thousands of individual stories into a
shared story.”81 Because compromise means losing their identity, their
shared story, activists will scoff at the lawyer’s inclination to compromise.
When the compromise deal was announced, Moses shrieked, “[Y]ou
73. Id. at 2768.
74. Id. at 2769; see also TAYLOR BRANCH, PILLAR OF FIRE: AMERICA IN THE KING YEARS
1963–1965, at 474 (1998).
75. See Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2769.
76. See id.
77. See id.
78. See id. at 2770–71.
79. Id. at 2770 (first omission in original).
80. Id. at 2769–71.
81. Marshall Ganz, The Power of Story in Social Movements 8 (Aug. 2001)
(unpublished manuscript), https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/27306251/Power_of_
cheated!”82 By betraying the trust of the client in this high-stakes social
movement context, the lawyer did more than simply lose the trust of an
individual client. The story of betrayals like this spread quickly. Indeed,
perhaps activist distrust of lawyers endures to this day in part due an
ongoing perceived mendacity of lawyers, inspired by an accumulation of
incidents like these.83
After seeking to persuade the MFDP to accept the compromise, and
failing to do so, Rauh did as he was told. He returned the unused delegate
credentials issued under the terms of the compromise to the convention
leaders.84 He fulfilled the client’s wishes sufficiently to satisfy ethical
standards that, if violated, would expose him to bar discipline. But he had
already violated the spirit of trust between the lawyer and client. According
to Guinier, “[H]e shed tears of regret. He was troubled, not so much by
falling short of the goal of representation for his clients, as by losing the
trust of Moses, which would haunt him for years.”85 Ethical norms do more
than protect clients, as we see here—they also can protect lawyers
themselves from years of regret.
B. Principle Two: Accountability to Movement Activists
In the classic law review article “Serving Two Masters,” Derrick Bell Jr.
described the ethical dilemma that arises when a lawyer, working in the
public interest or in connection with a social movement, feels compelled to
weigh multiple considerations in determining litigation goals.86 When the
NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers seeking to implement Brown failed to
realize that the children involved may have gained a better education from
better quality schools instead of integration at all costs, it created an ethical
crisis.87 The lawyers, committed to the cause of integration and focused on
moving the jurisprudence forward, rejected efforts by their clients (the
parents) to embrace arguments for school quality that failed to correspond
with integration-based arguments. Bell blames the lawyers’ unwillingness
to recognize the increasing futility of “total desegregation” on three factors:
) the civil rights lawyers’ own ideological belief in racial balance as a
symbol of progress, (
) the civil rights lawyers’ fundraising concerns and
the impact those concerns had on the selection of cases, and (
) the civil
rights lawyers’ perhaps subconscious desire for the “narcissistic
gratification” that comes from winning a judgment that affects a large
segment of a community.88 Ultimately, these factors led to a breakdown in
accountability, as lawyers considered the factors above, in addition to or
alongside their client’s wishes, creating an ethical quandary for them.89
We do not know if Rauh had an ideology that drove him toward seeking
compromise. Rauh was based in Washington, D.C., and was also legal
counsel for the United Auto Workers.90 When he lost the trust of Bob
Moses, it would haunt him for years. However, in terms of accountability,
it is difficult to determine whether there were any immediate professional or
financial consequences for him. He clearly supported the MFDP cause.91
Although he apparently also lacked a deep investment in the MFDP vision
of an uncompromising demand for an immediate, fully inclusive conception
of American democracy, it is clear that Rauh lost the intangible benefits that
a successful representation would have provided in this case.
In stark contrast is the story of the legendary Fred Gray, lawyer for the
Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA).92 Only one year out of law
school, Gray found himself in Montgomery, Alabama, during the time
when Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. launched the Montgomery
bus boycott that forever altered American history.93 Gray had long wanted
to challenge the city’s segregation laws, but he “waited to file his case until
the MIA leadership voted to grant him that authority.”94 Gray did not have
much choice. The MIA structure manufactured accountability.95 The
funding for Gray’s work came from local sources, either the church, local
NAACP branches, or other networks based in Montgomery.96 Although the
MIA had weekly leadership meetings with the lawyers to plot out strategy,
it was made clear that “the forum for change was not the courtroom or the
law office conference room, but the mass meeting.”97 Even though Fred
Gray eventually prevailed at the Supreme Court, serving as the capstone of
the MIA victory, the movement had already won its victory by then in the
The juxtaposition of these two examples demonstrates the potential
benefits of accountability mechanisms. Rauh, based in Washington and
with an assumedly steady stream of income from the representation of a
major client, had limited accountability to his clients, following their
directives only out of his own internal compass and sense of responsibility.
The activists did not pay his paycheck. Social movements do not often
have budgets to pay their lawyers like the MIA did—often, movement
lawyers work on a pro bono basis or their time is funded by an outside
organization. But Gray’s relatively ethically straightforward representation
89. Some may say that the lawyers should have simply followed the dictums of their
clients. To be clear, the answer here was never that simple because, in the context of mass
representation, different clients may have different desires and goals.
90. See Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2771.
91. See id. at 2770–71.
92. See id. at 2778.
93. See id.
95. See id. at 2779.
96. See id.
97. Id. at 2782.
could be used as an example to suggest that, when possible, lawyers should
seek to create financial structures that give financial control to the activists.
C. Principle Three: Competence in Public Narrative
Storytelling isn’t magic. Since narrative serves as a primary vehicle for
communication in social movements, an important but rarely recognized
skill for movement lawyers is the ability to identify, cultivate, and
disseminate public narratives that support movement mobilization.98 Social
movement scholar Marshall Ganz has used the term “public narrative” to
describe this type of storytelling.99 He believes that it is a leadership
practice.100 It translates values into action, shapes a shared identity, and
motivates communities to take action.101 Ganz conceptualizes public
narrative as an answer to three questions: Why am I (the storyteller) called
to this movement? Why are we (the community) called to this movement?
And why are we called to act now? Ganz describes this triad that
constitutes public narrative as the story of self, story of us, and story of
now.102 A public narrative will consist of each of these three elements.
The framework has ancient roots, according to Ganz, grounded in the
questions posed by the first century Jerusalem sage, Rabbi Hillel: “If I am
not for myself, who will be for me? When I am for myself alone, what am
I? If not now, when?”103
In 1961, a young lawyer named Gerald Stern joined the Civil Rights
Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and received the assignment to
investigate voter discrimination in Mississippi.104 While travelling the back
roads of Mississippi, he met an elderly Black man named Mose McGee
who was plowing his fields behind a mule. When approached, McGee
immediately unhitched himself, went to his house, cleaned up, and then
returned to talk. He explained to Stern, “It’s not right for anyone to be seen
as an animal. I want you to see me as a human being.”105 McGee
articulately communicated a story of self to Stern. “A story is like a poem.
A poem moves not by how long it is, nor by how eloquent or complicated.
A story or poem moves by evoking an experience or moment through
which we grasp the feeling or insight the poet communicates.”106
Immediately upon meeting Stern, McGee managed to communicate his core
value of dignity, a principle that clearly animates him deeply enough to
move him to interrupt his work schedule to fulfill what appears to be his
idea of what constitutes self-respect. Many people have difficulty even
identifying their core values, let alone the presence to honor one of them in
the punctilious manner that McGee did. This core value of dignity speaks
to the way that McGee moves through life, and it represents McGee’s
identity: how he sees himself in the world when he is his best self.107
McGee believed voting rights would serve as leverage, forcing the
county to pave the roads surrounding the Black community’s homes like
they paved the roads to white people’s homes or else face a challenge in
mobilizing Black voters for reelection.108 As it stood, when it rained, the
dirt roads became impassable. In one instance, a Black baby who fell ill
died because no doctor could reach him over those roads. McGee told the
story of how, although “[h]e carried the baby in his arms for miles over the
hills to get to town[,] . . . [t]he baby died in his arms before he could get
Here, McGee communicated a story of us and a story of now. A public
story intersects with the broader experiences of the community.110 A
storyteller can become part of this larger story simply by embedding his
larger experiences within a framework that includes fragments of other
stories drawn from the culture. Further, McGee described the problems that
the denial of the right to vote created for the Black community.111 Because
of the high concentration of Blacks in Mississippi,112 it is likely that Blacks
could exert enough influence to have basic necessities provided for if they
could vote. McGee embedded a story that speaks to communal needs, and
he serves as an effective spokesman for his community through his story of
The stakes could not be higher for McGee. Like most stories of now,
McGee chose to frame a narrative around an issue that spoke to core
values.114 The tragic story that McGee relates about the death of the child
touches on a value all of us share: the importance of protecting not only the
sanctity of all life but especially newborn life that holds all of our
possibilities for the future in the palms of their tiny hands. Apathy or
inertia might have blocked us from seeing the fierce urgency of now as
related to the question of voting rights prior to McGee’s narrative. Now,
the moral outrage created by the story of the lost baby motivates action.
Ganz explains that moral outrage “often grows out of experience of a
contrast between the world as it is and the world as it ought to be, how we
107. See Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2764.
110. See Ganz, supra note 101, at 285 (“A public story is not only an account of the
speaker’s personal experience.”).
111. See Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2764.
112. See Quick Facts: Mississippi, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, http://www.census.gov/
quickfacts/dashboard/RHI125215/28 (last visited Mar. 25, 2017) (specifying that Mississippi
as a state has a 37 percent African American population) [https://perma.cc/W83H-GAGA].
113. See Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2764.
114. Ganz, supra note 101, at 286 (“articulates an urgent challenge—or threat—to the
values that we share that demands action now.”).
feel when our moral order has been violated.”115 Well-crafted stories can
communicate the emotional content of a predicament more effectively than
logical argument or rhetorical flourish alone can. McGee’s story should
outrage the reader (it outraged this author) and should serve as a motivator
As trials vanish, civil litigators like Stern will have more difficulty in
relating a narrative of a person like Mose McGee to the court. This cannot
stand in the way of relating these narratives to the public. Had Stern not
been engaged in voting rights litigation, perhaps Stern would not have
asked McGee about his story. Yet he did. If civil litigation avenues had
become available to McGee, perhaps Stern could have helped McGee to
bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the parents of the young child
against the municipality that refused to pave the roads. It would likely have
been a difficult case to win in Mississippi in 1961. Faced with societal
constraints, Stern penned a memoir, which he used to record and
disseminate McGee’s story.116 Uplifting McGee’s public narrative was an
act of advocacy that would fulfill the professionalism requirement for a
movement lawyer. Although it is difficult to know how many read
McGee’s story in Stern’s book, Stern demonstrated professionalism by
identifying this story and retelling it without losing its capacity to outrage.
All movement lawyers should hope for as important an accomplishment for
their clients. And Stern did not have to step into a courtroom to accomplish
the goals of professional representation.
III. A CONTEMPORARY EXAMPLE
OF DEMOSPRUDENTIAL MOVEMENT LAWYERING
“Keilee Fant is a 37-year-old African-American mother of nine who has
been working as a certified Nurse’s Assistant for twenty (
Over those twenty years, she served time in jail on seven occasions due to
traffic charges in Ferguson and other nearby municipalities.118 “Every time
Fant was pulled over she was issued multiple citations in a single stop.”119
She received “numerous warrants for ‘Failure to Pay’ or ‘Failure to Appear’
in Municipal Court in response to a ticket.”120 Often her absence was
involuntary, caused by schedule conflicts between municipalities.121 Fant
had to choose which court appearance to attend, resulting in a warrant from
the other court for “Failure to Appear.” In some instances, Fant did not
appear, because of fear that if she appeared and could not pay a ticket in
full, she would be arrested.122 Fant did not have access to a lawyer to
On one occasion, the day after Fant’s father passed away, a Ferguson
officer and another officer from a nearby municipality arrested her from her
mother’s home.124 “Ms. Fant pleaded with the officers to allow her to make
funeral arrangements. They refused.”125 Instead, they arrested her and took
her to the Ferguson jail. Her bond was set at $4,300.126 Fant’s mother
could only “scare up $4,200, which she attempted to pay the Ferguson
authorities so that Ms. Fant could attend her father’s funeral. They rejected
the offer. She missed her father’s funeral because she could not pay the full
amount of the bond Ferguson arbitrarily set.”127 She “spent fifty eight days
in jail. The guards would not allow her to shower nor did the jail provide
any hygiene products. Later, when she was transferred to the Florissant jail,
officers harassed Ms. Fant about how she smelled.”128
As we filled the street adjacent to the Canefield apartment complex
where Mike Brown lost his life in August of 2014, I remember that, from
the beginning, we grasped for explanations. Why here? Why now? Of all
places, why was Ferguson the place where people finally decided to take to
the streets? The answer lies somewhere at the intersection not only between
the Canefield housing development where Mike Brown lived and West
Florissant Avenue where the protests took place. Also, it lies at the
intersection between the cumulative effect of the psychology of a
community that had been beaten down for generations, the recent furor over
the killing of Trayvon Martin, and the spectacle of leaving Mike Brown’s
body in open view on the hot asphalt under the red August sun for four
hours—all of these contributed. This last fact especially traumatized the
Black community, which still bears the psychological scars of southern
lynching: one could even go so far to suggest that, in the mind of the
community, the Mike Brown killing invoked the same dynamic, only they
left blood on the asphalt instead of blood on the leaves.129 In addition to all
of this, the collective humiliation of the debtors’ prison system created a
collective identity of a people under siege by the law.
The debtors’ prison narrative took hold for a complicated set of reasons.
Perhaps some commentators, still smitten by the prospect of postracialism
in the aftermath of the election of President Obama, felt discomfort with a
narrative of widespread, bald racial oppression in twenty-first century
America.130 If so, the debtors’ prison narrative alleviated that discomfort
by replacing race with an economics-driven narrative. The reality of what
created Ferguson lies perhaps in an amalgamation of those narratives. In
122. See id.
123. See id.
124. See id.
129. See BILLIE HOLIDAY, STRANGE FRUIT (Commodore Records 1939).
130. See Sumi Cho, Post-Racialism, 94 IOWA L. REV. 1589, 1591–93 (2009).
any event, the debtors’ prison narrative fortuitously shined the light on a
core truth, enlarging our understanding of mass incarceration and the
functioning of the modern carceral state as not only driven by the War on
Drugs, or private prisons, but also by municipal greed.
On the two-year anniversary of the death of Mike Brown, the ArchCity
Defenders, Equal Justice Under Law, and the Saint Louis University (SLU)
Law School Clinic filed a number of lawsuits that alleged Ferguson and
surrounding municipalities illegally operated a debtors’ prison system,
seeking damages in excess of $20 million.131 Significantly, the pleadings
included a number of public narratives, including the narrative above from
This was not the first lawsuit that the ArchCity Defenders had filed on
the issue.133 Even before civil litigation, the narratives were proliferated
not through trial, initially, but through a “white paper” that the attorneys
began producing before the Ferguson protests began.134 The narrative of
the debtors’ prison advocacy demonstrates that the mutually constitutive
relationship among law, litigation, and social movements does not have to
vitiate in light of the specter of the vanishing trial. Part III.A analyzes the
example under a core movement principles fidelity rubric. Next, Part III.B
assesses the example with respect to accountability to movement activists.
Finally, Part III.C analyzes the example as to competence in mobilizing
A. Fidelity to Core Movement Principles
Along with intersectionality,135 a defining feature of the broader Black
Lives Matter movement that became actuated in Ferguson is the rejection of
the idea of “respectability politics.”136 The essential premise of
respectability politics emerged from early twentieth-century strategies for
civil rights advancement that suggested that if Black Americans adopted the
customs and habits of white Americans, they would be treated equally.137
Bill Cosby best illustrated the idea during his “Pound Cake” speech, where
he suggested that Black Americans would have more material success if
they avoided ethnically identifiable names, adopted mainstream dress
patterns, and mocked those who failed to do so.138 President Obama has
also received a great deal of criticism from Black millennials in particular
for enthusiastically embracing the politics of respectability during the
majority of his presidency.139 He famously chastised students at
Morehouse College, the nation’s preeminent institution of higher learning
for African-American males, as if he was speaking to a group of truants in
detention.140 In response to this thread of condemnation from the older
generation, the movement has decried respectability tropes. While other
social groups point to structural impediments and call for structural reform
to aid their advancement, hemmed in by respectability narratives, Blacks
are encouraged to eschew calls for structural reform and instead blame
themselves, leading us to believe that unemployment, the education gap,
mass incarceration, and other societal ills should be addressed by focusing
on a “culture of poverty.” In other words, instead of protesting, the
movement should focus on self-uplift, pulling one’s pants up, and
“transforming individuals rather than transforming communities.”141
Activists have noted that one of the fundamental points of the Black
Lives Matter movement is that Black people’s lives matter whether or not
their pants sag and whether or not they conform to middle-class behavior
patterns or societal gender norms.142 Activists also reject suggestions that
they should have to protest in a “proper” way for their claims to deserve a
fair hearing.143 Accordingly, activists rushed to the defense of Mike
Brown. When he immediately became labeled as “no angel” in the struggle
over his narrative, the movement became even more protective.144
Civil rights lawyers have historically mobilized respectability politics to
enhance their advocacy. For example, an American Civil Liberties Union
campaign on racial profiling argued that racial profiling was wrong because
it failed to distinguish good Blacks, like Henry Louis Gates, from bad
Blacks who were not respectable.145 But any progress gained from this
discourse comes at too high of a price, eliciting sympathy for a few at the
cost of the many.
The debtors’ prison narrative has avoided depending on respectability
politics. For example, in the narrative above, Fants’s family history is not
understood to play in role in the type of traffic enforcement that she
deserves to experience. The level of human cruelty she faces in the denial
of an opportunity to bury her father reflects badly not on her but on the
state. The debtors’ prison lawyers chose the plaintiffs, and they could have
strategically chosen the most “respectable” clients they could find. They
might have justified their decision to do so on the premise that judges and
jurors have more sympathy for those they identify with and respect, and
judges and jurors will instinctively identify with and respect those who have
less subordinated identities, helping the lawyers to win the case. This poses
another ethical dilemma. In the lawyer’s professional judgment, if having a
more respectable named plaintiff improves the chances of success in court,
doesn’t the principle of zealous advocacy charge the lawyer with the ethical
responsibility to bring the more respectable litigant in front of the judge?
The ArchCity Defenders, Equal Justice Under Law, and the SLU law
clinic did not do so, and I believe that this is to their credit. They honored a
core value of the movement. The debtors’ prison narrative focuses on
minor infractions that everyone has participated in, including failing to
buckle one’s seat belt, or jay walking. Part of the argument is that people
should not face harsh punishment for minor offenses, because everyone has
engaged in them—there but for the grace of God go I.146
Additionally, by adhering to movement principles, the lawyers increased
movement participation. Activists may have intuited that, because
ArchCity had demonstrated that it had a sense of fidelity to the movement
by adhering to movement core principles, it would be less likely to betray
the activists in negotiations or in other ways. This in and of itself facilitates
more agency and participation of the movement in the legal side of the
process of speaking truth to power. As the principle of demosprudence
asserts, in some cases the impact on the larger discourse can take precedent
over the short-term goal of winning or losing the litigation.147
B. Accountability to Movement Activists
Like the MIA before, the Black Lives Matter movement has had the
savvy to rein in its lawyers, ensuring that they do not overtake the
movement and turn the movement into a law reform project. To that end,
many activists have constructed their own policy platforms independent of
The debtors’ prison lawsuits exist in harmony with many of the
independent platforms in the movement (including platforms that do not
exist in harmony with each other). The harmony was hard won.149 Some
of the activists did not want to engage the movement from the entry point of
the debtors’ prison narrative. Others did. Because the poor people named
in the lawsuit still needed representation, the lawyers would have moved
forward with the representation regardless of whether it was coordinated
with the movement. But the shared values cultivated through personal
relationships ensured ultimate alignment. As a Ferguson activist myself, I
can attest that the debtors’ prison lawyers have contacted me for advice and
coordination, for example before deciding to file lawsuits on the two-year
anniversary of Mike Brown’s death.
However, it is unclear who has funded the lawsuits. Neither the
lowincome clients nor the movement activists seem to have the funds to do so.
In the most recent class action cases, it appears that local lawyers have
partnered with global law firms (e.g., Arnold & Porter) and in all likelihood
the law firm has taken on the financial burden.150 This is less than ideal, as
the highest level of accountability comes from ensuring that the movement
activists hold the purse strings.
Civil lawsuits that seek to promote social change will continue to exist,
even in the face of the vanishing trial. They can help us tell the story,
regardless of trial outcome. However, it is best if the movement activists
have the ultimate authority over whether to move forward with the
litigation, as the MIA did during the Montgomery bus boycott.
C. Competence in Public Narrative
Even these sources may not track the “staggering” numbers of warrants,
“drawers and drawers” full, that many cities issue for traffic violations
and ordinance infractions. The county in this case has had a “backlog” of
such warrants. The Department of Justice recently reported that in the
town of Ferguson, Missouri, with a population of 21,000, 16,000 people
had outstanding warrants against them.151
The dissent in Strieff by Justice Sotomayor certainly signals to the
demosprudents that she heard their cry. In constructing her own narrative
in her dissent, she cites narratives from James Baldwin, Te-Nehesi Coates,
and Lani Guinier.152 However, even before this national exposure at the
level of the Supreme Court, and before the exposure in the investigation of
the Ferguson Police Department (another demosprudential project resulting
from civil litigation), the debtors’ prison narrative had already become an
example of “demosprudence” in Missouri.153 It led to the passage of state
legislation to cap the amount of a municipality’s budget that could be raised
through traffic ticketing.154 That legislation was promptly challenged and
overturned in court by the mayors of small local municipalities who argued
that the measure was a “special law” that targeted them unfairly.155 In the
meantime, the city of St. Louis forgave 220,000 warrants for nonviolent
municipal offenses.156 The city of Ferguson also announced it would
withdraw about 10,000 warrants only days after the story broke in August
of 2014.157 So the debtors’ prison narrative itself helped to create social
change, even before reaching the courtroom.
The narrative around the debtors’ prison runs deep in American history.
Debtors’ prisons were banned under federal law in 1833 and seen as a
tyrannical holdover from British rule.158 Many colonists would find
themselves in “the clink” even if they owed as little as sixty cents.159 The
reassertion of a debtors’ prison taps deeply into a story of “us” in American
history that touches the core of many who fail to connect with narratives
that revolve around issues of policing, race, respectability, or
intersectionality. In addition, the lawyers promoted the cause by mobilizing
narratives like that of Keilee Fant. Her narrative provokes moral outrage
and constructs a story of “now” while also providing a personal window
into a story of “self” that allows the community to identify with the shared
values they continue to heroically pursue, even in the face of their plight.
The proliferation of these narratives demonstrates a high degree of
competence in using legal narrative to promote a social movement.
We do not have all of the data concerning how widespread the practice of
jailing, exploiting, and targeting people in marginalized groups through
minor infraction enforcement actually is today in America.160 We do know
that, even in Ferguson, the term “debtors’ prison” was never uttered by the
courts, or by a police officer, or by a law. The lawyers for the ArchCity
Defenders, Equal Justice Under Law, and the Saint Louis University Law
School Clinic did the demosprudential work of constructing a narrative that
would resonate widely. This exemplifies professional demosprudential
lawyering in support of a movement to create social change.
On December 14, 2016, a federal judge approved a $4.7 million dollar
settlement deal with local municipalities to compensate people who were
jailed in debtors’ prisons for inability to pay court fines and fees.161 The
ArchCity Defenders, St. Louis University Law School, and Equal Justice
Under Law will split $1.2 million of that amount.162 The attorneys estimate
that individuals might get $1,500 or more per day in jail, which is within
range of similar cases. The hope is that this will result in lawyers using the
civil litigation process to further the movement for Black lives by providing
an incentive for other attorneys to bring similar suits, causing municipalities
to curb the practice proactively in fear of civil litigation.
One of the plaintiffs in the audience for the announcement was Keilee
Fant, now 39. She hugged her attorneys at the end of the hearing.163 She
did not have to testify at a civil trial. But her lawyers provided her with
representation that proves, even in the age of the vanishing trial, we can still
1. Utah v. Strieff , 136 S. Ct . 2056 , 2071 ( 2016 ) (Sotomayor , J., dissenting).
2. See generally Lani Guinier & Gerald Torres , Changing the Wind: Notes Toward a Demosprudence of Law and Social Movements , 123 YALE L.J. 2740 ( 2014 ).
3. Lani Guinier , Courting the People: Demosprudence and the Law/Politics Divide, 89 B.U. L. REV. 539 , 540 ( 2009 ).
4. Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 99 -C- 3137-E, 2003 WL 25507253, at *1 ( N.D. Ala . Sept. 24 , 2003 ), rev'd, 421 F.3d 1169 ( 11th Cir . 2005 ), aff'd, 550 U.S. 618
15. Whitney Benns & Blake Strode, Debtors' Prison in 21st Century America , ATLANTIC (Feb. 23 , 2016 ), http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/debtorsprison/462378/ [https://perma.cc/EQ64-XMYJ].
16. Campbell Robertson , Shaila Dewan & Matt Apuzzo , Ferguson Became Symbol, but Bias Knows No Border, N.Y. TIMES (Feb. 15, 2017 ), https://www.nytimes.com/ 2015 /03/08/ us/ferguson-became -symbol-but-bias-knows-no-border .html [https://perma.cc/LCM5-YN MJ].
17. Id .
18. Id .
19. ORLANDO PATTERSON , SLAVERY AND SOCIAL DEATH ( 1982 ).
20. See MICHELLE ALEXANDER , THE NEW JIM CROW: MASS INCARCERATION IN THE AGE OF COLORBLINDNESS 21- 30 ( 2010 ) (discussing the end of enslavement and the creation of “black codes” to ensure the maintenance of social control over Blacks in the nineteenth century ).
23. See , e.g., Sunita Patel , Democratic Police Reform and Public Law Injunctions (Nov. 15 , 2016 ) (unpublished manuscript) , https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_ id=2877762 [https://perma.cc/K4KR-Q9MU].
24. 347 U.S. 483 ( 1954 ).
25. Michael J. Klarman , How Brown Changed Race Relations: The Backlash Thesis , 81 J. AM . HIST. 81 , 84 ( 1994 ).
26. GARY ORFIELD & ERICA FRANKENBERG, THE CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT , BROWN AT 60: GREAT PROGRESS, A LONG RETREAT , AND AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE 10 ( 2014 ), https://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/ brown-at-60 - great -progress-a-long-retreat-and-an-uncertain- future/ Brown-at- 60 -051814.pdf [https://perma.cc/CQZ9-58PE] ; see also Lia Epperson, Undercover Power: Examining the Role of the Executive Branch in Determining the Meaning and Scope of School Integration, 10 BERKELEY J . AFR . -AM . L. & POL'Y 146 ( 2008 ).
27. ORFIELD & FRANKENBERG, supra note 26, at 10 ( demonstrating that after hitting a peak in 1988, the percentage of Black students in majority white schools has been cut nearly in half, from a high of 44 percent to 23 percent today ).
28. See Catherine Albiston , The Dark Side of Litigation as a Social Movement Strategy, 96 IOWA L. REV . BULL. 61 , 64 - 68 ( 2011 ) (presenting a visual representation of these arguments).
29. See generally Epperson, supra note 26.
30. See generally Orly Lobel, The Paradox of Extralegal Activism: Critical Legal Consciousness and Transformative Politics , 120 HARV. L. REV. 937 ( 2007 ).
31. GERALD N. ROSENBERG , THE HOLLOW HOPE: CAN COURTS BRING ABOUT SOCIAL CHANGE ? ( 1991 ).
32. See Michael W. McCann , Reform Litigation on Trial, 17 LAW & SOC. INQUIRY 715 ( 1992 ) (providing a rigorous analysis and rebuttal to ROSENBERG, supra note 31); see also Lynn Mather , Theorizing About Trial Courts: Lawyers, Policymaking and Tobacco Litigation, 23 LAW & SOC. INQUIRY 897 ( 1998 ) (arguing that tobacco litigation contributed to the agenda of social change by providing new ways of defining the problem of tobacco and the policy alternatives, political mobilization, new legal norms, and new political and legal resources for opponents of big tobacco).
33. See generally McCann , supra note 32.
34. See generally Mather, supra note 32.
35. See id. at 929.
36. See Brown v. Bd. of Educ., 347 U.S. 483 ( 1954 ); Mather, supra note 32, at 899.
37. Douglass NeJaime , Winning Through Losing, 96 IOWA L. REV. 941 , 954 ( 2011 ) (discussing how Brown “fuel[ed] a powerful social movement by raising consciousness, driving fundraising, legitimizing a cause, and influencing other state actors”).
38. Guinier , supra note 3, at 558.
50. 163 U.S. 537 ( 1896 ).
51. JEROME BRUNER , MAKING STORIES 55 ( 2002 ).
52. See , e.g., ZORA NEALE HURSTON, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD ( 1937 ).
53. See , e.g., LANGSTON HUGHES , NOT WITHOUT LAUGHTER ( 1930 ).
54. See , e.g., RICHARD WRIGHT , BLACK BOY ( 1945 ).
55. See , e.g., ANN PETRY , THE STREET ( 1946 ).
56. See , e.g., CLAUDE MCKAY , HOME TO HARLEM ( 1928 ).
57. But see, e.g., Derrick Bell , Brown v. Board of Education: Reliving and Learning from Our Racial History , 66 U. PITT. L. REV . 21 ( 2004 ).
58. See generally Richard Delgado, Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative, 87 MICH . L. REV. 2411 ( 1989 ).
59. Id . at 2418 (defining stock narratives as the bundle of presuppositions, received wisdoms, and shared understandings against a background of which our legal and political discourse takes place).
60. See ELLIS COSE , THE RAGE OF A PRIVILEGED CLASS 94 ( 1993 ). For example, somewhere under 2 percent of the Black population will commit violent crimes, making the likelihood that one meets a violent Black person very low .
61. Mari J. Matsuda , When the First Quail Calls: Multiple Consciousness as Jurisprudential Method, 11 WOMEN'S RTS. L. REP . 7 , 9 ( 1989 ).
62. See generally Delgado, supra note 58.
63. But see DANIEL A. FARBER & SUZANNA SHERRY, BEYOND ALL REASON: THE RADICAL ASSAULT ON TRUTH IN AMERICAN LAw ( 1997 ) (arguing that narratives cut off discussion instead of promoting discussion).
64. Christian Coleman , Michael Brown's Parents to Speak to U.N. Committee, USA TODAY ( Nov . 10, 2014 ), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/10/michaelbrown-parents - testimony-switzerland/18799049/ [https://perma.cc/UZ8G-QDFV].
65. Comm . Against Torture, Report on Its Concluding Observations on the Combined Third to Fifth Periodic Reports of the United States of America, U .N. Doc. CAT/C/USA/3-5, (Dec. 19, 2014 ).
66. See generally Guinier & Torres, supra note 2.
67. See id. at 2762.
68. See id.
69. See id. at 2763.
70. See id.
71. See id.
72. See id.
82. Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2771.
83. See Jim Freeman, Supporting Social Movements: A Brief Guide for Lawyers and Law Students, 12 HASTINGS RACE & POVERTY L.J . 191 ( 2015 ) (discussing the “long history of would-be movement lawyers that inadvertently inhibit[ed] or destabilize[d] movementbuilding efforts”).
84. See Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2771.
85. Id .
86. See generally Derrick A . Bell , Jr., Serving Two Masters: Integration Ideals and Client Interests in School Desegregation Litigation , 85 YALE L.J. 470 ( 1976 ).
87. See id. at 492-93.
88. See id. at 490-94.
98. See generally Ganz, supra note 81.
99. See id.
100. See id.
101. See id. at 2; see also Marshall Ganz, Public Narrative, Collective Action, and Power, in ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH PUBLIC OPINION: FROM INERTIA TO PUBLIC ACTION 273 (Sina Odugbemi & Taeku Lee eds ., 2011 ).
102. Id .
103. Id . at 274.
104. See Guinier & Torres, supra note 2, at 2764.
105. Gerald M. Stern , Mississippi, in OUTSIDE THE LAW: NARRATIVES ON JUSTICE IN AMERICA 153 , 164 (Susan Richards Shreve & Porter Shreve eds., 1997 ).
106. Ganz , supra note 101, at 283.
131. Stephen Deere , Suit Seeks $ 20 Million, Alleging Wrongful Arrests, Prosecutions in Ferguson, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH (Aug. 9 , 2016 ), http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/ crime-and -courts/suit-seeks-million-alleging-wrongful-arrests-prosecutions-in-ferguson/ article_be51dc4a-0f99-5a5d-a512-7aae4cac94ec .html [https://perma.cc/K4VP-EQZU].
132. See generally Class Action Complaint, supra note 117.
133. See , e.g., Joseph Shapiro , Civil Rights Attorneys Sue Ferguson over “Debtors Prisons,” NPR (Feb. 8 , 2015 ), http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/02/08/ 384332798/civil-rights -attorneys-sue-ferguson-over-debtors-prisons [https://perma .cc/YZG 6-YCJV].
134. HARVEY ET AL., supra note 12.
135. See generally Kimberle Crenshaw, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine , Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics , 1989 U. CHI. LEGAL F . 139 .
136. See generally Osagie K. Obasogie & Zachary Newman, Black Lives Matter and Respectability Politics in Local News Accounts of Officer-Involved Civilian Deaths: An Early Empirical Assessment , 2016 WIS. L. REV. 541 .
137. See Fredrick C. Harris , The Rise of Respectability Politics, DISSENT MAG . ( 2014 ), https://www.dissentmagazine. org/article/the-rise-of-respectability-politics [https://perma .cc/ HKV4-M9LP].
138. Id .
139. See Nia-Malika Henderson , 'Black Respectability' Politics Are Increasingly Absent from Obama's Rhetoric, WASH . POST (Dec. 3 , 2014 ), https://www.washingtonpost.com/ news/the-fix/wp/2014/12/03/black-respectability -politics-are-increasingly-absent-fromobamas-rhetoric/?utm_term= .e5461a30a953 [https://perma.cc/R7FM-W5A2].
140. See id.
141. See generally Harris, supra note 137.
142. See , e.g., Titilayo Rasaki, From SNCC to BLM: Lessons in Radicalism, Structure, and Respectability Politics, HARV . J. AFR. AM. PUB. POL'Y , 2015 - 2016 , at 31.
143. See Roberk Koeler, Broken Windows, Broken Spines, HUFFINGTON POST (May 8 , 2016 ), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-koehler/broken-windows - broken-spi_b_ 7243 996 .html [https://perma.cc/3CFH-M3ES].
144. See John Eligon, Michael Brown Spent Last Weeks Grappling with Problems and Promise , N.Y. TIMES (Aug. 24, 2016 ), https://www.nytimes.com/ 2014 /08/25/us/michaelbrown-spent -last-weeks-grappling-with-lifes-mysteries .html?_r=0 [https://perma.cc/KD4P8A3C].
145. See Anthony V. Alfieri & Angela Onwuachi-Willig , Next Generation Civil Rights Lawyers: Race and Representation in the Age of Identity Performance, 122 YALE L .J. 1484 , 1510 ( 2013 ).
146. See HARRY SILVERGLATE , THREE FELONIES A DAY: HOW THE FEDS TARGET THE INNOCENT ( 2011 ).
147. See generally Guinier & Torres, supra note 2.
148. See , e.g., CAMPAIGN ZERO , https://www.joincampaignzero.org/ (last visited Mar. 25 , 2017 ) [https://perma.cc/N2SG-937X] ; Platform, MOVEMENT FOR BLACK LIVES , https://policy.m4bl.org/platform/ (last visited Mar. 25 , 2017 ) [https://perma.cc/RK3C-G BF2].
149. Interview with Thomas Harvey, Executive Dir . & Founder , ArchCity Defenders, in New Haven, Conn. (Feb. 18 , 2017 ).
150. Press Release, Rebecca L. Gorley, ArchCity Defs., ArchCity Defenders Teams with Arnold & Porter to File Largest Debtors' Prisons Case in History Against 13 Towns Neighboring Ferguson (Aug. 9 , 2016 ), http://www.archcitydefenders.org/wp-content/ uploads/2015/06/PressReleaseSt.Annetal.DebtorsPrisonclassaction.pdf [https://perma.cc/NV J9-B67A].
151. Utah v. Strieff , 136 S. Ct . 2056 , 2068 ( 2016 ) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting) (quoting CIVIL RIGHTS DIV., U.S. DEPT . OF JUSTICE, INVESTIGATION OF THE FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT 47 , 55 ( 2015 ), https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/ attachments/2015/03/04/ferguson_police_department_report.pdf [https://perma.cc/8RJE-NP VF])).
152. Id . at 2070 .
153. The ArchCity “white paper,” local and international news analysis, and the Department of Justice's Ferguson report all helped to create the discourse around Ferguson .
154. See Robert Patrick & Stephen Deere, ' Sweeping' Court Reform Comes as Nixon Signs Bill to Cap Cities' Revenue, End Predatory Habits, ST . LOUIS POST-DISPATCH (July 10 , 2015 ), http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and -courts/sweeping-court-reform-comesas-nixon-signs-bill-to-cap/article_cafffb7e- b24d- 5292 - b7bb-84ef81c6e81d.html [https://perma.cc/3GLM-NR5A].
155. See Jennifer S. Mann & Jeremy Kohler, Judge Sides with St. Louis County Cities That Claimed Municipal Court Reform Law Is Unfair, ST . LOUIS POST-DISPATCH (Mar. 28 , 2016 ), www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and -courts/judge-sides-with-st-louis-countycities-that-claimed-municipal/ article_b1b75039-4dd9-5325-890f-35535561cafa .html [https://perma.cc/9KYM-4E7G]; Mariah Stewart, St. Louis County Mayors Still Want to Use Courts as Cash Cows , HUFFINGTON POST (Nov. 20 , 2015 ), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/st -louis-county-courts-lawsuit_us_564f0114e4b0 d4093a573687 [https://perma .cc/6DKJ-NT6R].
156. See Nicholas J.C. Pistor , St. Louis to Forgive About 220 , 000 Warrants for Nonviolent Municipal Offenses, ST . LOUIS POST-DISPATCH (Oct. 1 , 2014 ), http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and -courts/st-louis-to-forgive-about-warrants-fornonviolent-municipal-offenses/ article_7f9dbef3-7409-5e81-ae28-3c79faa8b147 .html [https://perma.cc/3R7T-KCHY].
157. See John Eligon & Mitch Smith , Ferguson Announces an Amnesty on Warrants, N.Y. TIMES (Aug. 24 , 2015 ), https://www.nytimes.com/ 2015 /08/25/us/ferguson-announcesan -amnesty-on-warrants .html?_r=0 [https://perma.cc/P7V2-D5VS].
158. See Eli Hager, Debtors' Prisons, Then and Now: FAQ, MARSHALL PROJECT ( Feb . 24, 2015 ), https://www.themarshallproject.org/ 2015 /02/24/debtors-prisons -then-and-nowfaq# . RdBnK0Vsk [https://perma.cc/ZY8X-HDM5].
159. Id .
160. See ACLU , IN FOR A PENNY: THE RISE OF AMERICA'S NEW DEBTORS' PRISONS ( 2010 ), https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/InForAPenny_web.pdf [https://perma.cc/CGK8-4NKT].
161. See Robert Patrick, Judge Approves $4 . 7 Million Settlement to Those Jailed for Unpaid Fines in Jennings, ST . LOUIS POST-DISPATCH (Dec. 14 , 2016 ), http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and -courts/judge-approves-million-settlement-tothose-jailed-for-unpaid-fines/article_030c999a-00a0-56fb-a006-cda8bb2121b7 .html [https://perma.cc/3KG2-8BT8].
162. See id.
163. See id.