Saturday, December 9, 2006

Web Resource: Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse

Thanks to Margo Schlanger for a tip about a great new web resource, made available by Washington University Law School. The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse provides on-line access to documents in civil rights cases in the areas of Child Welfare, Disability Rights, Election/Voting Rights, Immigration, Jail Conditions, Juvenile Institution, Mental Health Facility, Mental Retardation Facility, Nursing Home Conditions, Police Non-Profiling, Police Profiling, Prison Conditions, Public Housing, School Desegregation. According to the website: "The site is dedicated to injunctive rather than damages litigation—that is, to cases seeking policy or operational change, not cases seeking money. For each of the categories, our eventual goal is to include a close-to-comprehensive catalog of the cases in which plaintiffs have actually been awarded or negotiated such change."

Case-related documents go beyond links to court opinions. What makes this resource so valuable is that Schlanger and her colleagues are making available documents through the course of litigation at the trial court level and after. The site is still in development, and coverage is more complete for newer cases than for older ones, but some of the interesting documents you can find include:

Also particularly helpful is an essay by Margo Schlanger and Denise Lieberman about using the records for research and teaching, published in the UMKC Law Review, and available on the site and here.

The St. Louis Dispatch reported on the project here, noting that "Over the last 50 years, civil rights litigation has spurred dramatic changes in American life, affecting hiring, housing, voting, education, law enforcement and the justice system itself. The litigation has produced countless reams of important documents, which are difficult and time-consuming to find and search through. To remedy the problem — and preserve a critical part of our nation's history — a team of professors and students at the Washington University School of Law has created a free electronic library that opened to the public for the first time last month. The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, the brainchild of law professor Margo Schlanger, houses thousands of documents including settlements, court orders, opinions, case study research, key filings and other papers related to more than 1,000 civil rights cases."

A limitation of the site is that links for court opinions often take you to the subscription services Westlaw and Lexis. Researchers without access to those services can often paste the casenames into Google, and find the cases at non-subscription sites like FindLaw. Even with this limitation, the Clearinghouse is a superb resource.

1 comment:

  1. Eugene, Oregon and inhuman rights

    It has been about 4 weeks since the Eugene police shot and killed a person with a mental problem. At that same time the Lane County was having an "“informal limited" hearing concerning a “not for profit” in Cottage Grove, Oregon engaging in fraudulent housing practices funded by Federal dollars. So what, you might say. What does it matter if the HOME TBA program does not follow federal regulations. So what, if they retaliate by kicking a disabled person off of a federally funded housing program. So what if the Lane County Human Services Department not only condones the practice, but forces a “limited” hearing so that the known abuses will not be heard. We were shot at by our landlord. The first time a deputy went up to talk with him, you could hear them laughing. Over a 2-week period he shot at our house 13 times with a shotgun. You could hear the pellets hitting the building and rolling off the porch. We were able to capture the sound of the shot and the pellets hitting the house while on the phone with 911. The three Lane County Deputies watched the tape, I gave them a copy. The next day they went and told the landlord, “don’t do that any more.” The Lane County Human Services Department were aware that the “not for profit” had violated HUD regulations, that the person in charge of HOME TBA in their department had sent our landlords lawyer bogus rental papers in an attempt to get us illegally evicted. They knew that there was an on going process to harass and intimidate us. Yet they decided that it was OK by their standards. So why should you care? At the same time, Lane County Oregon was approving a 10-year plan to end homelessness. The HOME TBA is part of that plan. It is being cloned in over 200 Counties across the United States. When I asked the State of Oregon’s Housing and Community Service’s how I would get a hearing through them, they wrote the grant for the federal funds for the HOME TBA Program. They said, “ we have no control over how the “not for profit” administers the program, there is no hearing or grievance process.” That is why you should be concerned. No matter which state you live in, they are setting up a process in 200 counties across the USA for 10-years with no oversight or process to complain. A few BILLION DOLLARS of money with no accountability.

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