Help with investigating police misconduct in Mississippi through open records requests
This project will help expose and combat racial discrimination in policing in Mississippi
Posted August 10, 2020
Background & Context
We have reports of several Mississippi law enforcement agencies (county sheriffs and local police) engaged in racially discriminatory roadblocks – placing roadblocks disproportionately in black areas with subsequent dubious searches and seizures at those roadblocks. The ACLU of Mississippi seeks help investigating a specific police department through an open records act project. Contact Joshua Tom, Legal Director at the ACLU of Mississippi, firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-354-3408, if you are interested in helping with this work in Mississippi.
Work & Deliverables
(1) Drafting and submitting public records requests, and (2) following up to ensure the agency produces the records. This work would be done in cooperation with the ACLU of Mississippi. Estimated time commitment: one person 25 to 50 hours over the course of 2 to 3 months; dependent upon how much follow-up is needed to obtain records.
Longer-term Project -- Optional
If the law firm wants to continue with this project after records are received, the next step would involve a team of three to four attorneys analyzing the documents over the course of several months—ideally with the help of electronic discovery tools/support. This work would be done in cooperation with the ACLU of Mississippi.
Note that in a prior lawsuit against a Mississippi Sheriff over racially discriminatory policing, which resulted in a successful Consent Decree, the investigation of public records, which took ~350 hours over the course of a year, was key to building the lawsuit. It included obtaining and analyzing thousands of police records, which showed wide disparities for black people in arrests and citations.