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ACLU Mississippi

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, jtom@aclu-ms.org or 601-354-3408, if you are interested in helping with this work in Mississippi.

Work & Deliverables

Short-term project:
(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.

This project is complete!

This project has been completed thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

Visit the Project Directory to check out other projects that still need your help!

Additional Information

  • Time Commitment: 21+ hours
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Additional Training Details: Volunteers will be provided with training on how to navigate the public records process in Mississippi.
  • Site-Preference: Remote
  • Open to Law Students: No
  • Bar License(s) required: Any Bar License
  • Required Languages: None
  • Mentoring Provided: Yes
  • Supervision Provided: Yes
ACLU Mississippi

For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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