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National Lawyers Guild - Tulane Chapter

Welcome to the Tulane Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild! 

The NLG Tulane Chapter was founded in 2006 by Tulane students interested in promoting the ideals and interests of the NLG National Board. We believe in the importance of law students utilizing their position within the community to promote social change. Our student members collaborate in using the law for social, political, and economic justice. We seek to educate ourselves and the New Orleans community about current issues affecting economic and social justice, to provide Tulane Law students with pro bono opportunities, and increase awareness of the Tulane Law School community in support of these initiatives.

The NLG Tulane Chapter holds member meetings periodically throughout the school year to plan and implement our collective agenda. Any Tulane Law student is eligible and encouraged to join! Contact Allyson Page or Bruce Reilly for more information.


2001-2012 Schedule of Events: 


Monday 3/5/2012
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. CST
    Success Without Victory: Radical Litigation in an Era of Conservative Courts

Gillis Long Poverty Center Presents: Jules Lobel, "Success Without Victory: Radical Litigation in an Era of Conservative Courts" Monday, March 5, 6pm Loyola Law, Room 308 Professor Lobel will speak as part of the Gillis Long Annual Lecture and Public Service Awards ceremony. Professor Jules Lobel is the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a renowned author and litigator on issues of human and constitutional rights.

Wednesday 3/21/2012
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. CDT
    Steering Committee Meeting

Al's House: 1729 Gen Pershing Friday 3/23/2012 Noon - 3/24/2012 5:30 p.m. CDT People's Law Conference Registration details on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/292553730812204/ Location: First Grace United Methodist Church

Sunday 3/25/2012
1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. CDT
    Prison to School Pipeline

Speakers: Andres Idarraga, Yale Law (’11); Daryl Atkinson, St. Thomas Law (’07); Calvin Duncan, Tulane School of Continuing Studies Moderator: Bruce Reilly, NLG-Tulane A panel of formerly incarcerated people discussing systemic barriers to education and the broader societal impact. Location: TBD

Thursday 3/29/2012     Lecture w/ Roger Weeden on the Occupy Movement

Time and place TBA

Thursday 3/29/2012     TENTATIVE Networking Event

Unconfirmed event. Time and Place TBA

Thursday 4/19/2012
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. CDT
    Are Charter Schools a Trojan Horse?

Speakers: Dana Kaplan, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; et. al. Moderator: Tyler Whittneberg, NLG-Tulane An explanation of NOLA's charter school experiment and its current impact on young people's futures. Location: TLS room


2008-09 Academic year 

March 30: As part of our Student Day Against the Death Penalty campaign, we welcomed John Thompson, Dan Bright, Greg Bright, and Ryan Matthews to tell their stories of wrongful conviction and life after exoneration.  Visit www.r-a-e.org for more information.

voices of innocence 




Louisiana’s Wrongfully Convicted Men Tell Their Stories 




Dan Bright was convicted of murder and sentenced to death based on the testimony of a single eyewitness. The jury did not hear that the eyewitness was a habitual criminal who was blind drunk and in violation of his probation at the time of the crime. The jury also did not hear that the FBI had been told by an informant that Dan was innocent and another individual was guilty of the crime, a fact corroborated by the other man’s girlfriend. The Louisiana Supreme Court threw out Dan’s conviction and he was not retried. Dan now works as a counselor for at risk youth.

Greg Bright and his co-defendant Earl Truvia did not know each other before they were arrested. The jury only took seventeen minutes to convict them as co-perpetrators of a murder. Over twenty years later, Innocence Project New Orleans found that the State’s only witness had been a mentally ill drug addict testifying under a false name. New evidence also showed that the witness could not have even seen the crime scene and contradicted the coroner on when the crime occurred. After a full-scale hearing Greg and Earl’s convictions were reversed and the State eventually agreed to release them. 

John Thompson was sentenced to death for a murder that he did not commit. Prosecutors hid evidence from a previous carjacking charge that proved John was completely innocent so that he would be unable to defend himself fully when on trial for the murder. Only years later, as John neared his seventh execution date, did his lawyers uncover the prosecutors’ actions. The courts gave John a new trial and, once the jury heard all of the evidence pointing towards his innocence and the guilt of one of the State’s witnesses, they took only thirty minutes to acquit him. John is now helping other prisoners rebuild their lives and is the director of the Resurrection After Exoneration (RAE). 

Ryan Matthews was convicted of 1st degree murder as the perpetrator of a botched robbery. His friend Travis Hayes was convicted of 2nd degree murder as the getaway driver. After Ryan’s conviction, his lawyers heard that another man was bragging about committing the crime and found this man’s DNA matched that found on the perpetrator’s ski mask. The prosecution grudgingly agreed to release Ryan, but fought for another 2½ years to keep Travis behind bars. Ryan joined the campaign for Travis’s release and, after lengthy hearings that clearly established both men’s innocence, the judge ordered Travis released. 





October 20: Legal Observer training with Loyola Law School. The primary role of the Legal Observer is to be the eyes and ears of the legal team--to observe and record incidents and the activities of law enforcement in relation to the demonstrators. This includes documenting, for example, any arrest, use of force, intimidating display of force, denial of access to public spaces like parks and sidewalks, and any other behavior on the part of law enforcement that appears to restrict demonstrators’ ability to express their political views.


Public Interest Speaker Series, 2008 

October 24: Katie Schwartzmann & Marjorie Esman of the American Civil Liberties Union Louisiana
Ms. Schwartzmann, an alumna of Tulane, will discuss her work as Legal Director for the ACLU-LA, and how she pursued a public interest career during and after her graduation from Tulane Law. Marjorie Esman was a professor at Tulane and is now the ACLU of LA's Executive Director. Marjorie will be speaking about the ACLU's broader policy work, and she may brief us on some of the current human rights-related legislation in LA.  

October 8: Emily Maw, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans. http://www.ip-no.org/ 

September 29: Judge Calvin Johnson, former New Orleans criminal court judge, spoke about the importance of public interest legal work.

September 24: We co-hosted journalist Jerry Mitchell, whose investigative reporting has brought unpunished KKK members to justice in several cases hailing from the civil rights era. 

October 18: We assisted the St. Bernard Project in rebuilding a home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. http://www.stbernardproject.org

Additionally, our members will be participating in ongoing volunteer work for the Orleans Public Defender, assisting in the First Appearances process at Orleans Parish Jail.

2008 Law for the People Convention 

Past Events (2007-08 Academic year)

James Lee  We hosted James Yee on April 21, to speak about his experience as a former Guantanamo Bay Muslim Army chaplain.
Our members spread the word about NLG's Day Against the Death Penalty. 2008 Abolition Now 
Justice in Jena  Our Chapter participated as legal observers at a rally surrounding the sentencing of Mychal Bell, one of the "Jena Six," on September 20.

National Office Website:

National Lawyers Guild history lesson: 

  • In 1937, the NLG was formed as the first racially-integrated bar association.
  • In the 1940's the NLG fought to strike down Jim Crow laws.
  • In the 1950's they represented thousands of victims of the anti-communist hysteria during the McCarthy era.
  • In the 1960's they organized thousands of volunteer lawyers and law students to provide legal support for the Civil Rights Movement.
  • In the 1970's Guild members argued U.S. v. U.S. District Court, the Supreme Court case that established that Nixon could not ignore the Bill of Rights in the name of "national security" - leading to the Watergate hearings and Nixon's resignation.
  • In the 1980's, the Guild organized "People's Tribunals" to expose the illegality of U.S. intervention in Central America - more widely known as the "Iran-Contra" scandal.
  • See the full history - and more - at http://www.nlg.org/  


Questions, comments, and concerns should be directed to kyancey@tulane.edu. 


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