Unequal Justice: Strategies to Address Racial Bias in Your Motions and Briefs

Racial bias unfairly disadvantages our clients. This three-hour intensive training will equip you with new tools to identify, gather, and effectively argue against racial bias in your cases. This program will be a mix of lecture and workshop, where we will brainstorm strategies for effective advocacy and focus on ways to improve how we advance issues of racial bias. During the workshop portions of this training, you will have the opportunity to brainstorm strategies, create plans for attacking racial bias, and draft motions that put issues of racial injustice before the courts.

This training is led by Melissa Lee, Travis Stearns, and Lei Young, leading experts on how to raise issues of racial injustice. They will share their experiences and insights throughout the training.


Part I: Understanding Racial Bias in the Legal System 
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

This session will focus on ways to identify systemic factors, including conscious and unconscious bias. We will then brainstorm a modified case to identify how the decisions of the police, the prosecution, and the court are influenced by their biases.

Part II: Identifying and Gathering Evidence of Racial Bias 
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

This session will look at the ways racial injustice impacts governmental decisions, especially when the police seize and search our clients without a warrant. After looking at how bias impacts police interaction with our clients, we will outline how the police decisions require a court to intervene by suppressing evidence.

Part III: Crafting Legal Arguments 
3:45 PM – 4:45 PM

This last session will address additional strategies we can take to reduce the impact of bias on our legal system. By the end of this session, we will have created new motions designed to better persuade the courts that they must rule in our client’s favor whenever state action is influenced by bias.

This year’s ethics program is co-sponsored by the Washington State Office of Public Defense.