Chris Bridges to Present at ‘Race Matters’ Seminar Presented by the National Police Accountability Project

Christopher Bridges of the Equal Justice Society will be a presenter at the “Race Matters” seminar on June 21 in St. Paul, Minn., hosted by the National Police Accountability Project. The seminar, sponsored by Thomson Reuters and The Halpern Group, will cover how race affects police misconduct trials.

Friday, June 21, 2019
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Mitchell Hamline School of Law
875 Summit Ave. St Paul, Minn.
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In addition to Chris, the seminar will feature the following speakers:

  • Michael Avery, Professor Emeritus, Suffolk Law School, New Orleans, LA
  • The Honorable Bernice Donald, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis, TN
  • Frederick K. Brewington, Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington, Hempstead, NY
  • Karen Jo Koonan, NJP Litigation Consulting, Oakland, CA
  • John L. Burris, Law Offices of John L. Burris, Oakland, CA
  • Robert Bennett, Gaskins, Bennett & Birrell LLP, Minneapolis, MN
  • William Goodman, Goodman & Hurwitz, Detroit, MI
  • Prof. Burnele Venable Powell, University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, SC

NPAP is applying for 6.0 credit hours from the Minnesota MCLE Board, including one credit hour for Elimination of Bias and one credit hour for Ethics. NPAP has negotiated a discounted rate for rooms at The Saint Paul Hotel. You must book by Thursday, May 30, 2019 to book your room at a reduced rate.

Learn more and register:

4th Circuit Decision: Implicit Bias a More Probable Cause of Discrimination Today

By Mona Tawatao, National Implicit Bias Network

A decision issued last week by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals included a groundbreaking acknowledgment that modern-day discrimination is more likely caused by “nuanced decisions” and implicit bias.

In Woods v. City of Greensboro, the court reinforced established precedent that says that just because plaintiffs claiming race discrimination were treated favorably in the first instance does not mean they are foreclosed from trying to prove that subsequent unfavorable treatment by the same actor is discriminatory.

The City first decided to enter into an economic development loan agreement with a black-owned television network, but later voted against entering into the agreement even though network had more than enough collateral to secure the loan, the City had made a loan to a non-minority business under similar circumstances. Historically, the City had made very few loans to minority businesses.

The network sued the City for race discrimination based on violation of equal protection and other claims, but the trial court dismissed the case because the City had initially recommended the owners of the network for the loan and first voted to extend the loan.

The appeals court said the trial court was wrong to dismiss the case, particularly at the initial phase of the case when the network had not had a chance to obtain more evidence from the City to prove their case.

The appeals court analogized the situation to absolving a company of wrongdoing for denying women positions once they become pregnant just because the company recruited those women to their firm in the first place.

Importantly, the appeals court explained that in this day and age, explicit, across-the-board discrimination by any one actor is highly unlikely.  Rather, discrimination is more likely to occur as the result of “nuanced decisions” and implicit bias.

Alluding to what it saw as the trial court’s flawed reasoning, the court warned that discrimination cases based on “more subtle theories of stereotyping or implicit bias” are particularly at risk of premature dismissal “should a judge substitute his or her view of the likely reason for a particular action” instead of operating under the proper standard, in this case, the rule that initial good or fair conduct does not insulate an actor from liability for subsequent discriminatory conduct.

In acknowledging the pervasiveness of implicit bias and the subtle and insidious ways that modern-day discrimination works, this case provides a solid framework for getting past the initial hurdle of stating one’s race discrimination case, when the defendant has mixed motives or the defendant’s actions have not been uniformly negative toward the plaintiff.

Mona Tawatao is a founding member of the National Implicit Bias Network and a Senior Litigator at the Western Center on Law & Poverty. Mona also co-chairs the Equal Justice Society board of directors.