Campo Sano: LatCrit Community Campus

The U.S. legal system is structurally biased against the poor, the elderly, minorities, and many other vulnerable communities.  Regardless of the distinctions in the narrative of each oppressed community, what they have in common is that the legal system does not recognize their voice.  Only the wealthy can even hope to buy access to the best legal counsel, but counsel who enjoy power within this judicial system typically have no incentive to change a legal system which protects and benefits them individually and as a class.  Those who are marginalized for whatever reason therefore have little chance, simply because there is no judge or elected politician forthright enough to admit that they walk by human trash on the street just as quickly as the rest of us.  Convinced that neither political party (as Republicans, Liberals, Democrats, Independents, etc.) will change unfair arrangements that lawyers benefit from, based in part on their position and status with the local courts, a movement was formed sixteen years ago to raise a continued, pointed, and direct attack upon multiple combinations of bias in the legal system through education, training, scholarship, advocacy and activism—the LatCrit movement.  Although this is a new voice, it is a proven one with an exploding level of scholarship and proven record of social and legal activism, both on its own and in concert with other organizations and individuals.  An illustrative example of some of the LatCrit scholarship and activism is attached hereto as Exhibit A (for more information on the LatCrit Portfolio of Projects, publications, and related activities, see also www.latcrit.org).

Based in Miami, the LatCrit organization is a registered, tax-exempt nonprofit corporation under the laws of Florida and IRS regulations.  LatCrit community members include academics, activists, practitioners, law students and others across the state, country and hemisphere who have made a professional commitment to give a voice to those who otherwise would not be heard in education, law and social justice reforms.  LatCrit members are a committed group of leading innovators in academic and grassroots communities with a well-established record of working independently as well as in coalitions and alliances to effectuate anti-bias education and legal reforms.  A listing of some of the leaders in the LatCrit effort is attached hereto as Exhibit B.  Through student recruitment, educational initiatives, cutting-edge scholarship, proposed legislation, strategic lobbying, grassroots efforts, and high-impact litigation, the LatCrit movement has for 15 years been challenging the current legal system’s bias in favor of the privileged.  Because they’ve received little to no funding, however, the LatCrit group—with members in all 50 states as well as international members—have operated diffusely and communicated chiefly via email, correspondence, and periodic meetings.    Unfortunately, groups like the Federalist Society, with massive corporate funding, and Supreme Court decisions like Citizen’s United (which permits corporations to give almost unlimited amounts to political campaigns that reinforce incumbents and their biases), have drowned out many challenges by LatCrit community members.  

To level the playing field and to give the LatCrit activists a fighting chance to be heard, they have purchased a small facility near Ocala, Florida to serve as the hub of their educational, research, advocacy and activism to remedy the imbalance and deficiencies in the current legal system. Having an independent physical base has become critical as universities and law schools increasingly are even less equipped to focus on legal problems of the poor and the “outsiders” of society due to increasing budgetary, bureaucratic and political constraints.  After sixteen years of laying the groundwork for this bricks-and-mortar move, this “Living Justice Center” located in the middle of the state will enable LatCrits to take their teaching, learning and writing projects on behalf of the underprivileged to the next level of sustainability and effectiveness.