George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative

The George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative is a ten-year initiative to provide litigation and public policy advocacy in areas related to racial and economic justice, including voting rights, housing, consumer protection, and educational access.  In 2017, MCJ and Rob McDuff jointly launched the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative, which is named in honor of longtime MCJ board member the late George Riley.

Cases Under the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative include:

Harness v. Hosemann (S.D. MS)—suit to invalidate provision of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 that was adopted to disenfranchise people convicted of particular offenses that were deemed to be “black crimes.” Summary judgment granted for the State. Appeal to 5th Circuit pending.

Mississippi v. Navient Corporation, Sallie Mae Bank and Navient Solutions LLC. (Chancery Court, Hinds Co, MS)—suit where we have joined the Mississippi Attorney General in challenging behavior of student loan lender and servicer. Defendants’ motion to dismiss denied.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Currier (S.D. MS)—suit challenging many of the state’s abortion restrictions. Injunctions issued for both 15 week ban and heartbeat bill. 15-week ban argue in the 5th Circuit 10/7.

Thomas v. Bryant (S.D. MS)—suit challenging the district lines of one Mississippi State Senate District in the Delta to create an additional majority African American district where African American voters can elect a candidate of choice.  5th Circuit panel affirmed Judge Reeves’ decision requiring new lines for District 22, which were used in the primary and will be used in the general election in November. The 5th Circuit, on its own motion, set the case for en banc hearing in January.

Martinez v Hancock County (S.D. MS)—suit against the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for the unlawful detention of a Hispanic family from South Carolina stopped on I-10 near the Mississippi Gulf Coast on their way to take the children’s grandmother home to Mexico.   Settled—in addition to a payment to the plaintiffs, the Hancock County Sheriff’s office agreed to adopt new policies and undergo training on implicit bias to avoid racial profiling in the future.

McLemore v. Hosemann (S.D. MS)—suit challenging the provision in Mississippi’s constitution that allows the Mississippi House of Representatives to choose the winner of elections for statewide state-level offices if no candidate wins both a majority of the popular vote (as opposed to a plurality) and a majority of the house districts. Motion for preliminary injunction pending.

State v. Curtis Flowers—Motions to dismiss and for bail pending in Montgomery County Circuit Court, where Curtis Flowers faces a possible 7th trial for murder in a case where the prosecution has been unable to obtain a legally valid conviction despite six prior trials in a case that has spanned the last 22 years.