10 November 2014

Who is the Amistad Law Project on the Mumia Abu-Jamal lawsuit?

I'm pretty sure that the website for the Amistad Law Project, a "West Philadelphia-based public interest law center" founded last month, does not meet the standards of the Pennsylvania Rules for Professional Conduct.

The lawyers do not give their complete names, so you can't look them up to see if they have professional malpractice insurance or find out if there's been any disciplinary history against them. You can't even see if they're, you know, actual lawyers licensed in Pennsylvania since they give just their first names. But, hey, at least Ashley, who also goes by the name of Kris, lets you know what their preferred gender pronoun is.

Fortunately, the ALP's attorneys are co-counsel on Mumia Abu-Jamal's lawsuit to halt the anti-First Amendment "Revictimization Relief Act" that Governor Corbett signed into law in October. I say fortunately, because the lawsuit paperwork includes the ALP's attorneys' full names and Pennsylvania Bar ID numbers.

You shouldn't have to go spelunking to find out your lawyer's full name and status to practice in Pennsylvania. The Revictimization Relief Act is stupid law, and it's unconstitutional on its face; but the attorneys who are fighting it should be acting like real attorneys. Anyway, my temp gig at a local legal services nonprofit is up, so I have a little bit of time on my hands today. I did the spelunking for you! ALP's attorneys are:

Ashley Kristin Henderson, attorney ID number 313492, admitted 28 November 2012

Deneekie Kaleel Grant, attorney ID number 314220, admitted 28 November 2012

Neither of the attorneys carries professional liability insurance. To be clear, Pennsylvania licensure rules do not include a requirement that an attorney carry professional liability insurance. (A legal malpractice plaintiff's attorney I know would argue vigorously that it is unethical, though legal, to practice without such insurance.) But if you do carry insurance, then you have to carry a minimum amount. And if you don't carry insurance, then you have to disclose that fact to your client and to the licensure authority. Now, you can tell the authority one of two things. You can say, "I don't carry insurance, but I do have clients and thus possible liability issues." Or you can say, "I don't carry insurance, but that's OK because I don't take clients." The ALP lawyers have gone this second route. It doesn't look factual to me, because they're signed onto the lawsuit as counsel, not as amicus.

But in any event, I wish them all the luck in the world on this lawsuit. As I say, it's a very bad law, and the lawsuit looks competently drafted (PDF). Onward and upward!

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