Recent Events

2017 Civil Rights Etouffee 

Left to right:  Afternoon Plenary Panel, Impact Litigation and Social Justice Advocates: Elissa Johnson, Southern Poverty Law Center; Stanley Young, Covington & Burling, Professor Tracie Washington, Dillard University, Hon. Ivan L. R. Lemelle, III, USDJ EDLa, Wylie Stecklow, FBA Civil Rights National Chair

David Thompson, Stecklow & Thompson; Robert McDuff,  McDuff & Byrd; Alysson Mills, Fishman Haygood; J. Dalton Courson, Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann

Key Note Speaker, Hon. Kenneth Polite, former US Attorney, E.D.La

Civil Rights lawyers from around the country stood with the FBA Civil Rights Section in New Orleans on April 7, 2017 for the Civil Rights Etouffee CLE.  With supportive help of the FBA New Orleans Chapter, President Kelly Scalise and Executive Director CC Kahr, the event was destined for greatness, and greatness was achieved.

The excitement of the Etouffee team of Stephen Haedicke (New Orleans), Darpana Sheth (DC), Theresa Powell (Ilinois) and FBA Civil Rights Section Chair Wylie Stecklow (NYC) had spread to local NOLA law students, public interest counsel from Southern Poverty Law Center, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, ACLU and private attorneys from New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Idaho and more.  Two weeks before, the inaugural Etouffee, the CLE was sold out!

From the morning plenary Immigration panel led by Jeffrey Feinbloom, exploring civil rights issues and executive orders; to the break-out sessions, each panel was well attended, topically current and thought provoking.  Attendees were treated to a true Nola lunch catered by Café Reconcile of blackened catfish, jambalaya, vegetarian red beans and shrimp etouffee.  

The Hon. Kenneth Polite, making his first public speech following the end of his term as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, delivering a powerful talk on issues ranging from successful prosecutions he had brought to a review and response to the recent Department of Justice commentary that consent decrees involving police departments were based on anecdotal evidence. 

“That opinion is false, misleading & misinformed …  Let me tell you an anecdote about the Danziger Bridge and a conspiracy coverup of epic proportions.” A detailed story about murderous abuse of power in a post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans followed. While Mr. Polite began his key-note repeating, “I’m not running for Mayor, I’m not running for Mayor, I’m not running for Mayor,” I, for one, cannot wait for the day that our incredible key-note speaker does seeks public office. 

The afternoon plenary session of Impact Litigation and Social Justice Advocates, moderated by the Honorable Judge Ivan Lemelle, joined by Stanley Young (Covington & Burling), Elissa Johnson (Southern Poverty Law Center), & Professor Tracie Washington (Dillard University). Among other topics, this panel explained the impact litigation which led to the inglorious fall of infamous Arizona Sheriff Joe Araipo. The four afternoon break out panels, including one with education attorney specialist Caryl Oberman, and another organized by David Thompson on behalf of the nascent LGBT Law Section of the FBA concerning recent litigation seeking to overturn Religious Freedom laws (which seek to legalize LGBT discrimination).
The Etouffee’s success is undeniable. Handwritten reviews received from participants included commentary, “Best CLE I’ve ever attended” to “All speakers and topics were timely and well-informed” to “it is so hard to find civil rights CLE’s, more of this please.”

Planning soon begins for the next Etouffee, and its CLE team is in formation. If you are not an active FBA Civil Rights Section member, but want to step up, please let us know. Our goal is to continue the Etouffee as the go to Civil Rights CLE each year.


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