In this wide-ranging interview, TLC faculty member and former TLC Board member Mel Orchard lends his wisdom, knowledge, and experience to the issue of Civil Rights and qualified immunity.
Mel has served as a trial lawyer for over 27 years, and his passion for his work still burns bright. Here he discusses his concerns about efforts underway to further limit the liability of corporations for harm to their workers and to the public - an issue of particular urgency in the harsh light of the Covid-19 pandemic. "Of the three pillars of our democracy, our judiciary is still, in American life, the most respected," Mel says. "We still have plenty of good judges; we still have plenty of good lawyers. We officers of the court are responsible for this pillar of our democracy. But the powers that want more power have been eroding this particular pillar of late like we have never seen. This is just one more chink at the bottom of the pillar. Do you think workers' lives will be safer or less safe when businesses will not be held accountable for unsafe practices?"
Mel touches on the importance of truly listening and being present, in life and in trial, rather than trying to spin and manipulate. "All you can do is listen, hope to find some common theme that makes sense, then put your trust in these people and tell an honest story."
Mel calls on his fellow TLC alumni to come together as a family to serve one another and strengthen the jury trial system. "Let's not go back on the teaching. Let's pay it forward and continue to provide safe spaces for us to be creative. We've got a world to change."
TLC Podcast host Rafe Foreman talks with photojournalist Amy Katz about her experiences in covering the Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, DC, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. In this episode, Amy shares how she was tear-gassed within 5 minutes of her arrival in Portland, despite being clearly identified as a member of the press. "During my first visit to Portland...the police really respected that we were journalists. They also were not attacking protesters...so I felt safe. But it was a totally different scene when I arrived back in Portland on July 21."
Over the ensuing ten days in Portland, Amy was tear-gassed over twenty times. "I realized that if I was going to do my job, I had to learn how to operate blindly, assuming that I would be tear-gassed and would have my eyes shut for considerable amounts of time. So I started to practice putting on my protective equipment with my eyes closed and then learn how to operate my camera...with my eyes closed so when I was blinded with tear gas I could still take pictures."
On July 29, Amy was shot with rubber bullets while walking in a single file line with several other journalists, their hands in the air waving press passes, their shirts and hats emblazoned with PRESS or NEWS MEDIA, shouting “Press!”. The shooters, wearing US military camouflage and gas masks, refused to identify themselves or the particular agency who employed them.
In this interview, Amy details the need and urgency for justice in our country and outlines the things that TLC warriors can do to help stop the chaos.
Protests are not acts of terrorism. Symbolic action is needed for free speech. But the government used tear gas and shot at the Press - hardly a symbolic act. The government attacked and assaulted the Press, protestors, and citizens who held their hands over their heads, saying "Don’t shoot!"
TLC warriors are needed to fight Civil Rights violations at a courthouse near you!