Welcome the Social and Criminal Justice Committee!

In the midst of mass protests over the murder of George Floyd, leadership in the Cincinnati Bar found themselves struggling to find a voice. Many were asking questions about police conduct, inequities in the criminal legal system, and the underlying social justice issues prompting the intense response from communities across the country and here in Cincinnati, such as the thousands of people on the streets protesting in support of the movement for Black lives. Questions arose about the responsibility of the organized bar in our community to respond, to educate, and to involve themselves in criminal and social justice issues. This led to the creation of the Social and Criminal Justice Committee. The Social and Criminal Justice Committee is a home for lawyers who remain interested in these questions and other social justice issues. 

To grapple with the questions emerging during and after the 2020 uprisings, it is necessary to become introspective about our own legal practices, about our relationships to the community at large and to our clients, and about the realities of both civil practice and our criminal legal system—including our courts, police agencies, jails, prisons, social services, housing, and more. Regardless of our practice areas or our roles in court, all of us are participants in a legal system that affects—both positively and negatively—social justice issues in the community. 

The Social and Criminal Justice Committee is a forum for examining these questions and more. We are committed to making social justice a central priority in our own practices, to building relationships and identifying opportunities to support the work of community organizers and leaders in pursuit of social justice, to educate the bar about those issues in our community, and to examine and address the ways in which we unintentionally perpetuate or create conditions that undermine equity in our legal system. 

The insights and experiences of community organizers and leaders, along with the collective skills and knowledge of our committee members, will be integral to offering support and education both inside and outside of the bar. We are excited to build relationships between the bar and the community and to take direction from the local community in identifying today’s pressing social justice issues.

Ultimately, we aim to inspire the legal community to commit to do better and be better in how we engage in those issues in our legal practices and beyond. We welcome attorneys from all practice areas and experience levels. We prioritize the perspectives of BIPOC, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized people. This committee is still establishing itself and we are seeking members interested in shaping our work. Please join us for our next meeting in March at the CBA office at 225 East Sixth Street. We hope you will join us on that mission, and that you will take part in our committee’s efforts to contribute to the groundwork laid by so many before us in furtherance of social justice, equity in our legal system, and equality before
the law.

Greene and Gallagher are co-chairs of the Social and Criminal Justice Committee. Greene is civil rights attorney at Friedman, Gilbert + Gerhardstein. Gallagher serves as a partner at Arenstein and Gallagher.