Founded in 1994, the Partnership for Civil Justice Legal Defense & Education Fund (PCJ-LDEF) defines itself as “a public interest legal organization … that handles a broad range of complex constitutional rights litigation matters including First Amendment litigation, employment and public accommodation discrimination cases, economic justice issues and defense of targeted communities and political organizations and activists.” Acting as the legal wing of Ramsey Clark‘s International Action Center (IAC), PCJ-LDEF consists solely of National Lawyers Guild (NLG) attorneys Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hillard. It provides legal defense for protesters arrested during leftist demonstrations on such matters as peace and immigration. It also works closely with NLG to train and dispatch “legal observers” to monitor and document instances of police misconduct at major demonstrations in which IAC-related organizations participate.
PCJ-LDEF has produced a publication titled “Know Your Rights if the Police Stop You or Come to Your Home,” and another titled, “Know Your Rights When the Government, FBI or INS Calls on You,” which is available in English, Arabic, and Farsi. The latter answers the question, “What should I do if agents come to question me?” It advises readers, “You do not have to talk to the police, FBI, INS, or any other law-enforcement agent or investigator … You do not have to let police or other law-enforcement agents into your home unless they have a search warrant or arrest warrant.”
Viewing the United States as a nation characterized by “disturbing and marked movement towards reactionary government policies in general,” PCJ-LDEF aims to bring about “progressive and radical social change” via grassroots efforts.
Among the organizations for which PCJ-LDEF has provided legal representation are Alliance for Global Justice, International ANSWER, the National Council of Arab Americans, and Voices in the Wilderness.