Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The law firm of Williams Oinonen LLC is grateful to have both partners, Mario Williams and Julie Oinonen, as honorees for the Rising Star Super Lawyers Award for a third year in a row. While up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent in the state of Georgia are named to Rising Stars.

Specializing in wrongful death, injury, and injustices, the partners at Williams Oinonen LLC fight to protect the legal, Constitutional, and civil rights of all people. It is our privilege to represent hard working Georgians all over the state. Whether you are an educator in one of Georgia’s 180 school districts dealing with an employment matter, a business owner in the city of Atlanta, or a farmer in rural Georgia struggling with a business dispute, or whether you are a family facing the loss of a loved one due to an injury or injustice–here you will receive the same excellent service of results driven aggressive advocacy.

Good Georgia Lawyers, the attorneys at Williams Oinonen LLC are committed to upholding their Attorney Oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Georgia.”

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Mario Williams and Julie Oinonen were panel speakers on the recent program on Civil Rights Cases on Police Misconduct, a John Lewis Fellows program with Humanity in Action (HIA), in partnership with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR).
The John Lewis Fellowship, named after civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis, is a collaborative, human rights focused educational program for American and European university students and recent graduates that is bringing together a leading international educational organization, HIA and NCCHR, a cultural institution that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to broader international human rights movements. With HIA and NCCHR, the fellowship aims to explore diversity, human rights, and social justice and tasks the fellows with using their knowledge for the common good in their respective communities and countries.
The law firm of Williams Oinonen LLC is proud to be a supporter of the John Lewis Fellows Program, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and Congressman John Lewis. The law firm was privileged to serve the Congressman as their client, providing opponent research and campaign strategy during his last election campaign season.
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A Federal District Court has ordered a trial in a wrongful death civil rights case brought by our client, Lena Williams, individual and as administrator of the Estate of her son, the Decedent, Mr. Melvin Williams. On May 14, 2010, an officer of the East Dublin Police Department fatally shot Mr. Melvin Williams.

Plaintiff argued before the District Court that the officer’s conduct was unreasonable and thus violated the constitutional and state law rights of the Decedent. The officer attacked the Decedent, who is heard on the video repeatedly screaming, “what is wrong with you?” Then seconds later, the officer fatally shot the Decedent while standing numerous feet away, and while knowing the Decedent was unarmed. The alleged criminal violation at issue was a “rolled” stop sign about 10 minutes prior to the attack on the Decedent. We dispute that a traffic violation ever occurred because all the independent evidence demonstrates that no traffic violation occurred.

One interesting aspect of the case is that, at the time the officer attacked the Decedent, the officer did not have his general police powers or specific powers of arrest under Georgia law, according to the District Court’s factual findings.

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From Williams Oinonen LLC Concerning Dr. Tori Reynolds Jackson

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tribunal.JPGStudent disciplinary tribunals are notoriously difficult to win, a recent study showing that 89 to 91 percent of students are found guilty and lose their tribunal hearing.

Good Georgia Education Lawyer has been very fortunate to have a solid track record of success, including this past week where she won a student disciplinary tribunal for her client who was facing expulsion or alternative school.

Ms. Oinonen and her clients were very gratified and the fairness and objectivity of the hearing officer who found her client to not be in violation of the code of conduct charges and determined that “no further action” was needed against him in terms of discipline. The student was permitted to return to school and make up his school work.

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Good Georgia Civil Rights Attorney Mario Williams’s lawsuit was featured again in today’s recent issue of Buzzfeed.

The article features what happened to transgendered woman, Zahara Green. The article describes how between Ms. Green’s first day in prison and becoming repeatedly raped—she had met with the warden in person, then wrote to the warden and deputy warden of security for help, then finally asked to be put in protective custody. The result was only to find herself assigned to share her protective custody cell with her rapist.

Buzzfeed writes a full feature on Ms. Green that you can view here:

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Here is Gilda Day’s Response Brief in her case before the Georgia Court of Appeals. Many Floyd County Association of Educator members have wished to see it. For easier viewing, click on the brief and you can view it on the Scribd webpage:

a15a0402 – Brief of Appellee -Ee Gilda Day

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Attached below is Gilda Day’s Appeals Brief before the Georgia Court of Appeals. You can click on it to get to the Scribd webpage for easy viewing:

a15a0401 – Brief of Appellant Gilda Day

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Georgia Education Lawyer Julie Oinonen is representing DeKalb County teachers and Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) members in a suit against DeKalb County School District. The lawsuit alleges strong-arm bully tactics by the school district. See the Courthouse News article on it here.

Good Georgia Lawyer contends that this issue is part of the ongoing war on teachers and public education that is driving educators out of the profession and further destroying teacher morale. Each year, educators move to different parts of Georgia transferring to other school districts for any number of reasons such as professional career opportunities, financial, health, or family reasons. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit had to move due to very important family needs. They notified their principals and gave the earliest possible notice. Then they helped find new hires to replace their position, thus causing absolutely no financial loss to the School District.

The District bullied the teachers by threatening their teaching certification which all teachers need to keep in good standing in order to teach and maintain gainful employment to provide for their families. The District claimed that it was a sanctionable action by the PSC (the Professional Standards Commission, the regulatory body for teacher certification.) The trouble is that wasn’t true and the District knew it. Paul Shaw, Director of the PSC had already advised them that for teachers to resign prior to June 1st would not be considered a sanctionable violation of the code of ethics.

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The attack on public education and teachers is relentless and continues.

The source of these attacks come from the pro-charter corporate, big money anti-union movement that has swept the nation funded by hedge fund billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Bill Gates, the Waltons and more. Unfortunately both Democrats and Republicans have really drank the Kool-Aid on that one through Hollywood propaganda, Teach for America, and corporate lobby interests. It has especially been seen through Michelle Rhee (who is the former boss of the APS new Superintendent) and the movement to privatize public education by Board-TFA takeover. No political party has clean hands when it has come to buying into this propaganda. Sadly, slowly but surely teachers, parents, and communities are learning they have fallen prey to a giant bait and switch. Succumbed by promises of “local school governance” and “greater flexibility” they don’t realize what they’ve given up—necessary accountability and transparency which protects our students, teachers, and public schools—until it is too late.

The latest is the push is for districts to choose to become a charter system by June 2015. Charter advocates believe this is a good thing because it allows more flexibility. The problem is that it throws accountability out the window. Laws that regulate classroom size or teacher qualifications are good things not bad. Whether it is big banks that need regulation to protect consumers from subprime mortgage lending, or laws that protect kids from having oversized classrooms and unqualified teachers, rules are set in place to protect our schools and provide accountability.