2001 Southern Regional Conference
"Agitate and Litigate Movement Law in Margaritaville"

March 24 -25, 2001 in St. Petersburg, FL

Sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild Southern Region and the National Lawyers Guild Foundation

As we begin our work of the 21st century slogging through Bush country again, the National Lawyers Guild Southern Region had a legal rally of sorts-- two days this spring when we got together as lawyers and activists with the premise: Don't Mourn-- Organize! Agitate and Litigate!

Panels and workshops examined how the hell we got here (the Florida election debacle) and how we can move forward as labor, civil rights, and political agitators and litigators.

This regional conference was furthermore dedicated to Barney Rosenstein, a founding member of the National Lawyers Guild. What better way to plan our work for the future than to understand, honor, and express gratitude for the risks taken by our forebears. Plus Barney, movement lawyer and activist for over 63 years, is still putting us young'uns to shame in the care and energy he devotes to the struggles and principles for which the Guild was founded in the last century.

March 24-5, in St. Petersburg, Florida:  a weekend offered to build strategies and stamina for the year 2001 and beyond. (Next generation: NLG Law Student Vice President Cathleen Caron attended and chaired a law student caucus.)






9:00 - 9:45am     Registration and Orientation


10:00 - 11:15     DISABILITY RIGHTS: Lawyering and Organizing forChange

Whether you work in domestic law, prisons,labor organizing, anti-poverty policy, or any other field as a people's lawyer, you are exposed to disability issues. Whether you're in privatepractice or a public interest setting, you have a duty to comply with the ADA. Yet disability issues, like people with disabilities, are typically considered marginal, "special," removed from the central concerns of our work. This workshop will approach disability issues from the perspective of the disability rights movement -- an emerging force in the global struggle for civil and human rights that challenges not only how we do business, but also fundamental assumptions about human value and distributing and controlling resources. 

HARRIET McBRYDE JOHNSON has been a Guild lawyer in Charleston, SC for over 15 years and has been involved in the disability rights movement for 25. She has organized Charleston's Labor Day protest of the Jerry Lewis telethon for MDA 10 years running. Treasurer of the NLG Disability Rights Committee, she will gladly accept your dues. ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN, formerly a school teacher and labor organizer, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 1998 and under a NAPIL grant, began representing members of an upstart public workers union in NC. She is now with the Guild firm of Edelstein and Payne in Raleigh, NC where she continues representing union members and workers in civil rights and employment cases.



Opposition to the death penalty is growing. The ABA has called for a moratorium, along with growing numbers of individuals and politicians. The Lawyers Guild has endorsed the demand for a moratorium with the goal of abolition and, to that end, formed a death penalty committee at its last convention. Law student organizing against the death penalty has helped galvanize and intensify these efforts, with an annual law student Day Against the Death Penalty, this year on March 1. University of Miami students, and others, will share their experience and knowledge to build the movement.


11:30 - 1:15pm   MAKING EVERY VOTE COUNT: Florida, 2000

 The United States has been trumpeting the importance of "multi-party democracy" around the world, and particularly in the Balkans and former Soviet republics, for many years. Along with its junior partners in Western Europe, it has formulated standards and criteria for determining whether elections are free and fair and has sent observers around the world to make such judgements. The last presidential election has made it apparent that those countries we have judged have the right to ask whether elections in this country are free, fair and democratic. The panel will examine just how democratic the U.S. is, using international standards as a context. 

STEVE HALL, state political director for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, AFL-CIO (IUPAT). He is also a co-founder of F/CAN, the Florida Consumer Action Network. Steve was both an eyewitness and a court witness to the controversial voting rights case filed in Seminole County over the issue of missing voter identification numbers on absentee ballots. GREG SMITH, founder of On a Roll, the first and only weekly syndicated commercial radio talk show on life and disability. Born in rural Mississippi, Greg was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in the "colored" waiting room of the New Orleans hospital for "crippled children" in 1967. He started his radio career as a sportscaster and earned his BA in Broadcasting from Arizona State University. On a Roll , based in St. Pete, now airs on 18 radio stations and the worldwide Internet. KATHLEEN JOHNSON, Human Rights and Legal Advisor with the Organization for Security and Cooperation. She has a masters in international law concentrating in human rights and has been an observer and registration or election supervisor in Bosnia, Croatia, and Estonia.


1:30 - 2:45 LUNCH

Law students and supportive
practitioners will meet to discuss law school organizing and project. CATHLEEN CARON, NLG Law Student Vice President, will chair. She is a 2000 graduate of American University Washington School of Law andrecently moved to Belle Glade FL to be a NAPIL Fellow wit the Florida Legal Services Migrant Farmworker Justice Project. 

TAMPA BAY CAUCUS: An opportunity for Tampa Bay activists to confer and conspire. CHRISTINE ALLAMANNO, full-time mom raising 2 children while training her husband and studying for the FL Bar. She has practiced labor/employment/civil rights/housing law and worked as a community and union organizer. Since chairing the committee organizing this conference, Christine can most commonly be found beside a blender and a bottle of margarita mix.

3:00 - 4:45 FARMWORKER RIGHTS: Centuries of Struggle

 Many issues plaguing farmworkers today are the same ones faced over the past two centuries: low pay, poor housing and health, and no right to organize. This panel will look at two aspects of contemporary farmworker issues: organizing and legal issues. The organizing portion will explore various organizing tactics used in Florida today and their goals. The second portion will focus on current legal issues such as the guestworker programs, employer liability, Legal Services funding restrictions, legislative issues, and the future of farmwork in America. 

LUCAS BENITEZ is a co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers (CIW). He performs community organizing and education, public relations, and labor rights and direct action responsibilities for the organization. He will be accompanied by Greg Asbed, an organizer with CIW, who will serve as translator when necessary. FERNANDO CUEVAS, SR. from Orlando, FL is the Vice-President of the FLOC, and his son, FERNANDO CUEVAS, JR.. is an organizer with FLOC based in Orlando. They both have been with the FLOC for many years working from Florida to North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan and Mexico in the pickle/cucumber harvest. 

FLOC pioneered the 3-party agreements in which food processors are included in the process by which farmers and farmworker representatives negotiate as to the prices to be paid for pickles. FLOC presently has collective bargaining agreements for workers in Ohio and Michigan. FRANK CURIEL is the United Farm Workers Florida Director. His most recent accomplishment is the successful organizing drive at Quincy Farms. The Quincy Farm mushroom workers are the second, and only current, farmworkers in Florida's history to acquire a union negotiated labor contract. A second generation UFW organizer, Frank joined the UFW in 1973 and has held various positions including security for Cesar Chavez during the 1970s. Frank himself knows farmwork well, having grown up working in citrus with his family. LORI ELMER is a staff attorney at the Legal Services of North Carolina, Farmworker Division. She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 1997. North Carolina growers are the nation's leading advocates of bringing foreign workers, mostly Mexican, to work their fields through the H2A guestworker program. Lori and her program have gained recent notoriety for some high level confrontations with the aggressive North Carolina growers. DAWSON MORTON is a staff attorney at the LSC- funded Farmworker Division of Georgia Legal Services Program. He recently filed his first lawsuit alleging discrimination by a major GA agricultural employer under the H-2Aprogram. Prior to law, Dawson worked in organic agriculture and was educated at NYU Law and at Reed College. ROB WILLIAMS is the Director of the Florida Legal Services Migrant Farmworker Justice Project. In addition to years of litigation experience in Florida, Rob continues to play a key role in advocating for farmworker rights on the state and national level. Due to his expertise, the UFW often calls on him to represent its interests during farmworker legislative battles on the Hill.


**POLICE MISCONDUCT: So You Wanna Be a Civil Rights Attorney? 

Presented in conjunction with the Guild's PoliceAccountability Project, panelists will discuss the basics of policemisconduct litigation including evaluating cases, interviewing clients, fee agreements, and resources. 

MARY HOWELL, a founder of the NLG National Police Accountability Project. She is the person most responsible for the federal investigation of he New Orleans Police Department. She has appeared on 60 Minutes discussing the NOPD, been quoted extensively in the NY Times, etc. JASON HUBER, private practitioner in West Virginia. His practice has focused on police misconduct; Jason has had some remarkable successes in the 4th Circuit,the most hostile circuit to civil rights litigation in the country.


5:00 - 6:30     PLENARY: Southern Regional Business

Decisions must be made regarding organizational goals, projects, and finances. Please be assured: your vote will count! Southern RVP David Gespass will chair, assisted by Regional Treasurer, Phil Creel.


6:30 - 7:30 Pre-Buffet Cocktails at Saffrons: 
1700 Park
Street North, St. Pete







In the year 2001, members of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) community have achieved fullcivil rights and enjoy equal participation in the freedoms of our democratic system -- right? Clearly not. GLBT people face job discrimination, are targeted for hate crimes, have no state sanction for their most intimate relationships, and are not permitted by Florida law to adopt children. GLBT youth lack basic protection in schools and are treated with indifference or hostility by administrators. Workshop participants will discuss these issues and what can be done through (or around) our legal system to address them. 

KAREN DOERING has been in private practice in Tampa as an employment law and civil rights attorney. She is currently working to bring a legal dimension to Equality Florida, a statewide education and advocacy organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, particularly at the state and local levels.


11:15 - ..... Breakfast, Chit-chat, and Good byes


** These seminars (Police Misconduct and Death Penalty Activism) will be offered only if sufficient numbers of attendees indicate their interest. Please contact us to ensure their inclusion.



St. Pete Campus, Davis Hall Lawyers, 140 Seventh Avenue South, Downtown St.Petersburg

Sliding Scale Rates

Income                             Rate

$30,000                             $35

$45,000                             $65

$60,000                             $75

+ $60,000                         $105

University of South Florida Law Students/Legal Workers $20


One workshop plus lunch $10-$15

[Contact Becky for maps, Honorary Dinner Buffet an additional $20 see below.]

[Fee adjustments can be made and scholarships are available. Please don't let costs prohibit your attendance.]  Please contact us by email or phone to pre-register and thus have your lunch/breakfast included in the registration cost. (See below)


All meetings and events at the regional meeting are accessible to people using wheelchairs. To accommodate people with chemical sensitivities, all participants are asked to refrain from using perfumes and scented products. If you need some other disability accommodation (e.g. sign language interpreter, large print or other alternative format, special diet), or if you need information about accessible transportation, lodgings, etc., please contact us as soon as possible. The sooner we hear from you, the better we will be able to accommodate you.


A block of 15 rooms has been reserved at the Ramada Mirage in St. Pete.  $69 for double occupancy per night. Reservations must be made by March 15 to secure this rate. Call (727) 525-1181. It is located on US19 off the I-275 and 54th Ave. N. exit. (Please be aware that March is tourist season and rooms get booked early.) La Quinta Inn is next door to the Mirage: (727) 527-8421. Some home hospitality will be available, but requests must be made to Chris Allamanno (above) before February 24.



Closest Airports: Tampa International- 30 minute drive; St. Pete/Clearwater International (regional carriers only)- 30 minute drive; Sarasota International- 60 min drive. The Greyhound bus terminal is close to the conference; we can pick you and drop you off there. Amtrak goes to Orlando- about 90 minute drive.



Fill out the form provided below and mail it in with your check. Or, if pre-registering via email, please provide the following information to one of the individuals listed below. Your name, address, phone, an indication of your workshop choices (Police Misconduct; Death Penalty Activism) and whether you will be attending the banquet buffet Saturday night. Checks should be made to NLG Southern Region and mailed to Chris. 

Chris Allamanno: joanofarq@juno.com

Becky Acuna:acuna@bellsouth.net

934 Seventh Street, St. Pete FL 33701 (407)894-9333 or (727) 215-6155


To stay current as to conference planning, log onto our southern regional web site: www.hometown.aol.com/nlgsouthregion/index.html

Or join our regional listserve by sending the following message to <listserv@unc.edu (1) Leave subject line blank (2) Type on one line subscribe southernnlg-list your first name last name (Sample: subscribe southernnlg-list jane doe)










I want to attend the following workshops: [ ] Death Penalty

Activism [ ] Police Misconduct

[Please don't forget they are being scheduled when other workshops are

taking place. See PROGRAM above.]


I will be attending the Saturday night buffet dinner. [ ] With

pleasure! [ ] No, the party animal in me escaped.


I am a [ ] student [ ] legal worker [ ] lawyer [ ]

activist [ ] single, looking for a date


Here is my registration fee: _______________ Mail to Chris

Allamanno, 934 Seventh St, St. Pete, FL 33701.