Jobs With Justice

Jobs With Justice


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The Community Justice Project, a project of Florida Legal Services, Inc., was founded in 2008 to provide legal support to grassroots community organizations in Miami’s low-income communities. Rooted in the law and organizing movement among poverty lawyers, the CJP’s dynamic style of law practice has many names – community lawyering, movement lawyering, or political lawyering –but is fundamentally rooted in the belief that those most impacted by marginalization or oppression lead their own fight for social justice.We believe lawyers are most effective when they support community organizations accountable to the persons most affected by social injustice. The CJP’s current priority areas are affordable housing and workers rights.  For more on our history and our work go  here


We are currently engaged in a range of community-based campaigns.  Our work includes providing legal support to a local campaign to improve working conditions for taxi drivers; a campaign to preserve low-income mobile home parks; campaigns to confront “slumlords” in rental housing and mobile home parks to expand tenants’ rights; ongoing efforts to prevent “wage theft”; a campaign to implement restorative justice in Miami-Dade public schools.


Working Conditions - New Vision Taxi Driver Association

CJP’s work with the New Vision Taxi Driver Association (NVTDA) is dynamic and multi-faceted.  NVTDA is a primarily-Haitian association of taxi drivers in Miami-Dade County that has been fighting for the rights of taxi drivers since 2003.  Over the years, CJP has helped NVTDA craft local legislation affording greater protections to taxi drivers, challenge unfair charges under the Sunpass program, and advocate for fair enforcement of the Miami-Dade ordinances vis-à-vis taxi companies and other entities that historically have contributed to the abuse of taxi drivers’ rights.  More recently, CJP has been helping members of the NVTDA form their own taxi company to serve as an example of how a taxi company should treat its drivers and to change the industry from within by acting as a market participant. 


School to Prison Pipeline - Power U Center for Social Change

Though a long-time partner of Miami-based grassroots organization Power U Center for Social Change, CJP has just recently begun to support their restorative justice campaign.  Power U is one of the few grassroots organizations in Miami working with youth to oppose harsh school disciplinary practices like out of school suspensions and advocate for implementation of restorative justice in Miami-Dade public schools.  As part of its campaign, Power U requested CJP’s help in developing a legal strategy to challenge school discipline policies in multiple forums.   


Affordable Housing - Right to the City Allliance/National Low Income Housing Coalition

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) was instrumental in getting legislation passed to create a national Housing Trust Fund to provide more affordable housing, funded by a set-aside from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earnings. Those payments were immediately suspended by the conservator when Fannie and Freddie were put into conservatorship.  We have been retained by NLIHC and Right to the City Alliance, a national coalition of local housing advocacy groups, to explore the legality of the continued suspension of those payments. 


Homeowners and Tenants in Foreclosure – Miami Workers Center, RISEP

For several years we have worked with the Miami Workers Center in outreach to homeowners in foreclosure.   While the project was successful in advocating for several individual homeowners, we were never able to create an organizational model to conduct a long-term strategic campaign directed at systemic issues.  This led us to identify our strength in doing outreach to tenants in foreclosed properties. This outreach resulted in the mobilization of large numbers of tenants living in extremely decrepit buildings while they were waiting for the foreclosure process to terminate and the bank to take over. Our partners are now returning to this model, to once again organize tenants around building conditions and urge the creation of adequate affordable housing options. 


Wage TheftWe Count! and the Wage Theft Task Force  

We assisted in drafting the Miami – Dade Wage Theft Ordinance and in advocating during its implementation. Individual litigation was put on hold while energy went into protecting and expanding local Wage Theft Ordinances.  Since the most recent legislative session in which bills were passed rolling back numerous protections we are re-evaluating the direction of this campaign.


Immigration – Florida Immigrant Coalition  

We represented Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) in a lengthy and successful opposition to the construction of a new private immigration detention center in South Florida.  Since winning that campaign FLIC has been largely devoted to comprehensive immigration reform. We foresee a role in trying to be helpful in learning about and educating about the new immigration reform proposals – particularly with respect to their applicability to the local communities. We also foresee re-engaging with FLIC on immigration detention issues, particularly as they relate to racial justice and mass incarceration issues.



On March 25th, the 150th session of The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) convened a hearing to examine the impact of stand your ground laws on minority communities in the United States.  CJP Attorney Meena Jagannath testified as well as Sybrina Fulton, Mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin; Ron Davis, Father of slain teenager Jordan Davis;  Lorraine C. Miller, NAACP Interim President and CEO; Ahmad Abuznaid Esq, Legal & Policy Director Dream Defenders Inc.;  Aleta Alston-Toure, Free Marissa Now;  Caroline Bettinger-López, Esq,  Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law;   Alisa Bierria, Free Marissa Now & Center for Race & Gender, UC Berkeley Hilary Shelton; NAACP Sr. Vice President for Policy & Advocacy/ Washington Bureau Director; Charlotte Joseph Cassel, M.P.H., University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic; Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director.   The hearing can be viewed here


The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.


The IACHR hearing comes on the heels of the UN Human Rights Committee’s review of U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), where a committee member stated “stand your ground laws are incompatible with ICCPR  Covenant Article 6 providing an inherent right to life.”   CJP Attorney Meena Jagannath also participated in that hearing.








CJP thanks Sarah Khan 2L, Anita Yee 2L and Jerehme Bamberger 1L, Brooklyn Law students who spent their 2014 Spring Break helping CJP represent our clients.  



In 2008, the Power U Center for Social Change, created the Renter Majority Project (RMP) in response to growing epidemic of substandard conditions and illegal evictions in the low-income historically African-American neighborhood of Overtown. As one of its initial projects the RMP began a study of renter conditions with the assistance of the Data Center and the  Community Justice Project (CJP) of Florida Legal Services.  The results of that study have just been released.   (The full study is available here.)



 Formally begun in 2008 by  Chuck Elsesser, Jose Javier Rodriguez and Purvi Shah, the Community Justice Project now consists of Chuck and Meena Jagannath.  The Project is dedicated to working with its many community partners in their efforts to organize and empower the low income communities in Miami and throughout Florida. During the past two decades, there has been a dramatic resurgence in both the number of grassroots organizations in South ...



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