Contributors

Charlie Gerstein

Lawyer

Civil Rights Corps

Charlie is a lawyer at Civil Rights Corps, a non-profit in Washington, DC, that fights injustice and inequality in the criminal system, and an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown Law Center. In 2018, Charlie founded an initiative at Civil Rights Corps examining systemic problems with indigent-defense systems. He litigates cases across the country challenging structural threats to the independence of defense counsel as well as cases challenging unconstitutional pretrial systems.

Charlie has litigated complex class-action cases from investigation through trial, and has successfully formulated novel litigation strategies to challenge pervasive injustices.

  • Willey v. Ewing, 18-CV-81 (S.D. Tex. 2018): Charlie served as lead counsel in first-of-its-kind challenge to judicial interference with public-defender independence. Case resolved by consent judgment, and covered extensively in the New York Times and Texas Monthly.
  • Little v. Frederick, 17-CV-724 (W.D. La.): Charlie served as lead counsel in class-action challenge to Lafayette, Louisiana’s money-bail system from investigation, through motion-to-dismiss briefing, discovery, summary-judgment briefing, and trial. Currently awaiting verdict in bench trial.
  • Weatherspoon v. Oldham, 17-CV-2535 (W.D. Tenn. 2018): Charlie served as lead counsel in successful federal habeas-corpus case challenging illegal money-bail practices in Memphis, Tennessee. See Weatherspoon, 2018 WL 1053548 (W.D. Tenn. Feb. 26, 2018).
  • Lomas v. Harris County, 16-CV-3745 (S.D. Tex. 2017): Charlie served as lead counsel in successfully resolved class-action challenge to probable-cause practices in Harris County, Texas.
  • Parga v. Board of Commissioners of County of Tulsa, 18-CV-298 (N.D. Okla.): Charlie served as lead counsel in putative class-action challenge to money-bail system in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, from investigation through motion-to-dismiss briefing. Successfully briefed motion for reconsideration of order dismissing case as moot. See Parga, 2019 WL 1231675 (N.D. Okla. Mar. 15, 2019), vacating Parga, 2018 WL 6048016 (N.D. Okla. Nov. 19, 2018). Charlie currently serves as counsel during discovery.
  • Hernandez v. City of Houston,16-CV-3745 (S.D. Tex.): Charlie served as lead counsel in class-action challenge to probable-cause practices in Houston, Texas, from investigation through motion-to-dismiss briefing. See Hernandez, 2017 WL 2463636 (S.D. Tex. June 6, 2017) (denying motion to dismiss).Charlie served as counsel during discovery, class-certification, and summary judgment briefing, as well as during a successful motion for discovery sanctions. See Hernandez, 2019 WL 2869157 (S.D. Tex. July 3, 2019) (granting class certification); Hernandez, 2018 WL 4140684 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 30, 2018) (granting sanctions).   

Charlie has written extensively on a wide range of legal issues. He is the author of Dependent Counsel, 11 Stan. J. C.R.-C.L. __ (forthcoming 2020); The Prisoner's Lawyer's Dilemma, Criminal Justice Magazine, Spring 2017, at 33; Plea Bargaining and Prosecutorial Motives, 15 U.N.H. L. Rev. 1 (2016); Process Costs and Police Discretion, 128 Harv. L. Rev. F. 268 (2015) (with J.J. Prescott); Note, Plea Bargaining and the Right to Counsel at Bail Hearings, 111 Mich. L. Rev. 1513 (2013); Accomplices, in The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Dr. Jay S. Albanese ed., 2013); and Essay, What Can the Brothers Malone Teach us About Fisher v. University of Texas?, 111 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 1 (2012). He is the co-host of the weekly podcast Versus Trump (archived recordings) and is a regular contributor to the Take Care blog (archived posts).

In addition to (and separate from) his work at Civil Rights Corps, Charlie has worked in voter-protection for several election cycles. In 2018, he served as Co-Director for Navajo Nation Voter Protection for the Democratic Party of Arizona; in 2017, he served as a boiler-room volunteer for the Doug Jones campaign, and a poll observer for the Democratic Party of Virginia; and in 2016, he served as a poll observer for the Hillary Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania. 

In his spare time, Charlie maintains an active pro bono practice. In the last several years, he wrote sections of the motion to dismiss­–response brief for the Plaintiffs in a suit against the Trump Presidential Campaign and Roger Stone, Cockrum v. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., 17-CV-1370 (D.D.C. 2018); represented an author in a complex immigration matter related to eligibility for U.S. royalties on publications; represented a veteran in successfully resolved dispute with a for-profit college over misstated VA-benefits eligibility; represented an injured worker in a workers’-compensation matter, resulting in $10,000 settlement; and represented a debtor in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act matter resulting in cancellation of all outstanding debt.

Charlie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 2014, finishing second in his class. After law school, Charlie clerked for the Honorable J. Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York and the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the Second Circuit. Before law school, Charlie was a public-defense investigator. Before that, he was a chef. And before that, he worked in landscaping and played guitar in a band.

The views Charlie expresses in his writing and on the Versus Trump podcast are entirely his own. They do not reflect, in any way, the views of Civil Rights Corps—or anyone else for that matter.

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Versus Trump: State Immunity Under The VRA + Adios, Easha :(

2/13/20  //  Commentary

On this week’s Versus Trump, Charlie and Jason discuss a dissenting opinion by a Trump-appointed judge arguing that states cannot be sued for violating the Voting Rights Act. They then say goodbye to Easha with a tribute to her thinking about Versus Trump law and litigation. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Was Impeachment Good or Bad?

2/6/20  //  Commentary

On this week’s Versus Trump, Charlie and Jason discuss Jason's ongoing essays for the Take Care blog about whether impeachment was good or bad, net-positive or net-negative. This leads them to discuss whether the Democrats should have more aggressively pursued witnesses and whether this whole proceeding did much to vindicate the rule of law. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Vs. The Inaugural Committee, Plus Bolton Update

1/30/20  //  Commentary

On this week’s Versus Trump, Charlie and Jason look at a new lawsuit by D.C. claiming that Trump's inaugural committee overpaid for space at the Trump Hotel and thus "wasted" at least $1 million in charitable funds. Spoiler alert: the lawsuit seems convincing. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Who Are Presidential Electors?

1/25/20  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week’s Versus Trump, Charlie and Easha take a deep dive into two recently granted Supreme Court cases that go to the heart of the systems that we use to elect the President. The discussion takes us deep into questions of political accountability, free choice, and constitutional history. A classic Versus Trump cat's-away-mice-will-play episode chock full of fun analysis of, among other things, Jason's work. Listen now! (I mean right now.)

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Versus Trump: Trump vs. The Equal Rights Amendment

1/16/20  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason, Easha, and Charlie discuss the Trump Administration's new legal opinion regarding the legal status of the Equal Rights Amendment, also known as the ERA. They consider what will happen now that Virginia has become the 38th state to ratify the ERA since 1972. Is it too late, or can Congress do anything to add this amendment to the Constitution? Listen now!

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Amazon vs. Trump

1/9/20  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason, Easha, and Charlie consider a new lawsuit by Amazon, in which the company claims that it was illegally denied a $10 billion Pentagon contract because of President Trump's stated dislike of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. And the return briefly to the question of Bolton's potential testimony at the Senate impeachment trial. Listen now!

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps