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: Versus The Post Office

10/15/20  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason and Charlie are joined by Matthew Seligman of Public Citizen to discuss several lawsuits—including one in which he is counsel, NAACP v. USPS—where plaintiffs have challenged the cuts by the postal service that may slow down election mail. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Can Trump Steal The Election?

10/6/20  //  Commentary

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason and Charlie discuss whether Trump can really "steal" the election, as some have started to worry about. They discuss Jason's piece here on the topic. Plus, they say goodbye to Justice Ginsburg. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Blurring Public and Private Conduct

9/17/20  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason and Charlie discuss two new legal filings by the Trump DOJ that blur the line between the President as government official and the President as private citizen. In the first case, the government argues that the President's twitter feed is not an official public forum, so he can block people with whom he disagrees. In the second, the government argues that the President's denials that he sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll were made in his official capacity as President. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Trump Versus Mail Voting

8/24/20  //  Commentary

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason and Charlie discuss voting by mail in the pandemic. Have courts allowed the rules to be changed, either in responses to suits there should be more voting by mail—or less? Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: Are Tax Returns Coming Soon?

7/18/20  //  Commentary

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason and Charlie discuss the Supreme Court's pair of decisions governing Trump's tax returns. Are they coming soon? Did the Democrats make a mistake in not being more aggressive in invoking the impeachment power? Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Versus Trump: On Flynn, Bolton, and Mary Trump

7/5/20  //  Commentary

On this week’s Versus Trump, Jason and Charlie discuss the D.C. Circuit's extraordinary intervention in the Michael Flynn case, and then move on to two lawsuits seeking to block publication of books: John Bolton's and Mary Trump's. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps