November 29, 2023

Munger, Tolles & Olson Continues to Fight Racism in California Prisons After Judge Rules Illegal Discrimination Lawsuit Can Proceed

Munger, Tolles & Olson’s fight against racism and national origin discrimination will proceed following a California Superior Court judge’s ruling denying the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit challenging immigration-enforcement practices that unlawfully discriminate against hundreds of people in custody each year.

On November 16, 2023, a Superior Court judge overruled the CDCR’s demurrer to the illegal discrimination lawsuit and rejected its arguments that the plaintiffs lack standing and that the allegations did not state a violation of the state Equal Protection Clause and other non-discrimination law. The ruling will allow incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals to have their day in court and seek an end to the state prison’s allegedly discriminatory tactics used against anyone the agency assumes was born outside of the United States.

The challenge was originally filed in April 2023 by MTO and co-counsel on behalf of plaintiffs Roth Chan, Anouthinh “Choy” Pangthong, the Asian Prisoner Support Committee and Root & Rebound. The lawsuit alleges that CDCR’s practice of referring incarcerated people it suspects were born outside the United States to Immigration and Customs Enforcement—even if they are U.S. citizens—has led to the investigation, detention and placement of U.S. citizens and lawful residents into the deportation pipeline based on race, ethnicity, national origin and other protected characteristics, in violation of the California Constitution’s equal protection clause and state anti-discrimination law.

The plaintiffs are represented by an MTO team including Jacob Kreilkamp, David Moreshead, Robert Bowen, and Sidney Moskowitz, alongside co-counsel from the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Asian Law Caucus.

View the press release from the Asian Law Caucus.

About MTO’s Pro Bono Practice

Contributing to the community through pro bono work and other forms of volunteerism is a core tenet of the culture at Munger, Tolles & Olson. The firm was one of the charter signatories to the American Bar Association’s pro bono challenge and consistently devotes more than three percent of all attorney time to delivering needed pro bono legal assistance. We are proud to be one of the select group of firms to have received the ABA’s coveted Pro Bono Publico Award.

Learn more about our pro bono practice.