ACLU Names Attorney Yasmin Cader to Lead Trone Center for Justice and Equality

Cader brings 30 years of racial and criminal justice experience as a state and federal public defender and civil rights attorney

July 13, 2021 2:15 pm

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NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that Yasmin Cader will lead the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, effective September 15. For nearly three decades, Cader’s career as a public defender and civil rights attorney has kept her on the front lines of the national struggle for racial and criminal justice. Most recently, after co-founding a women-owned firm in Los Angeles specializing in criminal and civil litigation as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting, she served as the only former public defender on both the Los Angeles Board of Police Commission’s Advisory Committee on Building Trust and Equity and the Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent’s Reimagining School Safety Task Force, examining the role and footprint of police in Los Angeles’ Public Schools.

“I’m thrilled we could find the perfect role at this critical time to formalize Yasmin’s long-standing relationship with the ACLU,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “Yasmin’s background in social justice, and her stellar management experience will greatly benefit the Trone Center, the legal department, and the rest of the ACLU as we enter the next chapter of our work. Yasmin was at the Public Defender Service in D.C. during the height of the war on drugs and with a soaring juvenile murder rate in the District. Her time with the Federal Defenders of New York coincided with NYPD’s Stop and Frisk Policy, the 9/11 attacks, subsequent passage of the PATRIOT Act, and escalated monitoring, enforcement, and prosecutions targeting Muslims. Her time at the Federal Public Defenders in Los Angeles coincided with the rise of Trumpism and the scapegoating and targeting of immigrant communities. Through it all, she was often working alongside the ACLU — in partnership with ACLU staff.”

Yasmin began her career as an Honors Program Trial Lawyer with the Employment Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, where she litigated individual and class-action claims of sexual and racial harassment and discrimination. Prior to that, she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She’s taught trial advocacy skills at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, the NYU School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and the UCLA School of Law, and serves as a member of the Opportunity Agenda’s Steering Committee, amplifying voices and narratives that change how the public perceives and understands racial justice, systemic inequality, and oppression in the criminal legal system.

In accepting this position, Yasmin Cader said:

“My career as a public defender and civil rights attorney puts me at the heart of the struggle for racial and economic justice in America. It has taught me that the ongoing fight for equity is played out in many spheres, including in criminal legal systems across the nation. The burgeoning public recognition of the connection between civil rights and criminal justice creates an opportunity to seek fundamental and long-lasting change in our country. I could not be more excited to continue this work with the exceptional warriors in the Trone Center for Justice and Equality.”

The Trone Center, established in 2015 with a generous donation from David and June Trone, focuses on criminal and racial justice issues. Recent casework has focused on reducing the U.S. prison population and recidivism through sentencing reform. The Trone Center’s work encompasses cutting-edge litigation on criminal law reform and racial justice. During the pandemic, Trone Center lawyers filed dozens of lawsuits against some of the nation’s largest jails, prisons, and detention centers to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19, obtaining release of many and safer conditions for many more. Trone Center lawyers successfully urged the Washington Supreme Court to strike down its state death penalty, led a Stop Solitary campaign which has led to significant reductions in the use of solitary confinement, challenged cash bail and debtors’ prisons, housing restrictions imposed on persons with criminal convictions, unconstitutional policing practices, prosecutorial abuse, and inadequate indigent defense schemes. Through its John Adams Project, the Trone Center has represented capital defendants in the military commission system for “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Cader replaces Jeffery Robinson, who stepped down as Trone Center Director in April.

For more than 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, the ACLU takes on the toughest civil liberties fights in pursuit of liberty and justice for all.

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