Age of ‘tough-on-crime’ policies is fading in Arizona

The “tough-on-crime” trend is so 20th century.

That antiquated verbiage, and the politically charged rhetoric behind it, is fading fast even in red state strongholds like Arizona. In its wake, a new movement has formed under a far more millennial catchphrase: smart on crime.

Caroline Isaacs
Caroline Isaacs

Caroline Isaacs, Arizona program director for American Friends Service Committee, said everywhere else in the country, “criminal justice reform” is old news.

In its place is a movement to be “smart” in tackling criminal justice.

Arizona may be lagging behind other states, including Republican strongholds like Georgia and Texas, in this arena, but the effort has steadily drawn support from across the political spectrum.

Last summer, the Arizona Supreme Court’s Task Force on Fair Justice for All offered 65 recommendations aimed at improving the criminal justice system, which led to the introduction of bills seeking to halt unfair penalties on the poor.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth
Rep. Eddie Farnsworth

Those efforts failed when Republican Rep. Eddie Farnsworth refused to hear the legislation in the House Judiciary Committee, a move he declined to explain at the time.

But the movement is undeterred.

‘It is humanity. It is individual justice’

Dave Byers, the task force’s co-chair and director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, said by “hook or crook,” the courts are finding ways to implement changes.

“High-risk people who have access to money get out,” he said. “A poor guy, (a) working folk who’s got a ticket and can’t pay the bail because his license is suspended or whatever the issue is, sits in jail. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Repeatedly penalizing a single mother caring for a child with cancer, for example, may do no good, he continued.

“It is humanity. It is individual justice,” Byers said. “We don’t treat everyone the exact same way.”

Gov. Doug Ducey
Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Gov. Doug Ducey said it’s the right thing to do. He noted the recidivism rate is approaching 50 percent, and if offenders do not find opportunities after serving their time, that problem will persist.

“It costs a lot to house and feed someone and shelter them,” he told the Arizona Capitol Times. “If you can get them on the other side of the equation, where they’re a productive, taxpaying citizen who has a career, a job or an opportunity, well, that’s just a better direction to go in.”

Lauren Krisai of the libertarian Reason Foundation said Arizonans now see that tough talk is “losing rhetoric,” and incarceration is not a catchall solution.

“It’s not like you’re either against crime or you want our communities to be crime-ridden,” she said. “That’s a false dichotomy. We can’t incarcerate our way out of this problem… That makes us less safe.”

‘States are at the front line’

Kurt Altman
Kurt Altman

Attorney Kurt Altman said the movement is being driven by the return – or lack thereof – from investing in the criminal justice system.

“We forget that 95 percent of the people that we send to prisons are going to come back into society,” said Altman, the state director of Right on Crime. “We’re not doing anything right now to help them reintegrate and stay in that society without going back.”

And the states, he added, are more in tune to the effects of that failure.

“The states are at the front line of this,” he said. “The states are looking at their communities, their workforce, their budgets and saying, ‘We need to do something.’”

In Altman’s view, Arizona has a difficult road ahead because of its “law and order” history, but he noted changes made this year.

Legislation signed by Ducey requires licensing authorities to grant regular or provisional licenses to convicted offenders who are otherwise qualified applicants.

That law may have changed the life of one of Altman’s former clients, a man who ran a barber operation while in prison but who was denied a license when he was released.

“He knew how to do two things, and when he couldn’t do the legitimate one, he turned back,” Altman said.

He predicted that getting people, especially low-risk offenders, back to work will be a priority in the years to come.

Amy Kalman
Amy Kalman

In those low-level cases, diversion programs may be the answer, said Amy Kalman, president of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

She said giving offenders the tools to find employment, maintain stable housing and take care of their children makes families more cohesive and helps get people more engaged in normal spending that boosts local economies.

And those changes get to the root of what Kalman characterized as the underlying causes of minor crimes: housing instability, lack of education and addiction.

Kalman said “common sense reforms” are still dismissed as being soft.

Yet she remains hopeful for a “meeting of the minds.” After all, even Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s opposition could not stop changes to civil asset forfeiture.

Civil asset forfeiture coalition ‘did the impossible’

Isaacs of American Friends Service Committee said the coalition behind civil asset forfeiture reform “did the impossible” by rolling over a “shot-caller” like Montgomery and heavy opposition from the law enforcement community.

The changes proposed by Farnsworth in HB2477 proved to Isaacs that more could be done sooner rather than later.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona was among the bill’s supporters.

Will Gaona
Will Gaona

“Regardless of whether or not you think that the changes to civil asset forfeiture was really criminal justice reform, what’s important is you saw a broad coalition of organizations come together in order to reform Arizona’s laws and were able to do so over the very public objections of law enforcement,” said ACLU Policy Director Will Gaona. “Moving forward, it means this is possible in Arizona.”

The ACLU found an unusual ally in the Goldwater Institute.

Jon Riches
Jon Riches

Director of National Litigation Jon Riches said the state’s forfeiture laws, which have drawn the ire of conservative groups, have been “an affront to due process.”

The matter involves clear due process issues, Riches said.

“Look, if the government is going to try to take somebody’s property, the presumption should be that the government has to prove some sort of doing,” Riches said.

He said more should be done on the civil forfeiture front.

He pointed to the “perverse incentive” created when the proceeds of forfeitures go back to the seizing agency, and the fact that a criminal conviction is not needed to seize property.

For those changes and others to be made, Isaacs said the movement will continue to rely on broad support.

“Let’s all hold hands and jump,” she said. “We don’t need a champion. We don’t need one person to stick their neck out. Let’s all just say, ‘This is what we want to do. How do we get it done?’”

Controversial researcher hired to update prison population study

For years, Arizona’s top prosecutors have leaned on a study of the state’s prison population to draw conclusions about how sentencing laws work.

For just as long, advocates of criminal justice reform in Arizona have criticized the study as flawed and misleading in a way that benefits the arguments prosecutors make to policymakers at the Capitol: that sentencing laws are working as they should. Put another way: the majority of people behind bars are the bad guys – violent and repeat offenders – who deserve to be there.

The latest update to the Prisoners in Arizona report, produced by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council, or APAAC, is scheduled to be finished this fall, and it promises to be more controversial than ever thanks to the man hired to update it, John Lott.

John Lott
John Lott

Lott is best known for his work in the field of gun laws, where his most talked about research concludes that areas that allow concealed carry of firearms are associated with lower crime rates.

Just as critics of the Prisoners in Arizona report have spent years rebutting the study’s findings, Lott’s critics are no less vocal. His research has been picked apart, and in many corners of the academic community, found to be lacking. His integrity has been questioned amid accusations that he manipulates data to draw conclusions that fit the narrative of his views on firearms, accusations that Lott has repeatedly denied.

His hiring by APAAC has left those already critical of the Prisoners in Arizona report even more wary that the council is engaging not in a fact-finding mission, but in a political exercise designed to protect their broad discretion as prosecutors.

Officials with APAAC either defended Lott’s research or argued that his political leanings and firearm-focused studies are irrelevant to the task at hand of analyzing data provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections. But for some, like Caroline Isaacs, whose work for the American Friends Service Committee in Arizona focuses on criminal justice issues, the politics are hard to ignore.

“This is a really unfortunate choice that honestly I think undermines the credibility of APAAC,” Isaacs said. “And if I were a member of APAAC, I would have serious reservations about putting my name behind any research produced by this guy.”

The Academic

Lott came to prominence for his work as a pro-gun academic, and is frequently called upon to make media appearances or write editorials expounding the virtues of guns as a crime deterrent. His résumé boasts work as a contributor, then columnist for Fox News.com, and most recently, the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, an organization run out of his Pennsylvania home covering a wide range of research topics, most related to firearms.

Lott had his ups and downs through the years, most notably after a wave of research contradicting his work around “More Guns Less Crime,” his seminal book first published in 1998. “More Guns Less Crime” stemmed from a study Lott co-wrote as a research fellow at the University of Chicago. Published in 1997, that study drew a link between laws permitting concealed carry and lower crime rates.

His conclusions were much like the adage often heard at the Arizona Capitol that guns in the hands of well-to-do citizens are a quality means to deter evil-doers.

As gun advocates latched on to Lott’s research, the larger academic community began to scrutinize it, and what they found was, in the words of one criminologist, “garbage.”  Studies have since contradicted Lott’s work, criticizing everything from the data he chose to analyze and the statistical models he used to crunch the numbers.

Lott later came under fire when, asked to release the data from a survey he conducted on his own that resulted in claims about defensive gun use, he said the data was lost in a computer crash. He was further scrutinized when he admitted to using a pseudonym to defend his work in online forums.

Lott has responded time and time again to attacks on his research, even from some conservative voices like Michelle Malkin, a political commentator. His rebuttals have satisfied some, but not all. Among Lott’s supporters is Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who recommended that APAAC hire Lott.

David Clark and Ted Nugent
David Clarke, left, and Ted Nugent

Lott founded the Crime Prevention Research Center in 2013, which boasts an academic board that he explains reviews his research. His board of directors is filled with names reminiscent from the 2016 campaign trail as supporters of President Trump. There’s Ted Nugent, the far-right musician and gun advocate, and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has come under fire after a mentally ill man was found dead in solitary confinement in one of his jails.

When asked about his qualifications to conduct the Prisoners in Arizona report, Lott noted his past academic credentials – he has held teaching or research positions at Stanford University, the Wharton Business School, Yale Law School, Rice University, and the University of Chicago. In an email to the Arizona Capitol Times, Lott wrote that his experience as the chief economist for the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1988 to 1989 also qualifies him to study prison populations.

As for his critics, Lott said they “will make it appear that it is my research on the one side against lots of others.” He referred to a list of writings with positive takes on right-to-carry laws – compiled on his own website – as evidence that most criminologists and law professors support the conclusions of his research.

Besides, those criticisms have nothing to do with the task at hand of updating the Prisoners of Arizona report, a job that requires no real statistical work, he wrote.

Lott added that past criticisms of the report are irrelevant to him.

“There is no policy or discretion on my part involved in what I am doing for Bill Montgomery. All I am doing is taking the last report that was done and updating it. What they looked at before will remain unchanged. I’m not adding any additional topics nor taking anything away,” Lott wrote.

The Report

The work of updating the Prisoners of Arizona report should be simple enough, Lott said. The job involves organizing past data, replicating the most recent report, and adding some years of data to it.

“The job doesn’t involve reinterpreting data or testing hypotheses,” Lott wrote in an email.

That’s been the case since 2010, the first year APAAC published the report. It was initially produced by Daryl Fischer, a former analyst for the Department of Corrections who updated the report in 2011 and 2014.

Each time, Fischer has followed the same formula he first used in 2009 and 2010 – gather data from the Department of Corrections.

Caroline Isaacs, director of American Friends Service Committee, makes a point during a press conference Aug. 3, 2017, to introduce a report the group published on the high number of drug offenders in prison. (Photo by Rachel Leingang/Arizona Capitol Times)
Caroline Isaacs, director of American Friends Service Committee, makes a point during a press conference Aug. 3, 2017, to introduce a report the group published on the high number of drug offenders in prison. (Photo by Rachel Leingang/Arizona Capitol Times)

That’s problematic, according to Isaacs, whose group focuses on criminal justice issues, because DOC data is but a snapshot of the sentencing process. As Isaacs wrote in her 2011 rebuttal of the Prisoners in Arizona report, DOC “uses broad categories to classify prisoners based on a set of criteria that may make sense for correctional administrators, but does not provide all the pertinent information about the individual case.”

“This is not based on any kind of sentencing information,” Isaacs said in an interview. “It’s based on what the Department of Corrections can tell them about who they have in custody. And that is a very small piece of the picture when it comes to sentencing.”

That’s a part of what makes the conclusion of the Prisoners in Arizona so troublesome for its critics: That 95 percent of prisoners in the state are some combination of repeat and violent offenders, two very different categories of people, Isaacs said.

As a contrast, the American Friends Service Committee recently completed a study of drug sentences in Maricopa, Pima and Yavapai counties in 2015. It wasn’t easy to conduct, Isaacs said, as she and a team of researchers manually pulled the cases from courthouse records to study each one, from the arrest to the sentencing.

It might be a slog, but it can be done, Isaacs said, adding that she “cannot imagine why our elected officials and court personnel and systems actors wouldn’t want to get that data.”

Amy Kalman
Amy Kalman

“In the absence of doing that, we simply have no idea how our sentencing laws work, which is very convenient if you’re in opposition to reform of said sentencing laws,” she said.

Amy Kalman, president of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, said the Prisoners in Arizona report isn’t useless, but should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s problematic when policymakers take the APAAC’s study as gospel without looking at the data and methodology with a critical eye, she said.

“I’m not sure that everybody who looks or generates or relies upon the report necessarily understands all of the concerns that have been raised with the report, not just by AACJ, but by other people,” Kalman said. “So to look at it and say, ‘Hey I’ve got numbers that confirm I’m doing the right thing’ can be very reassuring.”

‘Work Really Hard’

Elizabeth Ortiz, the executive director of APAAC, said there’s a “whole book full of questions” about how and why people get sentenced in Arizona, and the APAAC report doesn’t claim to answer them all. But the original analysis is a valuable resource, she said, and it’s been updated in a similar fashion each time to maintain an apples-to-apples comparison of the data.

The question the Prisoners in Arizona report seeks to answer is, who is in prison, and what are their specific criminal records?

Basically, she said, “what did they get sentenced to prison for?”

Montgomery, whose office is providing $34,500 in RICO funding to pay for Lott’s services, said the data studied in Prisoners in Arizona is sufficient. In the past, Fischer’s studies have used orders of commitment, Montgomery said – sentencing orders made by Superior Court judges.

“There’s no subjective Department of Corrections evaluation of that. If someone was sentenced for trafficking of stolen property in the second degree, that’s what is captured in it. And this is where the Arizona Friends Society loses their credibility,” Montgomery said.

“Either we have 95 percent of people in prison for multiple felony convictions and/or violent convictions, or we don’t,” he added, citing the key statistic found in the 2014 Prisoners in Arizona report.

If APAAC really wants to answer questions about sentencing, studying DOC data is never going to provide an answer, but conveniently, the Prisoners in Arizona report does provide a data-driven study that fits a narrative prosecutors push at the Capitol, Isaacs said.

“The message and the takeaway from this report and also things I have heard various county attorneys say repeatedly is, the line is, ‘You have to work really hard to go to prison in Arizona,’” Isaacs said.

The American Friends Service Committee’s recent study of drug sentencing in three Arizona counties shows something else entirely, Isaacs said: “It’s much easier to do prison time for drug-related offenses in Arizona than I think their messaging acknowledges.”

In Maricopa County, drug-related charges are the single most charged offense, by far, Isaacs found. Most charges are for possession. That is in a county that Isaacs praised for making diversion programs available to drug offenders, though she noted other counties don’t have programming as good as Maricopa County provides.

“Far from being scary drug dealers pushing drugs with kids, or cartels, really what we see from the data is small-time sales, because people are addicted and they’re selling small amounts to support their habit, or just because people are addicted, they have repeat offenses,” she said.

That paints a picture not of a prison system filled with violent criminals, but repeat offenders who are in prison because of an addiction – and their time in prison has clearly done nothing to resolve the addiction, since they wind up back in the system upon their release, she said.

Montgomery, however, doesn’t think much of studies like Isaacs’. He was quick to slam the recent drug sentencing report, which he called poorly researched, and linked the American Friends Service Committee to liberal financier George Soros, someone Montgomery said aids in efforts to “manipulate the truth” – the same accusations that have been made against Lott.

As for the limitations of DOC data, Montgomery said he doesn’t have the kind of access to all the data he’d need to comprehensively track sentencing, and defended the initial purpose of the Prisoners in Arizona report.

“Quite honestly, the question that was asked back in 2009 … was, if we say we want to send the most repetitive and the most violent offenders to prison, then that’s who should be in prison. So let’s go take a look at who’s there and for what offenses,” Montgomery said.

A Polarizing Figure

As for Lott, Isaacs called his hiring a “real departure” for APAAC. While she had reservations about Fischer, who Ortiz, APAAC’s executive director, said is ill and unable to update the report as he has done in the past, at least Fischer had years of experience in Arizona as a statistician – albeit for the Department of Corrections, Isaacs noted.

“Mr. Lott, on the other hand, is clearly a visibly political and polarizing figure who does not seem to be concerned particularly with objectivity on certain subjects, most notably guns,” she said.

Kalman, president of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, declined to comment on the veracity of the latest Prisoners in Arizona report until it’s complete, but the choice of Lott doesn’t inspire confidence, she said.

“They probably could have made another choice, and I hope it’s not an indication that they’re trying to make this a political thing instead of a search for what is actually gonna help,” Kalman said.

Montgomery dismissed those concerns, describing them as the same tired criticisms of organizations that have doubted APAAC’s study for years.

“His data in there has been reviewed. He makes his data available to everybody. I think it’s been more criticized and reviewed because he came to conclusions that don’t fit the liberal narrative,” Montgomery said.

Ortiz said Lott has the analytical skills as an economist to answer specific research questions APAAC hopes to answer using the Department of Corrections data. As for his political leanings and other research, that’s irrelevant to the task at hand, she said.

“I recognize that Dr. Lott has done studies that some people find controversial,” Ortiz said. “To me, I’m just looking at him as a professional who understands statistics, who understands data and understands how to pull subsets out of that data to answer specific questions. So to me, I don’t look at his politics or look at any of his other studies because that’s not what I’m hiring him for.”

High Stakes

The stakes are high for advocates of criminal justice reform, who have seen how prosecutors have used and continue to use the Prisoners in Arizona report to make the case against sentencing reform.

Bill Montgomery
Bill Montgomery

Montgomery said that’s not the case.

“I don’t cite those studies to say that, ‘Here’s exactly what truth in sentencing has done to prevent crimes.’ I’ve mentioned it. But I primarily cite that study to identify exactly who’s in prison and for what offenses, and that’s completely objective,” he said.

The very website the report is made available through online betrays APAAC’s intentions, as does Montgomery’s past statements. The prosecutors’ council runs a website called Arizona Sentencing Report, an alternate name for the Prisoners in Arizona report. The study is prominently featured on the website, as are “myths about Arizona’s sentencing laws,” among them critiques of Arizona’s criminal justice system.

As far back as 2011, Montgomery came to the defense of Arizona’s sentencing laws armed with his own APAAC-financed report. At the time, a study from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University compiled efforts by other states to reduce prison costs, and sentencing reforms was among the recommendations.

Montgomery requested the school host a debate, at which he blasted the study for its “academic estimates” that examined “the so-called ‘social’ causes of crime.” He argued against the creation of a sentencing commission that would advise the Legislature, and to further his argument, cited the Prisoners in Arizona report, which at the time found that roughly 94 percent of the state’s prisoners were either violent or repeat offenders, or both.

As for the Arizona State University study, Montgomery called it “divorced from reality – another academic exercise.”

Cecil Ash, a former Republican legislator who now serves as a justice of the peace in Mesa, said the Prisoners in Arizona report was often cited in arguments against his own legislative efforts at sentencing reform.

“Truthfully, the legislators don’t really understand the sentencing law,” Ash said. “They rely on the prosecutors to explain it to them.”

That’s what Isaacs, Kalman and even the state’s court system – which this past session pushed for a package of reforms agreed upon by the Arizona Supreme Court’s Task Force on Fair Justice for All – face when trying to get reforms through at the Capitol.

The reform community managed a victory this past session, as lawmakers approved a series of changes to civil asset forfeiture laws over objections from state prosecutors. But other efforts faltered, like the court’s package of reforms. Those bills were halted by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, a Gilbert Republican and ally of Montgomery.

“I think the APAAC report is great!” Isaacs said. “I think more data is better. We need more data, not less.”

But policymakers are missing out when they rely so heavily on APAAC’s data and when prosecutors dismiss other research, she said.

“My only quarrel is saying that the APAAC report is the end all be all of everything you need to know about sentencing in Arizona. It’s not. Neither is our report,” Isaacs said. “Ours is an attempt to say, ‘Look at all the stuff we’re not calculating, that we’re not following, that absolutely is how sentencing happens, how laws get applied.’”

Lawyers on call, prepared to defend protesters arrested at Trump rally

Protesters demonstrate at the August 22 campaign rally for President Trump. Phoenix police made a handful of arrests and used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd as the event came to a close. (Arizona Capitol Times/Photo by Ellen O'Brien)
Protesters demonstrate at the August 22 campaign rally for President Trump. Phoenix police made a handful of arrests and used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd as the event came to a close. (Arizona Capitol Times/Photo by Ellen O’Brien)

As President Donald Trump arrived in downtown Phoenix on August 22, dozens of attorneys were on call ready to defend protesters and rally-goers alike – free of charge.

And they’re likely to be called on again.

Julia Cassels
Julia Cassels

Criminal defense attorney Julia Cassels, who sits on the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice Board of Governors, and ACLU Legal Director Kathy Brody, former president of the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, had the same thought after seeing what happened in Charlottesville just days before: Mobilize volunteers to represent anyone charged with a crime related to the rally.

Cassels said they hoped for the best but prepared for the worst, anticipating the possibility of numerous arrests if peaceful protests devolved into violence.

In the five days leading up to that night, 75 attorneys volunteered to be on call. They were on the lookout for felony charges – misdemeanors went to the Phoenix Municipal Court, which was staffed all night to immediately handle those cases – and they agreed to attend initial appearances or arraignments pro bono.

In Maricopa County, legal representation is typically not provided at an initial appearance, when release conditions such as bail or freedom without bail, are set.

If clients chose to stick with the attorneys for the duration of their cases, those arrangements were settled separately.

Immigration attorneys and those who spoke Spanish also were available if non-citizens were detained.

Some were ready to respond from the scene, some remotely. Twenty gathered with Cassels at her office, watching the news together in her conference room. An attorney in Washington got word and sent them pizzas as they waited for trouble.

“The situation felt so unstable that we felt we needed to be ready for anything,” Cassels said.

“The political climate right now is just so divisive, and we are seeing violence all over the country occurring at the Trump rallies. We are seeing people’s free speech being inhibited, and we as a criminal defense firm – no, we won’t stand for it. We need everyone’s rights to be protected, and we need to make sure that if there are overreaches, they need to be addressed.”

Cassels said meetings with Puente Arizona leaders eased her mind. They came prepared, too, with de-escalation training for attendees and peaceful intentions.

But she also knew the Phoenix Police Department had called on every officer to be ready. There would be a large police presence among a tense crowd.

“We all hoped for the best, that we’d just be hanging out and having a fun evening and there wasn’t going to be any trouble,” she said. “However, when Phoenix police started clearing the crowds – I’m exceptionally glad we were all there.”

Four arrests were made that night, one on an unrelated warrant.

On that note, Cassels said news reports have mistakenly included 18-year-old Daireus Stokes among the protesters arrested at the rally. She said the ACLU contacted her about his case, but after sending one of her attorneys to meet him in jail, she learned he was not among the protesters. The Rev. Jarrett Maupin has since taken an interest in Stokes’ case, according to a press release he sent August 30.

The ACLU connected Cassels with people who sought legal help, and volunteer attorneys gave out her phone number, advising people at the scene to write it on their arms in Sharpie.

Kathy Brody
Kathy Brody

Brody said counsel has been coordinated for three people so far, including 29-year-old Joshua Cobin, who was arrested on three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of unlawful assembly.

Cobin was captured in now viral video footage kicking a canister back toward police as it spewed gas. Seconds later, a projectile struck him in the groin, bringing him to the ground where he writhed in pain before another protester rushed to help him.

Cobin called Cassels as the police showed up at his workplace two days later – he had posted about the incident on social media, unwittingly identifying himself.

Cassels said she texted back and forth with him as she tried to intervene, but then the responses stopped.

Cobin has since been released on bond, and Cassels said the unlawful assembly charge was thrown out.

“I often believe police officers are quick to file those kinds of charges in situations where it’s not appropriate,” she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice have long been partners in defending people’s rights. But with more frequent protests and demonstrations expected throughout the Trump presidency, Brody said this network will be ready to defend First Amendment rights again.

AACJ President Amy Kalman said the protest on August 22 was an example of a peaceful, law-abiding demonstration for the most part. But the next one might not be, and now, they have a legal network ready for when that day comes.