Screws v. United States and the Birth of Federal Civil Rights Enforcement
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Ray and Kay Eckstein Hall
1215 West Michigan Street
Parking is available on site.
1 CLE credit
Hon. Paul J. Watford
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Robert Hall's story might never have been told. The beating and killing of an African-American man by white police officers, however brutal, was nothing new in 1940s rural Georgia. But the social and political shifts brought about by World War II propelled Hall's case to the United States Supreme Court, and the ruling that followed dramatically altered the relationship between the states and the federal government. In Screws v. United States (1945), a deeply fractured Court held, for the first time, that the federal government could prosecute police officers who abused the authority conferred on them by state law. This lecture will explore the history and legacy of this remarkable case, from its largely forgotten role as a harbinger of social change in the South to its impact on modern civil rights litigation.
Paul J. Watford is a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. A native southern Californian, he received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Judge Watford began his legal career by clerking for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court. He practiced law in Los Angeles both in the private sector (e.g., as a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson) and for the government (as an assistant U.S. Attorney), focusing on trial and appellate litigation. Judge Watford also has otherwise served the legal community–e.g., as a part-time faculty member at the University of Southern California and as a board member of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. President Barack Obama nominated him to the Ninth Circuit, and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2012.
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