Jan Susler joined People’s Law Office in 1982 after working for six years as a Clinical Law Professor at the legal clinic at Southern Illinois University’s School of Law, Prison Legal Aid. At the People’s Law Office she continued her litigation and advocacy work on prisoners’ rights issues and also took on representing people wrongfully imprisoned, falsely arrested, strip searched, or subjected to excessive force by police officers.
Her long history of work on behalf of political prisoners and prisoners’ rights includes litigation, advocacy and educational work around federal and state control unit prisons in the U.S. Her work with the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and with progressive movements challenging U.S. foreign and domestic policies has been a constant throughout her 36 years as a lawyer. She was an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Northeastern Illinois University, and taught constitutional law at the University of Puerto Rico. For over three decades she has represented Puerto Rican political prisoners, and she served as lead counsel in the efforts culminating in the 1999 presidential commutation of their sentences. She continues to represent those who remain imprisoned.
Her advocacy has included testifying in hearings at the U.S. House of Representatives and the United Nations, and she has written and lectured extensively about her work.
University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, B.A. 1971
University of Illinois School of Law, J.D. 1975
Illinois Supreme Court
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
United States District Courts for the Northern District of Illinois, the Central District of Illinois, the Southern District of Illinois, District of Columbia, and the District of Puerto Rico.
Awards & Honors:
National Lawyers Guild Ernie Goodman Award, 1999
National Lawyers Guild
National Police Accountability Project (NPAP)
“Saving Lives: Taking a Jail Suicide Case to Court,” with Janine Hoft, Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fees Annual Handbook, by National Police Accountability Project, a project of the National Lawyers Guild, ed., Steven Saltzman (Thomson/West, Eagan, MN, 2007);
“Prisoners’ Rights: A Review of 35 Years of Fighting for Justice,” with Michael Deutsch, Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fees Annual Handbook, by National Police Accountability Project, a project of the National Lawyers Guild, ed., Steven Saltzman (Thomson/West, Eagan, MN, 2005);
“Sentencing Calculation,” in Sentencing Handbook, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (1977)
Palomas voladoras por cielos de libertad (Ofensiva 92, San Juan, 1995)
Several essays in Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners, ed. Matt Meyer (PM Press, Oakland, CA 2008);
“Puerto Rican Political Prisoners in U.S. Prisons,” Puerto Rico Under Colonial Rule: Political Persecution and the Quest for Human Rights, ed. Ramón Bosque-Pérez and José Javier Colón Morera (State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 2006);
“Comparison of Civil Disobedience Sentences,” Violation of Human Rights in Puerto Rico by the United States, ed. Luis Nieves Falcón and José Carvajal, (Ediciones Puerto, San Juan, 2002);
“Unreconstructed Revolutionaries: Today’s Puerto Rican Political Prisoners/Prisoners of War,”
The Puerto Rican Movement: Voices from the Diaspora, ed. Andrés Torres and José Velázquez (Temple University Press, Philadelphia 1998);
“Prisioneros políticos y derechos humanos: el contexto legal,” Las Carpetas: Persecución política y derechos civiles en Puerto Rico, Ensayos y documentos, ed. Ramón Bosque Pérez and José Javier Colón Morera (Centro para la Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Civiles, Inc., Río Piedras, Puerto Rico 1997)
Articles in several legal and popular publications, including:
Yale Journal of Law and Liberation, The Critical Criminologist, Social Justice, International Review of Contemporary Law, Humanity & Society, Radical Philosophy Review, Monthly Review [MR] Zine, ZNet, Guild Notes, NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America)