Opposing the Criminalization of the LGBTQ Community

Our work fighting against police misconduct and brutality has largely been supporting individuals who are targeted and criminalized based on their race.  In recent years, we have been representing more and more individuals from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) communities, who have been targeted or punished in the criminal legal system because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.  Many of these clients have been people of color and are subject to racism, homophobia, transphobia and intersecting forms of oppression by the police, courts and legal system.

One notable case where we fought against homophobic prosecution was the case of Bernina Mata.  Ms. Mata, a Latina lesbian, was convicted and sentenced to die on Illinois’ death row in 1998 after Boone County prosecutors argued the deceased made an unwanted pass at her and this so enraged her as a “hard core lesbian” that she killed him.  The office represented her in post-conviction and clemency proceedings challenging the homophobic prosecutorial misconduct at her trial.  Her death sentence was commuted to life in 2003 like those of all others on Illinois death row.

We have also been committed to representing transgender and gender non-conforming people who are falsely charged or harassed based on their gender expression.  We have filed civil rights lawsuits and argued in front of the Chicago and Illinois Human Rights Commissions on behalf of these clients.  We currently represent several transgender and gender non-conforming people who have been illegally and unconstitutionally strip searched, harassed or discriminated against while in police custody. The Office is currently partnering with counsel in New York to challenge the New York Police Department’s lack of policies and training on how to properly and humanely treat transgender and gender non-conforming people in police custody.  People’s Law Office also represents gay men who are falsely accused of engaging in public sex acts and LGBTQ people in detention facilities who face sexual and or physical violence, denial of medically necessary treatment, or other retributive and harassing conduct.


Early Days
The Murder of Fred Hampton
Government Surveillance
Representing the Panthers in Downstate Illinois
Attica New York Prison Riots
The Fred Hampton Murder Trial
Prisoner Rights Work
Puerto Rican Independence Movement and the Puerto Rican Community
Fred Hampton Appeal
George Jones Street Files and False Imprisonment
Representing Demonstrators, Protestors, and Activists
Puerto Rico Work Continues
Police Brutality and Torture
Continuing to Represent Demonstrators and Activists
The Attica Prison Civil Case
Continuing Work in Solidarity With Puerto Rico
Fighting the Death Penalty
Sexual Abuse Litigation and Illegal Strip Search
Back to the Supreme Court
The 1996 Democratic Convention
Policy and Practice Cases
False Arrests and Convictions
Continuing to Defend Dissent
Continuing the Fight for Justice in the Chicago Police Torture Cases
Criminal Defense for Civil Rights Abuses
Jail Suicide
Opposing the Criminalization of the LGBTQ Community
People’s Law Office and The National Lawyers Guild