An Interview with Longtime PLO Attorney Michael Deutsch

To read the full interview on click here.

On Political Repression: A Hard Crackers Discussion with Michael Deutsch

John Garvey and Mike Morgan — March 6, 2024

Michael Deutsch is an experienced human rights attorney in the U.S., perhaps one of the most veteran and well-informed lawyers at that extremely difficult craft in this country.  Michael graciously allowed us at Hard Crackers to pick his brains and share some of his experiences with us. To give you some idea of Michael’s journey down that road, here are some of the important things he has done:

Michael Deutsch has been a lawyer with the People’s Law Office and a Guild member since 1970. From 1991-1996 he was the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Michael’s legal career has been devoted to the representation of political activists and political prisoners. He was one of the criminal defense lawyers for the rebelling Attica prisoners, a coordinator of the Attica Brothers Legal Defense, and one of the class counsel in the Attica civil suit which, after two decades of litigation, resulted in a 12 million dollar settlement.

 He was attorney for the five Puerto Rican Nationalist prisoners imprisoned in the 1950’s who won an unconditional sentence commutation from President Carter in 1979, and represented Puerto Rican independentistas in Chicago, New York and Hartford who were charged with seditious conspiracy, the Wells Fargo expropriation, and subpoenaed before federal grand juries. He also helped to develop the “Prisoner of War” claim under international law for Puerto Rican prisoners.

Michael has defended Black Panthers, Black prisoners facing the death penalty, and was part of the legal team that challenged the first use of the high security “control units” for men at Marion Federal Prison and for women at Lexington Federal Prison.

More recently, Michael successfully defended Chicago Palestinian community activist Muhammad Salah charged with Terrorism and RICO as well as Palestinian community organizers targeted by the FBI and subpoenaed to a federal grand jury. 

Also more recently, Michael represented Rasmea Odeh, the deputy director of the Arab-American Action Network (AANN), a former Palestinian political prisoner and torture survivor, who had been charged with providing false information on her naturalization application, nine years after she had received her citizenship. She was stripped of her US citizenship and after months of litigation was deported to Jordan and now resides in Ramallah.

Michael Deutsch has written and lectured extensively on prisons, international human rights, and political repression.