Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, and Johnny Cochran left an unforgettable mark as attorneys who fought for justice for African Americans despite the opposition. As more and more unarmed Black people are gunned down by police officers and other injustices involving the criminal justice system continue to plague African Americans throughout the country with little to no consequences, there is a need for a new wave of fearless lawyers.
And the call is being answered. A new generation of lawyers focused on community and obtaining justice are working diligently to assist those in need of counsel.
Maryland based lawyer, Landon White, is on of those new school lawyers who has picked up the torch from those before him to fight to protect the rights of Black citizens. White earned his JD from Howard University and also attended Morgan State University.
He is a part of several organizations including the NAACP, Maryland General Assembly, and the National Urban League. The young lawyer on the rise was a member of the dream team who won Korryn Gaines’ family $37 million in damages. Gaines was shot 4 times by Cpl. Royce Ruby and a ricochet hit her young son.
White spoke with theGrio’s Natasha Alford about the history-making case and his pursuit for justice in the African American community.
NA: What were you trying to achieve with this case?
LW: You had a dream team on a mission. We knew this was the perfect case to get rid of what I call the perfect victim syndrome. You have to have a perfect victim with no gun or movement at all for us to receive a settlement. We wanted to change that way of thinking.
NA: A lot of people don’t understand how you are able to get a settlement, but different lawyers are unable to win against criminal charges. Explain why you can win a case like that, but then police officers won’t be convicted.
LW: Criminal and Civil are two different standards. Criminal is a higher standard. When it’s criminal it is up to the individual that shows up to the jury box. I think in our education system we have gotten away from teaching our youth the importance to showing up to jury duty, said White. Honestly, until I was an attorney I didn’t understand the impact of it until you sit at that chair with the defendant. If the jury box doesn’t represent the community that they are sitting in, then you probably won’t get the guilty verdict you want or the settlements you want.
As the new cases come down and as the pulse of America changes…there will be a case that comes down soon that they will decide that there may not need to be malice to get directly to a police officer. However, the actual actions of the officer in the Korryn Gaines case and the fact that she was shot in the back, the fact that we have another individual, a male in Sacramento (Mr. Clark) who was shot in the back multiple times. These are ways that we not only able to sue the city or the police we are able to sue the individual officer.
NA: Do we need more black lawyers, DA’s, judges? How important is it to seeing change in the system?
LW: As a community we have to hold these politicians’ feet to the fire. Just because you are African American or a person of color doesn’t mean I can’t hold you accountable.
NA: A commenter asks- how and why should Blacks have faith and trust in a system that has been doing this since the 16th century (how do you trust a system that is so broken)?
LW: The system is only broken if you don’t use it the right way. The problem in my opinion is we don’t give our best and brightest the opportunity to thrive on our own. Our best and brightest get comfortable in their firm jobs and when when it is time to leave and be in the community there is no one there. As a community just one (Black lawyer) isn’t enough. We have to start putting resources to allow their to be a major firm (Black).
Watch the full interview below:
TheGrio Live!: Hey Grio Fam! Today on theGrio LIVE, we have Trial Attorney, Landon White, Esq. in the studio to discuss being apart of the legal team for Korryn Gaines case and more.
Posted by TheGrio on Monday, April 2, 2018