Recent Mentions

Racism: Then and Now
"The enormity of the criminal justice system is a problem that we didn't see 30 years ago. If you look at dyrs.dc.gov, you'll see that for the last three fiscal years [juvenile commitments] were 96% African American, then 99% African American, and most recently 100% African American, and that's in the city that is the most educated and most progressive in the country."  --Patrice Sulton

D.C. police infiltrated inauguration protest group, court papers show
"...[D]ozens of the defendants are seeking to block a government request to search more than 100 locked cellphones seized during the Inauguration Day arrests. 'You have your own private photos and videos on there no one has the right to see,' said defense attorney Patrice Sulton, who represents one of those charged. She said the court should review the material first and decide what is relevant."

Judge requests prosecutors begin sharing specific evidence with defense involving Jan. 20 rioting case
"One attorney, Patrice Sulton, repeatedly requested that the judge require prosecutors to share evidence on behalf of her client. 'It is physically impossible for every person charged to have engaged in all of the wrongdoing alleged in the indictment,' Sulton said."

Students have Banner Year in Advocacy Competitions
Breanna Smith and Tyler Hill—both 2Ls— won the Frederick Douglass Regional Moot Court Competition in Pittsburgh, PA. They were coached by adjunct alum Patrice Sulton, JD '08, who also participated in the same competition as a student. The team also advanced to the quarter-finals of the Frederick Douglass National Moot Court Competition in Houston, TX, and Ms. Hill was named Best Oral Advocate.

D.C. law groups offer free legal help to demonstrators arrested this weekend
"Patrice Sulton, a supervising attorney with the organization said her attorneys will also be available next week for those individuals who were arrested and want to see about getting their cases expunged."

Residents, activists sound off on state of police in the District
"Patrice Sulton, who heads the legislative committee for the D.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said problem officers are too often protected despite issues such as making arrests based on false statements. She urged selecting a police chief 'who understands the value of procedural justice' and said, 'When the system is legitimate, people are more likely to respond to the authority of police.""

The Council Gave Defendants Jury Trial Rights – Prosecutors Are Trying To Take It Away
"Patrice Sulton, the Chair of the Legislation Committee for the D.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, explained: '[Making the offense available for a jury trial] takes the judge out of the uncomfortable position of having to make a finding that the officer’s testimony is not credible, which might impact their job later as [the judge] has to make those specific [credibility] findings.'"

★ Probable cause, D.C. police terrifying the innocent
"Patrice Sulton, a lawyer who chairs the legislation committee for the D.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that addresses in the D.C. court system can be unreliable. In a report in April, the department’s Police Complaints Board expressed concern 'about the lack of verification of address information in warrants executed by MPD officers.'"

Activists Rally against Mayor’s Anti-Crime Bill
“If people who are returning to the community have to worry about unlimited search warrants their families are not going to welcome them into their home.” --Patrice Sulton

Catch a Rising Star
The Greater Washington Area Chapter of the National Bar Association’s Women Lawyers Division (‘GWAC’) will honor LSIC alumna Patrice Sulton (08) as a “rising star” in the DC legal community at its annual Networking Reception to be held on Oct. 1 from 6:30-9 pm at Wilmer Hale.

What’s at Stake
"Let's sit down and work with law enforcement, people in the community who are at-risk of being victims or perpetrators of violent crime and address their needs." --Patrice Sulton

★ Assault on Justice
“The real horror about the assault on a police officer statute is that we have thousands of people in our community who are now facing lifelong consequences for what really is harmless conduct.” -- Patrice Sulton

★ Wiggling while handcuffed counts as assaulting an officer
Sulton, however, said she has seen too many cases in which a defendant was more seriously injured than the officer: “I think it’s actually being used to cover up excessive use of force…When police are brutalizing people in the community, the justification that they give for those injuries is that the person either resisted arrest or reached for a weapon or assaulted that police officer.”

How Marijuana Defense Lawyers Helped Make Themselves Obsolete
“It became pretty apparent that a lot of officers were using that as a justification to stop and search people,” Sulton said. “When we combine our anecdotal experience in that regard with the study that the ACLU did in terms of looking at racial disparities in arrests, it was pretty alarming. ”Some people think the “next logical step” is looking at decriminalizing other kinds of drugs, but Sulton sees a different goal: “I think that because of the way we've approached this, the next logical step is to look at all of the laws that are being used in a pretextual manner in our city,” she said, pointing to minor traffic offenses only enforced in certain areas of the city, or police “jump outs” that only take place in certain areas.

Dogs, Tasers used predominately on African Americans – DOJ report on Ferguson
“When you are only citing people from one part of the community and that part of the community remains poor, they’re going to be disproportionately affected by those practices.” -- Patrice Sulton

★ ‘Jump-Outs’: DC’s Scarier Version of ‘Stop-and-Frisk’
“Either [Police Chief Lanier] has no control over her officers or she’s just completely oblivious to what they’re doing...It’s not in anyone’s imagination.” --Patrice Sulton

Darren Wilson resigns from Ferguson PD
"One option that was overlooked early on was demanding an inquest, in the spirit of transparency: having the coroner conduct a public hearing to determine the cause of death. That might aid and benefit the family and any federal agencies that are interested in pursuing additional redress." --Patrice Sulton

Was the Ferguson Grand Jury Prosecution Biased?
“The prosecutor is the one who is trying to make a case against this person, so presumably that party, that interest was represented in the grand jury proceeding, but instead of conducting what looks like a normal cross examination, they invited answers that were helpful to the defendant.” --Patrice Sulton

Ferguson: Was Justice Served?
“If you are someone who is given the authority to wear a gun and a badge and to exercise your authority over a community and you cant figure out how to respond to a child who presents in front of you without any immediate danger, then you are probably in the wrong line of work.” -- Patrice Sulton

Can We Trust the Ferguson Grand Jury?
“During that process they usually only present the very little amount of evidence that they need to get over that probable cause standard, so for the prosecutor to decide in this case we’re going to give the jurors the instructions on self defense and present all of the evidence, that’s very unusual.” --Patrice Sulton

Police Chief Lanier Answers Critics at Hearing
“I listened to [Police Chief Lanier] testify...They said they purchase guns and drugs from homes and then go back and raid them. That’s absolutely untrue. From what I see in Superior Court, they arrest people during traffic stops and try to figure out where they live.” --Patrice Sulton

Marijuana Legalization Approved By DC Voters, Next Heads To Congress
"One of the main problems we're having...has to do with so much contact with police that's unnecessary." --Patrice Sulton

Opponents Of Pot Legalization Say They’re Not Drug Warriors
"The decriminalization bill doesn't actually legalize [marijuana]. It's still illegal, you can still be contacted by the police, they'll confiscate it, you'll get this ticket, and it starts this first contact, that first impression." --Patrice Sulton

Nation’s capital inching closer to marijuana legalization
“It’s not about making opportunity if everybody doesn’t have the same access to the opportunity because you’ve criminalized them...One criminal conviction can ruin their life.” --Patrice Sulton

Testimony for oversight hearing on MPD Stop and Contact Policies and Procedures
“We commend the petition by Patrice Amandla Sulton of the D.C. branch of NAACP to District officials to 'Lead the Nation in Adopting Best Police Practices,' which calls for more crisis training; dash and body cameras; changing the 'Assault on a Police Officer' law; facilitating civilian review; prosecuting police assaults; requiring DC residency for officers; incentivizing higher education for officers; ending profiling; and requiring D.C. residency for officers; incentivizing higher education for officers; ending profiling; and requiring periodic psychological evaluations.”

★ New Evidence Changes Ferguson Narrative
“The reason for the unrest is really that we see sort of a double standard applied when we have a white shooter and a black victim versus when we have a black shooter or a white victim and the community, I think, is rightfully concerned that investigations appear to be halted or not started in cases involving unarmed black men.” -- Patrice Sulton

Residents demand changes to police tactics
Patrice Sulton of the NAACP, speaking on behalf of the DC Police Project, looked the Councilmembers in the eye and boldly stated, “The police treat the black citizens of this city like we are animals on a daily basis.” According to Sulton, the most common charge against accused black citizens is resisting arrest. In 1,200 cases, residents were arrested while accused of nothing except for refusing to surrender to unlawful detention. Concluding her impassioned speech, Sulton proclaimed, “No elected official in this city should keep his or her seat if those numbers do not change by the next election cycle.”

Police Under Fire for Aggressive Tactics
"Some police officers in D.C. treat black people as if they're animals...They yank our clothes, slam our arms, violate us, and arrest us for the most minor infractions. There are 1,200 cases of resisting arrest. They fabricate drugs buys and destroy our houses. They call us bandits when we go to complain...We're traumatized and blamed for our trauma. We support the good actors and want retraining for the bad seeds… the statistics are absolutely indefensible. No elected official should keep a seat if this doesn't change." --Patrice Sulton

Ferguson on Alert After St. Louis Police Shooting
“What happens on a national level when you incarcerate young black men at a rate as high as we’ve been incarcerating young black men in the United States is that the lines are not just racial at that point. We see a line between the people who have prior convictions and the people who don’t, the people who are living in poverty and the people who have been placed in positions of authority, the people who are allowed to have guns and the people who face criminal charges if they have guns, and so to have this conversation about what happened between the people in positions of authority and what happened to the citizen is an important conversation.” – Patrice Sulton

At Oversight Hearing, Public Demands Police Reform
“We don’t need a little change, we need a lot of change on a lot of different fronts...The NAACP won’t settle for anything less.” --Patrice Sulton

MPD’s Stop-And-Frisk Tactics Undermines Relations With City, Residents Say
"Although not all people of color have been subject to police brutality, police misconduct, the people who have had those complaints are overwhelmingly black and hispanic." --Patrice Sulton

Residents Decry Police Tactics
“Some of these officers treat the citizens who are black in this community like animals on a daily basis. They jump out on the street and confront us aggressively. They pull us from our vehicles for no good reason at all. They yank at our clothing violently while they search us for contraband,” said Patrice Sulton, with the NAACP’s D.C. branch.

Council hearing takes on police detainment practices
Patrice Sulton said police officers “treat people like animals on a daily basis” during arrests, stops and ­searches. She added that residents and legislators bear responsibility along with police officials. “We don’t need a little change; we need a lot of change."

★ Councilmember: ‘Police Shouldn’t Have Guns’
“Some of the officers treat the citizens who are black in this community like animals on a daily basis." --Patrice Sulton

Decriminalization of Marijuana
“What's missing from the conversation is the people who are being affected directly by this.” -- Patrice Sulton

NAACP Supports Body Cameras
“There is a systematic failure in the justice system if the public only learns of incidents of police brutality and unlawfulness when random bystanders happen to record these occurrences.” --Patrice Sulton

Marijuana arrests before new DC law appear to hold up even with changes
“This illustrates why this law was passed; to reduce such contact,” said Sulton, who testified before the D.C. Council in support of the new law. If the incident happened four hours later, she said, “my client would not have been here.”

Maryland Officially Becomes the 21st Medical Marijuana State— and Decriminalizes Possession
"This bill is one of the first measures to address racial profiling in drug arrests, both procedurally and substantively. We are confident that Congress shares the District's concerns about disparities in enforcement and the disturbing trends we are seeing nationwide." --Patrice Sulton

★ Mayor Signs Decriminalization Bill!
“This bill is one of the first measures to address racial profiling in drug arrests, both procedurally and substantively. We are confident that Congress shares the District’s concerns about disparities in enforcement and the disturbing trends we are seeing nationwide.” --Patrice Sulton

DC Pushes to Decriminalize Pot With New Bill
[Patrice Sulton] says the bill is a step towards the city acknowledging how some drug laws can be harmful when "they are enforced disproportionately against people of color.”

DC’s Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Heads To Congress After Being Signed
[Patrice Sulton] said in a release, "It is an important and notable first effort to include the voices of those who suffer the consequences of conviction, when assessing the full impact of criminal legislation.”

DC Mayor Vincent Gray Signs Far-Reaching Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation; Bill Next Goes to U.S. Congress for Review
“This bill is one of the first measures to address racial profiling in drug arrests, both procedurally and substantively. We are confident that Congress shares the District’s concerns about disparities in enforcement and the disturbing trends we are seeing nationwide.” --Patrice Sulton

Civil Rights Groups Back Marijuana Decriminalization Bill In DC
"This bill really is a first measure at addressing that racial disparity and racial profiling more generally in the District." --Patrice Sulton

Wells, Civil Rights Groups Push for Potent DC Pot Bill
“This bill uniquely changes the dialogue about the purpose of decriminalization and the purpose of legalization of marijuana," said Patrice Sulton...she hopes the bill "won’t be watered down, and that those measures that are aimed at eliminating the racial disparity won’t be eliminated from the bill and changed to a bill that’s focused on just sort of recreational use like what we see in Colorado and Washington.”

GA Rep. Thinks Poor Kids Should Work For Free Lunch
’It’s rooted in a set of values that doesn’t treat things like being able to eat or get a proper education as human rights," said attorney Patrice A. Sulton. "And, of course, being able to have a proper meal at a time you get your education is something to which people are entitled, not something that children who aren’t yet of age to make the sorts of decisions that would help them provide for themselves.”

★ Top Ten Civil Rights Moments of 2013 – Part 1
“‘We have so much to gain and there are so many people who have a lot to lose...There isn’t anything measurable about the discrimination that’s happened; it’s just something that’s felt, that’s understood, that’s still very real.” --Patrice Sulton

★ Top Ten Civil Rights Moments of 2013 – Part 2
“[The Supreme Court] said that [Section 4] was outdated; that it was based on 40-year-old facts that have no bearing on what’s going on today...We are now free, but we’re not yet equal and this idea of shifting our focus from freedom to equality and to equality of opportunity and to equal gains on every front and in every aspect of public life.” --Patrice Sulton

Bill Would Offer More Support To Rape Victims
Patrice Sulton with the D.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says there are times when an attorney may have to interview an accuser without an advocate present. "We need an opportunity to independently interview these witnesses and to speak to them without that interference in some cases," she says.

Public Voices Support For Marijuana Decriminalization Bill, Thinks It Could Be Better
Patrice Sulton, a lawyer with the NAACP, testified in favor of the decriminalization, but said that the Council should go one step further and adopt language that would exclude the odor of marijuana by itself as suspicion to search on probable cause, saying that it is just another tactic for police to discriminate. "They use it as an excuse to justify stopping to search people in certain parts of the city all the time," she said.

★ What You Can Do to Impact the Justice System
“‘We’re not going to tolerate stop-and-frisk policies like what New York does. We don’t want buy-bust operations going on in black communities, when we know they don’t go on in white communities. We don’t want robbery suppression teams setting up sting operations in black communities, when we know they’re not doing that in white communities.’” --Patrice Sulton

Van Ness Neighborhood Happy Hour Offers Discussion on Gun Issues
“‘DC upholds the Castle Doctrine, which states that there’s no duty to retreat in the home...Stand Your Ground laws go a step further and address situations outside your home. In these cases, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant, who must prove that they were justified in their shooting.” --Patrice Sulton

Lawmakers Set to Decriminalize Some Gun Possession Offenses
“’DCACDL urges the Council to amend Bill 19-888 to ensure a uniform and even-handed application of the law," said Patrice Sulton in testimony prepared for delivery at a council committee hearing on the topic. Otherwise, Sulton praised the measure as "a novel approach to a familiar problem" that "tends to promote justice and fairness.”

Scope of proposed gun bill questioned
"Discerning between residents and nonresidents makes it more confusing," said Patrice Sulton [who] suggested the administrative disposition should be an option for D.C. residents as well as for those from outside city limits.

DC considers changing gun laws
“Council chairman Phil Mendelson held a hearing Monday on a bill that could give non-residents, who might not know D.C.’s gun laws, a break.”

DC Attorney General Opposes Civil Penalties for Out-of-Towners in Gun Cases
Patrice Sulton, a member of the legislative committee of the D.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, expressed similar sentiments and called for Mendelson to ensure the attorney general’s office would make the guidelines for such a procedure clear.

17 Women Lead Voting Rights Protest Today
According to DC Vote, this is the "first event of a strategic protest campaign to keep pressure on both our opponents and allies in Congress." Among the women leading the protest is Patrice Sulton, Vice President, DC NAACP.

Cheh, others arrested during Capitol Hill protest
Several prominent District women, including Council members Yvette D. Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Maudine Cooper, president of the Greater Washington Urban League, and Patrice Sulton of the DC NAACP held a rally at Upper Senate Park next to the U.S. Capitol in support of District autonomy.