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History

Over the past 30 years, the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center (RSMJC) has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s premier civil rights law firms. RSMJC is at the forefront in the fight to end civil rights injustices, having won key victories on behalf of victims of police corruption, individuals who have been wrongfully convicted, and for thousands injured by oppressive and dangerous prison conditions.


"We are outraged when the rule of law is abandoned in favor of expediency," says Center Executive Director Locke Bowman. "And so we fight for the rights of folks whose voices don't get heard in the criminal justice system. We're concerned about people on death row, about people accused of crimes but who cannot afford lawyers, about folks who are innocent and must be compensated for the time they wrongly spent in prison." 


The family of J. Roderick MacArthur founded the center in 1985 to advocate for human rights and social justice through litigation. The late Dr. Solange MacArthur, one of Roderick’s three children, provided the center with an endowment that will ensure its capacity to fight injustice is enduring. John R. (“Rick”) MacArthur, President and Publisher of Harper’s Magazine, is Roderick’s last surviving child and remains actively engaged in the Center’s strategic direction as the lead board member. 

Opened in July 2016, the St. Louis office has expanded opportunities for the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center to use litigation as a tool to provoke criminal justice reform. The St. Louis office fights against injustice on both sides of the Mississippi River with special focus on racial bias in policing, juvenile justice, prison and jail reform, right to counsel, court reform, sentencing and parole practices generally, and the death penalty.  

Since 1985, the dedicated team in the Chicago office has secured millions of dollars in compensation for the wrongfully convicted and helped protect constitutional rights of men and women in prison. Students at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law are involved in nearly every lawsuit — conducting legal research, and gaining first-hand experience in court while serving on litigation teams.

Opened in 2013, the New Orleans office is fighting to end race-based jury selection in Caddo Parish and to end Ascension Parish’s practice of jailing impoverished people charged with minor crimes. The office is also engaged in efforts to protect the constitutional rights of people on Death Row in Mississippi and in the Orleans Parish Prison (Jones v. Gusman), and to challenge the use of controversial drugs in Mississippi executions.

Opened in 2014, the MacArthur Justice Center office at the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford focuses on issues such as police misconduct, wrongful search and seizure, conditions of confinement, juvenile justice, inmate access to health care and mental health treatment, access to parole, prosecutorial misconduct, discrimination in the criminal justice system, and indigent rights. In addition, the Clinic provides law students with opportunities to participate in all aspects of the Center’s litigation.

Opened in 2017, the office in Washington, D.C., stands committed to pursing material and lasting change in issues related to social and criminal justice, primarily through litigation before appeals courts around the country and the U.S. Supreme Court. The staff specializes in innovative appellate lawyering that seeks to advance the law in a direction that provides greater protection against injustice and violations of civil rights.

To learn more, visit the home website of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center HERE»

Locke E. Bowman, Executive Director of the MacArthur Justice Center, talks about the selection of Mae C. Quinn as the first Director of the St. Louis office.