Rachel Lederman serves as senior counsel at the PCJF. She has devoted her legal career to preserving space for social change movements and advocating for and with those impacted by incarceration, violence, or other injustice at the hands of the police state and other systems of oppression. She has defended hundreds of progressive protesters in court and has obtained significant victories in impact litigation to stop police and government repression and civil rights violations.
In 2014, Rachel Lederman and Jim Chanin settled Scott Olsen’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland for $4.5 million. Mr. Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, was shot in the head with a lead-filled “beanbag” round during an Occupy Oakland demonstration. The shooting violated Oakland Police crowd control policies that Rachel had helped overhaul ten years earlier. In related litigation, Rachel and colleagues enforced these policies and changed mass arrest procedures to stop the practice of jailing protesters for extended periods without charges. When OPD looked the other way while Alameda County deputies used dangerous munitions on protesters during the 2020 George Floyd protests, Rachel and colleague R. Michael Flynn obtained an injunction to prevent this from happening again. Recently, Rachel and co-counsel A. Dami Animashaun and Justice Catalyst Law won a $2.4 million class action settlement for 244 people who were illegally detained without charges in the Santa Clara County Jail. She was lead counsel on NAACP v. City of San José, which successfully settled in September 2023 for $3.35 million for six people who the San José police shot with “less lethal” impact munitions during a May 2020 racial justice protest.
Rachel is a 2023 and 2024 Northern California Super Lawyers selectee and has previously received the National Lawyers Guild’s Unsung Hero award. She has served as President of the National Lawyers Guild, S.F. Bay Area Chapter, and is a member of the National Police Accountability Project. Rachel is also a founding member of the Oakland Law Collaborative and was a founder of the Water Protector Legal Collective, the legal team at Standing Rock, which is now an Indigenous-led legal organization. She is a graduate of Cornell University and New College Law School, and has been a practicing attorney since 1987.
How you can help
Your support now is crucial as we take on one of the most dangerous threats to protest we have seen – the illegal privatization of police power through corporate funding of police departments to act against those protesting corporate interests.