This is one in a series of profiles marking the 60th anniversary of the ACLU of Kentucky’s founding. Each week through December 2015 we will highlight the story of one member, client, case, board or staff member that has been an integral part of our organization’s rich history.
Modern Legal Program
“The addition of a staff attorney means we can respond to increased needs as we seek to defend the Bill of Rights.” –David Friedman
For 49 years, the ACLU of Kentucky defended Kentuckians by providing volunteer lawyers to those whose civil liberties were denied by the state or federal governments. For much of that time, those litigation efforts were coordinated and conducted by a volunteer General Counsel (David Friedman served in that position for 25 years). And that model served us well, in that the ACLU-KY was able to have an impact on a broad range of civil liberties issues through the time and talent of a cadre of cooperating attorneys and a volunteer Legal Review Panel. However, in 2004, the ACLU-KY hired its first-ever staff attorney, Lili Lutgens. Ms. Lutgens was brought on staff at a time when threats to civil liberties under the guise of national security made the organization’s Legal Program more vital than ever. And our ability to hire a paid staff attorney was made possible, in part, by a two-year grant from the national ACLU. Today, the contributions of our supports ensures the ACLU-KY will be able to maintain an attorney on staff on a continuing basis.
In 2007, William Sharp joined the organization as its staff attorney following Ms. Lutgens’ departure for another position. And in 2014, the Legal Program underwent another change when it recast Mr. Sharp’s role as Legal Director, increased the size and role of the Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities, and placed a renewed focus on recruiting capable volunteer attorneys and firms to assist with our litigation. The inclusion of new and highly qualified individuals to serve with our already distinguished members on the Litigation Committee is a direct reflection of our efforts in this regard. And we were honored to recently add retired federal Judge Boyce F. Martin, Jr. to the Committee’s ranks.
The ACLU of Kentucky has a long and distinguished history of successfully advocating for Kentuckians’ civil rights and civil liberties in state and federal courts, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. And today’s Legal Program, with its combination of a dedicated Legal Program Director and a growing number of capable and dedicated cooperating attorneys, will continue the tradition of delivering high quality representation on cases that have a broad impact upon the rights of Kentuckians.