The ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU/SC) is proud to announce that California Lawyer Magazine has named ACLU/SC Legal Director Peter Eliasberg as one of its “Attorneys of the Year” for 2013. Eliasberg, together with co-counsel John Durrant of the law firm Paul Hastings, is receiving the award this year for the class action lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which revealed disturbing deputy abuse of inmates. A 2011 ACLU/SC report included eyewitness testimony of the savage abuse that occurred in the jails and led to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors creating a commission to investigate.'
“Thank you to California Lawyer Magazine for recognizing our work to address the abuse that occurs in the largest jail system in the country,” said Eliasberg. “We are committed to changing the culture at the jails and our work will not be finished until we achieve that goal.”
More than 70 witnesses, including chaplains and an ACLU monitor, came forth in the report to speak of the horrific incidents plaguing the jails under the watch of Sheriff Lee Baca. The lawsuit, Rosas v. Baca, seeks to change how the department handles the use of force by deputies in the jails -- by implementing new use-of-force policies, properly training deputies, thorough review of use-of-force incidents, and accountability for deputies who do not comply.
“We are privileged to have an attorney of Peter’s caliber,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU/SC. “I’m proud of Peter’s work on behalf of our organization, and we will keep the pressure up until we see justice brought to the jails.” Sixty attorneys from various practice areas were chosen as recipients, for their impact in more than 20 areas of law. California Lawyer will publish all the awardees in its March 1 edition.