Do you offer legal advice, assistance, or referrals?

No; we're sorry, but we cannot give you advice or help you find a lawyer. It's just not what we do. If you want to find a lawyer who was involved in a case that's posted on our site, check the docket for names and contact information. 

Is there any charge to use the Clearinghouse?

No. Note, though, that where we do not have a document, we may post a link where you can get it, sometimes for free but other times by paying the government for it.  (You won't be charged for anything by us, and there's always a warning/payment entry screen at the relevant sites.)

Who are you folks, anyway?

We are a team of attorneys (including one law professor), law students, and undergraduates, and one stalwart software developer, dedicated to broadening access to knowledge about civil rights litigation. See here for the many people involved in the Clearinghouse. See here for the institutions that have supported our work.

Can I post or suggest cases or documents for the Clearinghouse?

We're always interested in expanding the collection. You cannot post cases directly, but you can propose (and upload) a new document for an existing case, a new case within an existing category, or an entire new case category. Just click here, or use the submission forms at the bottom of this page. 

How do I search for relevant cases and documents on the Clearinghouse?

For instructions on how to use the Clearinghouse search features and functions, check out this guide and this video.

I'm a researcher with a data/document collection project of my own: can I use the Clearinghouse?

Of course you can use anything posted. We ask that you cite/credit the Clearinghouse for sources and data.  If you are looking for some additional collaboration, we would like very much to discuss any proposal. Send us an email and we'd be happy to talk about it.

Can I download Clearinghouse data in bulk?

We are developing an API for users who want to download or re-use Clearinghouse data.  We'll post it when it's ready for general use, but for right now, email us to ask for beta access. 

How do you pick the cases to include?

The Clearinghouse posts information about U.S. civil rights cases involving groups of people—whether the cases are formally class actions or not. While we do post class actions that seek/obtain damages, we focus more on cases that seek or obtain injunctive relief or its equivalent. That is, we prioritize inclusion of cases that seek to change the way defendants carry out their activities going forward, rather than cases that seek damages for past civil rights violations. Details on what is included vary by case category; details are here.

How did the Clearinghouse get started?

Margo Schlanger, the Clearinghouse's founder and director, has been writing about civil rights injunctions, particularly in jail and prison cases, since she became a law professor. (See this publication list.) As she acquired a large collection of materials for her own research, mostly from lawyers handling cases, she began to get inquiries from others who wanted to see various documents. So she decided to index and digitize what she had, to make it easier to use herself, and easier to share. The Clearinghouse began from this seed.

What is the Schoolhouse?

In the "Schoolhouse" section of the Clearinghouse—https://schoolhouse.clearinghouse.net/—we post curricular materials for lessons that localize constitutional law and practice, communicating to students that they and people like them are key participants in developing and contesting civil rights norms relating to equality, fairness, and liberty. The materials are geared towards high-school classes, including AP classes.