Jin Hee Lee is the Senior Deputy Director of Litigation & Director of Strategic Initiatives at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. In that capacity, she supervises LDF’s litigation and advocacy activities pertaining to criminal justice, education, and economic justice, and assists the Director of Litigation in the overall management and administration of the entire litigation department.
In addition to her supervisory responsibilities, Jin is engaged in various litigation that advances the rights of people of color. She is the lead plaintiffs’ attorney in Davis, et al. v. City of New York and New York City Housing Authority, a federal class action lawsuit that is part of the court-ordered monitoring of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and seeks systemic reform of the NYPD’s discriminatory trespass enforcement practices against Black and Latino public housing residents and guests. See Davis v. City of New York, 296 F.R.D. 158 (S.D.N.Y. 2013); Davis v. City of New York, 959 F. Supp. 2d 324 (S.D.N.Y. 2013); Davis v. City of New York, 902 F. Supp. 2d 405 (S.D.N.Y. 2012); Davis v. City of New York, 898 F. Supp. 2d 600 (S.D.N.Y. 2012); Davis v. City of New York, 812 F. Supp. 2d 333 (S.D.N.Y. 2011). She is lead counsel in Reams v. Arkansas, in which the death sentence of a young Black man was successfully vacated after raising issues of ineffective assistance of counsel, jury underrepresentation, and jury discrimination. 2018 Ark. 324.
As lead counsel in Brister v. Mississippi, Jin investigated, conceptualized, and litigated the first case in Mississippi—and one of the first cases in the country—in which a mandatory juvenile life without parole sentence was declared unconstitutional pursuant to the landmark United States Supreme Court decision, Miller/Jackson v. Alabama. This case led to the release of the first person in Mississippi who had been previously sentenced to juvenile life without parole.
Jin supervises LDF’s extensive school desegregation docket, which includes ongoing federal consent decrees in school districts throughout the South. She also leads LDF’s representation of a multi-racial coalition of 25 Harvard student and alumni organizations, which serves as amici curiae in Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard, a case challenging Harvard’s affirmative action policy.
Jin has submitted numerous amicus briefs in federal and state appeals courts, including the United States Supreme Court. She has spoken frequently on issues concerning race, civil rights, criminal justice, and affirmative action in law schools, legal conferences, governmental hearings, media engagements, and community meetings throughout the country. Her articles have been published in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and the Fordham Urban Law Journal. Along with Sherrilyn Ifill, Jin co-authored the chapter “Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?” in the anthology Policing the Black Man, edited by Professor Angela J. Davis.
Jin graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a concentration in African Studies, and received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English in South Korea. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Executive Editor of A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, published by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and Submissions Editor of the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. She also received the Emil Schlesinger Labor Prize from Columbia Law School. She served as law clerk to Judge Martha Vázquez in the United States District Court for District of New Mexico.
In 2016, Jin was recognized by Columbia Law School as the Distinguished Public Interest Graduate of the Year.