Katurah Topps, Esq. is an activist and civil rights lawyer currently serving as Policy Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and a core member of LDF’s Justice in Public Safety Project. In these roles, Katurah uses legal, legislative, and policy-centered approaches at the local, state, and federal level to dismantle racially discriminatory systems that impede the safety or advancement of Black people, including policing and other components of the criminal legal system. In doing so, Katurah works closely with impacted communities and grassroots organizations across the country to support community-led interventions and demand government transparency and accountability.
Katurah also advocates against technologies that surveil, track, or make decisions that negatively impact communities of color, such as facial recognition and other biometric readers; predictive policing tools; risk assessments and more. In December 2019, to highlight the dangers of biased and unchecked technologies Katurah led and organized the first New York City-wide community forum on Algorithmic Bias in the city’s Automated Decision Systems (ADS). This inaugural ADS Forum, in collaboration with NYC residents and experts in technology, policy, and social services detailed how ADS use in housing, child welfare, education, employment, and the criminal legal system has harmed Black and brown New Yorkers.
Prior to joining LDF, Katurah was a Litigation Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Simpson Thacher), where she litigated a variety of complex commercial and human rights cases. She also co-founded Simpson Thacher’s Civil Rights and Liberties Initiative, effectively connecting civil rights leaders and key criminal legal issues to the private sector.
Katurah clerked for the Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee (retired) at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the “Rocket Docket.” While clerking, Katurah also worked with Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization to diversify the legal profession by pairing qualified law students of color with federal judicial internships and clerkships.
Katurah earned her Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as an Articles Editor for the Georgetown Law Journal, collaborated with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project to represent the wrongfully convicted, and joined Georgetown Law’s renowned Appellate Litigation clinic.