Roy L. Austin

Partner

Roy L. Austin, Jr. is a nationally prominent trial and civil rights attorney. Mr. Austin, who spent almost fifteen years as a federal prosecutor and supervisor, now helps clients navigate complex criminal and civil investigations. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers for his work on white collar investigations, and he has successfully defended more than a dozen individuals and organizations in high-stakes criminal and civil cases. He also maintains an active civil rights practice representing clients, including the families of victims, who have experienced violations of their fundamental rights. Mr. Austin has tried thirty jury trials, and argued cases in state, federal, administrative, appellate and state supreme courts around the country.

Sought after for his experience handling complex investigations, Mr. Austin has regularly appeared as a commentator on criminal justice and policing matters in national media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, CNN, Univision, USA Today, and The Hill.

Litigation + Investigations

At HWG, Mr. Austin has represented organizations on a diverse array of investigations and disputes, including:

  • Google in a lawsuit alleging defamation;
  • One of the largest gig economy companies in a lawsuit by an attorney general alleging that it misled consumers; and
  • A company in an investigation by a U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Small Business Administration alleging that it violated minority business enterprise rules.

Civil Rights Litigation

At HWG, Mr. Austin has drawn on his extensive experience to represent clients who have been victims of high-profile civil rights violations, including:

  • Bringing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Department, the St. Louis Police Union and others on behalf of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the first African-American elected as the city’s chief prosecutor;
  • Representing the family of an unarmed 25-year-old who was shot and killed by two U.S. Park Police officers; and
  • Representing a client charged with Inauguration Day rioting in a case that resulted in the dismissal with prejudice of almost 200 cases and having the client’s arrest record expunged.

During his nearly twenty-year tenure in the federal government, Mr. Austin served in several prominent roles, including as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. In this role, Mr. Austin supervised the work of attorneys in the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and the Special Litigation Section’s law enforcement (police departments, corrections and juvenile justice) portfolio. In addition, he supervised work under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act (RLUIPA) and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Among numerous other matters, Mr. Austin worked on cases involving the New Orleans (LA) Police Department, Missoula (MT) law enforcement, and the Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff’s Office.

Policy

Mr. Austin regularly advises clients on policy issues, particularly on criminal justice reform and how advances in technology may trigger civil rights issues. In his policy work, Mr. Austin draws on his experience on the White House Domestic Policy Council as Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity. In this position, Mr. Austin co-authored a report on Big Data and Civil Rights, worked with the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, helped develop the Police Data Initiative, worked on the expansion of reentry assistance, and was a member of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force. Mr. Austin’s team also played a significant leadership role in policymaking on labor, housing, and human services issues.

Mr. Austin received his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from The University of Chicago. Active in his community, Mr. Austin serves on the Board of Directors or Advisory Board for a number of non-profit organizations including: The Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Project, Advance Peace, Council on Criminal Justice, Effective Law Enforcement for All, Fair and Just Prosecution, Institute for Innovation in Prosecution, Justice Innovation Lab, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Polaris, and Tzedek DC.



Education

The University of Chicago, J.D.

Yale University, B.A.

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