Neighborhood Justice Center, Inc. (NJC) is a non-profit, community-based law office which provides comprehensive and high-quality criminal defense services to assist low-income persons, largely persons of color, in receiving fair treatment in the legal system as well as achieving equitable outcomes and helping prevent future legal problems.

Founded in 1973 by concerned local judges, lawyers and members of the Black and American Indian communities of St. Paul, the Neighborhood Justice Center’s regional focus is primarily in Ramsey, Washington and Dakota counties. Utilizing start-up money from Model Cities, NJC quickly garnered a reputation for providing effective legal services for those most at-risk in the criminal justice system.

Current board members:

James Robinson, Paula Osborn, Robert McClain, Jackie Cooper, Stephanie Wright, Ernest Dial, Peter Reyes, Jonathan Price, Charles Clippert, Dan Guerrero, Manny Atwal.

During the 1980s, the number immigrants and refugees in the East Metro area expanded greatly. This growth was especially evident among Southeast Asians and Hispanics. Many of these persons came from societies with legal practices very different from those they encountered in the U.S. The agency responded by developing an additional focus on education. This was designed to help Southeast Asians and Hispanics understand the American legal system, to help minimize legal difficulties and insure fair treatment. During the 90s, in response to significant Somali, services were extended to this group.

“When the organization started, there was a need across the country to provide legal representation to people of color, indigents; more importantly, it came about because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination and the way law enforcement agencies across the country treated low income people and people of color.”

Jim Robinson. Co-founder and long time board member.