September 27, 2021

ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Karen Thompson, a leading civil rights attorney, received the honor of New Jersey Law Journal’s Attorney of the Year award, for her pioneering work to create justice and to confront racial inequity in the law. 

Thompson has argued several significant cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court. One ruling resulted in a finding that conducting a background check on a sole Black juror amounted to unconstitutional racial discrimination. The decision in another found that traffic stops based on unobstructive license plates are pretextual. 

The following statement is adopted from ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Karen Thompson’s Acceptance Remarks for New Jersey Law Journal’s Attorney of the Year: 

“In every representation and every interaction, we as attorneys have to show that we may not be perfect stewards of the law, but that our duty, as lawyers, is to constantly strive to perfect the law. We as advocates have to always fight for this unicorn of a more perfect union, and to fight for the operating instructions of this country, as laid out in the 4,543-word, 233-year-old fragile document that holds us together. It’s an honor to fight every day for the civil liberties for all Americans, but especially New Jerseyans.” 

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero: 

“Karen is an extraordinary attorney who engages in complex legal issues without losing her focus on the real-world harms New Jerseyans experience. She brings deep expertise to this work and identifies and calls attention to the systemic injustice and structural racism in our laws and institutions.  

“And, while she does this hard work, she does it with a passion and artistry that energizes those who have the privilege of working with her. The ACLU-NJ is fortunate to have her on our team, and the people of New Jersey are fortunate to have such a dedicated advocate who works every day to make our state a more just place” 

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha: 

“Karen is an activist at heart whose brilliance and impact go far beyond the courtroom. She brings a humanity to social justice work, and she never forgets the people behind the advocacy, both as individual clients and as people struggling to advance their freedom. Karen embodies what social justice is about and uses the law as a tool to fight for it.”