Roy L. Austin, Jr. is a nationally prominent trial and civil rights attorney. Austin, who spent almost 15 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. Austin also maintains an active civil rights practice, representing clients, including the families of victims, who have experienced violations of their fundamental rights. Such cases include representing the family of an unarmed 25-year-old shot and killed by two U.S. Park Police officers, and 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. Austin has tried 30 jury trials and has argued cases in state, federal, administrative, appellate, and state supreme courts around the country.
During his nearly 20-year tenure in the federal government, Austin held several prominent positions, including as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. In this role, he 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, Austin worked on cases involving the New Orleans Police Department, Missoula (MT) law enforcement, and the Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff’s Office. Austin also served 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.
Sought after for his experience handling complex investigations, 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.
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 numerous nonprofit organizations, including The Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Project, Advance Peace, BreakFree Education, the 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.