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tallSLUG REPORT > Daniel Sheehan wraps up UCSC lecture series

Drawing on a lifetime of “progressive litigation,” Harvard-trained civil rights attorney Daniel P. Sheehan concluded his four-part public lecture series on Thursday, May 31. For those who missed it, the series is slated to run online beginning this fall. If you’ve ever wished you had an insider’s perspective on Iran-Contra, this isn’t a series to pass up.

A veteran of legislation in cases ranging from the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal to the Iran Contra Affair and the Greensboro massacre, Sheehan has been offered his insights on government covert action via a class at UC Santa Cruz that ran during the 2012 spring quarter.

Sheehan was the first to challenge the Reagan-Bush administration’s illegal and covert sale of weaponry to Iran to fund the Contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

“The case is actually a chronological story of the ’60s,” says Sheehan. “It’s an attempt to shine a light on a lot of the issues of that generation—it goes from 1968 to Iran-Contra [1986].”

An animated speaker, Sheehan makes even the finer points of federal legislation evocative and thought provoking.

 “The thread dragged through all these cases is the unfolding of all these layers, to discover that we’re actually living in a national security state,” says Sheehan. “This course lays out an explanation for how this came to pass, and what real possibility is there of defending ourselves against national security state bureaucracy.”

The final sessions of the class, running every Tuesday and Thursday evening from May 22 to May 31, were open to the public and served as a chronological look at Sheehan’s involvement in landmark cases of litigation.

Sheehan is the founder of the now Santa Cruz-based Romero Institute, a nonprofit that engages in “high-impact legislation.” Currently, the institute is engaged in a South Dakota lawsuit titled the Lakota People’s Law Project—an attempt to reverse years of damage caused by state policies that coercively placed Native American children in foster care.

“It turns out that behind closed doors, there has always been a non-democratic, coercive element within our society,” says Sheehan. “When we stumbled across the [Iran-Contra scandal], we realized that we had walked right on top of that element.”

Stay tuned for an in-depth interview with Sheehan in the June 21 of Good Times. Learn more about the Romero Institute and the work that it does at romeroinstitute.org.

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