The Earl Carl Institute for Legal and Social Policy, Inc.

About Us

General Overview

The Earl Carl Institute for Legal and Social Policy, Inc. was established in 1992 by Professor Marcia Johnson as a research and writing think tank at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. It is a non-profit corporation exempt from taxation pursuant to §501(c)(3), of the Internal Revenue Code.
The Institute was named in honor of Professor Earl Carl, a founding faculty member of the law school. Professor Carl, blind from an early age, graduated from Fisk University before going on to earn his law degree from Yale University Law School. He is a human symbol that people can accomplish whatever they are willing to despite all odds. His achievements remind us that we are limited only by the barriers we chose not to overcome.
The Earl Carl Institute serves as an advocacy organization, which seeks to identify, address and offer solutions to issues that affect traditionally urban and disenfranchised communities. The Institute is specifically designed to provide resources to train Thurgood Marshall students in legal advocacy and enhance their research and writing skills. Through the students’ research, position papers and other publications, the Institute promotes civil and human rights. The Institute’s mission is to help solve the legal and social problems facing the urban community through scholarship and advocacy.
The Institute has grown significantly from its creation as a skills enhancement program for law students to an advocacy organization that trains students in research, writing, advocacy skills, leadership, office management, and problem solving. A high percentage of ECI students pass the bar exam on their first attempt.

Programs & Special Projects
Research and Writing
Student Policy Papers

ECI hires several research students each semester to work on ECI policy or position papers. These papers cover topics selected by ECI staff within ECI priority areas. Current priority areas are housing, criminal justice, family and education. Current research topics include:

  1. Arrested Development: The Stall-Out of Elder Abuse Prevention in Texas
  2. Teen Dating Violence (no working title at this time)
  3. Black Males in Prison v. Black Males Enrollment in Higher Education: Texas Statistics
  4. The Wrongfully Convicted: Where Are They Now?
  5. The Constitutionality of Life without Parole for Juveniles

ECI Interdisciplinary Journal
The ECI Interdisciplinary Journal for Legal & Social Policy is an open-access peer reviewed journal that seeks to make available research and knowledge in the areas of legal and social policy to equip and empower educators and others nationwide with research driven articles that will contribute to their ability to meet the diverse needs of urban populations. The goal of the ECI Interdisciplinary Journal for Legal & Social Policy is to further Texas Southern University’s efforts to meet its charge to solve urban problems. The Journal publishes papers primarily on issues that impact legal and social policy in the urban community. In the article selection process the journal focuses primarily on the institute’s priorities, which for the next five years are housing, education, family and criminal justice. The journal can be accessed at At this time, articles may be downloaded free of charge.
A preliminary perusal of current academic journals yields a number of interdisciplinary legal and social policy driven publications. However, there is an absence of interdisciplinary journals that focus solely on legal and social policy issues that impacting urban and minority communities in the areas of housing, education, family and criminal justice. ECI’s journal fills this void.

The Our Story Project
The broader OUR Story project is a chronicle of the achievements of Texas Southern University administrations and alumni. The project began as a vision of Professor Marcia Johnson, founder of the Earl Carl Institute. In March 2007, Professor Johnson responded to a report issued by an advisory committee comprised of community leaders to review the operations and fiscal matters at TSU. In response to the report, Professor Johnson prepared a report by the Earl Carl Institute entitled “Texas Southern University: A Perspective”. The report began as a letter response that ultimately evolved into a 40 page document. During the research for the response, Professor Johnson noted the difficulty locating information about the numerous prominent alumni and other individuals affiliated with the University. It was at that point that she realized that we needed to tell “OUR Story” in an objective but broader fashion that highlighted TSU achievements and explained TSU difficulties in the context of the political, social, and economic environments at the time. Thus, grew the first initiative of the OUR Story project.
Currently the Our Story project is focused on completing a “Presidents’ Volume” detailing the history of the University through each administration. The printed volume is planned as a coffee table style book with a more extensive (approximately 300 page volume) on the ECI website. In addition, several interviews with individuals involved in each administration will be edited into an approximately one hour video documenting each president. More extensive interviews will also be placed on the ECI website. The University is currently considering including the Our Story project as part of next year’s Founders’ Day. Specifically, ECI would participate in the 85th Anniversary of the University with the OUR Story project as the centerpiece of an event leading up to the September 14, 2012 Founders’ Day. Specifically, ECI would launch the sale of the print volume of the OUR Story President’s Edition and screen the one-hour video oral history of the presidents at a black-tie event that would serve as the culmination of a week-long of events leading up to Founders’ Day.

Public Policy Initiatives
State Of Black Houston Now
The State of Black Houston Now project is designed to provide the leadership in politics, the academic community, and community organizations with statistics and research driven papers that highlight various issues affecting the lives of Houston African Americans. The project has two components.
The first component is a “snapshot” of various data that reveals potential life issues that deserve to be addressed to provide more opportunities for Houston’s urban population. Specifically, the snapshot explores the following areas through the use of census data:

Housing Family Politics
Education Health Judicial
Criminal Justice Wealth

This first component will be updated as more statistical data from the 2010 census is released.
The second component of the SOBHN project is the production of position papers and/or journal quality articles that build on the statistical data to identify problems and suggest implementable solutions. It is envisioned that these publications will be interdisciplinary and the ECI will work to facilitate co-authoring opportunities of academics from varying disciplines.
The Institute has worked with a collaboration of organizations on this project, including the Mickey Leland Center for World Hunger and Peace, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)-Houston Branch, the Houston Area Urban League (HAUL), TSU College of Education, TSU School of Public Affairs, and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Legislative Update 2011
Beginning in 2009, ECI produced a legislative update following the Texas Legislature’s 81st session. The legislative update project is a production of a document detailing new legislation impacting the urban community at the end of each legislative session.
The Report on the Texas Legislature 82nd Session: An Urban Perspective will be the second such publication produced by the ECI, to highlight legislation passed and signed during the session that has an impact on the urban community. The report is designed to allow an ease in reading for the academic professional as well as the average citizen, to gain a basic understanding of the bills passed and signed, where to find them and who sponsored them.

ECI Organization Resource List
The ECI Organizations Resource List is a compilation of organizations having an interest in issues affecting the urban community. The list was initially compiled from the witness lists for various bills during the last legislative session. The list contains a hyperlink to the included organizations along with a description of the organization and their contact information.

Symposia, Issue Forums, Other Special Projects
In the past the Institute has produced publications associated with and coordinated numerous symposiums, seminars, workshops and continuing legal education programs. During the last past year, the Institute conducted various symposia including:

  • Immigration Reform: Debunking the Myths
  • African American Legislative Caucus, 81st Legislature
  • Juvenile Justice: Practical Considerations when Representing Students in School Ticket Cases
  • Congressman Al Green’s Congressional Black Caucus Issue Forum. Entitled: How Racial Government
  • Policies Denied African American Wealth
  • Indigent Defense: Policy and Practice

Prior symposiums include:

Congressional Black Caucus September 2008 Washington D.C.
Fair Housing Issues April 2007 TSU
Redesigning Public Education March 2007 TSU
Wealth Building Through Home Ownership February 2007 TSU
Funding Equity for HBCU September 2006 TSU
The Re-legalization of Segregation September 2006 Washington D.C.
Alito, Supreme Court Nominee January 2006 Washington D.C.
Voting Rights Act Reauthorization October 2005 TSU