|STAN WILLIS is an attorney in the City of Chicago specializing in personal injury,
criminal defense and federal rights cases. Most of his civil rights and human rights
practice involves suits against police for acts of violence and civil abuse. He chairs
the Chicago Chapter of The National Conference of Black Lawyers, and is a member
of the Cook County Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild.
Stan earned baccalaureate and master’s degrees from The University of Chicago. He
studied graduate economics at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and earned a Jurist
Doctorate from The Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago Kent College of Law.
During his student/labor activist years, Stan led the movement that resulted in
naming a campus within one of the largest public community colleges in the U.S.
after revolutionary Black leader Malcolm X. In this same time period, Stan, as a young
union member and bus driver, was also one of the organizers of the largest bus
drivers’ strike in Chicago’s history.
His legal experience includes several years in private practice concentrating in state
and federal criminal defense and federal civil rights litigation. During the course of
his legal practice, he has tried many federal jury trials and several state jury and
bench trials. Stan has also argued the state appellate court, and argued many cases
before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Moreover, he has litigated numerous
civil rights lawsuits against many municipalities involving dozens of public officials.
In 2002, Stan was named one of the "30 Tough Lawyers” by The Chicago Magazine.
Atty. Willis has been a faculty-lecturer for the annual civil rights seminar sponsored
by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), The Chicago Kent
College of Law, and The American Bar Association in the area of Section 1983 Civil
Rights Liability and Litigation.
He maintains an active public speaking schedule on issues related to the criminal
justice system, the death penalty, police brutality, community-control of police, the
prison-industrial complex, the mass incarceration of Black Men and Women,
America's political prisoners, racism and the American legal system, and
International Human Rights.
Stan was a member of the Durban 400, a group of African-Americans who
participated in the United Nation’s Conference on Racism held in Durban, South
Africa in late August and early September, 2001. The Durban 400 successfully
lobbied the United Nations to resolve that the Atlantic Slave Trade was a crime
During the summer of 2005, Stan led a group of lawyers and community activists in
an effort to focus international attention on police torture in Chicago. In September
2005, Stan presented evidence of police torture before the Organization of
American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
He supported the participation of a colleague in the next UN delegation to Geneva,
due to his own appellate court conflict.
In May 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture sharply criticized the US for failing to
bring the officers responsible for torture in Chicago to justice and called for a
criminal prosecution in these cases.
In 2006, Stan founded and co-chaired a group called Black People Against Police
Torture “BPAPT”, a grass-roots, community based organization whose missions are
to mobilize the African-American Community to insure justice in the Chicago police
torture cases, and to build a Human Rights movement within the community.
In February 2008, Stan presented evidence of police torture before the United Nations
Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination “CERD” in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon
his return from Geneva, Stan and BPAPT held town-hall meetings to report to the
community about how his trip helped advance the Human Rights Movement in the
In January 2009, Stan drafted a bill titled “The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief
Commission Bill.” The Torture Commission, comprised of eight civilians, would have
the authority to review the cases of those torture victims who remained in prison.
BPAPT, under Stan’s leadership, took two bus loads of community activists to
Springfield, Illinois to educate legislators about the Torture Bill, and held several
town-hall meetings to educate the community about the legislation. On August 10,
2009, the Torture Bill was signed into law.
As an active member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and chair of its
Chicago Chapter, Stan authored a Stakeholders’ Report on COINTELPRO Political
Prisoners which was submitted to the UN Periodic Review of the United States in
2010. He led the effort as a member of the US Human Rights Network to elevate this
issue within the criminal punishment and mass incarceration work which continues.
Stan’s research, writing, and speaking commitments have helped bring a new level of
awareness and effectiveness to our local struggles by accessing the International
Human Rights Movement. In an effort to continue to build a “people centered”
Human Rights Movement, Stan has organized several Town Hall Meetings and given
countless media interviews to report back to the community on work done in the
In 2014, Stan and his wife Vickie Casanova-Willis coauthored a Report to the UN
Committee Against Torture (CAT) critiquing the United States’ Report on the Burge
Torture cases and urged the CAT to conclude that the United States should declare a
moratorium on extended periods of isolation and segregation of inmates throughout
the United States’ prison system.
In 2015, Stan authored a Report to the UN Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) of the
United States on the Human Rights violations suffered by African-Americans due to
the massive closures of public schools and privatization of Public Schools in African-
American Communities throughout the country. This Report was filed in conjunction
with the Stake Holders’ Report filed by the International Human Rights Association
for American Minorities, IHRAAM.