Senior Attorney, Fair Courts Project
New York, NY
Ethan Rice is the Senior Attorney for the Fair Courts Project at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the rights of LGBT people and everyone living with HIV. The Fair Courts Project focuses its work on issues of judicial independence, judicial diversity, access to justice, and combating bias in the legal system.
Ethan provides education to judges, attorneys, and court staff on access to justice for LGBT people and LGBT legal issues, including bias in jury selection. He has presented to the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges (Transgender Competency), Florida Conference of Circuit Judges (LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care), Kansas Best Practices in Child Welfare Law Series (LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care), Hennepin County, Minnesota Fall Bench Retreat (Anti-LGBT Bias in Jury Selection), and many other judicial and legal organizations. Ethan created a model curriculum for legal trainings on LGBT issues, Moving Beyond Bias: How to Ensure Access to Justice for LGBT People.
Ethan has co-authored amicus briefs in a number of cases addressing anti-LGBT bias in the jury system including, Berthiaume v. Smith, an Eleventh Circuit case in which the court held that specific voir dire of the jury as to sexual orientation bias was required where the sexual orientation of the plaintiff and his witnesses would be central facts that were inextricably bound up with the issues to be resolved at trial. The case was remanded to the lower court for retrial as the trial judge had refused to allow this type of voir dire. In Rhines v. Young, a capital case in South Dakota, Ethan was co-author of an amicus brief urging the U. S. Supreme Court to allow Mr. Rhines to present evidence that anti-gay bias was a factor in some jurors’ decisions to sentence him to death.
Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project also supports the work of state groups to maintain or pursue fairness in their court systems. This includes efforts to defend or improve the method of judicial selection in the state, improve judicial diversity and the diversity of judicial nominating commissioners, and supporting or filing judicial complaints against judges who engage in biased behavior toward LGBT people or people living with HIV.
Prior to coming to Lambda Legal, Ethan served as a staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF). Before joining TLDEF, he was a child welfare attorney in Florida for four years. Ethan is a member of the Judicial Committee of the LGBT Bar of Greater New York, a member of the National Association of State Judicial Educators, and a 2019 Recipient of the National LGBT Bar Association’s Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40.
Ethan received a B.A. in International Relations from Florida International University and his J.D. from Florida State University College of Law. He is licensed to practice law in New York and Florida.