Civil Rights Litigation

The firm has a very deep commitment to progressive civil rights work.  We regularly represent individuals and entities who have been the victim of harassment, coercion, intimidation, physical violence or discrimination based upon age, disability, medical condition, national origin, sex, race, ethnicity, or religion, as well as those whose constitutional rights have been violated by the government, the police, employers or others.  We pride ourselves on serving the needs of our clients by providing the highest quality legal services, while at the same time promoting social justice through the vigorous enforcement of our federal and state constitution and civil rights laws.

In addition to the firm’s full service Employment Litigation and Counseling practice, our civil rights practice includes representation of clients in cases involving:

  • Discrimination, harassment and hate crimes
  • First Amendment freedom of speech, expression and religion
  • Fair housing
  • Public accommodations
  • Prisoner rights
  • Police misconduct and brutality
  • Prosecutorial misconduct
  • Due Process and Equal Protection violations and other Constitutional torts
  • Unlawful arrest, detention, entry, search and seizure
  • Racial profiling

Some of Our Representative Cases:

  • Successfully represented a Boston area Islamic group post 9-11 to combat highly-organized and well-financed, community-based discrimination aimed at preventing area Muslims from building a Mosque and Cultural Center in Roxbury.  The Mosque, now completed, operates as a center for inter-faith dialogue and is the largest Islamic Center in New England (see Todd and Weld LLP Assists Area Muslims In Building Of A Mosque And Center for Inter-Faith Dialogue.)  Todd & Weld’s representation of the Boston area Muslim community has been widely described as courageous, and Todd & Weld partner, Howard M. Cooper, received an award presented by Boston area Muslims thanking him for his commitment to civil rights and religious freedom.
  • Brought successful constitutional challenge on behalf of a judge of the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands that resulted in striking down legislation that had authorized members of the legislative and executive branches of government to discipline and remove judges (see Federal Appeals Court Upholds Landmark Constitutional Ruling Vindicating Independence of Judiciary.)
  • Achieved $1 Million settlement on behalf of South Middlesex Opportunity Council, an anti-poverty agency, in its landmark civil rights case against the Town of Framingham and Town officials to secure fair housing rights for people with disabilities in the community (see Todd & Weld Achieves $1 Million Settlement in Landmark Civil Rights Suit Against Town of Framingham.)
  • Representing victim of violent hate crime based on sexual orientation.
  • Representing judge in First Amendment defense to contempt proceedings arising from judge's published criticism of appellate court.
  • Handling federal and civil rights claims on behalf of victim of police brutality.
  • Representing homeowners whose neighbor violated their civil rights by continued acts of harassment and obstruction of access to their property.
  • Handling inmates’ rights cases in the area of medical and dental care.

Together with lawyers in our firm's Criminal Defense practice group, our commitment to constitutional and civil rights also includes the representation of wrongfully convicted individuals in post-conviction litigation, including motions for new trial, federal habeas corpus proceedings, and death penalty cases.  David E. Meier, formerly the Chief of Homicide in the Suffolk County (Boston) District Attorney's Office, has been nationally recognized for his work in the area of wrongful convictions and his commitment to the rights of crime victims and their families.  Mr. Meier is the Co-Chair of the BBA Task Force to Prevent Wrongful Convictions, which published “Getting it Right – Improving the Accuracy and Reliability of the Criminal Justice System in Massachusetts.”  He sits on the Board of Trustees of the New England Innocence Project, a litigation and public policy organization dedicated to the exoneration of wrongfully convicted defendants and the reformation of the criminal justice system. 

Todd & Weld lawyers regularly participate on panels and speak in the area of civil rights.  Howard M. Cooper gave the Keynote Address, “Can Muslims Build Mosques in Post 9/11 America?” at the 2007 Boston Regional Meeting of the National Lawyers Guild at Suffolk Law School.  David E. Meier recently appeared on WBZ radio to discuss the BBA’s report on proposed reforms to the criminal justice system.  He frequently lectures and participates in panels on the topic of wrongful convictions.

Our lawyers have also been recognized consistently for their commitment to and success in civil rights work.  The National Lawyers Guild honored Howard M. Cooper as a one of its 2010 honorees as Lawyer of the Year, recognizing his “long and proud record of outstanding legal and activist work in the fight for political, social and economic justice.”  David E. Meier received the “Gerard D. Downing Leadership Award,” from the Massachusetts Office of Victim/Witness Assistance in 2008 for his unwavering commitment to advancing the rights of crime victims and their families.  He was named one of the ten “Lawyers of the Year” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in 2007, which cited him for “working behind the scenes to seek justice for victims and their families as well as those who have been wrongfully convicted.”  Heidi A. Nadel was named an Up & Coming Lawyer by the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly in 2008, highlighting her work on behalf of area Muslims and to advance the housing rights of people with disabilities in the Commonwealth.  Ms. Nadel sits on the Steering Committee for the BBA’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Section.

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