Skip to main content

Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation (34th Annual)

Speaker(s): Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Frederick K. Brewington, Hon. Arlene Rosario Lindsay, Karen M. Blum, Martin A. Schwartz, Peter G. Farrell, Professor Alex Reinert, Professor Leon Friedman, Robert A. DeBerardinis, Jr.
Recorded on: Oct. 26, 2017
PLI Program #: 183438

Alex Reinert joined the faculty of Cardozo Law School in 2007, after working as an associate at Koob & Magoolaghan for six years, where he focused on the rights of people confined in prisons and jails, employment discrimination, and disability rights.  Alex teaches and conducts research in the areas of constitutional law, civil procedure, and criminal law. He argued before the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, and has appeared on behalf of parties and amicus curiae in many significant civil rights cases. In 2016 he became the director of the Center for Rights and Justice, which brings together the scholarship, programs and clinics at Cardozo engaged in public service, client advocacy and academic scholarship dealing with issues of fairness, equality, access to justice and transparency.

Alex graduated magna cum laude from New York University School of Law.  Upon graduating from law school, he held two clerkships, first with the Hon. Harry T. Edwards, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and then with United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer. 

Erwin Chemerinsky became the 13th Dean of Berkeley Law on July 1, 2017, when he joined the faculty as the Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law.

Prior to assuming this position, from 2008-2017, he was the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, at University of California, Irvine School of Law, with a joint appointment in Political Science.  Before that he was the Alston and Bird Professor of Law and Political Science at Duke University from 2004-2008, and from 1983-2004 was a professor at the University of Southern California Law School, including as the Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics, and Political Science. He also has taught at DePaul College of Law and UCLA Law School. 

He is the author of twelve books, including leading casebooks and treatises about constitutional law, criminal procedure, and federal jurisdiction.  His most recent books are The Religion Clauses:  The Case for Separating Church and State (with Howard Gillman) (Oxford University Press 2020), and We the People:  A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century (Picador Macmillan 2018).

He also is the author of more than 250 law review articles. He is a contributing writer for the Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times, and writes regular columns for the Sacramento Bee, the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and frequent op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. 

In 2016, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 2017, National Jurist magazine again named Dean Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the United States.


B.S., Northwestern University (1975)

J.D., Harvard Law School (1978)

Frederick K. Brewington is the principal of The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington in Hempstead, New York.  He is admitted to the Bars of the states of New York and New Jersey, as well as the United States Supreme Court, United States First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeal, United States District Courts of New Jersey and the Eastern, Southern and Northern Districts of New York. He is a prominent member of the New York State and State of New Jersey Bar Associations, Amistad Black Bar Association, National Employment Lawyers Association, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the Nassau County Bar Association, the National Police Accountability Project as well as other local and regional associations.

Fred has served tirelessly as the “People’s” lawyer and a powerful promoter of our nation’s highest values. He has successfully challenged the “at large” voting system in the Town of Hempstead and worked on preventing future unconstitutional and discriminatory purging of voters from the voting rolls. He challenges other discriminatory practices as well—with a sustained focus on issues such as affordable housing, community revitalization, employment and civil rights, the environment and, especially, voting rights and fair representation in government. He labors against injustices through litigating, writing, lecturing and through building relationships of encouragement among citizen organizations. He is an adjunct professor at Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, Touro College and has had articles published in The National Bar Association Magazine, The Amsterdam News, Black Westchester and the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association’s e-newsletter. He is a highly sought-after speaker/presenter to the legal community and many community organizations. He has been a volunteer football coach in the Malverne School District for over 30 years and is married to Reverend Adrienne Brewington, a former attorney, who is a Senior Pastor in the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Karen Blum is a Professor Emerita and Research Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School where she taught for over forty years in the areas of Federal Courts, Police Misconduct Litigation and Civil Procedure. She received her B.A. from Wells College, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and an LL. M. from Harvard Law School. Professor Blum has been a regular faculty participant in § 1983 Civil Rights Programs and Institutes throughout the United States. Since 1990, she has served as a faculty member for workshops sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center for Federal Judges and Federal Magistrate Judges. She has authored numerous articles in the Section 1983 area, including Qualified Immunity: Time to Change the Message, 93 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1887 (2018).  She is co-author, along with Michael Avery, David Rudovsky, and Jennifer Laurin of Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation.

Leon Friedman is the Joseph Kushner Special Professor of Civil Liberties Law professor at Hofstra Law School, teaching constitutional law and copyright. He is also a practicing lawyer, specializing in civil rights, First Amendment and intellectual property. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of the Harvard Law School. He served for a time a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

He has written or edited over a dozen books and has published over 100 articles in various law journals, newspapers and magazines. Among his works are The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Decisions, 4th edition (Facts on File, 2013). The original edition of this work won the Scribes Award in 1970 as the best book on a legal subject published that year. Other books include The Supreme Court Confronts Abortion,  Southern Justice, The Civil Rights Reader, Brown v. Board of Education, Obscenity, The Wise Minority,  Unquestioning Obedience to the President (with Burt Neuborne) and Disorder in the Court (with Norman Dorsen)

He has written or worked on briefs for the United States Supreme Court in many important cases dealing with the First Amendment (Simon & Schuster v. Members of the New York State Crime Victims Board, Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, Grove Press v. Maryland Board of Censors, Carroll v. Princess Anne County) copyright (Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music ) civil rights, employment discrimination, Criminal Procedure, and abuse of government power.

He also practices in the area of copyright, employment discrimination and civil rights. He has represented a number of publishers, including Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Arcade Publishers, Chelsea House Publishers, as well as many authors including I. B. Singer, Susan Sontag, John McPhee, Stephen Spender, Hunter Thompson, Oscar Hijuelos, as well as the estates of Edith Wharton, T.S. Eliot. C.S. Forester and Daphne du Murier. Among his other clients have been James Brown, the Isley Brothers and Kathleen Turner. He is the general counsel for PEN American Center and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Peter G. Farrell is employed by the New York City Law Department as a Deputy Chief of the Special Federal Litigation Division.   Mr. Farrell and the Division practice exclusively in federal court and defend the City of New York and its municipal employees against individual and class actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging violations of the United States Constitution and state law.

Mr. Farrell’s management responsibilities as Deputy Chief include the oversight of the Division’s more than 100 attorneys with whom he meets regularly to assess the merits and decide the appropriate litigation strategy for every case within the Division.  

In addition to his management responsibilities, Mr. Farrell has led the City’s defense for the past several years of three cases brought in the district courts of New York and New Jersey that alleged the NYPD had a policy of conducting unlawful surveillance and investigations based upon religion.  Handschu v. Special Services Division and Raza v. City of New York were successfully resolved in 2017 after a fairness hearing and included revisions to the NYPD’s guidelines that govern counter-terrorism investigations and the New Jersey case, Hassan v. City of New York, was settled in 2018.

Mr. Farrell previously supervised and led the City’s defense in over one-hundred individual and class action cases arising out of arrests of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention (“RNC”).  As part of that litigation, he successfully argued that the City’s “no summons” policy at RNC protests met the strict scrutiny standard of review and the policy was deemed constitutional.  In addition, the City prevailed on its assertion of the law enforcement privilege over confidential intelligence documents and created leading 2d Circuit precedent on the law enforcement privilege. In Re City of New York, 607 F.3d 923 (2d Cir. 2010). 

Mr. Farrell was also one of the attorneys who successfully defended at trial the NYPD’s policy of conducting random bag searches when entering the NYC subway in the case of MacWade v. City of New York.  He has also successfully defended at trial cases asserting claims of false arrest and excessive force against individual police officers. 

Mr. Farrell graduated cum laude from the SUNY Buffalo Law School in 1990 where he was a member of the Buffalo Law Review and began his career at Lord Day and Lord, Barrett Smith and subsequently worked at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP before moving to the NYC Law Department in 2002.

Professor Emeritus of Law Martin A. Schwartz is one of the nation's leading authorities on Section 1983 civil rights litigation and is the author of a multi-volume treatise on that subject.  He has argued three Section 1983 cases in the United States Supreme Court. He is the author of Essential Trial Evidence, Brought to Life by Famous Trials, Film, and Fiction (2017).  He recently published Schwartz on Section 1983, Law and Commentary (PLI Press 2021).  He has been a columnist for the New York Law Journal for over 45 years.  He also chaired the Practising Law Institute’s program on Trial Evidence, and chairs the Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation program.

For the past twenty years, the Honorable Arlene Rosario Lindsay has served as a federal magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York where she presides over civil and criminal matters. Prior to her appointment to the judiciary, Judge Lindsay served as both a state and federal prosecutor for approximately 14 years. She worked as Chief of the White Collar Crime Unit of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and Chief of the Long Island Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Her prosecutorial experience includes the prosecution of crimes involving arson, narcotics smuggling, money laundering, fraud and official corruption. Her distinguished career of public service also includes service as Town Attorney for the Town of Huntington, New York and Deputy County Attorney for Suffolk County, New York. In each position, she was involved in drafting local laws and oversaw the civil litigation of each municipality, which principally included land use, civil rights, and civil service matters.

Judge Lindsay is also an adjunct professor of law at Touro College, the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, and has been a faculty member at the Practicing Law Institute. She has been a guest lecturer at the Academies of Law of the Nassau and Suffolk County Bar Associations, the New York City Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association and the Federal Bar Council. For over thirteen years, Judge Lindsay was a visiting lecturer for DOJ-OPDAT where she participated in law reform training programs around the world. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Federal Bar Council and the Federal Bar Association, and the Suffolk County Inns of Court. She is a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and for the last 15 years has served as a volunteer for the Huntington Community First Aid Squad providing emergency ambulance services in her town.

Robert A. DeBerardinis Jr. is an Assistant Attorney General with the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General where he serves in the Civil Litigation Division. During his nearly 19 years with OAG, he has litigated a wide variety of cases including Section 1983, unjust imprisonment and employment discrimination. While at OAG, Mr. DeBerardinis has represented hundreds of police officers in Section 1983 actions, including high profile deadly force cases.  He is counsel of record in over 75 reported opinions in Federal Supplement, many of them dealing with complex Section 1983 issues. Over the course of his career, he has represented criminal and civil defendants in over 175 jury trials.