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36th Annual Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation

Speaker(s): Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Frederick K. Brewington, Genevieve Nelson, Hon. James A. Wynn, Jr., Hon. LaShann M. DeArcy Hall, Joel B. Rudin, Karen M. Blum, Martin A. Schwartz, Peter G. Farrell, Professor Alex Reinert
Recorded on: Oct. 24, 2019
PLI Program #: 248086

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.

Genevieve Nelson graduated from Columbia University and St. John’s University School of Law. She is a senior counsel in the Special Federal Litigation Division of the New York City Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel, and a 2007 recipient of the Edith Spivack Award for outstanding achievements; and a 2017 recipient of the Jeffrey D. Friedlander Excellence in Management and Supervision Award for demonstrating distinguished performance and dedication in the management of legal processes and the development of attorneys.  Ms. Nelson practices exclusively in federal court defending civil rights matters brought primarily against the New York City Police Department and the New York City Department of Correction and the Offices of the District Attorneys, and their agents. She has been lead counsel on three class actions as well as lead counsel and supervising attorney on other complex litigation.  She also supervises and has tried several federal cases.

Prior to joining the Law Department, Ms. Nelson was an associate at Zeichner Ellman & Krause, a financial services and business law firm.

Ms. Nelson is currently a member of the Federal Bar Association and the Character and Fitness Committee of the First Department State of New York.

Joel B. Rudin is the principal in a five-attorney criminal defense and plaintiff=s civil rights firm in Manhattan.  His practice emphasizes appeals from and collateral attacks on criminal convictions and the representation of plaintiffs in cases alleging police or prosecutorial misconduct and municipal liability under Monell v. Department of Soc. Svcs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). He has won three appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, several of the leading Second Circuit decisions holding individuals and municipalities liable for police and prosecutorial misconduct, and numerous multi-million-dollar recoveries for wrongful conviction, including in the Jabbar Collins case, which helped lead to the defeat of then-Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and the election of Ken Thompson. 

Mostly recently, Mr. Rudin was co-counsel in McDonough v. Smith, 139 S. Ct. 2149 (2019), in which the Supreme Court, reversing the Second Circuit, held that, under Heck v. Humphrey, the statute of limitations does not begin to run on an evidence-fabrication claim until the overall prosecution is favorably resolved, as opposed to when the criminal defendant becomes aware that evidence was fabricated. In Poventud v. City of New York, 750 F.3d 121 (2d Cir. 2014), Mr. Rudin convinced the Second Circuit, sitting en banc, to uphold a Section 1983 lawsuit for a police Brady violation even though, after the conviction was overturned, the plaintiff pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and thus did not obtain the “favorable termination” of the prosecution ordinarily required by Heck. In Bellamy v. City of New York, 914 F.3d 727 (2d Cir. 2019), he successfully argued that New York City may be held liable for Brady and summation violations caused by a District Attorney’s wrongful policies.

Mr. Rudin, as vice chair of the amicus committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has submitted numerous amicus briefs on important criminal and civil rights questions to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Second Circuit, and the New York Court of Appeals.  He is a recipient of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer=s Justice Thurgood S. Marshall Award for Outstanding Criminal Defense Practitioner. He is a graduate of Cornell University (1974) and New York University School of Law (1978).

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.

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.

Appointed by President Obama, Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. was confirmed in August 2010 by the United States Senate to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.  Previously, he served for twenty years as an appellate judge on both the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of North Carolina. He was in the private practice of law before becoming a state appellate judge.  His legal career also includes thirty years in the U.S. Navy Reserves where he served as a military judge and retired at the rank of Navy Captain.  He holds degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill (B.A.); Marquette University School of Law (J.D.) and the University of Virginia School of Law (L.L.M.).   

The Honorable LaShann DeArcy Hall received her commission to serve as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York on November 17, 2015.  Prior to her nomination by President Barack Obama, Judge DeArcy Hall worked as a commercial litigation trial lawyer, serving as an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  Immediately prior to her judicial confirmation, Judge DeArcy Hall served as a partner in Morrison & Foerster’s commercial litigation group.  Judge DeArcy Hall was twice appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to serve as a Commissioner on the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.  She also served as a Commissioner on the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics.  Judge DeArcy Hall received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Antioch College and graduated, magna cum laude, from Howard University School of Law in 2000.  She served in the United States Air Force from 1995 to 1997.