Federal judge allows falsely imprisoned Springfield man's lawsuit against police to advance  

Check out this article on about our client Charles Wilhite, whose case was heard in federal court today. This case involves two Springfield police officers, Anthony Pioggia and Steven Tatro, threatening and coercing witnesses in order to falsely convict Charles. (Learn more about the case here.) The officers filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which the judge denied after today’s hearing. The judge called the officers’ legal arguments “unpersuasive.” Read our response to their motion here. The case will now proceed to mediation or trial.

(Photo by Stephanie Barry,


We sued Taunton Police Officer Robert Kramer and Police Chief Edward Walsh after booking video reveals unprovoked attack on our client

Yesterday, we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Taunton police officer Robert Kramer and others for physically attacking our client, Joseph O’Brien, in the booking room of the police station, causing a concussion. The incident was captured on video. We sued the chief and the City of Taunton as well because they have condoned Kramer’s repeated use of excessive force.

Here is a news story by NBC10 News:


View the complete footage from the booking room here:

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F.B.I. Director should praise, not fear, civilians filming the police

F.B.I. Director James Comey is once again claiming that viral videos of police brutality are causing police officers to fail to properly perform their duties. He further claims that these videos are the cause of an increase in the murder rate. He made a similar statement a month or so ago. Now he admits that his view is not supported by data, but he continues to spread this misinformation. This is distressing.

It is hard to understand why Director Comey would think that videos of police officers committing civil rights violations—for example, shooting people in the back for no reason, beating a person who is handcuffed, or arresting and beating a person because she is recording the police—would cause law-abiding police officers to fail to perform their jobs.

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New police review board recommended to Mayor Walsh

Howard Friedman is quoted in this Boston Globe article: New police review board recommended to Mayor Walsh. The 3-person panel charged with overseeing civilians’ complaints to the Boston Police Department asserts that Boston needs a separate office of accountability that can investigate civilians’ complaints independently. The Globe previously reported about problems with the Boston Police Department’s internal investigations such as lengthy delays and concerns about officers with numerous complaints of misconduct. We support the proposed changes. However, we favor making all internal affairs information public. The public should know the number of complaints filed against every police officer and how they were resolved. Police officers are public servants. The public should have the information to assess their performance.


Lawyer Johnson, wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, shares his story

On March 25, 2016, our client Lawyer Johnson was a guest speaker at Northeastern University School of Law. Lawyer, a black man, was wrongfully convicted of murdering a white man in 1972. Lawyer’s conviction was based primarily upon the testimony of Kenny Myers, a police informant. Eventually a witness came forward and testified that she saw Myers shoot the victim. Racial bias permeated Lawyer’s trials. His second trial took place as court-ordered busing was beginning, a time of heightened racial tensions. Originally sentenced to death, Lawyer served ten years in prison before being freed. He describes this ordeal as a “legal lynching.”

Our firm represented Lawyer on his compensation claim under state law for his wrongful conviction. Howard’s former law partner, Michael Avery, won Lawyer’s freedom on a motion for a new trial.

Lawyer seeks speaking opportunities so he can share the story of his wrongful conviction and his career as an activist, advocate against the death penalty, and inspire conversations about changing our criminal justice system. Lawyer also enjoys presenting the artwork he created while he was in prison. If you would like to invite Lawyer to speak at your event, please contact Carmen at 617-742-4100.


Howard Friedman to speak to criminal defense lawyers about civil cases against the police

On April 5, 2016, Howard Friedman, along with Carl Williams of the ACLU of Massachusetts, will be presenting a program for criminal defense lawyers on police misconduct law. Howard’s presentation is intended to provide lawyers practicing criminal law with basic information about civil rights law and police misconduct cases. This information can help criminal defense lawyers preserve (and even strengthen) a client’s potential civil rights claims, including claims of excessive force, false arrest, unreasonable search, malicious prosecution, wrongful conviction, and failure to provide needed medical care. Howard will describe how a criminal lawyer can affect potential civil rights claims during a criminal case as well as provide information on civil rights law and litigation more generally.


City’s scrutiny of police conduct questioned; Judge allows suit claiming bad behavior unpunished

The Boston Globe reports on a recent court decision that reveals that the Boston Police Department does not properly investigate allegations of misconduct. Most troubling is the failure of the Boston Police Department to investigate when a prosecutor forwarded an audio recording of officer Paul Murphy threatening to beat a man to “within an inch of his life.” Boston’s Internal Affairs officers never bothered to question officer Murphy about the recording. Failing to take an action on this complaint signals that complaints by ordinary civilians who do not have recordings are not going to be properly investigated.

Internal affairs records are considered confidential by the City. This case shows that the City keeps this material from the public because the truth is embarrassing. It is time to make these records public. People who live and work in the City of Boston have a right to a properly run police department. This means the department must effectively discipline its police officers when they violate the constitutional rights of others.

Read the judge’s decision here


Howard Friedman speaks about bringing police misconduct cases for children and young people

On March 10, Howard spoke at Cardoza Law School in New York City as part of an educational program for lawyers and youth advocates on representing children and youth in police misconduct cases. Howard discussed the special challenges in representing young people who are suing police officers. All too often, young people are the victims of police abuse. Protecting the civil rights of young people is important because young people are particularly vulnerable to police misconduct and brutality.


We mourn the passing of our client George Thompson

With great sadness and shock, we learned that our client George Thompson has passed away. He was 53. We represented George in a civil rights lawsuit against a Fall River police officer who arrested George for exercising his First Amendment right to record the officer in public. George was falsely arrested, forced to spend the night in jail, and prosecuted on baseless charges, including violating the Massachusetts wiretap law, all of which were dismissed. The police department seized his phone, and police officers erased all of its contents, which included the video that would have shown the officer’s misconduct. George channeled his anger at the violation of his rights into a vigorous campaign against corruption and dishonesty in the Fall River Police Department and city government as a whole. George, a lifelong Fall River resident who had never been political before his arrest, had the heart and soul of an activist. He had a clear sense of justice and an intolerance for police officers and others who abuse their authority. He was outspoken and fearless, and he had a flair for the dramatic, and for comedy. With the money from his settlement, he planned to open a food truck called Bozo’s after his name for the officer who violated his constitutional rights. After his lawsuit settled, he continued to demand reform and accountability from public officials. We will remember George fondly as we do the same.

George Thompson (Photo by Dylan Avery via


Our client, Michael O’Brien, speaks about the problem of disciplining police officers

We recommend that you watch this news story, “Discipline for Boston police officers frequently overturned.” The story describes how arbitrators have overturned 72 percent of the Boston Police Department’s disciplinary decisions since 2007. Under this arbitration system, even when the department terminates police officers for misconduct, the officers often win their job back. As a result, problem officers go back on the force where they can commit further misconduct.

The story includes an interview with our client, Michael O’Brien, who talks about this problem and the recent reinstatement of David Williams, the police officer who was fired after attacking Mr. O’Brien in 2009. The Boston Police Department has tried to fire Williams in two separate cases. The first case involved the near-fatal assault of undercover Boston police officer Michael Cox in 1995. The department terminated Williams, but an arbitrator overruled that decision and ordered that he rejoin the force. Back on the force, Williams assaulted and choked Mr. O’Brien, who was then a Middlesex County correctional officer. Our firm sued Williams and the City of Boston in 2009 on behalf of Mr. O’Brien. After the lawsuit settled for $1.4 million, the police department again fired Williams, but another arbitrator ruled that he must be reinstated. The City has filed an appeal in that case.


Howard Friedman speaks about bringing successful police misconduct lawsuits

On January 20, Howard Friedman was a speaker at a program titled “Police Misconduct Litigation” put on by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). Howard provided the plaintiff’s perspective on bringing civil rights lawsuits alleging police misconduct such as brutality, false arrest, illegal strip searches, and wrongful death. Howard gave practical advice on how lawyers can avoid the many legal obstacles for plaintiffs in police misconduct litigation.

The other speakers were Federal Judge Denise Casper, Professor Karen Blum, and defense lawyer Leonard Kesten. Over one hundred people attended either in person or on line.


Cellphone video records police officers illegally detaining and framing a police accountability activist

We recommend that you read this article and watch the activist’s cell phone video: “Gotta Cover Our Ass” Illegally Confiscated Cellphone Records Cops Framing an Innocent Man.

The video shows the police questioning and detaining the activist because he was recording the officers and complaining about police activity. You can hear the police officers casually fabricating a story to bring false charges.

This incident proves how the act of recording the police can protect civilians and reveal police corruption.  


Fall River settles our lawsuit concerning the right to record the police

The City of Fall River paid $72,500 to settle the federal civil rights lawsuit we brought for our client, George Thompson, against the Fall River police officer who arrested Mr. Thompson for exercising his First Amendment right to record the officer in public. Watch the report on NBC 10 News.

In January 2014, Mr. Thompson was sitting on his front porch when he noticed Fall River Police Officer Thomas Barboza loudly and repeatedly cursing on his cellphone while working a traffic detail. When Mr. Thompson began filming Officer Barboza with his smartphone, Barboza became angry and charged into Mr. Thompson’s yard, threatening him and arresting him. Officer Barboza charged Mr. Thompson with violating the Massachusetts wiretap law and with resisting arrest.

Mr. Thompson did not resist arrest nor is it illegal to videotape police officers. In 2011, our firm handled the landmark case, Glik v. Cunniffe, confirming the right to record public officials in a public space. The DA’s Office later dropped all charges against Mr. Thompson. Officer Barboza later admitted that he told Mr. Thompson he was going to “f--- [Mr. Thompson] hard on paper” and come by his house every night.

Officer Barboza confiscated Mr. Thompson’s smartphone during the arrest. While the phone was in police custody, police officers deleted its contents, including the video Mr. Thompson had recorded of Officer Barboza’s belligerent and improper behavior. The Fall River police department initially denied deleting the video, but an independent forensic investigation later confirmed that the Fall River police were responsible for deleting the contents of the phone. Despite this, Police Chief Daniel Racine did not discipline the officers who deleted the video.

Mr. Thompson plans to put his money to good use in a way that will benefit his community. He will continue shining light on the lack of accountability for police officers who commit misconduct in Fall River and beyond.

For more press coverage of this case, read Fall River man arrested for filming police officer settles suit with city for $72,500 and Fall River reaches $72,500 settlement with man arrested for recording cop. The Fall River Herald ran this excellent editorial: Our View: In Thompson settlement, what price justice?


Howard Friedman discusses misconduct of Quincy police officer

The Patriot Ledger quotes Howard Friedman in this article: Lawyer says Quincy’s handling of double-dipping lieutenant is troublesome. When a police officer causes a false arrest or an injury, an individual is victimized. When police officers double-dip to get paid for two shifts at the same time, the community is victimized. Allowing police officers to keep their jobs after being caught double-dipping contributes to the police culture that encourages dishonesty, protects officers from civilian complaints, and minimizes brutality.


Leaked Documents Reveal Dothan Police Department Planted Drugs on Young Black Men For Years, District Attorney Doug Valeska Complicit

We are sharing this article from, which reveals the staggering news that up to a dozen police officers in an Alabama police department were members of a Neoconfederate organization and spent over a decade sending innocent young black men to prison. With blatant disregard for people’s Constitutional and civil rights, the DA prosecuted the cases despite the knowledge that police officers had planted the guns and drugs.

Police officers have been accused of planting drugs and guns on people all over the country. In Lowell, Massachusetts, the FBI is investigating allegations that Lowell police officers relied on confidential informants to plant drugs on innocent victims. Our firm filed lawsuits for four of the men who complained that they were targeted by this practice.

Leaked Documents Reveal Dothan Police Department Planted Drugs on Young Black Men For Years, District Attorney Doug Valeska Complicit


Howard Friedman is quoted in this Boston Globe article about internal affairs complaints involving Boston police officers

We recommend this article in the Boston Globe: Complaints against Boston police pile up. The article highlights some officers who have a large number of citizen complaints and describes the lengthy delays in the investigations of these complaints. We also recommend this article on, which explores a retired Boston police sergeant’s dangerous statement that “if you’re not getting complaints, you’re not working.”


Howard Friedman speaks at MCLE Criminal Law Conference

Howard Friedman spoke at the 16th Annual MCLE Criminal Law Conference on the topic of “Responding to Police Misconduct” on November 13. Howard’s comments were primarily aimed at helping criminal defense attorneys who have clients who are victims of police abuse.


Our firm helps a disabled veteran with a service dog

Curtis Frye III, a disabled veteran with a service dog, was kicked out of a Verizon store in Florence, South Carolina because the manager would not allow his service dog in the store. Our firm represented Mr. Frye without a fee. Verizon Wireless agreed to pay $15,000 to our client.

Mr. Frye is a disabled Army veteran who uses a trained service dog to help with his PTSD. He served in the army for twenty years, including serving in Iraq and Kosovo. Last January, Mr. Frye was traveling through Florence, South Carolina. His iPhone was not working properly. He was told to go to a Verizon store to get a new SIM card.

Mr. Frye went to the store. He brought along his dog Nick, who is trained to assist people with PTSD. Nick was wearing his vest that shows he was a working service dog.

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All our firm’s attorneys are recognized by Massachusetts Super Lawyers 

Super Lawyers, an attorney rating service, has announced its ratings for 2015 and all three of our firm’s attorneys are recognized. Howard Friedman and David Milton were named as Massachusetts Super Lawyers. Howard Friedman has received this recognition for over a decade; David Milton has since 2013. Drew Glassroth was recognized as a Massachusetts Rising Star.

The rating system names no more than 5% of Massachusetts attorneys as Super Lawyers, and no more than 2.5% of Massachusetts attorneys as Rising Stars.


Outcomes of Baggett v. Ashe, our case opposing male guards’ videotaping of female prisoners’ strip searches at the Chicopee Jail

Our case against the practice at the women’s jail in Chicopee permitting male guards to videotape female prisoners during strip searches, Baggett v. Ashe, was recently cited in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court. The brief, submitted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Human Rights Defense Center in the case Antoine Bruce v. Charles e. Samuels, Jr., et al., uses the Baggett case to demonstrate how prisoner-litigants can fight violations of the Fourth Amendment:

Egregious violations of the Fourth Amendment by prison employees also have been exposed and resolved through the efforts of prisoner-litigants. For example, plaintiff Debra Baggett represented a class of 178 female inmates videotaped by male correctional officers while subjected to strip searches… Among other practices in the videotapes, prisoners were required to strip and manipulate their bodies, including lifting their breasts and spreading their legs… The court found that these searches “clearly transgressed the Constitution and injured the plaintiff class.”

Other effects of the lawsuit include the following:

  • Case law now explicitly states that cross-gender videotaping of strip searches is unconstitutional.

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