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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Judge approves settlement of class action about male guards filming strip searches of female prisoners at the Chicopee Jail

On September 10, 2015, in Federal Court in Springfield, Judge Michael A. Ponsor granted final approval of the settlement in our class action lawsuit Baggett v. Ashe. Last year, the judge ruled that the Chicopee Jail’s policy permitting male guards to videotape female prisoners during strip searches violates the Constitution as well as basic human dignity. The parties then reached a settlement, which requires the jail to change its policy to prohibit male officers from filming strip searches except in an emergency. Defendants will pay $675,000 to settle the case. Any woman held at the WCC and videotaped by a male officer during a strip search since September 15, 2008, is a member of the class. The parties have identified 176 class members.

Click here to read more about this hard-fought case. 


Simon Glik says police should expect to be recorded

Our client Simon Glik, the plaintiff in Glik v. Cunniffe—the case that established a civilian’s right to record police performing the duties in public—recently spoke to the Boston Herald. Simon says he did not start the trend of recording the police. This may be true, but we think Simon is too modest about how his actions affirmed the people’s right to videotape police. Simon fought against false charges, including the felony charge of wiretapping, and then chose to sue the police to clearly establish his right to record police officers. His courage helped people throughout the country who record police officers. As a result of the Glik case, police officers are now trained to expect to be recorded. Unfortunately, too many police officers still threaten people who record them, arrest people who are recording them and even try to destroy the recording devices to prevent public disclosure of police brutality or other misconduct.


12 Videos That Show The Difference Between What Cops Said And What Actually Happened

We recommend this article on The article shows videos of police brutality along with the police officers’ description of what happened. There is a pattern to the language cops use to cover up their misconduct. 


Howard Friedman on WBUR regarding the reinstatement of David Williams

David Williams is a Boston police officer who has been terminated by the police department in two separate cases. The first case involved the assault on undercover Boston police officer Michael Cox in 1995. Three officers were terminated, and only David Williams rejoined the force. In 2009, our firm sued him and the City of Boston after David Williams assaulted and choked Michael O’Brien, then a Middlesex County correctional officer. An arbitrator ruled in favor of David Williams. Now a court has ruled that he must be reinstated. Professor Craig Futterman from the University of Chicago Law School discusses the problem of disciplining police officers on WBUR. Civilians rarely complain, and when they do, police departments rarely take action. Finally, as shown in this case, even when police departments terminate a police officer, they often win their job back.


The police code of silence continues to protect police officers

Police misconduct often goes undisciplined because of the “code of silence,” an unwritten rule that officers do not report misconduct or testify against their fellow officers. While police officers routinely deny that a code of silence exists, their actions show us that it is real. Two stories in the news recently demonstrate the code of silence in action.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Independent Review Authority—the agency charged with investigating police misconduct complaints for the Chicago Police Department—fired an investigator who concluded that several police shootings had been unjustified.

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What is Qualified Immunity?

Qualified Immunity is a defense that police officers often use in an effort to defeat claims of police misconduct. Qualified Immunity is complicated, but its essential concept is that a police officer is not liable for violating anyone’s rights, unless they violate a right that is “clearly established” and obvious to any reasonable officer. For more information about the history and implications of Qualified Immunity, check out this excellent cartoon by Nathan Burney.


15 Most Outrageous Responses By Police After Killing Unarmed People

We recommend this article on, which describes how 100 unarmed people have been shot and killed by police in 2015. Police officers who shoot and kill people often provide excuses that stretch credulity. The article lists fifteen of the most unbelievable explanations.


Rare occurrence: 4 Illinois police officers charged with perjury

Cook County prosecutors made the uncommon decision to bring felony perjury charges against four police officers (three Chicago officers and one from suburban Glenview) after video footage proved that the officers lied when testifying in a drug case.

Although police officers often lie in their testimony in drug cases to evade constitutional protections and to get convictions—a practice known as “testilying”—police officers are not held to the same standard as civilian witnesses. (Read these four articles for more information about testilying.)

Prosecutors should more frequently hold officers accountable by bringing perjury charges when officers falsify testimony to obtain a conviction. In the case in Cook County, prosecutors relied on footage from a camera in a police car to show that the officers’ testimony was false. As video surveillance—from police dash cams, security cameras and as civilians’ cell phone cameras—becomes more common,  it will become harder and harder for officers to evade perjury charges. We need to end the “war on drugs,” which fails to solve the drug problem, fills our prisons with non-violent prisoners and pressures police officers into committing perjury.


Justice Department pushes police reform, but what will make the changes last?

Last week, the Justice Department issued an agreement with the city of Cleveland, detailing many changes that must be made to the police department’s policies and practices. Read about the Justice Department’s agreements with Cleveland and other cities at

These mandated changes are a step in the right direction. But, changing police practices is difficult. Police supervisors must be vigilant to prevent backsliding. Members of the public have to keep an eye on the police department to prevent a return to old ways. The Justice Department should better monitor and enforce their reforms. For reforms to be effective, the police department and the community must resist pressure from police officers and their unions.


David Milton testifies in favor of reforming Massachusetts’ public records law

David Milton testified yesterday at a legislative committee hearing on proposals to reform Massachusetts’ public records law, which is one of the worst in the country. David and representatives of a wide array of public interest and media organizations, as well as numerous state lawmakers, urged the committee to endorse much needed reforms designed to make obtaining public records easier, quicker, and less expensive.

The current law lacks any meaningful enforcement mechanism, permitting agencies to blatantly violate the law with impunity.

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