Attorney David Milton joined the firm in 2007 and became a partner in 2013. He represents people whose constitutional rights have been violated by police officers and other government officials. He handles individual and class action lawsuits seeking compensation for people who have been harmed by the abusive actions of law enforcement officers. Cases he has worked on have also resulted in positive changes in police and prison practices. David’s cases focus on police brutality, false arrest, inhumane prison conditions and practices, and First Amendment violations.
David successfully argued the case of Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011), in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In a landmark decision that received favorable attention nationwide, the Court affirmed that the First Amendment protects the right to film police officers performing their duties in public. The New York Times described the Court’s opinion as “an important decision” upholding “a vital liberty.” The Boston Globe called the opinion “an important blow for civil liberties.”
David was also the lead attorney in a class action lawsuit against the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department challenging the practice of locking prisoners in cells without toilets or sinks, with predictably disgusting consequences. The case was certified as a class action on behalf of several thousand former inmates, Tyler v. Suffolk County, 253 F.R.D. 8 (D. Mass. 2008). It eventually settled for $1.5 million.
Other representative civil rights cases David has successfully handled include
- a police brutality lawsuit against a Taunton police officer who assaulted a woman on her own front porch, breaking her nose, merely because she asserted her right to peacefully observe the officer making an arrest in front of her house,
- a lawsuit against an intoxicated off-duty Somerville police officer who, in a fit of rage, struck a peaceful, unarmed high-school student in the head with a flashlight, then brought false criminal charges against him,
- a lawsuit against several Lowell police officers who used excessive force against a non-violent diabetic man during the course of an arrest, brought him to the police station without shoes or a shirt, then refused to provide him proper medical treatment in custody. David worked with the American Diabetes Association on the Lowell case, which resulted in better training by the Lowell Police Department on how to treat diabetics in custody, and
- a First Amendment lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Correction on behalf of Prison Legal News, a non-profit magazine and book publisher and distributor. DOC refused to allow PLN to send its publications to Massachusetts prisoners. As a result of the lawsuit, the DOC ended this censorship.
Before joining the Law Office of Howard Friedman, David practiced law in New York City. From 2004 to 2006, David worked at Moore & Goodman, LLP, a Civil Rights law firm where he practiced police misconduct, First Amendment, and employment discrimination litigation. Much of his work at Moore & Goodman focused on the rights of antiwar and other political demonstrators, and he was extensively involved in the representation of those arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. While in New York, David also worked in the HIV Unit of South Brooklyn Legal Services, where he represented low-income people with HIV/AIDS in housing, benefits, and other wide-ranging civil matters. He also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Allyne R. Ross, a United States District Judge in Brooklyn, and to the Honorable Theodore H. Katz, a United States Magistrate Judge in Manhattan.
David earned his J.D., magna cum laude, in 2001 from New York University School of Law, where he was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow. David received the Moncrieffe Award for the outstanding student in the area of racism and the law and the Ann Petluck Poses Prize for outstanding work in a student clinic. He was elected to the Order of the Coif. Before law school, he lived in San Francisco and worked in journalism as a writer and editor for Might, a satirical magazine; the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an independent weekly newspaper, and the Socialist Review, a quarterly academic journal. David graduated from Brown University in 1993 with a B.A. in English.
David is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New York, the United States Courts of Appeals for the First and Second Circuits, the United States District Court for District of Massachusetts, and the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
David often speaks on civil rights and police misconduct issues to law students, lawyers, activists, youth groups, and other members of the community, as well as to the media. David frequently speaks about the First Amendment right to film the police. In 2013, he spoke on this issue at a program at Suffolk Law School called “Policing in Trying Times: Law, Policy and Practice in a Post 9/11 World”; the program was attended by lawyers and by members of the law enforcement community. Other places he has spoken about the right to record the police include continuing legal education programs in Illinois and Louisiana, a nationwide webinar hosted by the American Bar Association, and programs sponsored by the Boston Bar Association and by the American Constitution Society.
In 2013, David was a speaker at a Harvard Law School lecture series on the drug war; David spoke about representing clients with substance abuse problems. In 2012, David taught a workshop on electronic discovery in police misconduct cases at a National Police Accountability Project seminar in New York City. David has been a guest lecturer on police misconduct issues at classes at Northeastern University School of Law, Suffolk Law School, and New England School of Law.
David is the author of “Filming the Police: What to Focus on after Glik,” in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, vol. 41, No. 3, at 39 (Sept. 3, 2012); “Psychic Income Won't Pay the Rent: A Critique of the Second Circuit's Opinion in Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens Neighborhood Ass’n v. County of Albany," in Steven Saltzman, ed., Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fees Annual Handbook, vol. 23, 18-1 (West 2007), and the coauthor, with William Goodman and Jonathan Moore, of "Mass Protest, Mass Arrest and Class Certification: The Struggle for the First and Fourth Amendments in the 21st Century," in Steven Saltzman, ed., Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fees Annual Handbook, vol. 20, 5-1 (West 2004).
David is a member of the ACLU of Massachusetts Legal Advisory Committee, the National Police Accountability Project, the National Lawyers Guild, the Federal Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Bar Association.
In 2013 and 2014 David was named as a “Super Lawyer” in the area of Civil Rights and First Amendment law in the list of Massachusetts Super Lawyers published in Boston Magazine. No more than 5% of Massachusetts attorneys are named Super Lawyers. David was selected as a “Rising Star” in the 2012 edition of Massachusetts Super Lawyers.