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USA TODAY Publishes Selective Service Reform Article by ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel

In his latest column for USA TODAY, “Men-only military draft is a vestige of anti-women bias. Supreme Court should strike it down,” ECBAWM partner and civil rights attorney Ilann Maazel explores the United States’ current Selective Service law and the reasons it needs to change.

“The Military Selective Service Act discriminates against men, by imposing obligations, burdens and penalties that only men face,” writes Maazel. “The law discriminates against women by treating them as less than full citizens, conveying that women are less willing and able to defend the country, and perpetuating paternalistic stereotypes that, as Justice William Brennan once put it, ‘put women, not on a pedestal, but in a cage.’”

Maazel also notes that the law undermines military preparedness by depriving the military of “half the talent and ability of the population.” “[W]e cannot achieve equality while federal law makes men soldiers and women partial citizens.”

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ECBAWM Files Police Brutality Lawsuit Against NYPD Officers and the City of New York

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP has filed a complaint in the Eastern District of New York against the City of New York and New York Police Department Officers for excessive force. The complaint alleges that plaintiff Ernesto Lopez, a respiratory therapist who was working temporarily in New York City helping COVID-19 patients amid the height of the pandemic, was violently assaulted by several NYPD officers while he was peacefully protesting racial injustice and police brutality in Brooklyn on June 3, 2020.

The complaint further alleges that during the protest, unprovoked and without warning, NYPD officers violently assaulted and indiscriminately arrested several protestors, including Mr. Lopez. Though Mr. Lopez did not pose any threat to the officers, they arrested him, struck his head with a baton, and tackled him to the ground.

Police then forcefully restrained Mr. Lopez’s hands, typing zip ties so tight that he lost feeling in his fingers. He spent the next six hours in NYPD detention, where his repeated requests for medical treatment for his head injuries were denied. Additionally, Mr. Lopez’s face mask fell off during the assault and while he was detained, police refused his request to replace his mask despite the risk of COVID-19.

“This is an egregious incident of excessive force and violence committed by the NYPD against a peaceful protestor. It is even more shocking that this assault was carried out against a medical worker who had traveled to New York to help the city and its residents during a time of dire need,” said ECBAWM partner Ilann M. Maazel. “We are confident that these officers will be held accountable for the indiscriminate and unjustified violence committed against Mr. Lopez.”

“This case has key implications for the broader issue of unwarranted violence and excessive force used by the police against civilians exercising their right to peacefully protest,” added ECBAWM attorney Scout Katovich. “We are committed to seeking justice for Mr. Lopez.”

“Though I traveled to New York with the intent to help the sickest New Yorkers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, my experience unfortunately resulted in a shocking incident of violence at the hands of those sworn to protect the city and its residents,” said Mr. Lopez. “I’m optimistic that the resolution of this suit will bring justice and peace for myself, as well as for others who have been similarly brutalized by the police.”

Mr. Lopez is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Ilann M. Maazel and Scout Katovich.

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ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel Featured on “The Trial Brief” Podcast Episode About False Confessions and Faulty Witness Identification

ECBAWM partner and civil rights attorney Ilann Maazel was featured on the latest episode of The Trial Brief, a podcast hosted by New York City trial attorney David M. Oddo.

In “False Confessions and Faulty Witness Identification,” Maazel walks listeners through the evolution of wrongful conviction case law, including the role of DNA in uncovering truth and the creation of the Innocence Project, through the New York State Bar Association’s Report of Taskforce on Wrongful Convictions, which concluded that the top two causes of wrongful convictions are false confessions and mistaken stranger witness identification.

Maazel also explains the factors that can lead to a false confession, including whether the person being interrogated is young, potentially has a developmental disability, or is impressionable, as well as the length of the interrogation. “The longer the interrogation is, the more likely you’re going to get a false confession, because the message the interrogators are sending is, ‘until you admit to something, we’re not letting you go,’” says Maazel. “Just about anyone could confess to something they didn’t commit. You just want to tell them what they want to hear so you can get out.”

This immediate need to be free of the interrogation can override any other thought process. “Many people believe, incorrectly and tragically, that even if they falsely confess to something to just end the interrogation, the truth will come out later, because of course they know they’re innocent,” says Maazel. “But the truth doesn’t always come out later, or at least the prosecutors and juries don’t always understand what the truth is later.”

Maazel notes that while confessions are videotaped, interrogations are often not. “If you want to understand the iceberg, you don’t just look at what’s above the water. The critical work occurred before the camera was turned on.” Cameras should be required to be turned on from the very beginning of the interrogation, explains Maazel. “Let’s have the will to get to the truth, and not just the will to have the ‘gotcha’ evidence at the end that leads to a potential conviction.”

The second main contributing factor to false confessions is mistaken identification of strangers. Maazel cites The National Registry of Exonerations, a database created by the University of Michigan Law School that documents every known exoneration since 1989. “As of this recording, there have been 782 exonerations involving mistaken witness identification, accounting for 9,455 lost years in prison,” says Maazel. “That is a staggering injustice caused by misidentification.”

Maazel outlines a multi-part approach to ending wrongful convictions, including a systemic review of every single case that has relied on stranger witness identification or a confession or both, rigorous application of the latest social science research about identifications and confessions, and a conviction integrity unit in every District Attorney’s office that is staffed by people other than career prosecutors. “We need to correct all those injustices,” says Mazel, “and we don’t have a moment to spare, because people are in jail who need help.”

The Trial Brief is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, PodBean, and Audible.

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NYLJ Publishes Wrongful Conviction Article by ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel

In “False Confessions, Mistaken Identification and Wrongful Convictions,” his most recent column for the New York Law Journal, ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel explains the role false confessions and mistaken witness identification play in leading to wrongful convictions. “Many criminal convictions today are suspect,” writes Maazel, who has represented criminal defendants seeking exoneration and exonerees seeking justice through civil lawsuits. “For these defendants, only an honest assessment of the facts, the science, and the research will lead to justice.”

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ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel Featured on “Finding Humanity” Podcast Episode About Cyberbullying

ECBAWM partner and civil rights attorney Ilann Maazel was featured on the latest episode of Finding Humanity, a podcast produced by the Humanity Lab Foundation and Hueman Group Media that provides in-depth coverage of complex social and political issues.

In “How a Bullying Survivor Found His Voice: Brandon Farbstein,” Ilann explains how a court would evaluate claims that a school was liable for the bullying or harassment of a student. “Is it severe and pervasive? Did the school have notice? And was the school ‘deliberately indifferent’ in its response, meaning was their response so weak that it allowed the harassment or bullying to continue? And when those things are all true, the school is itself liable for the bullying.”

Though most schools have adopted measures to curtail “in person” bullying, cyberbullying presents additional challenges. “There are two aspects of online bullying that make it very difficult to tackle,” says Ilann. “The first is that it often is anonymous, and it can be very difficult for a school to root out the culprit or the culprits and take action. The second issue is that by its nature, it is pervasive. An anonymous post can be shared with hundreds or thousands of people and that can create a horrible effect that’s much worse than just one or two kids in school. Now, you go to school and (a) have no idea who’s been bullying you, and (b) for all you know, every single person in that hallway or classroom has been sharing that post, and that just makes it devastating.”

Despite these challenges, Ilann says he still feels there is reason for some optimism. “I see hope because judges have kids. Jurors have kids. Our legal system understands that something needs to be done and our legal system is slowly addressing the challenge.”

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ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel’s Analysis of Recent NYS Police Reform Legislative Actions Published by the New York Law Journal

In his most recent column for the New York Law Journal, ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel analyzes recent actions taken by the New York State legislature in the wake of protests against police brutality and a growing awareness of systemic racism. Evaluating the potential impacts of the repeal of Section 50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law (shielding police disciplinary records from disclosure), the “chokehold ban,” the new right to record the police in public, the “Amy Cooper” law creating civil liability for the summoning of police in certain circumstances, and other actions, Maazel writes, “The New York State legislature has taken (mostly) positive action. But there is still much work to do.”

You can read the full article here.

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Sports Illustrated Article Highlights Need for Justice in Ohio State University Sex Abuse Scandal

The October 5 Sports Illustrated cover article “Why Aren’t More People Talking About the Ohio State Sex Abuse Scandal?” describes the horrific abuse some of ECBAWM’s 93 clients suffered at The Ohio State University. This is one of the biggest sex abuse scandals in the history of American education. Author Jon Wertheim presents a well-researched, in-depth story of OSU’s 40-year betrayal of its own students.

If you have been affected by the sexual abuse at Ohio State, please call us at 212-763-5042, email ohiosurvivors@ecbawm.com, or use this form.

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Earl S. Ward and Ilann M. Maazel Become Name Partners at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel

The New York City-based law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady has added two named partners: Earl S. Ward and Ilann M. Maazel. The firm will be known as Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP (“ECBAWM”).

Earl Ward has litigated cases with the firm since 1998 and joined the firm as a partner in 2012.  Mr. Ward specializes in criminal defense and civil rights matters. He has tried over a hundred cases to verdict and has been involved in many high-profile cases. He has represented numerous victims of police violence including the family of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers, and the family of John Collado who was shot and killed by a New York City police officer. His cases have been featured on 20/20, Dateline, Snapped, and the HBO documentary Who Killed Garrett Phillips? Mr. Ward has been involved in numerous wrongful conviction cases and helped to secure the largest settlement for a wrongful conviction case in New York City.

Mr. Ward is the Chair of the Board of Housing Works, Bronx Defenders, and Esperanza. He also serves on the board of the Center for Appellate Litigation and is a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary. Mr. Ward served as a member of the New York State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights from 2013 to 2020 and from 1997 to 2003 he served as a Commissioner on the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Mr. Ward was recently honored by the New York University School of Law with its Public Interest Pro Bono Award and he has been recognized numerous times by New York Metro Super Lawyers for his criminal defense work.

Ilann M. Maazel joined the firm in 1998 and became a partner in 2004. Mr. Maazel is nationally recognized for helping the most vulnerable: children, people with disabilities, disenfranchised voters, and victims of sexual abuse and harassment, police abuseprison abuse, wrongful convictions, and all forms of discrimination. Mr. Maazel helped save the High Line, led the 2016 presidential recount effort in Pennsylvania, and has brought class actions to end the tampon tax, end delays in Bronx Criminal Court, provide services to disabled preschool children, reduce violence in New York City prisons, and defend millions of Americans surveilled by the National Security Agency. As a commercial litigator, Mr. Maazel defeated Donald Trump and has represented Martha Stewart, the Apollo TheaterEverytown for Gun Safety, the NAACPNewegg, the Children’s Aid SocietyThe New York Foundling, and the New York City Council.

Mr. Maazel is a nine-time “Super Lawyer,” Legal Services Pro Bono Leader, Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Publico award winner, Coro Leadership fellow, Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, and recipient of an Echoing Green Public Service Fellowship.

Mr. Maazel blogs for www.law.com, writes the civil rights litigation column for the New York Law Journal, and has been published in USA TODAY, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and the National Law Journal.

ECBAWM, U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 Civil Rights “Law Firm of the Year,” is one of the leading boutique litigation firms in the country. Founded in 1996, ECBAWM has litigated many of the most important cases of the last two decades, helping to save the High Line, end Rikers Island, put Senator John McCain on the presidential ballot, lead the sex abuse lawsuit against The Ohio State University, wipe out over $1 billion in fraudulent consumer debt, get some justice for the family of Tamir Rice, and pursue nationwide fraud claims against Donald J. Trump and members of his family. ECBAWM is a leader in the fight against employment and housing discrimination, police and prison brutality, disability abuse, school bullying, voter suppression, consumer fraud, wrongful convictions, and sexual harassment and abuse.

ECBAWM also has a substantial criminal defense and attorney ethics practice, and is a leading commercial litigation firm, successfully conducting mediations, arbitrations, trials, and appeals in federal and state courts, involving a wide array of substantial disputes ranging from breach of contract to defamation, fraud to copyright infringement, and business torts to restrictive covenants.

“Earl Ward and Ilann Maazel are exceptional lawyers and exceptional human beings. Individually and together, they represent decades of accomplishment and a relentless commitment to justice. Their spirit is part of our firm’s DNA. It is a privilege, and a thrill, to add their names to the firm’s,” said Andrew G. Celli, Jr., a founding partner of the firm.

“This is a truly special recognition and one that would have made my immigrant Jamaican parents extremely proud,” said Mr. Ward.

“Our firm has extraordinary talent, passion, and a commitment to justice,” said Mr. Maazel. “It is an honor and a privilege to be a name partner in this special firm.”

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USA Today Publishes Police Reform Article by ECBAWM Partner Ilann Maazel

In “Seize the moment: 9 ways to curb police brutality and honor the memory of George Floyd,” ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel writes, “If we translate protests into policy and passion into action, we will honor the memory of George Floyd and begin to address this national problem. If we fail, the next George Floyd, Breonna Taylor or Kenneth Banks is just around the corner.” You can read the full article in USA Today.

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