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ECBAWM Questions Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Under Oath

On April 22, 2022, ECBAWM attorney Andrew G. Celli, Jr., supported in court by ECBAWM partner Sam Shapiro and ECBAWM paralegal Dymond Wells, questioned Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene under oath for approximately 5 hours about her role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

ECBAWM, together with the national advocacy organization Free Speech for People, represented four Georgia voters who challenged Rep. Greene’s qualifications to run for re-election to the House of Representatives. The challenge, which was filed with the Georgia Secretary of State, alleged that the 14th Amendment bars Rep. Greene from seeking re-election because she engaged in insurrection as a member of Congress by urging, instructing, and supporting the people who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

An administrative law judge heard the voters’ challenge on April 22, 2022. During the hearing, Mr. Celli, Jr. questioned Rep. Greene about statements she made on social and traditional media calling for violence against politicians, disparaging the results of the 2020 election as fraudulent, rallying her supporters to act to overturn President Biden’s election, and invoking phrases associated with the January 6 insurrection, including “1776.” It was the first time a member of Congress had been questioned under oath about the events of January 6, 2021. The hearing was broadcast live on multiple media outlets, including C-SPAN and CNN, and widely covered in the international news media.

The voters are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Mr. Celli, Jr., Mr. Shapiro, and Andrew Jondahl, and ECBAWM paralegal Ms. Wells, along with co-counsel at Free Speech for People and Bryan Sells.

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ECBAWM and Partner Zoe Salzman Ranked in 2022 Chambers List

ECBAWM is pleased to announce the firm and partner Zoe Salzman have been ranked by Chambers, an independent research organization that evaluates lawyers and law firms “on several factors and considerations, all of which are investigated by our research team.” These include technical legal ability, client service, depth of team, commercial vision and business understanding, diligence, and value for money. The complete methodology is available on Chambers’ website.

Salzman was “recognized for her expert representation of individuals and nonprofits in a wide array of contentious matters, including partnership disputes and discrimination claims,” Chambers said of Salzman’s recognition as a labor and employment attorney.

The firm’s Labor and Employment practice was also ranked.

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Former ECBAWM Lawyer Nina Morrison Confirmed as U.S. District Judge in the EDNY

Nina Morrison, Senior Litigation Counsel for the Innocence Project and a former ECBAWM associate, has been confirmed as a United States District Judge for the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York. While at ECBAWM, Morrison’s practice focused on civil rights and commercial litigation. After leaving the firm, Morrison joined the Innocence Project, where her work has directly led to the freeing of more than thirty wrongly convicted people from prison and death row.

“We’re proud that Nina began her career at the firm before her brilliant career at the Innocence Project. Nina will be a great asset to the federal bench,” said ECBAWM partner Ilann M. Maazel.

“Nina Morrison is a champion for justice. The litigants and lawyers who will appear before her will see that in all of her work, and the court will benefit from the knowledge, skills, ethics, and heart she brings to the bench. We are extremely proud to know her,” said ECBAWM partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr.

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ECBAWM Files Civil Rights Lawsuit on Behalf of George Bell, Wrongfully Imprisoned for Over 24 Years

ECBAWM, together with co-counsel Scott Stevenson, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of New York and eight former New York City police officers on behalf of George Bell. The suit alleges that as a result of rampant misconduct by the police and prosecutors within the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Bell was convicted of a double homicide that he did not commit. Mr. Bell faced the death penalty before being sentenced to life in prison. He was 19 years old at the time of his arrest. Mr. Bell’s conviction was vacated and he was finally freed at the age of 44, having spent over 24 years incarcerated.

During the criminal investigation of the crimes for which Mr. Bell was charged the police pursued Mr. Bell based on an unreliable tip, interrogated Mr. Bell through the night on Christmas Eve, and then brutally beat him until he agreed to falsely confess. After Mr. Bell’s arrest, the prosecution and/or police came into possession of exonerating evidence that they did not disclose to Mr. Bell. This evidence made clear that a local armed robbery gang called Speedstick, not Mr. Bell, had committed these murders, and law enforcement knew it years before Mr. Bell was even tried. Rather than admit that they had the wrong man, police and district attorneys suppressed this evidence and fabricated additional evidence to implicate Mr. Bell. These civil rights violations were part of a pattern of the Queens District Attorney’s Office under District Attorney Richard Brown that has recently come to light and has formed the basis for multiple wrongful conviction claims against the City of New York. When vacating Mr. Bell’s conviction, Queens County Supreme Court Justice Zayas concluded that law enforcement’s handling of Mr. Bell’s case “leaves the distinct impression that the suppression of the [exonerating] information was not an isolated instance of misconduct, but part of a larger pattern of behavior that was calculated to deprive the defendants of fair trials, which is particularly egregious given that the death penalty was being sought against 19-year-old George Bell.”

Mr. Bell is represented by Richard Emery, Earl Ward, Debra Greenberger, and David Berman of ECBAWM, as well as co-counsel Scott Stevenson.

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ECBAWM Sues Landlords and Brokers for Lying to and Ghosting Renters with Section 8 Vouchers

ECBAWM attorneys filed a lawsuit today on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center against the management company, owners, and real estate agents for three rental apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Queens who denied renters with Section 8 housing vouchers the opportunity to rent available apartments. The complaint alleges that Defendants lied to renters with vouchers about available apartments and repeatedly ghosted them – ignoring their calls and texts after learning they intended to pay rent with a voucher. Defendants’ “discrimination by disappearance” violates the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, which prohibit discrimination based on renters’ source of income.

The named Defendants are E L J Management Company, Jacbay Inc., Astoria 35 Inc., Harari Realty Corp., Contact Realty Corp., and Christian Quiceno. Defendant E L J is the management company for all three buildings. It manages approximately a dozen apartment buildings with over 1,500 combined units in New York City.

ECBAWM attorneys Diane L. Houk and Max Selver represent the Fair Housing Justice Center. A link to the filed Complaint can be found here.

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ECBAWM and Romano & Kuan Win Federal Jury Trial for Client Rendered Quadriplegic by NYPD Officer’s Assault

On April 13, 2022, after a four-day trial, an eight-person jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York returned a unanimous verdict finding that the Defendant NYPD Officer Luis Linares assaulted and committed battery against our client Eliezer Lopez when he pushed Mr. Lopez over a railing in the Crotona Park neighborhood of the Bronx in December of 2015. After Officer Linares’s push, Mr. Lopez fell 15 feet and landed on the back of his head, rendering him permanently paralyzed from the neck down. Mr. Lopez died in May 2019 after spending the last three-and-a-half years of his life confined to a hospital bed as a result of Officer Linares’s assault.

At the trial, the jury rejected Officer Linares’s claims that Mr. Lopez jumped over the railing and that he never touched Mr. Lopez. ECBAWM and co-counsel Romano & Kuan marshaled testimony from an expert witness who testified that the nature of Mr. Lopez’s injuries was inconsistent with Officer Linares’s testimony, along with testimony from Mr. Lopez himself and an eyewitness who contradicted Officer Linares’s account. The attorneys also uncovered key discrepancies between Officer Linares’s testimony and that of his fellow officers when questioning them on the stand.

ECBAWM attorneys Earl Ward and Max Selver, together with Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan, represent the Plaintiff Suhail Laureano, Eliezer Lopez’s wife, who is proceeding as a representative of his Estate. Following the jury’s verdict that Officer Linares committed assault and battery, the parties are preparing for a second jury trial to determine the amount of damages.

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ECBAWM Attorneys Settle Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against National Real Estate Firm for $4 Million

In an agreement negotiated by ECBAWM attorneys, Redfin Corporation has committed to changing its national minimum home price service and referral policies for five years and pay $4 million dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by the National Fair Housing Alliance and nine of its member organizations. Redfin has also agreed to implement an outreach and recruiting plan to increase racial diversity in its workforce, advertise its service to reach non-White consumers, and require agents and local partner realty firms to attend fair housing training.

The lawsuit alleged that Redfin discriminated based on race and national origin. An investigation conducted by the plaintiff organizations showed that Redfin offered no service to buyers and sellers of homes in communities of color at a disproportionately higher rate than in white areas based on the company’s minimum home price policy. As one of the settlement’s terms, Redfin will expand its service for several years in ten metropolitan areas for buyers of homes priced below median home prices in order to provide service to more homes located in communities of color.

ECBAWM Attorneys Diane L. Houk and Sam Shapiro represented Plaintiffs, together with Jeffrey Taren of MacDonald, Hoague & Bayless.

Press
“Redfin Settles Suit by Fair-Housing Groups Over ‘Minimum Price Policy’,” Bloomberg News

Related
ECBAWM Clients File Race Discrimination Suit Against National Realty Firm Alleging Redlining

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Fourth Circuit Cites Amicus Brief Filed by ECBAWM

In an opinion issued today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit quoted and relied on an amicus brief filed by ECBAWM on behalf of law professors Aziz Huq and Erwin Chemerinsky. The case involves claims brought by a former federal public defender in North Carolina who alleges she was sexually assaulted by members of the public defender’s office. The amicus brief ECBAWM filed argued that the District Court misapplied the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

ECBAWM partners Ilann Maazel and Sam Shapiro authored the brief, which can be found here.

The Fourth Circuit opinion can be read in its entirety here.

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Diane L. Houk Named Partner

ECBAWM is proud to announce that Diane L. Houk has been elected a firm partner, effective immediately.

A graduate of Columbia Law School, Houk began her career in the 1980’s representing plaintiffs in housing and employment discrimination cases in private practice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She served as General Counsel to a local fair housing organization during this time.

In 1991, Houk joined the United States Department of Justice in the Housing Section of the Civil Rights Division, where she would ultimately serve for 13 years innovating and litigating to combat housing segregation in communities from coast to coast. In 2000, Diane was named Special Litigation Counsel and, in that role, oversaw the Section’s land use and zoning work in the areas of race, national origin and religious discrimination.

By 2004, Houk was recognized as a national leader in the fair housing movement. She moved to New York City to found the Fair Housing Justice Center which has since grown to become a major force against housing discrimination in the New York City metro.

In 2009, Houk returned to private practice at ECBAWM. She has been central to the firm’s practice, profile, and culture. She has litigated – and won – dozens of landmark cases, including against Facebook, Redfin, and the Town of Eastchester, and continues to pursue cases for individual plaintiffs who face unlawful barriers to housing because of their race, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, and source of income.

“There are thousands of New Yorkers who have Diane Houk to thank for their very homes,” said ECBAWM partner Andrew G. Celli, Jr. “And she has done all this by dint of sheer intellectual firepower, a relentless work ethic, toughness on a heroic scale, endless patience and persistence, and a stubborn and righteous insistence that landlords and their counsel obey the law.”

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Marjorie Taylor Greene TRO Application Fails; Challenge Seeking to Disqualify Her from Re-Election Will Proceed

Judge Amy Totenberg of the U.S. District for the Northern District of Georgia has denied Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s application for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order that, if granted, would have halted disqualification challenge proceedings against Rep. Greene and allowed her to be included on the ballot for the May 24 primary elections. In its 73-page ruling, the Court cited Rep. Greene’s “failure to cite persuasive legal authority or even include a developed legal argument” in holding that she “failed[ed] to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”

The challenge to Rep. Greene’s re-election was filed by a group of Georgia voters in late March on 14th Amendment grounds – specifically, that Rep. Greene was disqualified under the Insurrectionist Disqualifications Clause of the 14th Amendment because she engaged in insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The instant lawsuit, Greene v. Raffensperger et al, was filed by Rep. Greene in an attempt to end the challenge to her candidacy without allowing it to proceed through Georgia’s established legal process.

The underlying disqualification challenge is scheduled to be heard by a state administrative law judge on April 22.

The group of Georgia voters are represented in Greene v. Raffensperger et al by ECBAWM attorneys Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Sam Shapiro, and Andrew Jondahl, along with co-counsel at Free Speech for People and Bryan Sells.

Related
“ECBAWM Represents Arizona Voters in Candidacy Challenges Under Fourteenth Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause”

Press
“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene testifies for more than 3 hours in hearing on whether to disqualify her from seeking reelection,” CNN
“Effort to Remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from Ballot Can Proceed, Judge Says,” The New York Times
“Legal effort to remove Greene from Ga. ballot can proceed, judge rules,” The Washington Post

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