Richard D. Emery | Partner at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP

Richard D. Emery

Richard D. Emery is a founding partner of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP. His practice focuses on commercial litigation, civil rights, election law and litigation challenging governmental actions. Mr. Emery enjoys a national reputation as a litigator, trying and handling cases at all levels, from the U.S. Supreme Court to federal and state appellate and trial courts in New York, Washington, D.C., California, Washington state, and others. While a partner at Lankenau Kovner & Bickford, he successfully challenged the structure of the New York City Board of Estimate under the one-person, one-vote doctrine, arguing in the U.S. Supreme Court and resulting in the unanimous invalidation of the Board on constitutional grounds. Before then, he was a staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union and director of the Institutional Legal Services Project in Washington state, which represented persons held in juvenile, prison, and mental health facilities. He was also a law clerk for the Honorable Gus J. Solomon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. He has taught as an adjunct at the New York University and University of Washington schools of law.

Richard Emery served as Chair of New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board from July 2014 to April 2016. Mr. Emery was also a member of Governor Mario Cuomo’s Commission on Integrity in Government, sat on Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Transition Committee for Government Reform Issues and subsequently, Governor Paterson appointed him to the New York State Commission on Public Integrity. Mr. Emery was a member of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct from 2004 to 2017. Mr. Emery is a member of the City Club, which addresses New York City preservation issues. He also is a founder and president of the West End Preservation Society, which has achieved the landmarked West End-Riverside Historic District.

His honors include City & State NY’s 2016 Responsible 100 Award; Landmark West’s 2013 Unsung Heroes Award for his preservation work; the 2008 Children’s Rights Champion Award for his civil rights work and support of children’s rights; the Common Cause/NY, October 2000, “I Love an Ethical New York” Award for recognition of successful challenges to New York’s unconstitutionally burdensome ballot access laws and overall work to promote a more open democracy; the Park River Democrats Public Service Award, June 1989; and the David S. Michaels Memorial Award, January 1987, for Courageous Effort in Promotion of Integrity in the Criminal Justice System from the Criminal Justice Section of the New York State Bar Association. Mr. Emery has been named a “Super Lawyer” since 2006.

Representative Cases:

  • Represents candidate for New York City Mayor John Liu in a challenge to regulations denying him matching funds under the New York City campaign finance law.
  • Represents New York City taxi fleet owners (MTBOT) in numerous litigations against the Taxi and Limousine Commission and New York City.
  • Represents estate of three sisters who died in the Christmas fire in Stamford, Connecticut in 2011.
  • Represents real estate entities in investigations by Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
  • Successfully represented a developer in a lease dispute suit against Home Depot in a month-long jury trial in Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. G&S Investors, et al. 
  • Represents Duke lacrosse player wrongfully prosecuted for rape by Durham, North Carolina prosecutor in Evans, et al. v. City of Durham, et al.


  • Successfully represented the three Jackson brothers starved by foster parents in New Jersey in K.J. et al. v. Division of Youth and Family Services et al.
  • Successfully represented John McCain in his bid to gain access to the 2000 New York Republican presidential primary ballot in Molinari v. Powers.


  • Preserved New York City candidates’ four-to-one public financing matching funds in New York City v. The Campaign Finance Board.
  • Represented the New York City Council in litigation to guarantee its approval of cable franchise renewals in City Council v. The Public Service Commission.
  • Obtained injunction to keep polling stations in nursing homes in Smith v. New York City Board of Elections.
  • Represented a class of more than 60,000 misdemeanor detainees in a successful challenge to New York City’s strip search policy in Tyson v. City of New York.
  • Prevailed in a challenge allowing Steve Forbes to gain a place on the ballot for the New York State presidential primary in Rockefeller v. Powers.
  • Successfully represented corporate officers in a securities fraud class action (jury trial to verdict) in ICN v. Securities and Exchange Commission.


  • Represents real estate entities in commercial and development disputes.
  • Represents law firms in disputes among partners and with former clients.


Who’s Policing the Prosecutors?” New York Times, December 10, 2014

How we will police the police,” New York Daily News, September 10, 2014

Come to terms with Mike Bloomberg’s move,” New York Daily News, November 9, 2008

Why Civil Rights Lawsuits Do Not Deter Police Misconduct: The Conundrum of Indemnification and a Proposed Solution,” 28 Fordham Urban Law Journal (2000) (with Ilann M. Maazel)


“Five Cases Follow Traditional Course,” New York Law Journal, October 2, 2000 (with Nina Morrison)


The Verdict: Poor Training and Supervision,” New York Times, February 26, 2000


“Dazzling Crime Statistics Come at a Price,” New York Times, February 19, 1999


“Disorderly Conduct Statute and the First Amendment,” New York Law Journal, October 20, 1997 (with Andrew G. Celli, Jr.)


Four Ways to Clean Up the Police,” New York Times, August 26, 1997


“Frank Askin, Defending Rights: A Life in Law and Politics,” New York Law Journal, June 13, 1997


“Adversary System: Cameras in the Courtroom after O.J.?” New York Times, October 18, 1995


“Weighted Voting,” 159 Touro Law Review (1989)


“In New York City, Power to the People,” New York Times, May 6, 1989


The Even Sadder New York Police Saga,” New York Times, December 12, 1987


“End New York City’s One-Party System,” New York Times, September 19, 1987


“Giuliani’s Unfair Tactics,” New York Times, October 31, 1985


“Curbing New York’s Police,” New York Times, May 7, 1985


“Pointless Grand Jury Secrecy,” New York Times, February 11, 1985


“Recast New York’s Board of Estimate,” New York Times, September 15, 1984


“Courts Can’t Do It All,” New York Times, July 16, 1983


The Rights of Mental Patients: An ACLU Handbook (New York: Avon Books, 1978) (with Bruce J. Ennis)


Attorney News


Columbia Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1970

Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar

Brown University, B.A., 1967


U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
New York