The Municipal Litigation Practice Group regularly defends lawsuits brought against cities, towns, counties, police departments, police officers, school districts and teachers, in state and federal courts. These lawsuits often allege violations of constitutional rights (including false arrest, excessive force, illegal search and seizure, etc.), negligence in hiring, training, supervision and retention, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination. In addition, the group defends land use and zoning litigation on behalf of governmental entities.
The Municipal Litigation Practice Group is proud of its long-standing service to the many governmental entities and individual public employees that it is privileged to represent. Our attorneys couple substantive legal knowledge with polished, creative and aggressive advocacy in this important field of law at all levels of the judicial system, including the United States Supreme Court.
Defending municipalities, police departments, commissions, and individual officers from law enforcement liability claims is a primary aspect of the group's work. In this respect, the group's lawyers have defended claims filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging illegal search and seizure, false arrest, improper investigation, improper use of police standards, excessive force, improper high speed pursuit, selective enforcement, selective prosecution, negligent hiring, training and supervision, as well as claims of municipal liability premised upon the alleged creation and implementation of an unconstitutional departmental custom, practice or policy. In addition, the Municipal Litigation Group defends governmental employees against general state law tort claims of negligent and intentional misconduct in violation of state law.
The group's trial attorneys bring years of civil and prosecutorial experience to the litigation of these issues. At both the trial and appellate level, they litigate issues including preservation of qualified immunity for law enforcement conduct, free speech and religion claims, politically motivated arrests and prosecutions, invasion of privacy, damage to reputation, grand jury abuses, and prisoner rights. Attorneys in the group also frequently represent municipal boards, officials, and employees in land use and zoning matters and employment-related claims. Educational institutions at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels often engage us on matters ranging from personal injury and constitutional issues, to such important developing legal areas as teacher-student sexual harassment or student-student sexual harassment.
- Defended due process claims relating to the responsibility of police officers for the post custodial suicide of a released arrestee.
- Litigated equal protection and other constitutional claims arising from the murder of a young woman by convicts who escaped from the custody of an unarmed corrections officer.
- Represented a city and its police department, as well as the city's legal department, in an action brought against the city and the State of New Hampshire on behalf of the estate of a woman murdered by a parolee who had been arrested previously by the city's police department for sexual assault and, at the time of the murder, was free on bail.
- Defended a town, its selectmen and its police department and three of its officers in constitutional and sex discrimination claims arising out of the department's handling of a domestic disturbance.
- Defended a municipality and one of its officers against constitutional claims brought by the estate of a suspect shot and killed by an officer responding to an emergency call.
- Represented a New Hampshire School District before the United States District Court in a case the decision of which affirmatively limited the obligation of all New Hampshire schools to provide only special education co-existent with federal law.
- Participated in the only civil jury trial in which a plaintiff claimed that a school district denied him a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”).