National Police Accountability Project

Our Mission

National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) is a project of the National Lawyers Guild, which was founded in 1937 as the first racially integrated national bar association. In 1999, NPAP was created as a non-profit to protect the human and civil rights of individuals in their encounters with law enforcement and detention facility personnel. The central mission of NPAP is to promote the accountability of law enforcement officers and their employers for violations of the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

With over 500 members and growing, we continue to effect change in the flawed legal system and fight to put an end to police brutality of all forms. NPAP does not provide legal representation to victims of law enforcement misconduct. If you are looking for an attorney, please visit our Attorney Referral Listing and feel free to contact us if you require additional referrals. If you are interested in learning more about ways to hold law enforcement accountable, please review the NPAP Manual.

Staff

Jane manages NPAP’s membership and administrative needs and assists with various other projects. She previously worked for Court Watch NOLA, providing legal observations and broader organizational support. She graduated from Stanford University in June, where she was a pre-medical student and studied Comparative Literature. She is passionate about the possibility for radical transformation in the current carceral landscape in the United States, and is excited to be contributing to NPAP’s work in this effort.

Board of Directors

Michael Avery is a Professor at Suffolk University Law School. A graduate of Yale College (1966) and Yale Law School (1970), he was engaged in active practice as a trial lawyer for twenty-eight years specializing in police misconduct litigation. Professor Avery has argued police cases in the United States Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, and Fourth Circuits and has tried dozens of such cases in the federal and state trial courts. He is considered one of the country’s leading civil rights lawyers.

 

Julia Yoo is a civil rights attorney in San Diego, California.  She represents a broad spectrum of people whose civil rights and liberties have been violated.  The types of cases Ms. Yoo focuses on include retaliatory arrests, First Amendment protests, excessive force, wrongful death, unlawful detention, sexual harassment and prisoners’ rights. Ms. Yoo has successfully tried and resolved cases throughout California and Colorado. She is an AV rated attorney and the named partner in Iredale and Yoo.  She is an adjunct professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Ben Elson is a partner at The People’s Law Office, a law partnership established in 1969 after the murders of Black Panther activists Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Throughout its forty-five year history, the office has confronted police brutality, torture, and prosecutorial misconduct; represented political activists; advocated for prisoners; fought against the death penalty; and provided legal support to Puerto Rican and other political prisoners. Elson’s practice focuses on representing victims of police and other governmental misconduct in civil rights cases, including people who have been wrongfully convicted, subjected to police brutality, and denied medical attention.

Howard Friedman has a private practice in Boston, Massachusetts. His practice emphasizes plaintiff’s civil rights litigation, particularly claims alleging police misconduct, police brutality, false arrest, wrongful conviction, inhumane treatment of prisoners, and the right to record police officers. Mr. Friedman is a frequent lecturer on police misconduct and civil rights issues. He is the author or co-author of numerous articles on these issues including a chapter on intentional torts for “ATLA’s Litigating Tort Cases,” published by Thomson West. He has also represented plaintiffs in several class actions alleging unconstitutional strip searches at jails or police stations.

Samuel Paz is a native of Los Angeles. In 1971, Paz graduated with honors from UCLA. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California Law School in 1974. Since then, he has practiced law specializing in litigation of civil rights claims, earning numerous victories in cases involving injuries or death caused by police misconduct. In the 36 years he has been a lawyer, Mr. Paz has a recipient of approximately 30 honors for his legal work. Those honors include ACLU’s highest award, the 2003 Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate award; the University of Southern California Law School’s 2002 Inspirational Alumnus award presented by La Raza Law Students.

Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann is a partner at Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, a small law firm in New York focusing on wrongful conviction, police brutality, and other serious civil rights suits. Anna’s work at all stages of litigation—from filing of a complaint to trial and appeal—has helped secure more than a dozen significant verdicts and settlements around the country, including the largest wrongful conviction jury verdict ever awarded.

Michael Haddad is an AV-Preeminent rated attorney and a partner in Haddad & Sherwin, in Oakland, California. The majority of Mr. Haddad’s practice is to represent plaintiffs in police misconduct and other civil rights litigation, including wrongful death, police shootings, excessive force, jail deaths, and municipal liability. Where possible, Mr. Haddad and his firm also obtain voluntary or court-ordered injunctive relief to improve police department policies and procedures.

Carol Sobel is a solo practitioner in Santa Monica, California. Prior to going into private practice, she spent 20 years working in various positions for the ACLU, including as Senior Staff Attorney for the last seven years she was there. She has been involved in numerous significant cases in federal and state courts. Carol serves as local counsel for the Center for Constitutional Rights in Humanitarian Law Project v. Ashcroft and served on the Rampart Blue Ribbon Panel. Since 2002, she was named as one of Los Angeles’ Super Lawyers for Civil Rights. Attorney Carol Sobel is a graduate of the Peoples College of Law.

John L. Burris is best known for his work in the area of Plaintiff’s Civil Rights. For over 30 years the Law Offices of John L. Burris has represented plaintiffs in high-profile civil rights cases including Rodney King, rapper Tupac Shakur, and Oscar Grant who was killed by a BART police officer (The award-winning film “Fruitvale Station” is based on Oscar Grant). He is a founding Board member of the National Lawyers Guild’s National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) and a Board member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights-San Francisco.

Paul Wright is the editor and co-founder of Prison Legal News, the longest publishing independent prisoner rights magazine in US history. He is also the former National Lawyers Guild Jailhouse Lawyer national co-vice president (1995-2008). Paul was imprisoned for 17 years in Washington State until his release from prison in 2003. During and since his incarceration, he has successfully litigated a wide variety of censorship and public records issues against prison systems around the country both pro se, as a plaintiff, on behalf of other prisoners and on behalf of Prison Legal News.

William Most graduated from Harvard College in 2005 and obtained a law degree from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law in 2011. He practiced at the California law firm of Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP before moving to New Orleans and founding the Law Office of William Most. The Law Office of William Most is a civil rights law firm handling cases involving police misconduct, free speech, prisoner medical care and over detention, employment discrimination on the basis of gender, age, race, and disability, and sexual harassment.
From 2016 to 2019, Mr. Most served as outside counsel to New Orleans’ Office of the Independent Police Monitor.
Frances Crocket Carpenter is a civil rights attorney based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Frances has spent her career helping those who have suffered at the hands of police injustice and brutality as well as incarcerated individuals who have had their rights violated while in the care and custody of jails and prisons. One notable case includes Lundstorm v. Romero. 616 F. 3d 1108. 1123 (10th Cir. 2010) in which the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the law enforcement officers violated Plaintiffs' Constitutional rights and were not entitled to Qualified Immunity.

Jon Feinberg focuses his practice on civil rights litigation and criminal defense.  He is an experienced trial lawyer and appellate litigator, having successfully tried cases and argued appeals in both state and federal court. He specializes in cases involving wrongful convictions and prosecutions of innocent persons, the excessive use of force by police and correctional officers, the unconstitutional denial of medical care to prisoners, and the unlawful incarceration of persons in immigration custody. Mr. Feinberg regularly consults for and co-counsels with local public interest organizations, including the ACLU.

Paul Hughes is a partner in Mayer Brown’s Supreme Court & Appellate practice in Washington DC. He briefs and argues complex appeals, and he develops legal strategy for trial litigation. Paul is also a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at the Yale Law School, where he co-directs Yale’s Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic. Paul has argued more than 20 cases, and he has handled over 200 appellate matters, including 16 merits cases at the US Supreme Court.

Advisory Board

Raised in Lakeview, Long Island, Fred Brewington is a respected lawyer and community advocate with a distinguished legal career. After working at a number of prestigious firms and law offices, including a clerkship at the Office of the Legal Counsel of the United States Senate, Fred Brewington began a private practice on Long Island. With his expertise in civil rights litigation, Fred has successfully challenged the ‘at large’ voting system in the Town of Hempstead and worked on preventing future unconstitutional and discriminatory purging of voters from the voting role.

Alphonse A. Gerhardstein is a partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Gerhardstein & Branch Co., LPA. Mr. Gerhardstein has been an attorney for over 40 years and focuses his practice on civil rights including police misconduct, race, sex, sexual orientation and disability discrimination in housing and employment, prisoner rights, voting rights and reproductive health issues. He was lead counsel in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the United States Supreme Court established marriage equality for same sex couples in all 50 states.  The journey to that landmark decision is chronicled in the book, “Love Wins” (Harper Collins, 2016).

Gerhardstein has also served as lead counsel on numerous civil rights class actions including one that reformed Ohio’s juvenile prisons and another that resulted in Cincinnati’s Collaborative Agreement which has been repeatedly cited as a national model for police reform. He is currently working with numerous clients through litigation and model policy advocacy to reform taser policies in law enforcement agencies across the region.  He was co-counsel for the Sam DuBose family and secured a settlement of $5 million, an apology, a memorial on campus and participation in police reforms following the shooting of Sam DuBose by University of Cincinnati Police. Gerhardstein recently served as lead counsel in the resolution of a civil rights case against the Boone County KY Sheriff for the shooting death of Samantha Ramsey.  Settlement included $3.5 million and a large number of department reforms.

Mr. Gerhardstein is the Founder of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center www.ohiojpc.org and a past Board Member of the Ohio Association for Justice. He is a frequent lecturer to professional and general audiences on civil rights topics, including appearances on CBS, NBC, and NPR news programs. Mr. Gerhardstein earned his B.A. degree from Beloit College and his J.D. degree from and was a Root Tilden Scholar at New York University. Mr. Gerhardstein and his partner Jennifer Branch litigate causes not just cases and they pursue reforms in all of their practice areas. See firm website at www.gbfirm.com

Karen Blum is a Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School where she teaches in the areas of Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, Civil Rights, and Police Misconduct Litigation. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Wells College, a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and an LL.M. from Harvard. Professor Blum has been a regular faculty participant in § 1983 Civil Rights Programs and Institutes around the country. Professor Blum has authored numerous articles in the § 1983 area and is a co-author, along with Michael Avery and David Rudovsky, of Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation.

 

Joanna Schwartz is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School.  She is Assistant Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law.  Before joining the faculty at UCLA, Schwartz clerked for Judge Denise Cote of the Southern District of New York and Judge Harry Pregerson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She was then associated with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, in New York City, where she specialized in police misconduct, prisoners’ rights, and First Amendment litigation. Schwartz’s research focuses on the role of lawsuits in organizational decision making, with a focus on law enforcement agencies.

Welcome to the new website for the National Police Accountability Project (NPAP)! We are celebrating our 20th year as a national organization of plaintiffs’ lawyers, law students, and legal workers united to seek accountability for law enforcement misconduct. We are a project of the National Lawyers Guild. We have over five hundred members across the country who are actively involved in litigation against police officers, corrections officers, and government agencies. We are proud of their work and will feature it in various sections of our website.

 

NPAP maintains a listserve on which our members exchange information on a daily basis. You can get copies of pleadings, discovery requests, deposition transcripts, expert letters and similar documents from experienced lawyers. You can post questions and requests: “Should I take this case?” “Is this proposal a reasonable settlement?” “What experts are available to testify about this problem?” “Please send me any recent cases on a certain topic.” This is a forum where you can discuss your successes and problems with others who share your interests. It is an incredible resource for anyone handling police or prison cases.

 

NPAP files amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court, lower federal courts, and state courts. We sponsor and promote legislation at various levels of government. We provide continuing legal education seminars, restricted to persons who represent plaintiffs, on a wide variety of topics throughout the year. We work together with other human rights and civil rights organizations.

 

I have been litigating, researching, and writing about law enforcement misconduct since 1970. I’m proud to have been one of the founders of NPAP, and believe it is a unique resource for civil rights lawyers and activists. If you are not a member, please join today. It’s one of the most important things you can do to build your civil rights practice.

– Michael Avery, President of the NPAP Board of Directors

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