Martin Garbus has represented:
- Marilyn Monroe
- Igor Stravinsky
- Philip Roth
- John Cheever
- Margaret Mitchell
- Public Enemy No. 1 (hip-hop group)
- Vaclav Havel
- James Watson
- Andrei Sakharov
- David Halberstam
- Tom Brokaw
- Terry McMillan
- Peter Matthiessen
- Nancy Reagan
- Alger Hiss
- Al Pacino
- Lauren Bacall
- Martin Lawrence
- Sean Connery
- Michael Caine
- Richard Gere
- Robert Redford
- Penny Marshall
- Spike Lee
- Lenny Bruce
- Amy Tan
- John Irving
- Michael Caine
- Michael Moore
- Garry Marshall
- Penguin-Putnam Books
- Farrar, Straus & Giroux
- Random House
- Alfred A. Knopf
- Ballantine Books
- Grove Press
- Scholastic Books
- The Pace Gallery
- Twentieth Century Fox
- Warner Brothers
- Michael Bloomberg
- Bloomberg, L.P.
- Julian Assange
- Agnes Martin
- Estate Of Mark Rothko
Representative Litigation Matters
U.S. Supreme Court Cases
- In a 5-4 decision reached by the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Garbus filed what is arguably the most important due process case of the 20th century, Goldberg v. Kelly (397 U.S. 254).
- Arguing in the U.S. Supreme Court after a trial in Alabama, Martin Garbus won in King v. Smith (392 U.S. 309) a unanimous 9-0 decision striking down laws in 14 states on the grounds they violated the Constitution. These laws had disenfranchised one million people.
- Mr. Garbus served as co-counsel in Ashton v. Kentucky (384 U.S. 195), a Supreme Court decision that struck down all criminal libel laws in the United States.
- Mr. Garbus served as co-counsel in Jacobellis v. Ohio (378 U.S. 184), where the Supreme Court held unconstitutional an Ohio statute seeking to regulate motion pictures and, for the first time, defined the term “national community standards.”
Libel, Defamation and other First Amendment Cases
- Successfully represented famed comedian Lenny Bruce and his freedom of speech against criminal charges.
- In a free-speech case, successfully represented best-selling writer Robert Sam Anson in a lawsuit claiming Walt Disney tried to stop publication of a book critical of the company.
- Successfully represented, in a Federal Court and then before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in New York, Penguin Books against attempts by Lawrence Walsh, Special Counsel to Iran-Contra, to stop the publication of Jeffrey Toobin’s book on Iran-Contra.
- In an Illinois State Court, and then in the Supreme Court of Illinois, successfully stopped the unauthorized publication of a book of short stories by author John Cheever.
- In a Los Angeles, California, Federal Court, and then in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, successfully represented actor/director Spike Lee in an injunction suit filed to prevent the release of Malcolm X.
- Successfully defended author Terry McMillan in a New York State court against libel allegations, on First Amendment grounds.
- Representing Penguin, successfully set new precedent on behalf of all authors in establishing that libel did not under certain circumstances lie in the fiction area.
- Successfully defended Scholastic Books, the publisher of the Harry Potter series, against claims that someone other than Rowling wrote the best-selling books.
- Successfully defended Time Warner, Random House, Penguin, Putnam, and Bantam Books on numerous libel claims in New York, Arkansas, Ohio, Wyoming, and California.
- In South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska, and before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Minnesota, successfully defended Peter Matthiessen and Penguin Books in federal suits filed by William Janklow, South Dakota Governor and Senator, and the FBI over allegations that the FBI wrongfully coerced testimony through physical abuse and that Janklow had raped an Indian woman.
- Settled a suit brought by his client, Don Imus, against CBS for a reported $20 million and successfully defended Don Imus in a libel suit brought by the members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team.
- Represented a New York Supreme Court judge in a misconduct investigation.
Intellectual Property, Copyright Cases
- Won a copyright suit against the Coors Brewing Company on behalf of Public Enemy No. 1, a hip-hop and rap group, for wrongful sampling of the group’s music in beer advertisements.
- Represented Miramax Co. when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) tried to rate several of its films R and on behalf of Miramax, brought a lawsuit to declare unconstitutional the MPAA’s film-ratings system.
- Won a federal jury verdict representing the Isley Brothers against Motown Records in a case involving accounting fraud and copyright infringement and had it upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Successfully defended a trustee of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in a copyright-infringement case involving choreographed material.
- Won a trial in Mississippi Federal Court on behalf of Britain’s Channel 4 and the Public Broadcasting System in a case involving breach-of-contract claims and the unauthorized use of photographs in a PBS-Channel 13 film on art in America and had the decision upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana.
- Represented the Public Broadcasting System in copyright and criminal suits in the United States.
- Represented renowned artist Agnes Martin in lawsuits regarding ownership of her paintings and in her estate.
Civil Rights, Free Speech, and Other First Amendment Issues
- Defended Josh Wolf, America’s longest-jailed journalist, who refused to turn over names of demonstrators to a 2007 San Francisco Grand Jury.
- Represented Connecticut students whose play on Iraq, Voices in Conflict, was banned by school administrators in presenting their performance at the Public Theater and the Culture Project in New York.
- Defended Cesar Chavez and other members of the United Farm Workers Union on criminal charges in Delano, California, Florida, and Texas.
- Defended employees of Mobilization for Youth brought before the New York State Senate HUAC committee.
- Defended civil rights workers, lawyers, and voters in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas on criminal charges.
- Co-directed “Operation Southern Justice” to integrate criminal and civil juries in the South.
- Defended opponents of the Vietnam and Iraq wars and supporters of the Civil Rights movement throughout the country.
Estate Matters and Protection of Personal Wealth
Martin Garbus protects his clients and their hard-earned assets. He has:
- Tried numerous complex estate cases in New York and has been appointed to serve as lawyer and/or executor and/or trustee of numerous estates, including those of Marilyn Monroe, Igor Stravinsky, John Cheever, and Margaret Mitchell.
- Successfully represented the Stravinsky estate in a precedent-setting suit interpreting the late author’s will and the disposition of hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.
- Represented the Mitchell Estate in a case involving a parody of the novel Gone With the Wind.
- Successfully represented Grove Press and Pia Pera, author of Lo’s Diary, in a suit brought by the Estate of Vladimir Nabokov to block publication of her novel.
- Successfully represented, in a Los Angeles federal court, a well-known Hollywood personality defrauded of hundreds of millions of dollars by his business managers.
- Represented in New York and New Mexico substantial estates involving control and value of significant works of art.
- Represented art donors in valuation proceedings before the IRS and in tax court.
- Represented Lloyds of London in the Supreme Court, New York County, on breach-of-contract claims by Russian oligarchs and in California and Texas on breach-of-contract claims.
Class Action Suits
- Successfully represented plaintiffs and defendants in class action suits in New York.
- Presently representing American Airlines employees in a one-billion-dollar class action suit against the airline.
- In a four-month-long class action securities-fraud suit, represented plaintiffs against one of America’s largest corporations.
- Successfully represented independent movie houses in their suit against several motion picture studios over preferential treatment given to movie chains.
- Successfully represented book publishers charged with antitrust violations, including price fixing and monopoly.
- In 1998, Martin Garbus began representing individuals and companies in Internet litigation. Pioneering the legal future of the digital age, he represented the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Open Source Movement in the first copyright case to be tried under the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That landmark case, involving the motion picture industry and the MPAA, became the battleground where First Amendment and copyright/intellectual property values clashed, permanently affecting the art, movie, music, and DVD industry, including the rights of MP3 and iPod owners. It helped lead to changes in the way music and movies are sold. In other Internet-law cases, Mr. Garbus successfully represented Internet defendants, including AOL, in copyright, libel, and criminal suits.
- Mr. Garbus has defended criminal cases across the country. He has successfully represented Wounded Knee murder defendants in Nebraska and South Dakota, a leading scientist against a claim by IBM that he stole secret computer codes, other white-collar defendants, and defendants in military court martial cases against various charges, as well as 10 cases of murder in New York. His case load in criminal defense includes a civil and RICO mail-fraud and money-laundering case involving $400,000,000 against a former European Prime Minister in California.
Environmental and Public Law
- Successfully represented environmental groups challenging the Lower Manhattan Expressway in New York.
- Represented citizens’ groups challenging excessive fees paid to New York State legislators and lobbyists.
- Successfully represented university faculties and students in New York, Oregon, and Florida on academic-freedom and free-speech issues, as well as age- and sex-discrimination suits.
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits
- U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
- Pro hoc vice in California, Nebraska, Minnesota, Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana Federal District Courts
- Courts of the State of New York
Representative Lectures And Seminars
Mr. Garbus has delivered lectures to and participated in debates before the American Bar Association; the Bar Associations of New York, Washington, and Los Angeles; federal and state judges; law schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Stanford; and the Practising Law Institute. In addition to the books mentioned below, he is a frequent contributor to major newspapers, national magazines, and scholarly journals, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Slate, and The American Prospect.
Mr. Garbus has appeared on 60 Minutes, Dateline, Good Morning America, and the Charlie Rose Show and has served as a commentator for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN, Fox NewsChannel, Court TV, Time, and Newsweek on such diverse issues as politics, entertainment, the arts, and to law. Furthermore, as the country witnessed the egregious conduct of the Federal Government’s legal investigation of the Clinton Presidency, Mr. Garbus debated former Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr at venues across the country.
The international community has recognized the importance of Mr. Garbus’s work. The governments of the former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, China, Canada, and Hungary have selected him to serve as a consultant on constitutional, media, and communications law. Recently, the government of China called on Mr. Garbus to help address the problems posed by digital piracy that have come to plague the world. While China’s innovative legal developments were significant, Mr. Garbus realized the necessity of implementation of China’s existing laws.
As a result, Mr. Garbus traveled throughout China speaking to prosecutors and judges on how to effectively enforce those laws. To further fulfill this assignment, he assumed a teaching role at Tsinghua University in Beijing where he instructed graduate law students, master of law candidates, and judges of the Chinese Intellectual Property Court on the enforceability of the country’s new intellectual-property, copyright, patent, and trademark laws. In 2004, he was appointed advisor to the Chinese team responsible for the creation of effective intellectual-property laws.
Other venues where Mr. Garbus has taught or lectured:
- State University of New York
- Renmin University Beijing
- Beda University Beijing
- Other academic institutions in China
Awards & Accolades
- PEN International First Amendment Award 2007
- Fulbright Scholarship 2007-2011
- The Lifetime Achievement Award from New York University Law School in 2004
- Election to the Hunter College Hall of Fame in 1996
- The Alumni Achievement Awards NYU Law School and Hunter College
- Several boards, including the American Advisory Board of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and The Creative Coalition.
- Member of Bar Association Committees dealing with Civil and Criminal Law, Trademark, Intellectual Property, Estates, and the Media
- Marquis Who’s Who in America (2010 & prior years)
- Marquis Who’s Who in American Law (2010 & prior years)
- New York Magazine – “Best Lawyers in New York (2000-2011)”
- Super Lawyers, Multimedia Inc. (2006)
- American Civil Liberties Award 2007
- Claremont University Award for one of the year’s best non-fiction articles appearing in American Prospect 2004
The Next 25 Years: How The Supreme Court Will Make You Forget the Meaning of Words Like Privacy, Equality and Freedom
Garbus discusses the future of the U.S. Supreme Court and the grave threat to our rights, including free speech and other First Amendment issues. Published in February 2007 by Seven Stories Press.
“Garbus cuts right to the heart of what’s at stake, including rights to abortion, privacy and religion; states’ sovereignty issues; tax reform and others. With crystal-clear reasoning, Garbus sounds a wake-up call for those suspicious of the current administration’s long-term plans for the U.S. judiciary.” – Publisher’s Weekly
Courting Disaster: The Supreme Court and the Unmaking of America Law
(Times Books, New York, 2002; Times Books softcover, 2003).
“A vigorous book, full of passion.” – The Washington Post
“An ardent defender of our freedom, Martin Garbus reminds us that the supreme Court directly affects the lives of all Americans.” – Senator Edward M. Kennedy
“Courting Disaster is like a fireball in the night.” – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
“A wise and courageous lawyer, with long experience in our courts, turns his lucid mind and eloquent pen to our judicial system and comes up with a ‘J’accuse’ for our time.” – Alan Dershowitz
“In this important book, Martin Garbus tells the story of a torrent of right-wing judicial activism and what it means for the average American.” – Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School
“Mr. Garbus’s brilliant book argues that the ideological lock put on our federal court system in the past thirty years by the Republican right ring constitutes a clear and present danger to the basic legal and moral assumptions of a modern democratic republic. He lays out the evidence, all the way up to the Supreme Court, and his case is sound. This work ought to be read by every voter in the country.” – E. L. Doctorow
Tough Talk: How I Fought For Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way
Random House-Times Books, 1998, Times Books softcover, 1999
With an introduction by David Halberstam, this is a First Amendment book that deals with media problems on the Internet including copyright, trademark, and libel, as well as prominent cases, including the defense of Lenny Bruce and Robert Redford’s case against the tobacco industry. Garbus deals with entertainment law and commercial litigation in free speech, copyright law, and intellectual property.
“Read this book!!” – Morley Safer
“This powerful book retells what our Founding Fathers understood – that freedom cannot survive by silencing dissent.” – Senator Edward Kennedy
“In Tough Talk, we see a legitimate, peerless champion carrying the banner of the First Amendment. What a joy!” – Mario Cuomo
“Martin Garbus reminds us why the First Amendment comes first in the Bill of Rights. This powerful book retells what our founding fathers understood–that freedom cannot survive by silencing dissent. A free marketplace of ideas is the indispensable condition of a thriving democracy.” – Senator Ted Kennedy
“Martin Garbus has written a kind of First Amendment was hournal, with free speech the turf, the treasure, and the prize. It’s filled with courtroom gladiators, villains, and” – Diane Sawyer, ABC News
“Tough Talk is as entertaining as a bestselling novel and as persuasive as a Supreme Court brief. It will refresh your commitment to the American system” – Nadine Strossen, President, American Civil Liberties Union
“If anyone–Journalist or otherwise–has any doubts, qualms, or second thoughts about everyone’s right to speak his mind, get them to read this book.” – Morley Safer, 60 Minutes
“Martin Garbus is a gunfighter for the Bill of Rights. He goes wherever liberty is in jeopardy. Now he has written a book that is true, that is fearless, that is uplifting. And the best news of all: Garbus writes like an angel, not like a lawyer.” – Jack Newfield, New York Post
“This is a book about war. The war is one being continually waged against our freedom of speech. The warrior is Martin Garbus, who has fought brilliantly and gallantly.” – Gerry Spence, author of How to Argue and Win Every Time
“A memoir so engaging that one wishes it were longer.” – Kirkus Reviews
Traitors and Heroes
Athenaeum, 1987; Random House softcover, 1988.
Called “a forthright, impassioned, informative and chilling memoir” by the New York Times, this book describes Mr. Garbus’s legal work in the Soviet Union, Chile, and South Africa.
“A forthright, impassioned, informative and chilling memoir.” – The New York
“A superb book.” – The Los Angeles Times
“Traitors and Heroes provides searing examples of injustice done in the name of law, from South Africa to the Soviet Union. Martin Garbus experienced first hand the emotions -the frustrations- of a lawyer in those appalling circumstances. He makes us share his feelings.” – Anthony Lewis
“A superb book.” – Los Angeles Times Book Review
“We need more advocates of free speech like Martin Garbus.” – William Safire
Ready for the Defense
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1971; Avon softcover, 1972, and Carroll & Graf reprint, 1995
The New York Times described this book as “a gripping account of five of Martin Garbus’ dramatic trials with all the suspense and excitement of first-rate courtroom dramas leav[ing] few emotions untapped.” The trials range from the criminal defense of Lenny Bruce to copyright cases and murder cases. Studs Terkel said, “The way things are going, I may be the subject of prosecution. Assuming I am of sound mind, I hereby choose as attorney for my defense Martin Garbus. Garbus draws on experience as a trial lawyer in criminal defense, corporate litigation, estates and class action suits. His cases, recounted in this book, are Darrowesque.” The book was a New York Times notable book.
“Garbus, the lawyer who handled the defense of Timothy Leary and Lenny Bruce, discusses these cases and includes rundowns of others… Readers will gain respect for the law, and particularly for Garbus, whatever their view of some of the defendants!” – Library Journal
“The cockeyed way thing are going leads me to suspect that all sane men may be subject to prosecution of one sort of another. Assuming I am of sound mind, I hereby choose as attorney for my defense, Martin Garbus. His cases, recounted in this book, are Darrowesque!” – Studs Terkel
“Garbus is of the breed of Clarence Darrow and his book is engrossing!” – Publishers’ Weekly
China Journal: China 1972-2013
Martin Garbus is presently working on two books reflecting his time spent teaching and living in China. He recounts the very personal narratives of individual Chinese people in their struggles for justice.
In addition to these books, Martin Garbus has authored a host articles that have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and various high-profile legal publications.
- “The Roberts Court’s Dramatic Rightward Shift” – New York Times – July 10, 2006
- “China: A Consistent Commitment To The Rule Of Intellectual Property and Corporate Law” – China Corporate Counsel- Part I, Page 1, June 2006
- “China: A Consistent Commitment To The Rule Of Intellectual Property and Corporate Law” – China Corporate Counsel- Part II, Page 8, July 2006
- The Barry Bonds Case from the New York Times, The Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and other papers, 2006
- “A Hostile Takeover,” The American Prospect, March 1, 2003
- “Lolita and the Lawyers,” Bookend: The New York Times Sunday Book Review, November 4, 2002
- “The Integrity of Copyright,” Media Law & Policy (New York Law School), Spring 2002
- “I’m Proud to be a Lawyer! The Legal Issues in The Attempt to Impeach Clinton,” My Observer, December 11, 2000
- “Supreme Court to Press: Drop Dead,” Washington Post, July 12, 2000
- “A Senate Conviction Could Be Overturned,” New York Times, Jan. 8, 1999
- “Annual Survey of American Law: Keynote Address,” State of the Union for the Law of the new Millennium, The Internet and the First Amendment, New York University School of Law, 1999 Volume, Issue 2 (Fall 1999)
- “Crime and Publishing: ‘Son of Sam’ laws are opposed to real First Amendment Interests and must be struck down,” Publishers Weekly, May 13, 1999.
- “The Judicial Branch Has Obligations, Too,” New York Times, January 8, 1999.
- “The Lawyer’s Bookshelf: Deliberate Intent: A Lawyer Tells the True Story of Murder by the Book (book review),” New York Law Journal, Sept. 14, 1999
- “The Lawyer’s Bookshelf: Don’t Shoot the Messenger: How Our Growing Hatred of the Media Threatens Free Speech for All of Us (book review),” New York Law Journal, Oct. 26, 1999
- “Law Courts Make Lousy Art Critics, New York Forum,” Los Angeles Times, September 4, 1998
- “The Indecent Standard,” The Nation, April 13, 1998
- “The Lawyer’s Bookshelf: High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton (book review),” New York Law Journal, Sept. 4, 1998
- “Private Censorship,” New York Law Journal, Dec. 1, 1997
- “Recalling The Papers and the Papers,” National Law Journal, July 15, 1996
- “First, Give Rwanda Aid,” New York Times, April 29, 1995
- “Let’s Do Away With ‘Son of Sam’ Laws,” New York Law Journal, March 31, 1995
- “Let’s Do Away with ‘Son of Sam’ Laws,” Publishers Weekly, February 13, 1995
- “Jurists Without Borders,” New York Times, Nov. 17, 1994
- “Law review: It’s OK to criticize as long as long as it’s positive,” Daily Variety, April 11, 1994
- “My Mother, Book Reviews and the First Amendment,” Publishers Weekly, April 25 1994
- “Thumper Rabbit to Replace Siskel and Ebert,” New York Newsday, March 10, 1994
- “Who Owns Electronic Rights in the New Media?,” New York Law Journal, Dec. 23, 1994
- “The Attack on I.F. Stone: An Exchange,” New York Review of Books, Dec. 3, 1992
- “The Lawyer’s Bookshelf: The FBI’s War on Freedom of Expression,” New York Law Journal, April 1, 1992
- “In at the Birth of a New Constitution,” Columbia Journalism Review, Nov./Dec. 1991
- “Libel Case Ruling Will Haunt Publishing World,” New York Times, June 28, 1991
- “Will the ‘Cheever’ Case Affect Other Author/Publisher Relationships?,” New York Law Journal, Aug. 6, 1991
- “With Malice Toward None,” The Nation, Oct. 28, 1991
- “New Finale Would Appall Beckett,” New York Times, March 23, 1990
- “Thornburgh’s Morality Brigade,” New York Times, April 28, 1990
- “Limiting Our Rights: New Supreme Court Decisions Hit Hard at First Amendment Freedoms,” Publishers Weekly, August 18, 1989
- “Outside Counsel Column,” New York Law Journal, Nov. 8, 1989
- “Supreme Court’s Recent Libel Law Rulings Impairing Media’s Rights Under ‘Sullivan’,” New York Law Journal, Sept. 5, 1989
- “Taiwan Rigs Its Election,” New York Times, Dec. 2, 1989
- “Was Major Alley A Scapegoat? A Soldier’s Disgrace” by Don J. Snyder (book review), Los Angeles Times, Sept. 27, 1989
- “The Media Under Siege,” Washington Post, Aug. 4, 1989
- “Who Will Defend Our Right to Read? Government Agencies Must Be Prepared to Move Forcefully to Protect Booksellers,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1989
- “A Travesty of Libel,” New York Law Journal, Sept. 26, 1989
- “An Unofficial Secrets Act?,” New York Times, Nov. 8, 1988
- “Israel’s Military-Injustice System,” New York Times, Jan. 26, 1988
- “Allowing Publication of a Journal,” New York Times, July 23, 1987
- “The Many Costs of Libel,” Publishers Weekly, Sept. 5, 1986
- “Set a Standard,” New York Times, Feb. 19, 1986
- “Lawyers Should Not Testify Against Clients,” New York Times, December 16, 1985
- “The D.A. Errs in the Goetz Case,” New York Magazine, Feb. 2, 1985
- “Excluding Justice,” New York Times, April 4, 1983
- “The Limits for Libel,” New York Times Sunday Magazine, July 29, 1983
- “South Africa: The Death of Justice,” New York Review of Books, Aug. 4, 1977
- “South African Justice,” New York Review of Books, Sept. 15, 1977
- “Speech & Power: Is First Amendment Absolutism Obsolete?,” The Nation, July 21, 1997
- “New Mag in Moscow,” New York Review of Books, Aug. 13, 1987
- “Of 2 South African Trials (‘Facades’),” New York Times, July 20, 1977
- “Two South African Trials” – August 1977
- “An Observer’s Report” – August 1977
- “The Case Against Perry Mason,” New York Times, Dec. 28, 1975
- “On Trial in Chile,” New York Times, Aug. 8, 1974
- “A Lawyer’s Thoughts – Nixon should be disbarred,” New York Times, May 28, 1973
- “Now Less Protection for the Compelled Witness,” New York Times, May 28, 1972
- “In Defense of Chavez,” New York Times, Jan. 12, 1972
- “The Problem of the ‘Dynamite’ Charge,” New York Times, Oct. 8, 1972
- “The Right to Break the Law,” New York Times, June 18, 1972