Civil Rights Litigation

Eaton & Van Winkle’s Civil Rights Litigation Practice Group is headed by Martin Garbus, a former Legal Director and Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Chairman of the Board of the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee, Chairman and Founder of the Committee to Abolish Capital Punishment and Director-Counsel for the Roger Baldwin Foundation.

Mr. Garbus has acted as counsel for individual defendants in need of a civil rights lawyer, been an observer for international organizations in South Africa, Chile, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Soviet Union. He has provided legal counsel and representation to such clients as Andrei Sakharov, Nelson Mandela and Václav Havel. Mr. Garbus has consulted on constitutional and communications law in numerous countries, including China, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the former Soviet Union, and Rwanda. Some of Mr. Garbus’ cases include King v. Smith (392 U.S. 309), a unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court decision striking down laws in fourteen states because they violated the Constitution, disenfranchising one million people. He represented sixteen defendants in murder cases, stopping their executions, while chairing the Committee to Abolish Capital Punishment.

Mr. Garbus represented civil rights leader, Cesar Chavez, in free speech, commercial and criminal cases in California and elsewhere in the U.S., in support of the United Farm Workers. He has represented Justices of the Indian Supreme Court, defended the Cuban Five, accused of murder, before the U.N. and the Florida Federal Court, and Sikh Nationalists before the Punjab Court and in the United Nations. He defended Chinese dissidents in Beijing and the government of Rwanda in negotiations with the U.N. over holding criminal trials in Kigali.

Eaton & Van Winkle’s capabilities in this area are more fully described in its separate Civil Rights primary practice description.


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