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Criminal Justice Criminal Justice

Protecting Vulnerable Prisoners

The firm is frequently appointed by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey to represent incarcerated individuals in lawsuits they bring against prison officials challenging unconstitutional conditions of confinement and seeking compensation for harms they suffered. These lawsuits are brought under a federal law that allows individuals to sue state government employees and others acting “under color of state law” for civil rights violations. Through these appointed matters, the firm seeks financial compensation for prisoners who have been harmed and sometimes also secures systemic policy changes that may protect other incarcerated people from similar harm.


Andrew was awaiting trial in a county jail when a sheriff’s officer walked into his cell, pointed a gun at him, and threatened his life. Andrew suffered significant and lasting psychological distress as a result of this unprovoked assault. The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey appointed the firm as pro bono counsel for Andrew in the spring of 2021, and after two years, we won a significant monetary settlement for him.



Ken was a pretrial detainee at Essex County Correctional Facility who suffered repeated verbal threats to his safety and sexual harassment at the hands of other incarcerated individuals. On several occasions, Ken notified prison officials that he was being targeted because of his sexual orientation and that his cellmate made daily threats of physical and sexual violence against him. He approached numerous prison officials and asked to be separated from his cellmate and housed somewhere safe. Instead of fulfilling their constitutional obligation to keep Ken safe, the officials turned a blind eye, told him “this is jail,” and, in some instances, engaged in conduct that encouraged the harmful behavior. Ken’s fears were realized when his cellmate followed through on his threats and raped Ken. The firm was appointed to represent Ken in his lawsuit against the officials who failed to protect him from harm. The case is ongoing.