At Sanford Heisler Sharp, we engage in public interest litigation to amplify the causes of civil and human rights, public health, and economic justice. Public interest litigation is important because lawsuits can be used to encourage social change and to advance and raise awareness of issues involving human rights and equality. Public interest litigation can also help clarify the law on important public issues in the areas of civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, consumer protection regulations, and public health.
In addition to our Discrimination and Harassment, Wage and Hour, Criminal/Sexual Violence, Financial Services, and Whistleblower practices, the Firm’s Public Interest Litigation Practice Group devotes itself to a broad range of cases promoting these principles and affecting the public interest. The Public Interest Practice Group represents individuals, classes of plaintiffs, governmental bodies, non-profits, and advocacy organizations. We often pursue novel legal theories, seek important legal reforms, and raise awareness about emerging issues of public concern. Our clients have included:
- City and county governments across the nation in their claims against opioid manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and pharmacy benefit managers who created and contributed to our country’s ongoing opioid epidemic;
- Twenty-two young women from across the U.S. in their case against operators of the website GirlsdoPorn.com, resulting in a $13 million verdict with additional injunctive relief after a 99-day bench trial;
- Herman Wallace, Robert King Wilkerson, and Albert Woodfox (the “Angola 3”), in their constitutional challenge to prolonged solitary confinement in Louisiana’s Angola Prison;
- Native American activist Leonard Peltier in his clemency petition, challenging the constitutionality of his conviction after four decades of incarceration;
- A class of 16- and 17-year old incarcerated Black and Latino youth challenging the constitutionality of locking juveniles in solitary confinement at the Onondaga County Justice Center;
- A group of Yale University students challenging the gender segregation in fraternity houses as a violation of the Fair Housing Act;
- A proposed class of detained noncitizens challenging the constitutionality of bond hearing policies and practices within Baltimore Immigration Court; and
- Victims of deceptive financial services schemes, including consumers who have paid excessive fees for banking, energy, and other consumer services.
Sanford Heisler Sharp’s attorneys have both broad and deep experience working in the public interest. Public Interest Practice Group Co-Chair and Sanford Heisler Sharp Co-Vice Chair Kevin Sharp is a former U.S. District Court Judge and a leading voice in nationwide efforts for criminal justice reform. Among his broad efforts in this area, Judge Sharp has been a tireless public advocate for reform and has represented individuals seeking clemency and other post-conviction relief.
Our Firm has also partnered as co-counsel with a number of organizations, including the AARP Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, the Capitol Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, the ACLU of Maryland, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Legal Services of Central New York.
Sanford Heisler Sharp was named Elite Trial Lawyers’ 2021 Human Rights Law Firm of the Year and received CAIR Coalition’s 2020 Impacting Justice Award. Kevin Sharp was also recognized as a Trailblazer in The American Lawyer’s inaugural South Trailblazers publication for his work on criminal justice reform.
If you think you have potential legal claims that have broad public impact, reach out to the Public Interest Litigation Practice Group at Sanford Heisler Sharp.