Good Government & Civil Rights Litigation

On behalf of a wide range of clients – including elected officials, community and preservation groups, and classes of underprivileged individuals – we have taken the government to task for misconduct. Our successes have been possible because of thorough research and preparation, extensive evidence gathering, spirited in-court advocacy, and proactive public relations approaches outside the courtroom.

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“If there is magic in the law, Jim Walden has found it because we sometimes seemed out of options. And Jim Walden would typically burst into the room and come up with a new option. And they had – his options had the extraordinary tendency to work.” Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Hall Press Conference, 2/22/14

Representative Cases

  • Represent 23 current and former students in NYC public schools who claimed to have been the victims of (1) pervasive bullying, (2) physical abuse by DOE staff, and/or (3) verbal abuse by DOE staff. After WMH filed a 200-page amended complaint, which was laden with details and evidence of mismanagement, misconduct and neglect by the School System, DOE settled the case, instituting sweeping reforms across the entire system.
  • Brought an Article 78 proceeding on behalf of the Citywide Council of Presidents (NYCHA tenants’ elected leaders) and At-Risk Community Services (a non-profit dedicated to advancing the rights of public housing tenants) alleging that NYCHA unlawfully failed to inspect for and remediate toxic lead, provide heat/hot water, provide federally mandated economic opportunities, and include tenants in policy-related decision-making. New York County Supreme Court granted a preliminary injunction to compel NYCHA to conduct certain lead inspections within 90 days. Our lawsuit helped prompt Governor Cuomo to issue an emergency declaration, providing for $550 million in state funds to be used by an Independent Emergency Manager (selected in part by the tenants) to address some of NYCHA’s most pressing problems.
  • Represented then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and six community groups in connection with state government’s illegal shutdown of local hospital. After nearly six months of intense litigation, State of New York settled by giving in to plaintiffs’ key demand.
  • Represented class of Social Security disability plaintiffs systematically denied disability benefits by biased administrative law judges.  Social Security Administration settled, after months of litigation earned plaintiffs right to discovery over internal SSA correspondence. New hearings before unbiased Administrative Law Judges given as one aspect of sweeping settlement.
  • Represented state assembly member, New York University faculty group, and host of community, parks and preservation groups in challenging City Planning Commission’s approval of massive construction plan. Trial court entered judgment for plaintiffs, holding that construction plan illegally alienated three public parks. Now on appeal.
  • Represented NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer in connection with legal challenge to Department of Homeless Services’ use of illegal, unregistered contracts. Trial court entered judgment in Comptroller’s favor.
  • Represented elected officials, community, park and preservation groups challenging the illegal alienation of public park and historic building. After companion filings in federal and state courts against National Park Service and New York Park agencies, won final judgments in both, declaring government’s action illegal and void.
  • Represented client in wrongful termination suit after client fired because of transgender status. After deposition of employer, company entered into full settlement, with back pay.
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