August 8, 1934|
New York University Law School
|Occupation||Attorney, author, teacher|
Martin Garbus (born August 8, 1934) is an American attorney. He has argued cases throughout the country involving constitutional, criminal, copyright, and intellectual property law. He has appeared before the United States Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts throughout the United States. He has argued and written briefs that have been submitted to the United States Supreme Court; a number of which have resulted in changes in the law on a nationwide basis, including one described by Justice William Brennan as "probably the most important due process case in the Twentieth Century". An international observer in foreign elections, he was selected by Pres. Jimmy Carter to observe and report on the elections in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Garbus also participated in drafting several constitutions and foreign laws, including the Czechoslovak constitution. He also has been involved in prisoner exchange negotiations between governments. He is the author of six books and over 30 articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. Shouting Fire is an award-winning documentary film about his life and career. He received the Fulbright Award for his work on International Human Rights in 2010. In 2014, University College Dublin's's Literary and Historical Society honored Garbus with the James Joyce Award for Excellence in Law. The same year Trinity College awarded him for his human rights and free speech work.
The Guardian called Garbus "one of the world’s finest trial lawyers" and the "founding partner of one of America’s most prestigious law firms". In 2007, Business Week called him "legendary", "a ferocious lawyer who has received numerous media citations as one of America’s leading trial lawyers" and a "ferocious litigator". Time magazine named him "legendary, one of the best trial lawyers in the country." Fortune magazine called him, "One of the nation's premier First Amendment attorneys", and "legendary". Reuters called him a "famed lawyer" while other media have called him "America's most prominent First Amendment lawyer" with an "extraordinarily diverse practice" and "one of the country's top ten litigators." Super Lawyers Magazine designated him as a Superlawyer. New York magazine and Los Angeles magazine have named him both as one of America’s best trial lawyers, and one of America’s best intellectual property lawyers.
Garbus graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1951. He earned his undergraduate degree at Hunter College in 1955 and his Juris Doctor from New York University Law School. During that time he drove a taxi for two years in New York and worked at The Ford assembly line in Tarrytown, New York. He thereafter attended Columbia University as a master’s candidate in economics, at The New School as a master’s candidate in English and at New York University Law School as a master’s candidate in law. He wrote for the New York University Law Review. He was admitted in New York, and six other states and federal appeals courts, to the United States Supreme Court Bar in 1963.
Early career and legal scholarship
After law school and after two years in the United States Army, he clerked for Emile Zola Berman, an internationally-known trial lawyer who represented Sirhan Sirhan, and Ephraim London, a Supreme Court advocate and Constitutional lawyer whose firm represented Alger Hiss, and who won every one of the nine cases he argued before the Supreme Court. He was in 1966 co-director of the Columbia University Center on Social Policy and Law while he taught law at Columbia. He was director counsel of the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU, legal director and associate director of the ACLU, as well as director of the Lawyers Committee to Defend Civil Rights, ran for political office in 1974 and formed his own law firm, Frankfurt Garbus in 1977. He subsequently taught at an adjunct professor at Yale Law School, and has lectured at many law schools in the United States and abroad, including Harvard and Stanford. A Fulbright scholar, he taught in 2005 and 2006 at Tsinghua and Renmin law schools in Beijing, China. At the same time he represented Chinese dissidents, he taught the judges, government officials and drafters of China’s new copyright and intellectual property laws. He also participated in "rule of law" seminars in Shanghai and Beijing.
Garbus was involved in the following notable cases:
- Argued in the Supreme Court after a trial in Alabama, 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 over two million people.
- Served as co-counsel in Ashton v. Kentucky (384 U.S. 195), and won a Supreme Court decision that effectively ended all criminal libel laws in the United States
- Served as co-counsel in Jacobellis v. Ohio (378 U.S. 184), and won 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" that led to the ending of prosecution of obscenity cases in the United States.
- Served as co-counsel in Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254(1970) New York, an entitlement case in the Supreme Court that Justice William Brennan called, "probably the most important due process case of the Twentieth Century." that he considered "the proudest achievement of his entire service on the Court."
- Unindicted co-conspirator in the criminal prosecution of Daniel Ellsberg.
- Represented Lenny Bruce in a criminal case in New York, successfully asserting a First Amendment defense against an obscenity charge.
- Represented Don Imus when he was fired by CBS by asserting a First Amendment defense.
- Represented Viking Press and Peter Matthiessen in one of the longest and most bitterly fought libel cases in American history that led to the development of libel precedent favoring journalists and publishers. Governor William Janklow filed a libel suit in South Dakota and FBI agents filed suit in Minnesota claiming they were libeled by the book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (see Peter Matthiessen#Crazy Horse lawsuits). The South Dakota court rejected Governor Janklow's attempt to stop Penguin from publishing the book. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the $450 million case and the Supreme Court refused to reverse it.
- Represented sixteen defendants in murder cases, stopping executions, while chairing the Committee to Abolish Capital Punishment.
- Represented Leonard Peltier in a clemency petition to President Obama.
- Represented civil rights leader Cesar Chavez in free speech, commercial and criminal cases and the boycott in California and elsewhere in the United States, all in support of the United Farm Workers.
- Represented criminal defendants in the French Connection criminal cases in New York Federal Court.
- Sued Eminem and Dr. Dre in copyright suit on behalf of French composer Jacques Loussier under New York Federal Court.
- Represented author Pia Pera in a copyright dispute over "Lolita" with the estate of Vladimir Nabokov.
- Represented author Terry McMillan in commercial suit in San Francisco Federal Court to set aside a settlement agreement.
- Garbus represented songwriter and pianist, Oksana Grigorieva against actor Mel Gibson. Grigorieva alleges that Gibson beat her during their relationship and then defamed her in the media.
- Defended Chief Justices of the Indian Supreme Court during The Emergency.
- Defended the Cuban Five, accused of murder in the Florida Federal Courts before the United Nations and in their application for clemency to President Obama.
- Defended Sikh nationallists before the Punjab Court and in the United Nations.
- Defended media defendants and investors in libel and other commercial cases brought by fraudulent Chinese reverse merger corporations in the New York State courts.
- Defended Chinese dissidents in Beijing and Shanghai.
- Sued by South African government for disbarment due to articles Garbus wrote in The New York Times and The New York Review of Books criticizing South Africa's legal process. The case was dimissed on First Amendment grounds.
- Represented the government of Rwanda in negotiations with the United Nations over the holding of criminal trials in Kigali, amongst other places.
- International elections observer with President Jimmy Carter's commission.
- Represented Jane Doe in a libel suit against The New York Daily News and Mike McAlary.
- Represented The Metropolitan Opera against attempts at censorship of The Death of Klinghoffer.
Other clients include Nelson Mandela, Andrei Sakharov, Václav Havel, Samuel Beckett, Al Pacino, Daniel Ellsberg, Philip Roth, Michael Moore, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Michael York, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Martin, Pace Gallery, Estate of Mark Rothko, Robert Maplethorpe, Cincinnati Museum of Fine Art, Robert Redford, Spike Lee, Sally Mann, Allen Ginsberg, Kathy Boudin, Garry Marshall, Marilyn Monroe, Igor Stravinsky, Nora Ephron, Salman Rushdie, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Bertelsmann, Penguin Books, Putnam, Grove Press and The Sundance Film Festival.
Garbus has participated in lectures and debates before the American Bar Association, the Bar Associations of New York, Washington and Los Angeles on a variety of topics including trial practice, jury selection, copyright and the Supreme Court. Garbus debated former Independent Prosecutor Kenneth Starr at venues across the country. He served as a commentator for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, Charlie Rose, CNN, Fox News, Court TV, CCTV in China and the BBC, Time and Newsweek. Garbus has written numerous pieces for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, and Huffington Post.
Garbus' career is set forth in the award-winning HBO documentary Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech.
Garbus has worked for the governments of the former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, China, and Rwanda as a consultant on constitutional, media and communications law. Recently, the government of China hired Garbus to help address the problems posed by digital piracy. He represented dissidents Václav Havel, Nelson Mandela and Andrei Sakharov. In 2004, he was appointed advisor to the Chinese team responsible for the creation of China's intellectual property laws.
Awards and recognition
Garbus has won several awards for his work:
- PEN USA First Amendment Award of Honor, 2007,
- New York University Law Alumni Achievement Award, 2004,
- Hunter College Law Alumni Achievement Award, 2005
- Hunter College Hall of Fame, 2005
- Marquis Who's Who in America (2017 and prior years)
- Marquis Who's Who in American Law (2017 and prior years)
- Civil Liberties Union Award, 2007
- Senator William Fulbright Award for global leadership in international law, 2012
- James Joyce Award from the University of Dublin for Excellence in Law, 2014
- Trinity College Award for defending First Amendment cases, 2014
- The Next 25 Years: How the Supreme Court Will Make You Forget the Meaning of Words Like Privacy, Equality and Freedom (Seven Stories Press 2007)
- Courting Disaster: The Supreme Court and the Unmaking of America Law (Times Books, New York, 2002; Times Books softcover, 2003)
- Tough Talk: How I Fought For Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way, introduction by David Halberstam (Random House-Times Books, 1998, Times Books softcover, 1999)
- Traitors and Heroes (Athenaeum, 1987; Random House softcover, 1988)
- Ready for the Defense (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1971; Avon softcover, 1972, and Carroll & Graf reprint, 1995)
- "Shoot Down, the story of The Cuban Five", expected publication 2017.
- Memoir, expected publication 2017
Appearances in films
- Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech, directed by Liz Garbus
- The American Ruling Class written by Lewis Lapham
- This Film Is Not Yet Rated directed by Kirby Dick discussing the Motion Picture Association film code
- Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth directed by Robert Weide
- The First Amendment Project: No Joking, directed and written by Bob Balaban
- Frankie and Johnny, produced by Paramount, directed by Garry Marshall
- Dear God, Produced by Paramount, directed by Garry Marshall
- "American Masters, Biography of Philip Roth" 2013
- The Guardian, April 16, 1992
- Business Week, April 20, 2007
- Arango, Tim (2 May 2007). "Imus won't go quietly". Fortune. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Reuters, August 2007
- "Super Lawyers" Manhattan Edition, June 2006
- New York magazine, March 20, 1995
- "Martin Garbus". The Nation. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Shprintz, Janet (17 December 2002). "Verdict is for Garbus to move on". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Official website
- biography at NNDB
- Garbus, Martin, "The Damage Done by a ‘Lucky Guy’", New York Times, April 3, 2013.
- Conversation: Peter Matthiessen, PBS, April 2009
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- America’s Invisible Inferno A book review in The New York Review of Books and a related article in The Los Angeles Times.
- It’s Time for President Obama to Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier: An editorial by Martin Garbus in The Nation.And a related article in The New York Review of Books.