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We are pleased to announce that five of our attorneys have been selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers List. We would also like to congratulate five of our attorneys for being selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Rising Stars list.

Super Lawyers rates outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. Only up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named to the Super Lawyers list, and no more than 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list.

Please join us in congratulating the following attorneys who have been selected as “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars” this year.

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We are pleased to announce that our named partners and of-counsel attorneys have been listed in the 23rd edition of Best Lawyers of America. Norman Zalkind, who has been listed in Best Lawyers for 23 consecutive years, is recognized for his practice in criminal defense, as well as white-collar criminal defense. David Duncan is also listed for both white-collar and non-white-collar criminal defense, and Inga Bernstein is listed for non-white-collar criminal defense and employment law. Harvey Silverglate and Elizabeth Lunt, who are of-counsel at the firm, are also listed for their work in criminal defense, both white collar and non-white collar.

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In an August 20, 2014 article for Forbes Attorney Harvey Silverglate, who is of counsel to Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein, argues against increasingly intrusive federal indictments of state politicians, which occurs absent fair notice to state officials that their commonly accepted (or at least long-tolerated) actions are considered crimes carrying multi-decade prison sentences. Mr. Silverglate argues that the recent rash of prosecutions against state officials in Massachusetts, Virginia, Illinois and elsewhere, on the basis of prosecutors’ broad readings of vague federal anti-fraud statutes, calls for the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court to stem prosecutorial overreach. The article, which explores themes also discussed in Mr. Silverglate’s book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent [Encounter Books, 2nd edition 2011] can be read here.

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On July 11, 2016, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment against Kathleen Burns, a former employee of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who suffered gender discrimination and a hostile work environment at the hands of a male supervisor who wielded a baseball bat in every interaction with her and ultimately stripped her of her main responsibilities.  ZDB attorney Monica Shah authored an amicus brief on behalf of MELA arguing that the lower court erred by requiring direct evidence of discrimination, disregarding substantial circumstantial evidence of discrimination (including stereotypical beliefs about a female employee’s role in positions of leadership and authority), and ratcheting up the standard for a hostile work environment claim.  Acknowledging MELA’s assistance to the Court, the First Circuit concluded that the lower court erred in these ways and that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence for a reasonable jury to find in Ms. Burns’ favor on both claims.  The Court’s decision and MELA’s amicus brief can be found here.

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In June 2016, Norman Zalkind and David Russcol advocated for a client accused of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Our client was accused of causing serious injuries to the alleged victim. The prosecution requested that he be found guilty of all charges, including two felonies. Over the prosecutor’s objection, the Court accepted our request that the case be continued without a finding. Our client was placed on unsupervised probation, and the charges against him will be dismissed in 2017.

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In April 2016, Emma Quinn-Judge spoke about the relative success of retaliation claims as compared to discrimination claims as part of a National Employment Lawyers Association seminar entitled “Reining in Retaliation & Winning Whistleblower Cases.”

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Emma Quinn-Judge and Monica Shah recently filed an amicus brief on behalf of three national voices on criminal justice reform – The Constitution Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers – in Commonwealth v. Laltaprasad, a case which will be argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on April 5, 2016. The case involves the question of whether Massachusetts’ law contains a safety valve allowing a criminal defendant relief from harsh mandatory minimum penalties in cases involving mitigating circumstances.  In the brief, amici provide context to the Massachusetts law by explaining that a national consensus has emerged that strict mandatory minimum sentencing schemes fail to effectuate the basic purposes of sentencing, and that, as a result, the federal government and at least twenty-nine states have statutes that provide judicial discretion to depart below certain mandatory minimum sentences.

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Monica Shah authors amicus brief on behalf of the Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association in Burns v. Johnson, a case involving gender discrimination and hostile work environment claims pending before the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.  The plaintiff – a longtime employee with Department of Homeland Security and a mother of five children who worked an alternative schedule due to her childcare obligations – was almost immediately stripped of her responsibilities when a new male supervisor took over, singled her out and questioned her work schedule, and reassigned her main duties to a group of male employees to promote their “leadership” skills.  He further asserted his authority over her by wielding a baseball bat in every interaction he had with her.  MELA’s brief addresses the district court’s failure to consider the circumstantial evidence of gender-based discrimination and harassment against the plaintiff, including unconscious bias about women in leadership roles and gender stereotypes, and urges the Court of Appeals to vacate and reverse the district court’s decision to dismiss all of plaintiff’s claims.

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On February 10, 2016, Inga Bernstein and Monica Shah had the pleasure of volunteering at the Cradles to Crayons’ Presidents’ Day Celebration of Service event.  Cradles to Crayons is a not-for-profit organization that works to provide essential items to low-income children, including clothing, school supplies and toys.  Monica has served on the Board of C2C since 2015. If you’d like more information about this terrific organization and opportunities to donate and get involved, visit the C2C website.

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