1 N. Charles St., Suite 1301
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 410-244-5444
FAX: 410-934-3208
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Our Story

Brown Law was formed with a fundamental goal: to provide high-end legal counsel with integrity. We are driven by the understanding that many of our clients face life-altering challenges. We thrive when the stakes are highest. Because of our past success, we are confident that we can deliver for you.

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“Mr. Brown saved my life. I owe him everything.”

B.P. (former client),

“We owe C. Justin Brown such a debt of gratitude and there is nothing I can write… that will do justice to how my family and I feel about him and the job he did in representing my brother in a recent criminal defense case.”

J.N. (former client),

“This firm is extremely good at what it does and offers an excellent professional relationship with clients by making them feel at ease even in the most dire situations. The firm rose high above my expectations…”

B.P. (former client),

“I highly recommend this firm . They put in the hard work it takes to win. They really see you as a person not just another client… They keep you well informed and explains everything clearly and listen.

P.W. (former client),

Recent blog posts

Lloyd Hall is Free after 34 years

July 14, 2018
(Photo by Alan Chin)   A Montgomery County Circuit Judge ordered Lloyd Hall to be released from prison on Thursday – immediately – vacating a life-without-parole sentence and ending an injustice that had persisted for 34 years. Hall walked out of the courthouse in a new black suit around 1:15 p.m., and was greeted by a cheering crowd of family and supporters. Hall had been convicted in 1984 for burglary and related offenses. Because he had three prior convictions for burglary and housebreaking, he was sentenced to mandatory life in prison under Maryland’s “three strikes” law. The law considered Hall to be a violent re-offender – even though none of his predicate convictions encompassed any acts of violence. Rather, Hall had struggled with drug abuse and had committed a string of petty offenses to support his habit. At the age of 29, Hall was condemned to live out the remaining days of his life in prison. In a cruel twist that made his fate even more difficult to accept, Maryland soon thereafter changed the law that classified Hall as a violent offender. After Hall’s sentence was imposed, the Legislature changed the “three strikes” rule so that Hall’s predicates were no longer considered crimes of violence. But, for Hall it was too late. He had no way to get back into court. Many years later, Hall came to us seeking help. He was supported by the tireless advocacy of his sister, Carolyn Williams, who had pledged to him many years ago that he would not die in prison. After research and investigation, we filed a post-conviction petition raising a single issue: that Hall’s trial counsel, back in 1987, had been constitutionally ineffective for failing to file a motion seeking a modification of Hall’s sentence. If trial counsel had filed that routine motion, we argued, Hall would have been able to get back into court and obtain a new sentence in light of the changed law. Rather than confront the State with our petition in open court, we decided to negotiate with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, and persuade them that relief was merited. Hall had been a model prisoner, he had a supportive family, and he had developed a detailed plan for what he would do upon release. After extensive negotiation and vetting, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney – to his credit – agreed with us that Hall should be granted the relief we were seeking: his immediate release from prison. The final step was to convince the court to honor our bargain. On July 12, 2018, we appeared before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin and presented our arguments. In an hour-long hearing in a packed courtroom, Judge Rubin heard from witnesses, including forensic social worker Rebecca Bowman-Rivas, considered the appropriate law, and issued his order. “I order you released, forthwith,” Judge Rubin said.

NOT GUILTY: Brown Law Wins Federal Jury Trial

January 12, 2020
Jury trials are very rare in the federal system. Acquittals are even rarer. Despite the overwhelming odds, C. Justin Brown and Lylian Romero won a hard fought “not guilty” verdict last week, vindicating their client in United States v. Johnson, CCB-19-22. Johnson was charged with federal witness retaliation, and prosecutors aggressively pursued the case. Johnson maintained his innocence from the outset. A four-day jury trial ensued in the United States District Court for Maryland, with Judge Catherine Blake presiding. Prosecutors attempted to focus the trial on prior bad acts that Johnson had committed earlier in his life, but the defense was able to fight off much of this evidence in pretrial motions litigation. Once the jury was seated, prosecutors tried to hang their case on the testimony of two cooperating witnesses, both of whom claimed that Johnson had confessed to them. The jailhouse cooperators were promised reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony. The Government proceeded in this manner despite the fact that jailhouse informants are among the least reliable witnesses. In fact, one of the Government’s cooperating witnesses had testified against two other defendants in unrelated cases, and both of those cases resulted in acquittals. (The judge, however, found that this fact was irrelevant and did not allow it into evidence in Johnson’s case). Brown and Romero defended the case by attacking the credibility of the cooperators, pointing out weaknesses in the Government’s investigation, and articulating a counter-narrative – telling the Jury what really happened. Mr. Johnson testified credibly in his own defense. After hearing all the evidence, the Jury deliberated over the course of two days. On January 10, 2020, they reached a decision and passed a note to the Judge. The courtroom deputy asked the Jury for its verdict as to count one of the indictment, and the Jury Foreman solemnly stated “Not Guilty.” While we will never know how and why the Jury reached its decision, it would appear that the Jury wisely rejected the testimony of the Government’s cooperating witnesses and sided with the more credible testimony of Mr. Johnson and other defense witnesses. *** So how hard is it to win a federal jury trial? In the most recent statistics, from 2018, less than 1 percent of federal defendants won at trial. According to the Pew Research Center, there were only 320 acquittals nationwide out of some 80,000 federal cases. This represents a fundamental flaw in our criminal justice system. The laws and rules have become so favorable to the Government that the notion of a “fair” trial is questionable. Federal judges penalize defendants so severely for going to trial that the risk often becomes untenable. Meanwhile, prosecutors, who have all the resources in the world, take advantage of this dynamic, and threaten recalcitrant defendants with sentencing enhancements and additional charges if they exercise their constitutional right to a trial. The result is that most defendants – even those who are innocent – decide to cut their losses and accept a guilty plea on

Firm Seeks Justice for Man Who Was Shot by Police and Left to Die

October 19, 2019
In the afternoon of April 15, 2008, Charles Atkins, a 26-year-old black man, was walking down a Baltimore street, about to meet a friend. Two plain-clothes police officers happened to be in the neighborhood, and they spotted Atkins walking by. They became interested in him because, they claimed, Atkins was walking in a manner that suggested he was carrying a gun. The police decided to confront him. After Atkins got into a car driven by his friend, the officers pulled their unmarked car in front of the vehicle, cutting it off. The first officer – wearing jeans and a t-shirt – exited the unmarked police car with his gun drawn. Unsure of what was going on and in a state of panic, Atkins’ friend threw the car in reverse and attempted to drive away backwards. The unmarked police vehicle followed. When the car stalled in the intersection, the first officer approached the passenger side of the vehicle – where Atkins was seated – and attempted to break the window with what appeared to be a gun. Fearing for his life, Atkins opened the passenger door to flee. A struggle ensued. At some point, a gun went off, and Atkins ran toward his home, just up the block. As he did, the officers opened fire at him, and Atkins allegedly shot back. The evidence showed that one officer emptied his 14-round magazine, and the other fired nine rounds. Four cartridges were found near where Atkins had been standing. One officer was shot in the leg, in a downward trajectory, suggesting he may have shot himself. Atkins, meanwhile, was shot in the back and shoulder. As Atkins limped home, he allegedly tossed a gun into the grassy area on the west side of his house. Backup units responded and surrounded the home. Two officers entered and, as Atkins retreated out the opposite door, he held his hands high to surrender. The officers waiting for Atkins near the door responded by opening fire, riddling Atkins’ body with bullets. Officers later claimed that Atkins had a gun, however, this was not true, as the only gun associated with Atkins was recovered in the grassy area on the other side of the house, where he had allegedly tossed it earlier (no additional weapon was recovered). During this second round of police shooting – in what appeared to be an effort to kill Atkins – police fired a total of 11 shots at the unarmed man. Atkins crumbled to the ground, face down. When officers demanded he show his hands, he was unresponsive, as he had been shot in the chest, abdomen, both legs, arm, shoulder, and lower back. The officers then tazed him as he laid limp on the ground. Atkins was so badly injured that the police thought he was dead. Instead of giving him immediate medical attention, they covered his body with a white sheet. Only later did an ambulance arrive and transport Atkins to Shock Trauma, where he miraculously survived. Atkins was

Tainted Baltimore Cops – Know Your Rights

October 4, 2019
Prosecutors in Baltimore City have started to ask the courts to throw out old convictions that relied on dirty police officers. Starting on October 1, 2019, prosecutors began undoing 790 convictions that they believe are no longer valid. If the courts agree to vacate these convictions, judges will set aside original verdicts, essentially treating convictions as if they never happened. Individuals with cases involving these police officers should be aware of this process and how it may affect them. The officers are: Thomas Allers, John Clewell, Tariq Edwards, Jason Giordano, Keith Gladstone, Momodu Gondo, Robert Hankard, Evodio Hendrix, Daniel Hersl, Kenneth Ivery, Wayne Jenkins, Jemell Rayam, Matthew Ryckman, Sean Suiter, Michael Sylvester, Marcus Taylor, Carmine Vignola, and Maurice Ward. This list includes the eight officers convicted in the Gun Trace Task Force scandal. The Gun Trace Task Force scandal involved officers convicted on federal racketeering charges for numerous offenses, including robbing people, conducting illegal searches, lying on court documents to justify arrests, and planting evidence. Also included in the list are three officers who are still working with the Baltimore City Police Department: Robert Hankard, Kenneth Ivery, and Jason Giordano. Only Hankard has been suspended and is not currently working. In fact, Sgt. Ivery’s cases continue to be indicted by prosecutors as recently as October 1, 2019. Individuals with pending cases (or old convictions) involving any of these newly named officers should contact an attorney to determine whether they are entitled to any relief. There are two important things to keep in mind. First, while a case may have involved one of these officers, that does not guarantee that the prosecutor will move to have the conviction vacated. Thus it is suggested that anyone affected by these officers contact an attorney to review their file. Second, this move by the prosecutor’s office could also lead to potential civil cases. For civil cases, it is important to be aware that there is a filing deadline once information about a wrongful conviction comes to light. For those who believe they are entitled to a civil remedy, they should reach out to an attorney to ensure that their rights are preserved. –Carolyn Schorr

Firm Wins Post-Conviction, Reverses Murder Conviction

September 4, 2019
Brown Law won another Maryland post-conviction proceeding recently, reversing a murder conviction and winning a new trial for Mohammad Biglari, a man who has maintained his innocence for the past 27 years. This marks the seventh time the Firm has obtained an order reversing a life sentence. The Opinion can be uploaded HERE. The Baltimore City Circuit Court’s ruling granting post-conviction relief was based on ineffective assistance of trial counsel that occurred in 1994. Trial counsel at the time made an inexplicable error by not using a police report to impeach the lead investigating detective when he testified at trial. The police report memorialized the victim’s complaint that her ex-husband had previously assaulted and threatened to kill her. This established the ex-husband as strong alternative suspect. Yet, the Jury never heard this information – because trial counsel never brought it up. Instead, Biglari was convicted on weak, circumstantial evidence. Biglari, meanwhile, steadfastly asserted his innocence, and, after his first conviction was reversed on other grounds, he was tried a second and, eventually, a third time. At the third trial, new defense counsel attempted to suggest the same alternative suspect who was never brought up in the first case. Counsel attempted to do so by introducing the exculpatory contents of the police report, but he could not do so because the investigating detective had died. Without the detective, there was no viable way to introduce the evidence to the Jury, and trial counsel’s hands were tied. Biglari was then convicted a third time. The post-conviction court in its recent opinion ruled that the ineffectiveness of the first trial counsel, from 1994, could be transferred to the third trial because the deceased police detective’s testimony had been read to the Jury in the third trial. Thus, the third trial had been infected by the errors from the first trial, and Mr. Biglari had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel. The Baltimore City Circuit Court vacated Biglari’s conviction and ordered a new trial. The argument that won the post-conviction is likely the first of its kind.