231 E. Baltimore Street
Suite 1102
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-244-5444
FAX: 410-934-3208

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

Adnan Syed Updates

December 14, 2017
September 20, 2018 The Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender jointly filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief today in support of Adnan Syed. The brief, authored by Steve Klepper, of Kramon & Graham, is also signed by a group of 16 long-time Maryland criminal defense attorneys. The brief addresses, among other things, the duty of defense counsel to investigate an alibi witness. The brief is available HERE.   September 20, 2018 Today we filed our brief on behalf of Adnan Syed in the Maryland Court of Appeals. To recap, we won a new trial for Adnan more than two years ago. Since that time the State of Maryland has been appealing the ruling granting the new trial. First the State appealed to the Court of Special Appeals (and lost). Now they are appealing to the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in Maryland. The State, as the Appellant, filed the first brief a month ago. Today’s filing is our response. You can read the filing HERE.   July 27, 2018 First, sorry for the lack of updates on this page. We’ve been busy. There are some developments to report in the Syed case. The Court of Appeals of Maryland — the highest court in the state — has agreed to review the decision of the Court of Special Appeals (which upheld the trial court order granting Adnan Syed a new trial). The Court of Appeals will consider both issues that were before the lower courts: the alibi issue and the cell tower issue. When this appeal is completed — probably about a year from now — the state appellate process will be complete. Barring some unusual event, the only place to go after that will be the United States Supreme Court. We are frustrated that this process has dragged on so long. Syed was granted a new trial more than two years ago, yet he remains in jail. But there is nothing we can do about this; it is the system we live in. The good news is that the last stage of the state appellate process should go relatively quickly. A briefing schedule has already been issued (HERE), and it is expected that oral arguments will take place the first week of December.   May 29, 2018 We just filed (today) our Opposition to the State’s Petition for Writ of Certiorari, and our Conditional Cross-Petition. In this filing we do two things. First, we argue that the State’s petition for writ of certiorari should be denied because that State has presented a fact-based issue that is not meritorious of review. In fact, the facts of this case do not even support the State’s “Issue Presented.” Second, if the State wants to appeal the alibi issue (which we won at the Court of Special Appeals), we are suggesting that the Court of Appeals re-consider the cell tower issue (which the Court of Special Appeals denied on waiver grounds).

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.

This is why we fight.

December 31, 2017
I get asked the question all the time. Why do you represent criminal defendants? Sometimes I ask myself. But this is why. I have sat in prison visiting booths with inmates serving life sentences whom I believed were innocent. I have stood side by side with guilty defendants who were better human beings than the people judging them. I have seen men plead guilty to crimes they did not commit – and face very long sentences – only to protect the people they loved. I do this because I understand that people make mistakes. I do this because I understand that more often than not our system is not fair, and probably never will be. I do this because even someone accused of the most atrocious crime needs an attorney who will fight like hell. I think if more people had the chance to see it from my side they would understand. Sometimes I wish prosecutors could spend an hour with each of my clients. They might see that some of them are innocent. They might see that some of them are guilty, but deserve to walk free nonetheless. They might start to understand that prison without rehabilitation is nothing but a waste of money and time. And what I do is not a one-way street. My clients have given back. I’ve had clients who were cheated by the system encourage me that the system can work. I’ve had people in the most desperate of situations show me the path to victory. I’ve had clients go away and come back a better person. So happy new year to all my clients, past and present. Keep up the fight, and we’ll see you next year!

When Finality Trumps Common Sense: Brendan Dassey Denied

December 13, 2017
This week the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the legality of Brendan Dassey’s confession to the 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach, finding that it was voluntary and could be used against him at trial. To many of the millions of people who watched video of the confession in the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer,” the appellate court’s conclusion was incomprehensible. Dassey was 16 years old at the time and it was apparent that he had an intellectual deficit. The police spoon-fed him a confession that he barely seemed to understand; they led, and he unwittingly followed. At one point, Dassey, oblivious to the extent of the trouble he was in, poignantly asked whether he would be home in time to see Wrestlemania. The scene made viewers cringe. Most of us know how all of this played out for Dassey: following his so-called confession, he was arrested, tried and, based almost entirely on what he had told police, he was convicted of murder. Now that the Seventh Circuit has rejected his claim, by a 4-3 vote, it would take the improbable intervention of the Supreme Court to grant him any relief. So how could the court system uphold Dassey’s conviction and affirm his sentence of life in prison? The answer lies in a powerful tenet of criminal law that is as much to blame as anything else for wrongful convictions. Our criminal justice system values “finality” above virtually all else. It is enumerated in our statutes and embedded in our Supreme Court jurisprudence. As the argument goes, litigation cannot drag on forever, and, for the sake of judicial economy, our system needs to reach a conclusion. Judges, juries, victims and even defendants need to put the past behind them, according to the principle of finality, and only then does society reap the benefits of closure. Yet, this notion of finality has very real dangers – and these dangers are played out in courts all around the country. Overly strict adherence to the tenet of finality can mean that preservation of convictions takes precedence over ascertaining the truth. When this powerful legal principle is put in the hands of aggressive prosecutors, with receptive judges, it can act as a trump card more compelling than even the most egregious constitutional violation. Making matters worse, most inmates are poor and distrusted, making it even more unlikely that they can mount the type of legal challenge that can overcome a settled conviction. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) – the statute under which Dassey petitioned the federal courts for relief – is partially to blame. The law erects so many obstacles in the name of finality that even an innocent petitioner is unlikely to be granted relief. In fact, while actual innocence can help an inmate clear some of ADEPA’s procedural hurdles, it does not in and of itself entitle a petitioner to relief. The legal system’s deference to finality is particularly troubling as we increasingly become aware of