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Cleveland, Ohio Civil Rights and First Amendment Lawyer

Sweeney has litigated on behalf of clients in numerous federal court lawsuits alleging violations of a client’s civil and constitutional rights, including under federal civil rights statutes, such as 42 U.S.C. Sections 1981 and 1983, and under anti-discrimination and related statutes, such as Title VII, ADEA, ADA, and FMLA.

Sweeney’s civil rights practice has included lawsuits for violations of civil and constitutional rights arising from discrimination in employment, from arrests, prosecutions, and/or detentions, and in situations where First Amendment freedoms have been threatened or infringed.

Sweeney’s civil rights practice has included his work as counsel for several Ohio death row inmates in challenging Ohio’s lethal injection protocols and procedures as violating their constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, and against cruel and unusual punishments. This work has entailed several multi-day evidentiary hearings in federal district court, has sometimes resulted in court orders granting temporary and/or preliminary injective relief in the client’s favor, and has involved multiple appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals, including the en banc court, addressing the propriety of injunctive relief in this important lethal-injection context. A representative sampling of the reported court decisions from Sweeney’s work in this area include, among others, the following court decisions:

  • Cooey v. Strickland (Biros), 610 F. Supp. 2d 853 (S.D. Ohio 2009).
  • Cooey (Biros) v. Strickland, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122025 (S.D. Ohio Dec. 7, 2009), aff’d, 589 F.3d 210 (6th Cir. Dec. 7, 2009).
  • Ronald Phillips (In re Ohio Execution Protocol Litig.), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159680 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 7, 2013).
  • In re Ohio Exec. Protocol Litig. (Phillips, Tibbetts, Otte), 235 F. Supp. 3d 892 (S.D. Ohio 2017), aff’d sub nom., 853 F.3d 822 (6th Cir. 2017), vacated and rehearing en banc granted, 855 F.3d 702 (6th Cir. 2017).
  • Fears v. Morgan (In re Ohio Execution Protocol), 860 F.3d 881 (6th Cir. 2017) (en banc), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 2238 (2017).

Sweeney’s civil rights practice has also included his work as counsel challenging, on First Amendment and other constitutional grounds, Ohio’s lethal-injection secrecy statute, House Bill 663. That law, enacted in 2014, designates as confidential and privileged, and makes exempt from public disclosure and no longer available via public records laws, whole categories of critically important information about Ohio’s method of conducting lethal injection executions, including any information that could lead to the identification of persons and entities who supply Ohio with the lethal drugs. The new law made disclosures in violation of the statute subject to lawsuits and civil penalties.  The litigation of this First Amendment challenge, which was ultimately unsuccessful, resulted in the following published court decisions:

  • Phillips v. DeWine, 92 F. Supp. 3d 702 (S.D. Ohio 2015)
  • Phillips v. DeWine, 841 F.3d 405 (6th Cir. 2016) (2-1 decision), cert. denied, 138 S. Ct. 301 (2017)

Contact an attorney advocating for you.

Seek the advice of a lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio. The firm looks forward to helping you pursue your civil rights claim before the appropriate Ohio state court or federal district court. Contact the firm at 216-241-5003 or online to schedule a consultation.