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This afternoon the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal from our client’s cases, Obergefell v. Hodges and Henry v. Hodges. The Supreme Court has set a briefing schedule that should allow them to rule before the end of their term in June. We are hopeful the Supreme Court will rule that Ohio must recognize out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

“This is a great day for our courageous clients and we are excited to carry their cause to the highest court in the land,” said Al Gerhardstein, lead attorney for the Plaintiffs in both cases.

The joint filing covers two lawsuits filed by Gerhardstein & Branch: Henry v. Hodges, joined by Lambda Legal, seeking to compel the State of Ohio to recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples and issue accurate birth certificates, and Obergefell v. Hodges, joined by the ACLU, seeking to order the State to issue accurate death certificates to married same-sex couples.  James D. Esseks, Chase B. Strangio, and Steven R. Shapiro, of the ACLU, and Susan Sommer, Paul Castillo and M. Currey Cook, of Lambda Legal join Al Gerhardstein, Jennifer Branch, Jaci Gonzales Martin, and Adam Gerhardstein of Gerhardstein & Branch, and Ellen Essig and Lisa Meeks of Cincinnati as counsel for the petitioners.


Cleveland, Ohio, January 13, 2015.  Federal Judge Lesley Wells has ruled that the City of Cleveland and several police officers must stand trial for the death of Rodney Brown.  He was stopped on New Year’s Eve 2010.  Officers pushed him on to the back of his car while questioning him and then tased and wrestled with him.  When he complained that he could not breathe an officer stated, “Who gives a f***.”  Brown was placed in a police zone car where he stopped breathing altogether.  When EMS finally arrived he was dead.  Al Gerhardstein is representing Mr. Brown along with attorney David Malik of Cleveland. No trial date has been set.


Al Gerhardstein was invited to submit testimony to President Obama’s Task Force to Strengthen Public Trust, Improve Police Accountability, and Improve Public Safety.  Drawing on his 38 years of experience of suing police officers and his efforts to reform the Cincinnati Police Department, he suggested concrete changes to police practices and the law that you can read here.


Celina, Ohio. On January 5, 2015, the family of Robert Hensley and the City of Celina jointly released the following statement:

The City of Celina has resolved the lawsuit brought by the family of Robert Hensley, who was shot by a former Celina police officer on April 10, 2013.  The officer was investigating a report that Mr. Hensley was improperly displaying a handgun in public.  The gun was later found to be unloaded.  The shooting by the officer was investigated by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, and a special prosecutor was appointed to present the case to a grand jury which did not indict the officer. Mr. Hensley’s family brought a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the City and former officer, alleging that the shooting violated Mr. Hensley’s civil rights.  The City and Mr. Hensley’s family settled the lawsuit last month, and the probate court has now approved the settlement.  In exchange for the family dismissing the lawsuit, the family and their attorneys are receiving $800,000.00.  Neither the City nor the former officer admits liability in the settlement.

In the time since this incident, Celina’s new police chief, Tom Wale, has worked to implement many changes in the Celina Police Department, including changes to the policies regarding use of force.  Celina is also in the process of purchasing and implementing cruiser cameras and body cameras for its police officers.  Police Chief Tom Wale said, “As a police department, we are committed to serving the public and keeping the City of Celina safe.  Like any organization, we always have room to improve.  We believe the City of Celina will be better for it.”

The Hensley family welcomes the changes implemented by Celina and has received a written apology for their loss from the City.  One of the family’s attorneys, Al Gerhardstein, stated, “I commend the City of Celina for responding to the family with sensitivity and transparency.  Our settlement and the reforms underway are good both for the family and the City of Celina.”


Judge Arthur Spiegel died at age 94 on December 31, 2014.  The Cincinnati Enquirer published a column by Al Gerhardstein honoring Judge Spiegel’s many contributions to civil rights in Ohio:

It was shocking. Lou was dashing and exciting. And he had a head wound from a mysterious, secret life. Kathy was his nurse at the hospital. She did not know Lou was an undercover agent working for Hamilton County. Kathy loved the flowers, the sex and then the government-supplied drugs.

Entrapped like several other nurses, she was convicted and then sentenced to prison. Kathy committed suicide on her first day in jail. It was 1981. Judge Arthur Spiegel was new on the federal bench. The legal issues were complicated. Can anyone sue for the death of a person who commits suicide? Is the county liable for the unorthodox actions of an undercover agent? I had little experience. I was a cub lawyer. But I had to try. Kathy’s mom wanted these practices exposed and ended.

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