Bill Newman


Director, Western Massachusetts Legal Office





Bill Newman has worked as director of the Western Regional Law Office of the ACLU of Massachusetts since 1987, and as a practicing criminal defense and civil rights trial and appellate attorney with the law firm of Lesser, Newman & Nasser in Northampton since 1976. He graduated in 1975 from Northeastern University School of Law (co-op jobs with (Norman) Zalkind & (Harvey) Silverglate, The Alaska Public Defenders, and Texas Rural Legal Aid) and graduated in 1972 from Antioch College (co-op jobs with the Vera Institute of Justice and the Urban Law Institute).

Bill has received recognitions including the designation of Massachusetts and New England Super Lawyer; the Boston Bar Association’s President’s Award; the Southern Center for Human Rights Award; the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association Beacon of Justice Award (for his work on the Guantánamo detainee litigation); the Committee for Public Counsel Services Thurgood Marshall Award; and special recognition from Western Massachusetts Legal Services (for 25 years of service on its Board of Directors) and Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty (for achieving post-conviction relief in a capital case in Georgia).
Bill also is a regular columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the author of When the War Came Home, and the author and voice of the Civil Liberties Minute podcasts .
His name appears as counsel in approximately 60 reported and appellate decisions including the following, in which he served as both trial and appellate counsel:

  • Flaherty v. Knapik, 999 F. Supp. 2d 323 (D. Mass 2014) ( vindication of First Amendment rights of home owners);
  • Commonwealth v. Carkhuff, 441 Mass. 122 (2004) (search and seizure based on post 9/11 “Code Orange” warning unconstitutional);
  • Demarest v. Athol-Orange Community Television, 188 F. Supp. 82 (D. Mass. 2002) (First Amendment rights of citizen-producers upheld);
  • Pyle v. School Committee of South Hadley, 423 Mass. 283 (1996), previously reported at 55 F. 3d 20 (1st Cir 1995), 861 F. Supp. 157 (D. Mass 1994) and 824 F. Supp. 7 (D. Mass 1993) (freedom of speech for high school students);
  • Kennedy v. Kennedy, 400 Mass. 272 (1987), previously reported at 20 Mass. App. Ct.559 (1985), 17 Mass. App Ct.,308 (1983) and 10 Mass. App. Ct. (1980) (upholding support rights of children in Massachusetts).
  • Bezio v. Patenaude, 381 Mass. 563 (1980) (the first gay custody case decided by any state’s highest court).

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