Dan McFadden


Managing Attorney





Dan McFadden joined the ACLU of Massachusetts in 2018. He has extensive experience litigating a broad range of civil rights and civil liberties issues, including in the areas of immigrants’ rights, criminal legal reform, and government transparency.

Prior to joining the ACLU of Massachusetts, Dan worked for nearly seven years as a litigation attorney in private practice. He also served for two years as a law clerk to the Hon. Mark L. Wolf of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Dan is a graduate of Boston College Law School and Cornell University. He is also a veteran, having served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy from 2001 to 2006, principally aboard the USS Lake Erie (CG-70).

Dan served as the Co-Chair of the Boston Bar Association’s Section on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties from 2020 to 2022. His work as an attorney has been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (Up & Coming Lawyer, 2019), the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (Pro Bono Mentor Award, 2018), the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (President’s Award, 2013), and Super Lawyers Magazine (Rising Star, 2016 & 2017). 

Dan’s representative civil rights matters include:

  • Represented detained immigrants in class action that reversed 20-year-old policy of requiring immigration detainees to bear the burden of proof in immigration detention hearings. Secured class wide summary judgment on behalf of over 100 people currently in detention, and potentially thousands of class members detained in the future. Argued  appeal, resulting in decision that affirmed the burden-shifting declaration for the class. Pereira Brito v. Barr, 19-11314 (D. Mass.), summary and materials available here.
  • Represented detained immigrant in suit to require ICE and its custodians to remedy persistent failure to provide detained immigrants with access to Massachusetts courts. Case resolved when ICE and its custodians transported client to court, where he was acquitted on all charges, resulting in release from immigration detention. Subsequently negotiated agreement with relevant state actors that will permit ICE detainees in Massachusetts to have access to state courts.  Ramirez v. Tompkins, C.A. No. 18-12452 (D. Mass.), summary and materials available here.
  • Represented detained immigrant in lawsuit challenging denial of U Visa certification, after the detainee became the victim of a crime while in custody. Secured judicial decision vacating the detention facility’s denial of the U Visa certification. Believed to be the first ruling of its kind in the United States. Acosta-Granados v. Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department.
  • Representing estate of Madelyn Linsenmeir, who died in custody, in a wrongful death suit against the City of Springfield and the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department. Linsenmeir v. City of Springfield, 1879CV00872 (Mass. Super.) & O’Neill v. City of Springfield, et al., C.A. No. 20-30036 (D. Mass.), summary and materials available here.
  • Member of team representing criminal defendant in federal civil rights action to require House of Correction to provide medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder during period of incarceration. Secured preliminary injunction ruling that required that MAT be made available, on grounds that denial of MAT would likely violate 8th Amendment and Americans with Disabilities Act. Believed to be first ruling of its kind in the United States. Pesce v. Coppinger, C.A. No. 18-11972, 2018 WL 6171881 (D. Mass. Nov. 26, 2018), summary and materials available here.
  • Represented ACLU of Massachusetts in multiple Freedom of Information Act litigations. Challenged unlawful withholding of prepared remarks delivered by ICE leadership to the National Sheriffs’ Association, resulting in summary judgment ruling requiring disclosure of talking points, drafts, and related records. ACLU of Massachusetts v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 448 F. Supp. 3d 27 (D. Mass. 2020). Brought suits resulting in disclosure that former President Trump fabricated the existence of a 115-mile border wall contract announced via tweet in December 2018, ACLU of Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, 19-10291-WGY (D. Mass.), and that former President Trump alleged the existence of a declassification standing order that could not be located by the Director of National Intelligence and various intelligence agencies. ACLU of Massachusetts v. CIA, et al., 2023 WL 3394485 (D. Mass.).  
  • Represented immigrant denied lawful permanent residency based on false allegations of criminal history and gang membership in federal civil rights action, resulting in adjustment proceeding being reopened and grant of permanent residency. Doe v. Cuccinelli, C.A. No. 20-10328 (D. Mass.).
  • Represented civil detainees seeking release due to unsafe detention conditions arising from COVID-19 pandemic, including two cases by individual petitioners and a separate class action.  In the class action, the unit at issue was ultimately 90% depopulated, including approximately 40 releases. Quadrelli v. Moniz, No. 20-10685-ADB, 2020 WL 3051778 (D. Mass. June 8, 2020), summary and materials available here.
  • Represented immigrant detained by ICE for three months due to motor vehicle misdemeanor charge. Secured temporary restraining order requiring ICE to permit client to be transported to state court to address the charge. Successfully advocated for ruling that constitutional due process principles require shifting burden of proof in immigration bond proceedings from alien to government, resulting in client’s release. Pensamiento v. McDonald, 315 F. Supp. 3d 684 (D. Mass. 2018).
  • Represented immigrant arrested by ICE while pursuing permanent residency at USCIS interview. Following oral argument on motion for temporary restraining order, secured favorable settlement resulting in release of client pending adjudication of residency application.
  • Member of team representing transgender military service members challenging President Trump’s ban on military service by transgender people, resulting in preliminary injunction that temporarily prevented implementation of that ban. Doe v. Trump, 275 F. Supp. 3d 167 (D.D.C. 2017).
  • Member of team representing Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council in preparation and submission of briefs amicus curiae in opposition to the President Trump’s Travel Ban, including in the Supreme Court and several courts of appeal. Brief was cited in both dissents to the Supreme Court opinion. Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S. Ct. 2392, 2431, 2446 n.12 (2018) (Breyer, J. and Sotomayor, J., dissenting).
  • Represented the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in successful litigation to unseal filings made in action alleging misconduct in administration of federal life insurance program for military service members, including under common law and First Amendment rights of access.  In Re: Prudential Insurance Company of America SGLI/VGLI Contract Litigation, C.A. No. 11-02208-MAP (D. Mass.).
  • Worked with ACLUM to successfully advocate for ruling that “Dookhan defendants” could not be exposed to harsher punishment as the result of successful challenges to their tainted convictions. Bridgeman v. District Attorney, 471 Mass. 465 (2015).
  • Protected judicial independence as member of team defending judge accused of misconduct by district attorney. Successfully advocated for recognition of a privilege protecting the confidentiality of judicial deliberations, the first new common law privilege recognized in Massachusetts since 1889. In re Enforcement of a Subpoena, 463 Mass. 162 (2012).