The Kaplan Law Firm
Case Notes Blog
The Kaplan Law Firm Files Second Appeal in Important First Amendment Matter
9/28/2016 10:53:57 PM

I represent a client who was found in 2014 to have committed the crime of stalking because he truthfully told others that another person had had an affair with his wife.  Although what my client said may have embarrassed his wife’s affair partner, nothing he said could be construed as doing anything more than causing embarrassment—certainly, nothing he said constituted a threat or anything that could even be remotely interpreted as a threat.  Nevertheless, the individual named by my client was unhappy and sought court intervention to prevent my client from making further truthful but embarrassing statements about what had happened.  According to the District of Columbia Superior Court, the trial court in this case, my client’s statements were not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution’s guarantee of the freedom of speech because they were not about government, politics or other matters of public interest.  Because my client’s conduct was, according to the trial court, criminal and unprotected by the First Amendment, the trial court issued a Civil Protection Order (“CPO”) against my client and ordered him to pay damages.  We think that the trial court’s actions violated my client’ First Amendment rights and recently appealed this case to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Further Briefing in Important Fourth Circuit Civil Rights Case—Villa v. CavaMezze Grill
8/25/2016 4:01:22 PM

Opposing counsel in the Villa v. CavaMezze Grill case has filed their brief in opposition to our appeal in this Title VII case, which is currently pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and I have filed The Kaplan Law Firm’s reply brief in further opposition to the arguments made by Cava.  As I have written before, my client in this case, Patricia Villa, was fired for reporting that she had been told by another employee that that employee had been the target of sexual harassment by one of the Defendants’ managers.  The Defendants then fired my client because they believed that she was making up the allegation of sexual abuse.  In fact, her report was truthful. 
Amicus Briefs Filed in Title VII Sex Discrimination/Retaliation Case
7/28/2016 5:14:56 PM

The case I mentioned in my June 30 post, Villa v. Cavamezze Grill LLC, is moving forward.  The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers’ Association (MWELA) have filed Amicus briefs supporting my clients’ position.

Appeal Filed in Important Title VII Sex Discrimination/Retaliation Case
7/1/2016 12:18:03 AM

I recently filed a brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of my client, who was fired from her job as a first line manager at a District of Columbia area restaurant chain for telling top company management that one of her subordinates at the company had reported to her that she had been offered a raise by a senior manager in exchange for sex.  In my view this case has substantial implications for the effective enforcement of federal statutes that bar discrimination based on race, sex or national origin.  The case is Villa v. Cavamezze Grill LLC, No. 15-2543.
Success in the D.C. Court of Appeals
3/7/2016 4:30:42 PM

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has issued a decision in favor of my client on a case involving important First Amendment issues. 
Brief in First Amendment Case Filed
8/3/2015 6:15:28 PM

I have filed an appellate brief in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on behalf of my client in what I believe is an important free speech case.  The case deals with the extent that the District’s anti-stalking law can be used to restrict speech and raises important First Amendment issues. 
Successful Motion to Reverse Criminal Conviction Under D.C.’s Innocence Protection Act
6/29/2015 9:04:25 PM
I recently prevailed in a motion to have a client’s felony conviction reversed on grounds of actual innocence under the District of Columbia’s Innocence Protection Act (D.C. Code § 22–4135). 
Appellate Case Challenges Constitutionality of the District of Columbia’s Anti-Stalking Law
6/24/2015 9:22:28 PM

I currently represent a client (let’s call him “Client”) in an interesting First Amendment case pending before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. 

Matthew Kaplan Appointed to CJA Appeals Panel
4/23/2015 3:36:40 PM

I am pleased that I have been appointed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to its Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel.  As an appellate CJA attorney I will represent indigent individuals who have been criminally convicted in federal courts. 

Arguing Before the D.C. Court of Appeals – Eyewitness Identification
11/9/2014 2:44:57 PM

On November 4 I appeared on behalf of my client at an oral argument before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is D.C.’s equivalent of a state supreme court.  At issue was exclusion of expert testimony about the accuracy of witness identification.

Overtime Collective Action Certified in Maryland
5/14/2014 11:21:32 PM

Working closely with the excellent attorneys at The Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and acting on behalf of two of my clients, I recently succeeded in having the United States District Court for the District of Maryland certify a collective action in a case which accuses a company and its managers of failing to pay overtime pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

Super Lawyers Honors Matthew B Kaplan a DC "Rising Star"
4/29/2014 2:28:18 PM

I have been selected to the 2014 Washington DC Rising Stars list of distinguished attorneys by Super Lawyers Magazine. 

Joining the Maryland Bar
5/6/2013 6:26:35 PM

I just learned that I passed the Maryland “Attorneys’ Bar,” which is obviously good news.  The Attorney’s Bar is a shortened bar exam that Maryland offers attorneys who have been practicing more than five years.  I am glad to have that behind me—it has been almost ten years since I have taken a test that was graded.  As soon as I am sworn in to the Maryland Bar I will be licensed to practice in the three DC area jurisdictions:  DC, Maryland and Virginia.  That will allow me to better serve my clients, especially those with claims arising in Maryland.
New Employment Law and Defamation Case
4/1/2013 12:00:08 AM

I currently represent the former senior official the Alexandria (Virginia) City Public Schools (“ACPS”) in an employment law lawsuit against ACPS.  The lawsuit alleges that my client was discriminated against based on his race and national origin and that he was fired from his job when, in compliance with the school system’s own procedures, he filed an internal complaint about this discrimination.  It is, of course, entirely illegal to fire an employee for making a good faith effort to seek the protections against discrimination which are guaranteed by law and by the Fourteenth Amended to the Constitution.  The lawsuit also alleges that ACPS’ superintendent subsequently defamed my client by making false statements about the reason for my client’s departure from ACPS.

Rising Star
2/28/2013 9:53:10 PM
I recently learned that  Super Lawyers magazine had put me on its 2013 list of Virginia attorneys who the magazine has identified as "Rising Stars."  Not much to say about that, except that I am obviously pleased to receive that designation.

Virginia Court of Appeals Agrees to Review Important Decision on Constitutional Rights
10/23/2012 7:10:56 PM

The Virginia Court of Appeals today granted a petition that I filed on behalf of my client, Felecia Amos, asking for a rehearing en banc of the Court’s decision in the Amos v. Commonwealth case.  The Court of Appeals’ initial ruling in the case, which was issued in August by a three judge panel of the Court before Ms. Amos hired me to represent her, upheld an Arlington County Circuit Court judge’s order sentencing Ms. Amos to ten days in jail for supposedly lying about her husband’s violations of a protective order.  The Circuit Court judge convicted and sentenced Ms. Amos for criminal contempt of court, but he denied her the most basic due process—Ms. Amos was not charged with a crime before she was convicted, she was not allowed to have an attorney and she was given no opportunity to present any evidence or even to saying anything in her defense.  In the petition that I filed I argued that this denial of Ms. Amos’ due process rights was a clear violation of the United States Constitution. 
New DC Superior Court Debt Collection Practice Ignores the Law
9/30/2012 2:49:02 PM

In litigating throughout the country over the last decade, I have found that courts and court clerks sometimes impose their own practices on litigants, practices not supported by, and sometimes directly in conflict with, relevant law, including the court’s own formal rules.  A new procedure recently adopted by the DC Superior Court clerk’s office is a good example—the procedure reduces the clerk’s workload, but it violates the law. 
Due Process in Virginia: Amos v. Commonwealth
8/22/2012 3:02:25 AM
Think you have the right to basic due process—such as the right to have an attorney, the right to have notice of the charges against you, the right to gather evidence in your favor and to speak in your defense—before you can be convicted of a crime?  Not in Virginia, at least according to Amos v. Commonwealth, issued earlier this month by the Virginia Court of Appeals. 
Virginia Class Actions
8/16/2012 8:49:53 PM

I am often contacted by potential clients and fellow attorneys about pursuing possible class actions in Virginia.  Most are unaware of a unique hurdle for potential Virginia class action plaintiffs: Virginia’s prohibition on class actions in state court.  Class actions are, however, permitted in Virginia’s federal courts.
Problems With the DC Courts' Website
7/18/2012 2:21:36 AM

For some inexplicable reason the DC courts’ website ( is not properly indexed by Google or Bing. Although searches related to the DC courts will pull up hits on both Bing and Google that point to specific web pages on the DC courts’ website, these hits usually point to pages on the court system’s old website, a site that has not existed for years.
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