Nick Brustin / Partner
Nick has more than 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer in high-stakes civil rights, discrimination, and other catastrophic injury cases. He has obtained several of the largest verdicts and settlements ever awarded in police misconduct cases, as well as substantial injunctive relief in police departments nationwide.
Most recently, in April 2018, Nick, along with co-lead counsel Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, obtained a $10 million jury verdict on behalf of Jamal Trulove in Oakland, California against two San Francisco Police Department officers who deliberately fabricated evidence and failed to disclose material exculpatory or impeachment evidence, causing him to spend 6 ½ years imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. Nick’s trial wins also include the two largest jury verdicts in wrongful conviction cases in U.S. history. In October 2014, Nick led the trial team that proved a Senior Investigator in the Sheriff’s Office of Putnam County, New York had coerced a confession from then-16-year-old Jeffrey Deskovic and fabricated evidence to bolster that confession, causing Mr. Deskovic to spend over sixteen years in prison for the rape and murder of a classmate he had nothing to do with. And in spring 2014, Nick proved that police in Nassau County, New York had fabricated evidence causing John Restivo and Dennis Halstead to spend 18 years in prison each for a rape and murder they did not commit. Other notable wins include a multi-million dollar verdict on behalf of Larry Mayes, who spent more than 18 years in prison for rape before DNA testing proved his innocence. There, Nick proved not only that the individual officers were responsible for causing Mayes’s wrongful conviction, but also that the City of Hammond, Indiana itself had caused Mayes’s wrongful conviction by failing to train and supervise its police officers. In addition, in 2011, Nick secured a $2.2 million jury award—the first ever in New Jersey for § 1983 loss of life damages—for the family of unarmed Native American man who was shot and killed by a New Jersey State Park Police officer.
Nick also has obtained several of the largest individual police-misconduct settlements ever paid to individual defendants. For example, in 2016, Nick obtained a $16.7 million settlement against Los Angeles Police Department detectives on behalf of NSB client Kash Register, who spent 34 years wrongly imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. That same year, Nick also secured a $16.5 million settlement in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for the estates of three African-American men coerced into falsely confessing to the 1979 rape and murder of a white woman. And in 2015, he negotiated a $16.65 million settlement for the 28-year wrongful imprisonment of NSB client Donald Gates, after winning a liability verdict at trial against police officers in the District of Columbia.
Nick has taught litigation skills as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law, was selected as a 2011 Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School, and has lectured on civil rights issues, including at the annual NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Civil Rights Conference and various civil rights continuing education seminars around the country. Before going into private practice, Nick was an Honors Program Trial Attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.
- Fordham University School of Law, J.D.
- Harvard Graduate School of Education, M. Ed.
- Brown University, A.B.
- Selected Recent Honors & Awards
- New York Super Lawyer, Civil Rights/First Amendment Litigation (multiple years)
- Benchmark Plaintiff “Litigation Star” 2013
- Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School, 2011
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