Experienced Legal Counsel
The Law Offices of Glen S. Downey specialize in civil asset forfeiture cases, criminal defense and on bringing civil lawsuits on behalf of victims of police brutality, false arrest, wrongful death, and other civil rights violations. We also handle select personal injury matters.
We believe that those who enforce the law should follow the law – and be held accountable when they do not. If you've been a victim of police brutality or police misconduct or otherwise had your constitutional rights violated then contact Glen Downey right now at (412) 865-7110. We are located in the historic Waterbury neighborhood of Des Moines.
Our police brutality and misconduct lawyers file lawsuits to obtain compensation for our clients, many of whose lives have been permanently altered by the injuries they suffered at the hands of the police. We also strive to bring about positive changes in the way that police departments and other government agencies operate.
Police and government abuse takes many forms and claim many different types of victims. Our firm has successfully handled cases involving police brutality, police misconduct, false arrest, wrongful conviction, First Amendment violations, illegal strip searches, and discrimination.
We also have a robust civil asset forfeiture practice fighting for claimants rights to have their money and property returned when police unlawfully and unconstitutionally seize cash and property under questionable circumstances.
Our clients come from all walks of life and represent diverse races, ages, occupations, levels of income and education, and political views. The unifying theme in our work is our commitment to vindicating the principles of the Constitution and to fighting official abuses of power.
MEET THE TEAM
Experienced and Strategic.
GLEN S. DOWNEY
Glen Downey graduated cum laude from Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. He is also 1990 graduate of Kansas State University, where he was a four-year Dean's Scholar and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in History. Mr. Downey graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with an M.A. in Creative Writing. While at SIU, Mr. Downey earned the English Department prestigious annual award for excellence in graduate research.
Mr. Downey is a member of the American Bar Association, the Iowa State Bar Association, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Police Accountability Project, the American Civil Liberties Union. Mr. Downey is also a member of the American Civil Liberties Union's Legal Committee—Iowa.
Mr. Downey is a frequent guest lecturer on civil asset forfeiture and civil rights and police and government misconduct issues, including:
• "The Anatomy of a Forfeiture Case: Iowa Civil Asset Forefiture & Criminal Interdiction Issues," Presentation to Iowa Association for Justice, Des Moines, IA, September 11, 2015.
• "Finders, Keepers - Reforming Civil Asset Forfeiture in Iowa ," Des Moines Register Forum, Des Moines, IA, April 15, 2015.
• So 600 Lawyers in Matching Blue T-Shirts Want to Hold a Demonstration, Now What? Mass Demonstrations and the First Amendment,” Presentation to AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee Conference, Chicago, IL, May 23, 2012.
• “Mass Demonstrations and the First Amendment,” Presentation to AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee lawyers, Fall 2011.
• “Mass Demonstrations: Strategies for Defending Free Speech and a Criminal Defense Primer in the Mass Arrest Context,” Presentation to Service Employees International Union staff lawyers, Summer 2011.
• On September 13, 2010, Glen Downey moderated the ACLU of Pittsburgh Discussion Series entitled: The Rights of G20 Protesters One Year Later.
• On September 23, 2010, Glen Downey co-hosted a panel discussion at the National Lawyers Guild Conference in New Orleans with attorney David Milton of Boston. The topic of the discussion was “Strategies and Risk Assessment in Documenting Police Abuse: Video and Audio Taping Police Misconduct.
• Glen Downey was a presenter at the April 13, 2010, Pennsylvania Bar Institute Seminar entitled “Civil Rights: How Lawyers Protect the Constitution through Section 1983 Civil Litigation.” The seminar was held at PBI’s Pittsburgh office and Mr. Downey spoke on the topic of Municipal Liability in civil rights actions.
J.D., cum laude, Duquesne University School of Law
ABA Award of Excellence in Labor Law
CALI Awards: Civil Rights Litigation; Labor Law; Public Sector Labor Law; First Amendment
M.A., Creative Writing, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Alan M. Cohen Award for outstanding graduate research, 1992; Associated Writing Programs Poetry Prize – "Lo Siento"
B.A., English, Kansas State University
Iowa & Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
United States Court of Appeals--3rd Circuit
United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa
United States Court of Appeals—8th Circuit
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Litigation (including Police Misconduct Litigation)
PRACTICE AREAS - REPRESENTATIVE CASES
Our litigation work centers around cases involving false arrest and malicious prosecution, excessive force, police brutality, unlawful shooting, unconstitutional searches and seizures, the First Amendment rights of dissidents and protesters, civil asset forfeiture abuses and protecting the rights of workers to a decent, safe and dignified workplace free from harassment and discrimination. In addition, our office has a robust criminal defense practice.
Our representative cases include:
Whitfield v. Chartiers Valley School District, 707 F.Supp.2d 561 (W.D. Pa. 2010) (enjoining school district from terminating a school administrator's contract on the basis of her constitutionally protected testimony against the school basketball coach at a disciplinary hearing; finding by the Court that testimony, even if made pursuant to an employee’s job duties, falls outside the Garcetti framework and is thus protected speech).
Babines v. Adams Township, PA, No. 08-1201 (W.D. Pa. 2008) (township failed to give zoning permit to pole dancing studio owner; case resulted in settlement with permit being issued and monetary damages paid to studio owner).
Matheny v. County of Allegheny, No. 09-1070 (W.D. Pa. 2009) (man arrested and charged with felony wiretapping for using his cellphone to record arrest of a friend; the officer relied on the advice of a district attorney in effectuating the arrest; case settled with DA’s agreeing to inform DA’s and county law enforcement that recording a police officer’s official duties did not constitute felony wiretapping; client received monetary damages).
Rizer v. Lukart, et. al., No. 12-1012 (W.D. Pa. 2012) (man hassled for recording a friend’s interrogation by the police and then subsequently arrested and charged with felony wiretapping after complaining to town’s mayor about his treatment by the police; case settled with significant damages paid to the client and with the township police department closing after being unable to maintain liability insurance).
Armstrong v. City of Pittsburgh, No. 10-1246 (W.D. Pa. 2010) (25 plaintiffs mass arrested after the conclusion of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh; case settled with policy changes to police use of dispersal orders and all 25 clients received monetary damages).
Civil Asset Forfeiture
In the Matter of Property Seized for Forfeiture From J.R.S., Pottawattamie County No. SPCV113044 (2015) (Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force Officer stopped client for allegedly speeding and seized $333,090.00 in cash from client's truck. State brought forefiture action and after a hearing on a Motion to Suppress, the Court granted suppression and ordered the return of client's $333,090.00 + interest).
In the Matter of Property Seized for Forfeiture From Gaston & Smith, Adair County No. SPCV005889 (2015) (Iowa State Patrol Drug Interdiction Team officer stopped clients for allegedly speeding and seized $153,000.00 in cash from their vehicle. Our office immediately filed for a probable cause hearing and the $153,000.00 was returned to clients).
In the Matter of Property Seized for Forfeiture From Yaj, Cass County No. SPMG007291 (2015) (Iowa State Patrol Drug Interdiction Team officer stopped client for allegedly speeding and seized $28,000.00 in cash from his vehicle. Our office challenged the constitutionality of the search and seizure and the State agreed to return the client's property. In addition, against the State's wishes, the Court ordered the State to pay our office $11,875.00 in attorney's fees for contesting the attempted forfeiture).
Commonwealth v. Rainelli, No. 10-2418 (Court of Common Pleas, Blair County, Pennsylvania) (citizen charged with unsworn falsification and false reports for allegedly lying about being assault by police officers effectuating an arrest against him; motion to dismiss on several counts including protected speech under the First Amendment; case was dismissed on December 16, 2011).
State of Iowa v. Meade, Sac County No. FECR012634 (2014) (California blogger charged with witness tampering and felony on-going criminal conduct for writing blog posts critical of the Sac County prosecutor and his handling of a prominant murder case. A Motion to Dismiss was filed arguing the blogger's conduct was protected by the First Amendment. After months of legal wrangling, the case was dismissed with prejudice).
False Arrest/Malicious Prosecution
Soto-Roman v. Schmidt, et al., No. 13-2985 (E.D. Pa. 2013) (malicious prosecution, false arrest claim on behalf of film director of Puerto-Rican descent who was falsely arrested by Lancaster Police for an alleged assault of a Pennsylvania constable after racial taunts by the constable were made to Soto-Roman and his family. A video of the incident that Lancaster Police watched prior to Soto-Roman’s arrest showed that the constable was assaulted by a woman and not by Soto-Roman; client received a substantial monetary settlement).
Alcorn v. Steffy, et al. No. 15-3140 (N.D. Iowa 2015) (False Arrest, First Amendment retaliation claim on behalf of a business owner falsely accused, arrested and prosecuted for committing an assault. After the victim himself failed to identify Mr. Alcorn at trial, Mr. Alcorn sued for false arrest and other civil rights claims. In addition to a substantial monetary settlement, Mr. Alcorn received a letter of apology from the Chief of Police and changes were made to department policy to reduce the chances of such false arrests occurring again).
Carrillo v. Ness, et al. No. 15-101 (S.D. Iowa. 2015) (excessive force claim on behalf of a young Latino man whose arm was broken by officers while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. Officers never indicated in their reports that force was used against the young man. Client received a monetary settlement).
CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE
Had your cash or property taken by the police while traveling through Iowa? Iowa’s civil forfeiture laws place a heavy burden on the property owner. Under Iowa's civil asset forfeiture statute, the county attorney must only show that your property is substantially related to criminal activity by a preponderance of the evidence.
If you are caught in the dragnet of Iowa's civil asset forfeiture laws, call our office immediately. Time is of the essence, and a failure to protect your rights could mean the loss of your cash or property. Our office understands the nuances of civil asset forfeitures laws in Iowa and will aggressively fight for the return of your cash or property.
Downey & Mundy specializes in constitutional/civil rights claims.
A civil rights claim generally arises when the government or its officials violate a person's Constitutional or statutory rights. These rights can include freedom from wrongful seizure or excessive force by law enforcement officers, "police brutality", or the right to freedom of speech without government retaliation. They can also include freedom from racial discrimination, discrimination against women, sex discrimination in the workplace, and any discrimination in employment or public services and accommodations, based on protected criteria such as race, national origin, gender, religion, age, or sexual orientation.
OUR FIRM IN THE NEWS
April 5, 2015 - Des Moines Register
Tired of working minimum-wage temporary jobs in his hometown of Chicago, Michael Sanchez-Ratliff took his grandfather's advice and embarked on a cross-country trip last March that he hoped might change his life. Sanchez-Ratliff, then 20, did something that in hindsight wasn't the best idea, but isn't illegal. He took with him his entire life savings, including about $14,000 provided by his grandmother and an additional $5,000 he had saved from working.
November 10, 2014 - Washington Post
The two men in the rented red Nissan Altima were poker players traveling through Iowa on their way to Las Vegas. The police were state troopers on the hunt for criminals, contraband and cash. They intersected last year on a rural stretch of Interstate 80, in a seemingly routine traffic stop that would soon raise new questions about laws that allow police to take money and property from people not charged with crime.
January 21, 2015 - CNN Anderson Cooper 360
CNN's Gary Tuchman reports on police departments across the U.S. profiting from the cash police officers seize during traffic stops.
April 17, 2016 - Des Moines Register
A federal lawsuit accuses Pottawatomie County law enforcement officers of committing widespread constitutional violations when stopping motorists and seizing cash, including targeting out-of-state vehicles and fabricating evidence in at least one case.
September 28, 2016 - Des Moines Register
An Iowa prosecutor is threatening to bring a sexual exploitation charge against a teenage girl who sent two photos of herself to a high school classmate, even though the pictures contain no nudity, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
December 5, 2016 - Des Moines Register
Iowa announced Monday that it has disbanded its state forfeiture team and — in a separate move — also agreed to pay $60,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by two California gamblers whose bankroll was seized during a warrantless search in 2013 by two Iowa State Patrol troopers.
November 28, 2016 - Des Moines Register
The Mason City Police Department did not admit that one of its officers arrested an innocent man following a reported attack on a home improvement store worker. But Police Chief Jeff Brinkley offered an apology this month to Kristopher “Kit” Alcorn, a local businessman and former police officer who was arrested on an assault charge and later had the charges dismissed. Alcorn and his attorney argued the police department's investigation was deeply flawed.