Cases

Ongoing Cases

Fusaro v. Davitt (2017)

After his acquittal in State v. Fusaro (see below), Dennis Fusaro requested the Maryland Registered voter list so he could send letters to certain Marylanders requesting they ask State Prosecutor Davitt to resign his office. But the law flatly bars Fusaro from accessing the list or, if he were able to obtain it, from using the list to criticize unelected officials.

Pillar sued on behalf of Fusaro to strike down both of these unconstitutional restrictions.

United States District Court – District of Maryland:

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit:

Crookston v. Johnson (2016)

With the increased popularity of social media, ballot photography is becoming more common in each election. Known as “ballot selfies,” many voters enjoy photographing their own marked ballots and posting them on social networks such as Facebook. One voter in Michigan, Joel Crookston, did this in the 2012 election.

He didn’t know it could cost him his vote and bring misdemeanor charges, with a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and $500 fine.

Pillar brought this lawsuit on behalf of Crookston against the Michigan Secretary of State, aiming to overturn the laws in question to allow for ballot selfies—an exciting, emerging form of political speech. The lawsuit also challenges the Secretary’s general photography ban in polling places, arguing that by treating “credentialed media” differently from voters the law violates free speech and equal protection under the Constitution.

United States District Court – Western District of Michigan:

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit:

Completed Cases

State of Maryland v. Fusaro; State of Maryland v. Waters (2017)

Dennis Fusaro and Stephen Waters were charged with producing an illegal “robocall,” an automatic phone call that plays a recorded message to the recipient. Fusaro and Waters faced up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for not including an appropriate disclaimer.

Pillar joined the defense team in the cases to argue against the unconstitutionality of Maryland law in this case. The law is so broadly worded that Marylanders could be punished for Facebook posts, tweets or e-mails that do not contain the right disclaimer.

Following trial, a jury found Fusaro and Waters not guilty.

* Fusaro and Waters were charged separately, with the same charges. Pillar’s filings are presented separately, but were filed in both cases. 

Hill v. Williams (2016)

Owen Hill is a Republican state senator from Colorado Springs who votes in-person on election day and would like to post a photograph of his marked ballot on his Facebook page. Scott Romano and Colin Phipps are Democrats who turned 18 shortly before the 2016 election, who vote using Colorado’s mail-in voting, and also would like to take and post “ballot selfies.”

The potential penalties for these acts in Colorado were up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The second of Pillar’s ballot selfie cases, Hill v. Williams challenged a Colorado law that prohibited one from displaying his own marked ballot. Since voting in Colorado largely occurs by mail, the reach of this censorship was statewide. An expansive lawsuit against the Colorado Secretary of State, Colorado Attorney General, and the Denver District Attorney, Pillar joined a team of outstanding attorneys in Colorado to bring this case, winning relief for election day 2016 and pursuing a permanent ruling for future elections.

Two Unnamed Plaintiffs v. Federal Election Commission(2016)

Federal election law prohibited delegates to political party conventions from accepting books, travel stipends, and legal assistance from non-profit corporations, but allowed delegates to accept unlimited contributions from individuals. Pillar sued the Federal Election Commission to have this asymmetrical scheme struck down.

Pillar was joined in the lawsuit by two unnamed Republican delegates who wanted to speak out on the issue of delegate autonomy at the national convention and receive assistance against any legal threats.

Ball v. Madigan (2015)

When Illinois enacted a medical marijuana pilot program in 2014, the law prohibited cannabis cultivation centers and dispensaries from making political contributions to candidates for state office, even though most corporations could contribute up to $10,800 per candidate.

New political candidates need to be able to fundraise to have effective campaigns, but Illinois ensured that one set of new voices was denied that right. Under the First Amendment, limiting some from meaningful political participation cannot stand.

Pillar filed suit on behalf of Claire Ball, a Libertarian candidate who ran for the office of comptroller in the 2016 election and Scott Schluter, a Libertarian candidate who ran for state representative.

United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois:

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit:

  • The Illinois Attorney General filed an appeal on April 28, 2017.
  • The Illinois Attorney General voluntarily dismissed appeal on May 30, 2017.