231 E. Baltimore Street
Suite 1102
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-244-5444
FAX: 410-934-3208
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Our Story

Brown Law was formed with a fundamental goal: to provide high-end legal counsel with integrity. We are driven by the understanding that many of our clients face life-altering challenges. We thrive when the stakes are highest. Because of our past success, we are confident that we can deliver for you.

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“Mr. Brown saved my life. I owe him everything.”

B.P. (former client),

“We owe C. Justin Brown such a debt of gratitude and there is nothing I can write… that will do justice to how my family and I feel about him and the job he did in representing my brother in a recent criminal defense case.”

J.N. (former client),

“This firm is extremely good at what it does and offers an excellent professional relationship with clients by making them feel at ease even in the most dire situations. The firm rose high above my expectations…”

B.P. (former client),

“I highly recommend this firm . They put in the hard work it takes to win. They really see you as a person not just another client… They keep you well informed and explains everything clearly and listen.

P.W. (former client),

Recent blog posts

Adnan Syed Updates

December 14, 2017
December 28, 2017 We are now approaching seven months and still waiting for a decision from the Court of Special Appeals. In the meantime, I will respond to a follower on Twitter, @Fionaburke76, who asks “why Adnan remains incarcerated when his conviction was overturned?” After Adnan’s conviction was vacated, we filed a motion seeking his release prior to a new trial. The State of Maryland opposed. We argued that, because Adnan’s conviction was no longer in tact, he should be right back in the place he was before being tried and convicted in 2000. Thus, he should at least be able to go back to court and fight for bail, particularly because, we argued, he was not a flight risk and he was not a danger to society. He should have been given the same chance as someone who still had a presumption of innocence. The State argued that there was a higher bar to Adnan being released. In the State’s view, the Court should have applied the standard it uses for a person who has been convicted and who applies for bail pending an appeal. Maryland law is not clear on the question of what standard applies to someone in Adnan’s specific situation. However, the Circuit Court ruled for the State and refused to let Adnan come to court for a bail hearing. We then appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Court of Special Appeals, but the appellate court did not grant us “leave to appeal.” With this denial there was nothing else we could do. Thus, Adnan, remains in prison.   December 14, 2017 Here is the latest on the Syed case: In the summer of 2016, Judge Welch granted a new trial for Adnan. This came after Adnan’s post-conviction proceeding was re-opened. Judge Welch granted the new hearing on the cell tower issue; he found that Adnan’s trial attorney, Cristina Gutierrez, was constitutionally ineffective for failing to cross-examine the State’s cell tower expert with an AT&T document that severely undermined the reliability of the State’s cell tower evidence. In the same opinion, Judge Welch also denied Syed’s alibi claim. He found that Gutierrez was deficient for not investigating or contacting alibi witness Asia McClain, but that the failure to do so did not prejudice the trial. The State of Maryland appealed the granting of the new trial (and Syed appealed the denial of the alibi claim). The parties briefed the issues and the Court of Special Appeals (a panel of three judges) held oral arguments on June 8, 2017. We are now awaiting the Court of Special Appeals’ decision. As soon as an opinion is released, we will make it public.

This is why we fight.

December 31, 2017
I get asked the question all the time. Why do you represent criminal defendants? Sometimes I ask myself. But this is why. I have sat in prison visiting booths with inmates serving life sentences whom I believed were innocent. I have stood side by side with guilty defendants who were better human beings than the people judging them. I have seen men plead guilty to crimes they did not commit – and face very long sentences – only to protect the people they loved. I do this because I understand that people make mistakes. I do this because I understand that more often than not our system is not fair, and probably never will be. I do this because even someone accused of the most atrocious crime needs an attorney who will fight like hell. I think if more people had the chance to see it from my side they would understand. Sometimes I wish prosecutors could spend an hour with each of my clients. They might see that some of them are innocent. They might see that some of them are guilty, but deserve to walk free nonetheless. They might start to understand that prison without rehabilitation is nothing but a waste of money and time. And what I do is not a one-way street. My clients have given back. I’ve had clients who were cheated by the system encourage me that the system can work. I’ve had people in the most desperate of situations show me the path to victory. I’ve had clients go away and come back a better person. So happy new year to all my clients, past and present. Keep up the fight, and we’ll see you next year!

When Finality Trumps Common Sense: Brendan Dassey Denied

December 13, 2017
This week the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the legality of Brendan Dassey’s confession to the 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach, finding that it was voluntary and could be used against him at trial. To many of the millions of people who watched video of the confession in the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer,” the appellate court’s conclusion was incomprehensible. Dassey was 16 years old at the time and it was apparent that he had an intellectual deficit. The police spoon-fed him a confession that he barely seemed to understand; they led, and he unwittingly followed. At one point, Dassey, oblivious to the extent of the trouble he was in, poignantly asked whether he would be home in time to see Wrestlemania. The scene made viewers cringe. Most of us know how all of this played out for Dassey: following his so-called confession, he was arrested, tried and, based almost entirely on what he had told police, he was convicted of murder. Now that the Seventh Circuit has rejected his claim, by a 4-3 vote, it would take the improbable intervention of the Supreme Court to grant him any relief. So how could the court system uphold Dassey’s conviction and affirm his sentence of life in prison? The answer lies in a powerful tenet of criminal law that is as much to blame as anything else for wrongful convictions. Our criminal justice system values “finality” above virtually all else. It is enumerated in our statutes and embedded in our Supreme Court jurisprudence. As the argument goes, litigation cannot drag on forever, and, for the sake of judicial economy, our system needs to reach a conclusion. Judges, juries, victims and even defendants need to put the past behind them, according to the principle of finality, and only then does society reap the benefits of closure. Yet, this notion of finality has very real dangers – and these dangers are played out in courts all around the country. Overly strict adherence to the tenet of finality can mean that preservation of convictions takes precedence over ascertaining the truth. When this powerful legal principle is put in the hands of aggressive prosecutors, with receptive judges, it can act as a trump card more compelling than even the most egregious constitutional violation. Making matters worse, most inmates are poor and distrusted, making it even more unlikely that they can mount the type of legal challenge that can overcome a settled conviction. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) – the statute under which Dassey petitioned the federal courts for relief – is partially to blame. The law erects so many obstacles in the name of finality that even an innocent petitioner is unlikely to be granted relief. In fact, while actual innocence can help an inmate clear some of ADEPA’s procedural hurdles, it does not in and of itself entitle a petitioner to relief. The legal system’s deference to finality is particularly troubling as we increasingly become aware of

New Expungement Laws Coming to Maryland

September 27, 2017
Important changes are coming to Maryland’s expungement law. Starting October 1, 2017, more people than ever before will have the ability to have their criminal records expunged – in many cases, for free. In the criminal context, expungement refers to the removal of certain criminal records from public inspection – meaning that the general public will not have access to those records. Until recently, only charges that did not result in a conviction were eligible for expungement, leaving a permanent stain on the records of those people who had been found guilty of (or pleaded guilty to) a crime. Recent changes in the law expanded the privilege of expungement to those who had been convicted of certain nuisance crimes, such as loitering or panhandling. While this was a step in the right direction, it still left the majority of offenders without any means of clearing their records and thus moving on with their lives. However, new changes in Maryland law are making expungement even more accessible to people charged with or convicted of a crime. Starting October 1, 2017, more than 100 criminal misdemeanors will be eligible for expungement, including certain types of theft and even second-degree assault. This means that people convicted of one of these misdemeanors may be able to have that conviction expunged after the applicable waiting period (assuming they meet other criteria for expungement). In addition, under the new law, there will be no filing fee for expunging criminal records in cases that resulted in an acquittal, dismissal, probation before judgment (PBJ), nolle prosequi, stet, or not criminally responsible disposition. Only those wishing to expunge a conviction will have to pay a small filing fee. This is great news, because it will give more people the ability to clean their records. Expungement is critical for those who have made some mistakes and are now trying to move on with their lives. Criminal convictions often stand in the way of getting a job or furthering one’s education, making it difficult to get back on track after having been convicted of a crime. These changes in Maryland’s expungement law will make it easier for people to get a fresh start. –Lylian Romero