Paul L.


March 1994 -

Private Practice
Schonbrun De Simone Seplow Harris and Hoffman, LLP
Venice, California (1999-Present)

Bostwick & Hoffman LLP (1994-1999)

Practice areas: civil rights generally; police misconduct; First Amendment; international human rights; employment; defamation; criminal appeals.

September 1984 - February 1994

Legal Director, ACLU Foundation of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Directed the legal program of the ACLU in Southern California which included the supervision of ten staff attorneys and more than 100 volunteer attorneys with a docket of approximately 200 pending cases in every area of civil liberties and civil rights practice. Litigated a full docket of cases in all areas of the ACLU’s policies, especially police misconduct litigation. Coordinated ACLU International Human Rights Task Force (1991-2000).

August 1976 - August 1981

Associate Attorney (Litigation Department)
Loeb and Loeb, Los Angeles, California

Practice areas: securities regulation, bankruptcy, contracts, business torts, real estate, copyright, defamation and constitutional law.

October 1976 - Present

Volunteer Attorney - ACLU Foundation of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Litigated dozens of civil rights/civil liberties cases from 1976 to 1984 and from 1994 to the present in all areas of the ACLU’s work. Lead counsel in Coalition Against Police Abuse v. Board of Police Commissioners (the “police spying” cases); Wilkinson v. FBI (a challenge to the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation against the National Committee To Abolish HUAC); and Antelli v. City of Hawthorne (illegal searches of more than 40 homes). “Of Counsel” to the ACLU Foundation (1994 to present).


Cox Price Human Rights Award, University of Denver Law School (2009)

Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award, Center for Justice and Accountability (2007)

Co-Civil Rights Attorney of the Year, California State Bar (2006) (for work on Doe v. Unocal)(with Dan Stormer and Anne Richardson)

Los Angeles Business Journal Top Trial Lawyer (1999)

100 Most Influential Lawyers of California (1998)

Clarence Darrow Award (1984) for outstanding First Amendment advocacy for work on the police spying cases

  Teaching Experience

August 1981 - July 1984


Associate Professor, Southwestern University School of Law
Los Angeles, California.

Courses: Criminal Law and Procedure, Federal Courts, Civil Rights Litigation Seminar, International Human Rights Law, Public International Law, Contracts. I was also the Co-Director (with Stanley Fleishman) of a clinical program on the rights of the disabled and elderly.

  Adjunct Teaching
2001 - Present

Visiting Fellow and Tutor, Kellogg College, Oxford University

June 1980 - Present

UCI School of Law
Oxford University/George Washington School of Law
Human Rights Program
Stanford Law School
UCLA School of Law
USC Law School
Loyola Law School
Southwestern University School of Law

More than 40 separate courses taught, including First Amendment, Civil Rights Litigation, Constitutional Law Seminars on Equality and privacy, International Human Rights, International Criminal Justice, Police Abuse Litigation, Slander, Libel, and the First Amendment and AIDS and the Law.

  • Member, California Academy of Appellate Lawyers (elected May 2000)
  • Co-Chair, International Human Rights Committee, ABA Section on International Law and Practice (1999-2000)
  • Member, Los Angeles Copyright Society (1997 - present)
  • Lawyer Representative, Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference (1989-1992)
  • Member, Committee on Private Bar Involvement in Pro Bono Work, The State Bar of California (1988-1991)
  • Program Coordinator, International Human Rights Committee, ABA Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities (1984-1988)
  • Committee on Human Rights, The State Bar of California (1983-1986)
  • Executive Committee, Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Los Angeles County Bar Association (1985-1987)
  • Executive Committee, International Law Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association (1982-1986)
  • Arbitrator (legal fee disputes), Los Angeles County Bar Association (1980-1983)
  • Arbitrator, American Arbitration Association, Commercial Panel (1981-1985)
  • Vice-Chair, Arbitration Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association (1982-1983)
  • Judge Pro Tem, Los Angeles Municipal Court (Small Claims)(1983-1984)
  • Amnesty International: 1999-2005 member of AI’s 9 member International Executive Committee (“IEC”) which oversees AI’s operations throughout the world. Chair of the IEC from 2002 to 2004. Chair of AI’s International Strategic Planning Committee (2007-2009).
  • Amnesty International - USA: Chair of the Board (1997-99, 1988-89); Member, Executive Committee (1984-89, 1992-94, 1997-99); Member of Board (1983-89), 1992-94, 1996-99); Chair, International Council Meeting (1991-97); Founder and National Coordinator, AIUSA Legal Support Network (1982-87); Chair of December 1998 International Summit of Human Rights Defenders (Paris, France). Member of several human rights missions, diplomatic missions (e.g. as a delegate to United Nations meetings) and trial observations for AI. Served on numerous AIUSA committees and task forces.
  • Human Rights Watch: Member of California Committee since its inception; Member of Advisory Committee of Asia Watch; Research mission to Ethiopia (1994).
  • Article 19 (International Centre Against Censorship): Member of International Board (1999-2005); Chair of 1995 International Conference on Freedom of Expression and National Security (Johannesburg, South Africa).
  • Center for Justice and Accountability: Founder and Member of Legal Advisory Committee.
LEGAL New York University School of Law, J.D., June 1976

Staff Member, Annual Survey of American Law (1974-1975)

Research Associate, International Law Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1975-1976)

Law Clerk, Manhattan Legal Services
(N.Y.U. Public Interest Clinic) (1974-1975)

RFK Fellow, Office of Congressman Jonathan Bingham, Washington, D.C. (1974) (responsible for foreign policy related issues, issues relating to Watergate
and tax reform)

GRADUATE The London School of Economics and Political Science, M.Sc. (Econ.), June 1973
UNDERGRADUATE The City College of the City University of New York, B.A., June 1972

Major: International Relations
Class Standing: Top 5%
Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
Magna Cum Laude Regent's Scholarship


Steinhardt, Hoffman and Camponovo, Human Rights Lawyering:
Cases and Materials (West Publishing)(2009)

Stephens, Ratner, Chomsky, Green and Hoffman, International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts (2d ed Martinus Nijhoff 2007).

Coliver, Hoffman, Fitzpatrick & Bowen, (Editors), “Security and Liberty: National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Informtaion,” (Martinus Nijhoff 1999) (“Secrecy and Liberty”)

  • The Alien Tort Statute: An Introduction for Civil Rights Lawyers, 2 L.A. Pub. Int. L. J. 129 (2010) (with Adrienne Quarry)
  • Celebrity Prosecutions: Punishing Pundits: People v Dyleski and the Gag Order As Prior Restraint in High-Profile Cases, 39 Loy. L.A. L. Rev 1197 (2006) (with Michael Seplow)
  • Wartime Security and Constitutional Liberty: Justice Jackson, Nuremberg and Human Rights Litigation, 68 Alb. L. Rev. 1145 (2005)
  • Holding Human Rights Violators Accountable By Using International Law in U.S. Courts: Advocacy Efforts and Complementary Strategies, 19 Emory L. Rev. 169 (2005)(with Sandra Coliver and Jennifer Green)
  • The Rules of the Road: Federal Common Law and Aiding and Abetting Under the Alien Tort Claims Act, 26 Loy. L.A. Int’l & Comp L. Rev. 47 (2003)(with Daniel Zaheer)
  • Pursuing Crimes against Humanity in the United States: The Need for a Comprehensive Liability Regime, in Justice for Crimes Against Humanity, Eds M. Lattimer and P. Sands(Hart Publishing 2003)(with William Aceves)
  • Using Immigration Law to Protect Human Rights: A Critique of Recent Legislative Proposals, 23 Mich. J. Int’l L. 733 (2002)(with William Aceves)
  • International Human Rights Law and Police Reform, in Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City (NYU Press 2001) Eds. A. McArdle and T. Erzen
  • Using Immigration Law to Protect Human Rights: A Legislative Proposal,20 Mich. J. of Int’l L. 657 (1999)(with William Aceves)
  • Safeguarding Liberty: National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information: United States of America, (with Kate Martin) in Secrecy and Liberty.
  • The Gag Order in the O.J. Simpson Civil Action: Lessons to be Learned?,17 Loyola Ent. L.J. 333 (1997)
  • The 'Blank Stare Phenomenon': Proving Customary International Law in U.S. Courts, 25 Ga. J. Int'l and Comp. Law 181 (1996)
  • Enforcing International Human Rights Law in the United States, in Human Rights: An Agenda for the Next Century, American Society of International Law (1994) (with Nadine Strossen)
  • Double Jeopardy Wars: The Case for a Civil Rights 'Exception,' 41 UCLA L. Rev. 649 (1994)
  • The Feds, Lies and Videotape: The Need for an Effective Federal Role in Controlling Police Abuse in Urban America, 66 So. Cal. L. Rev. 1453 (1993)
  • The Elimination of Torture: International and Domestic Developments, 9 International Lawyer 1351 (Fall 1985) (with Linda Brackins)
  • Public Interest Lawyers: Three Success Stories, Los Angeles Lawyer (December 1984) (subject of the article)
  • Book Review, Hannum, "Guide to International Human Rights Practice," and Meron, "Human Rights in International Law: Legal and Policy Issues," 18 International Lawyer 741 (Summer 1984)
  • The Police Spying Settlement: New Safeguards for Political Expression, Los Angeles Lawyer (May 1984) (with Robert Newman)
  • The Application of International Human Rights Law in State Courts: A View from California, 18 The International Lawyer 59 (Winter 1984) (Symposium)
  • Trade Union Rights Under Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, 5 Comparative Labor Law 149 (1982)
  • Assignment to Trial Department; Motions; Procedure in Chambers, in California Civil Procedure During Trial (C.E.B. 1982) (with Dale L. Gronemeier)
  • Environmental Law/The Clean Air Act Amendments, 1974/75 Annual Survey of American Law 641
  • The Right of Self-Determination in Very Small Places, 8 N.Y.U. Journal of International Law and Politics 331 (1976) (with Professor Thomas M. Franck)
  • Author of dozens of articles for a variety of publications, including the newsletters and magazines of various organizations, on civil liberties, civil rights and international human rights issues. See, e.g., "The United Nations and the Death Penalty," in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948-1988: Human Rights, The United Nations and Amnesty International, at 89-99 (Published by AIUSA in Fall 1988)(with Zazi Pope); "The Use of International Law in ACLU Cases" (paper presented at ACLU Biennial Conference, Madison, Wisconsin, June 1989, updated in 1991 for the ACLU Biennial Conference in Burlington, Vermont).
  • From 1991 to 2000 Editor of the ACLU International Civil Liberties Report.
  • Numerous op-ed pieces on civil liberties and international human rights topics in the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News, the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Newsday and the Herald Examiner.
  • Frequent speaker on civil and international human rights issues at dozens of CLE programs, law school talks, symposia, Bar Association meetings, and other public events. See, e.g., XII N.Y.L. Sch. J. Hum.Rts. 599 (1995)(re human rights trials in Ethiopia).
  Asterisks denote cases I argued or on which I was lead counsel. I have been involved in more than one hundred appeals in one capacity or another.
  • Muehler v Mena, 544 U.S. 93 (2005)(argued)*
    (Wrongful Detention)
  • Sosa v Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004)(argued)*
    (Alien Tort Statute)
  • Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995)(argued)*
    (Prisoners Rights, Due Process)
  • United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655 (1992)(argued)*
    (Extradition Treaty, International Law)
  • Lockyer v Andrade, No 01-1127 (argued November 5, 2002)(co-counsel)
    (Three Strikes case)
  • Reno v. Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, 119 S.Ct. 136 (1999)
    (Immigrants Rights, Federal Jurisdiction)
  • Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (1993)
    (Immigrant Rights, Due Process)
  • San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Inc. v. U.S. Olympic Committee, 483 U.S. 522 (1987)
    (First Amendment, Trademark)
  • Board of Directors of Rotary Int'l v. Rotary Club of Duarte, 481 U.S. 537 (1987)
    (Sex Discrimination)
  • Crawford v. Board of Education, 458 U.S. 527 (1982)

  • Balintulo v. Daimler AG et al., No. 09-2778-CV (2d Cir., argued
    Jan. 11, 2010)*
  • Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman Energy, Inc., 582 F.3d 244 (2d Cir. 2009)*
  • Khulumani v Barclay National Bank Ltd., 504 F. 3d 254 (2d Cir. 2007) (the Apartheid cases)*
  • Mujica v Occidental Petroleum Corp (argued April 2007, 9th Cir)
    (Alien Tort Statute)*
  • El-Masry v United States, 479 F. 3d 296 (4th Cir. 2007)
    (Extraordinary Rendition)
  • Blankenhorn v City of Orange, 485 F. 3d 463 (9th Cir 2007)
    (Police Misconduct)
  • Johnson v County of Los Angeles, 340 F. 3d 787 (9th Cir. 2003)*
    (Qualified Immunity issue)
  • Mena v City of Simi Valley, 332 F.3d 1255 (9th Cir 2003)*
    (Qualified immunity issue; judgment affirmed)
  • Alvarez v United States, 331 F. 3d 604 (9th Cir. 2003)(en banc)*
    (ATCA judgment affirmed; FTCA claims allowed to proceed)
  • Doe v Unocal, 395 F. 3d 932 (9th Cir. 2002)*
    (argued en banc June 17, 2003, vacated based on settlement)
    (ATCA corporate complicity case)
  • Brown v Li, 308 F. 3d 939 (9th Cir. 2002)*
    (Student First Amendment rights)
  • Papa v United States, 281 F. 3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2002)*
    (Civil Rights, International Human Rights)
  • Alvarez-Machain v United States, 266 F. 3d 1045 (9th Cir 2001)*
    (Civil Rights, International Human Rights)(taken en banc see above)
  • United States v Messer, 197 F. 3d. 330 (9th Cir 1999)*
    (Speedy Trial Act, conviction overturned)
  • Maktab Tarighe Oveyssi Shah Maghsoudi, Inc. v. Kianfar, 179 F.3d 1244 (9th Cir. 1999)*
    (First Amendment, Trademark)
  • United States v. Phillips, 174 F.3d 1074 (9th Cir. 1999)*
    (Criminal Law)
  • Martinez v. City of Los Angeles, 141 F.3d 1373 (9th Cir. 1998)*
    (Police Misconduct, International Human Rights)
  • Alvarez-Machain v. United States, 107 F.3d 696 (9th Cir. 1997)*
    (Federal Tort Claims Act, Torture Victim Protection Act, Constitutional Law)
  • Hilao v. Estate of Marcos, 103 F.3d 789 (9th Cir. 1996)*
    (International Human Rights)
  • Abebe-Jira v. Negewo, 72 F.3d 844 (11th Cir. 1996)*
    (International Human Rights)
  • Standing Committee v. Yagman, 55 F.3d 1430 (9th Cir. 1995)
    (First Amendment)(Amicus)
  • Siderman v. Republic of Argentina, 965 F.2d 699 (9th Cir. 1992)
    (International Human Rights, Foreign Sovereign Immunity)
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Thornburgh, 970 F.2d 501 (9th Cir. 1991)*
    (First Amendment, Immigrants Rights)
  • United States v. Aguilar, 871 F.2d 1436 (9th Cir. 1989)
    (International Human Rights, Sanctuary Case)
  • Chalk v. United States District Court, 840 F.2d 701 (9th Cir. 1988)*
    (AIDS Discrimination)
  • Levine v. United States District Court, 775 F.2d 1054 (9th Cir. 1985)*
    (First Amendment, Gag Order)
  • Martin v. International Olympic Committee, 740 F.2d 670 (9th Cir. 1984) (Sex Discrimination)

  • In re S. Africa Apartheid Litig., 617 F. Supp. 2d 538 (S.D.N.Y. 2009)*
  • Bowoto v Chevron Corp, 481 F. Supp. 2d 1010 (N. D. Cal. 2007)
    (Alien Tort Statute, corporate complicity)
  • Mujica v Occidental Petroleum Corp, 381 F. Supp. 2d 1134 and 1164 (C.D. Cal 2005)*
    (Alien Tort Statute, corporate complicity)
  • Mehinovich v Vuckovic, 198 F. Supp 2d 1322 (N.D. Ga 2002)*
    (International Human Rights, $142 million judgment obtained)
  • Doe v. Unocal, 963 F.Supp. 880 (C.D. Cal. 1997)*
    (International Human Rights)
  • Johnson v. County of Los Angeles, 865 F. Supp. 1430 (C.D. Cal. 1994)*
    (First Amendment)
  • Wilkinson v. United States, 774 F. Supp. 1360 (N.D. Ga 1991)*
    (Due Process)
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Meese, 714 F. Supp 1060 (C.D. Cal. 1989)*
    (First Amendment)
  • Rogan v. City of Los Angeles, 668 F. Supp 1384 (C.D. Cal. 1987)*
    (Civil Rights, Due Process)
  • Thomas v. Atascadero Unified School District, 662 F. Supp 376 (C.D. Cal. 1987)*
    (AIDS Discrimination)
  • Wilkinson v. FBI, 633 F. Supp 336 (C.D. Cal. 1986)*
    (Freedom of Information Act)
  • Handel v. Artukovic, 601 F. Supp 1421 (C.D. Cal. 1985)
    (International Human Rights)
  • Wilkinson v. FBI, 99 F.R.D. 148 (C.D. Cal. 1983)*
    (Civil Rights, Archival Privilege)

  • People v. Mitcham, 1 Cal. 4th 1027 (1992)* (Death Penalty)
  • Macias v County of Los Angeles, 144 Cal. App. 4th 313 (2006)
    (Police misconduct)
  • People v Brown, 100 Cal. Rptr 2d 211 (2000)*
    (Criminal appeal)
  • Del Rio v. Jetton, 55 Cal. App. 4th 30 (1997)*
    (SLAPP Suit Defense)
  • City of Huntington Park v. Superior Court, 34 Cal. App. 4th 1293 (1995)*
    (Civil Rights, Police Misconduct)
  • McCarthy v. Fletcher, 207 Cal. App. 3d 130 (1989)*
    (First Amendment)
  • Ketchens v. Reiner, 194 Cal. App. 3d 470 (1987)*
    (First Amendment)
  • Rubin v. City of Los Angeles, 190 Cal. App. 3d 560 (1987)*
    (First Amendment, State Secrets Privilege)
  • Coalition Against Police Abuse v. Superior Court, 170 Cal. App. 3d 888 (1985)*
    (Civil Rights, First Amendment, Privacy)





The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

© 2007 Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP