ABOUT

EDUCATION

Duke University School of Law (J.D. 1985)
(Created J.D./M.A. in Constitutional Law, History)

Duke University Graduate School (M.A. 1985)
(Master’s Thesis: The Origin of the Bill of Rights)

The Johns Hopkins University (B.A. 1981)
(Senior Thesis: Conflicting Ideologies at the Constitutional Convention)

The University of Maryland post-graduate work (1988-91)
(doctoral research on roots of First Amendment)

LITIGATION EXPERIENCE

Hundreds of trials and hearings, court and administrative, jury and non-jury. Experience includes interrogatories, requests for documents, taking and defending depositions, dispositive and evidentiary motions, opening statements, closing arguments, preparing and admitting exhibits, examinations and cross-examinations of lay and expert witnesses.

Lead counsel in the U.S. District Court (D. Md.), U.S. District Court (D. DC), D.C. Superior Court, the Circuit Courts of Maryland (21 of 24 jurisdictions), the District Court of Maryland, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, administrative hearings and arbitrations. Argued before the United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit), D.C. Court of Appeals, Maryland Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals.

BAR MEMBERSHIPS, LICENSES

State of Maryland (1985)
U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (1988)
U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (1992)
U.S. Supreme Court (1997)
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (1998)
District of Columbia (1993) (inactive)

CASES LITIGATED BY MATT LAVINE

FIRST AMENDMENT CIVIL RIGHTS CASE

Snell v. Buffington. (USDC Md. 1997) A group of high school students got together on weekends to produce a satirical newspaper. When the principal found a copy of the newspaper in the school, he suspended the kids. The school system’s code of conduct prohibited the “distribution of unauthorized written material”. To clear Snell’s record, we challenged the suspension. I won the hearing. As a result, the superintendent rescinded the suspension.

Thereafter, I filed a civil rights claim to force the repeal of the provision. In Federal Court, I moved for judgment on the issue of the Student Code provision’s Constitutionality. In response, the school district admitted that the provision violated the First Amendment. Thereafter, the School Board removed the provision.

FIFTH AMENDMENT CIVIL RIGHTS CASE

Wildauer v. Frederick County (USDC Md. 1993) Ann, a former nun, was providing foster care for fifteen children. The severity of the children’s disabilities had precluded their adoption. As a result, the Kennedy Krieger Institute kindly provided free medical care for the children. The unhelpful input of the Frederick County Department of Social Services created a problematic relationship.

In response to Ann’s resulting attitude, the Department began a baseless inquiry into whether Ann was “medically neglecting” the children. When Ann expressed her disgust with the Department, the local Sheriff’s Department raided Ann’s home and seized some of the children. The Department, unable to care for the the children, returned them but proceeded with its complaint against Ann.

I brought suit against the Department. One claim asserted that warrantless raid violated Ann’s Fourth Amendments rights. Also, we presented two claims under the Fifth Amendment. First, the baseless proceeding violated her right to Due Process. Second, DSS continued to identify Ms. Wildauer as if she had been guilty of neglecting her children.

The Federal Court rejected the idea that the Department had abused its power. Also, Ann had no right to be free from DSS characterizations. After our appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed.

FOURTH AMENDMENT CIVIL RIGHTS CASE

McNulty v. Prince George’s County (USDC. Md. 1992) When McNulty announced that his wife wanted to move the family back to her hometown, his employer was supportive. When the employer’s new wife wondered why the company was not doing better, the employer had no answer. His wife and he then made an insurance claim that alleged that McNulty had stolen funds. The insurance company requested a police report. Consequently, they went to report a theft to a local police detective. He did not work, other than file the charges.

In the criminal trial, the Judge dismissed the case. On cross-examination, the employer admitted that he had no basis to believe that McNulty committed any crime. I then filed suit for McNulty in Federal Court. During discovery, I reviewed over 10,000 records. As a result, I found the documents that proved that the employer had lied. In addition, I learned that the detective had never asked for any proof. In a case based on accounting records, the detective never asked for a record. Further, he never contacted the company’s accounting firm.

During the trial, the Federal judge dismissed the case against the detective. The judge applied his own view that the detective’s ignorance somehow justified his incompetence. If the judge’s logic held, the result could be the elimination of most civil rights. The jury awarded $125,000 for McNulty against his employer. The Fourth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals affirmed.

PRECEDENT-SETTING CASE: WRONGFUL TERMINATION

Insignia Residential v. Ashton (Md. Court Appeals 2000) Ashton was sexually assaulted by her boss. When she repelled his attack, he fired her. To cover his misconduct, he sent a letter to upper management stating that she had not passed her probationary period.

At first, Ashton found a lawyer who filed an EEOC complaint. Thereafter, the lawyer ceased contact with Ashton. When she came to see me, we could not locate the lawyer of the EEOC claim. Therefore, I developed a strategy based on an unprecedented claim in Maryland. Our trial on the claim of wrongful termination resulted in a Prince George’s County jury awarding Ashton her lost wages and other damages. Afterwards, the employer appealed.

Maryland’s highest court ruled for Ashton. As a result, Maryland now recognizes claims when employment decisions violate public policy.

FOURTH AMENDMENT SEARCH CASE

Perkins v. State (Md.Ct.Spec.Apps. 1989) Police received a tip that one hotel room had many people entering and leaving. When police arrived at the hotel room, everything was quiet. They had no search warrant. One police officer knocked on the door. When the defendant opened the door, the law enforcement officer lied. As a result, the defendant consented to the officer request to enter the room. The police found drugs, and the defendant was convicted at trial.

On appeal, I was the defendant’s lawyer. Before the Court, I argued that gaining consent with a lie violated the Fourth Amendment. During the hearing, the appeals court took the unusual step of announcing it agreed with my argument. The court ruled that police can not use deception to get consent to enter a residence and reversed the conviction.

WORKPLACE COMPENSATION

Claimant v. WAH (Md. Worker’s Compensation Commission 2003). After a chemical spill in her Hospital lab, a technician suffered various medical issues. She filed a Workers’ Compensation claim, but the employer rejected the claim. As time passed, her conditions worsened. After several months, she could not return to work. After we met, I took her case.

Her condition required finding a new career. Because claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act provided an optional path, including a jury trial, I provided the employer’s lawyer with a draft of the complaint. To avoid the potentially greater liability, the employer admitted the validity of the Workers’ Compensation claim. My client received her full compensation.

Scroll to Top