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NOV. 19, 2020 – With the practice of journalism in the U.S. under unprecedented threat in recent years, Dan Laidman has been a tenacious and creative advocate for the news media. Whether through emergency, on-the-fly courtroom intervention or the hard slog of years-long litigation, he has helped support newsgathering activities at a time when they are most essential.
In recognition of his achievements, the National Law Journal has named Laidman to its inaugural list of First Amendment Trailblazers.
Laidman's many important efforts in recent years include representing the Los Angeles Times in successfully moving to unseal key records in a high-profile civil rights lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He also quickly fought off two prior restraint orders issued against the Times that had barred the paper from publishing photographs and information about criminal court cases.
Laidman joined Davis Wright Tremaine partner Thomas R. Burke in the defense of San Francisco journalist Bryan Carmody, who in the spring of 2019 woke to the sound of police officers bashing in the front gate of his home. With warrants in hand, the officers handcuffed Carmody and seized his computers, phones, and other belongings—all in an attempt to uncover who had leaked an allegedly confidential police report. The incident was publicized nationwide as a First Amendment crisis. Laidman stepped up and, working pro bono over a period of several weeks, helped quash all five of the search warrants issued against Carmody, ensuring that all material obtained with the orders could not be used.
Laidman has made key contributions to complex litigation as well. He helped obtain a precedential California appellate decision holding that media organizations and members of the public can recover attorneys' fees when they successfully oppose third parties trying to block the release of public records. The decision enabled the L.A. Times to recover its fees after it defeated efforts by a police union to withhold key portions of a report about a controversial police shooting.
In another trailblazing case, Laidman successfully defended a citizen-activist who was sued by the city of Inglewood, Calif., for copyright infringement after using clips of city council meetings in his YouTube videos critiquing the council's work.
Laidman is counsel in Davis Wright Tremaine's Los Angeles office. He worked as a professional journalist for six years before attending law school.
Laidman's other recent recognition includes being honored last year with the Freedom of Information Award by the California News Publishers Association. He was also part of a Davis Wright Tremaine team that received the 2019 Freedom of Information Act Award from the ACLU of Southern California. The award recognized the team's work ensuring public access to critical information about how the Trump administration enforced the 2017 Muslim travel ban on the West Coast.
About Davis Wright Tremaine
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is a national law firm with approximately 550 lawyers representing clients based throughout the United States and around the world. The firm is widely recognized for having the country's leading First Amendment litigation practice.w For more information, visit www.dwt.com.