Civil Rights Violations

When the young group of lawyers, led by Dan Smolen, set out to start prosecuting civil rights cases many years ago, the risks were high and the likelihood of monetary reward was slim. Bob Blakemore, one of the firm’s civil rights attorneys, first dreamed of practicing in the area after falling in love with politically conscious hip hop acts like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. Smolen & Roytman lawyers saw longstanding injustice and official misconduct in Tulsa that continued to occur, unabated, without consequence. They decided to take action. They stood up for the poor and defenseless against the influential and powerful. Smolen & Roytman is not a conventional Oklahoma law firm, and the firm’s path to success has been anything but. It is their unique view of their surroundings, and passion for justice and equality, that has helped them shake up the old power structure in a conservative city once known as the “Oil Capital of the World”.

Through persistence and tireless work, Smolen & Roytman lawyers have achieved record-breaking results for their civil rights clients.

Since 2014, the firm’s civil rights settlements and verdicts have totaled nearly $30 million. In early 2017, Smolen & Roytman lawyers secured a $10.25 million jury verdict against the Tulsa County Sheriff for the Estate of Elliott Williams in a 1983 case involving complex claims of systemic deliberate indifference to Mr. Williams’ serious medical needs. Williams was an African American veteran who died at the Tulsa County Jail as the result of truly barbaric mistreatment and reckless neglect after languishing in a cell for five days. The Williams verdict is the largest civil rights death claim verdict in Oklahoma history.

In March of 2018, Smolen & Roytman lawyers reached a $6 million dollar settlement with the Tulsa County Sheriff on behalf of the Estate of Eric Harris. It was a nationally publicized case involving the tragic shooting death of Harris at the hands of Bob Bates, an undertrained and unqualified septuagenarian reserve deputy. The Harris settlement is the largest excessive force settlement in Oklahoma history.

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