Joseph W. SmithSenior Counsel
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233 E. 84th Drive
Merrillville, IN 46410
Joseph W. Smith has been with the firm since April 2015. Joe received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Purdue University in 2003 and his law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007. Joe began his legal career in Missouri, where he practiced in the field of municipal law and civil rights litigation defense, appearing in state and federal trial and appellate courts. He returned to Indiana in 2012, continuing in the field of municipal law. Joe practices primarily in the area of civil rights litigation defense.
- Northern District of Indiana
- Southern District of Indiana
- Northern District of Illinois
- Central District of Illinois
- Seventh Circuit
- United States Supreme Court
- Eighth Circuit
- Eastern District of Missouri
- B.A., History, Purdue University, West Lafayette, 2003.
- J.D., University of Illinois College of Law, Urbana-Champaign, 2007.
- All aspects of police liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including allegations of false arrest, excessive force, Taser use, police canine use, deadly force, police pursuits, searches and seizures, and malicious prosecution/denial of the right to a fair trial.
- Due process/takings claims related to land use regulation.
- First Amendment claims.
- Equal protection/discrimination claims.
- Deprivation of medical care claims.
- Obtained summary Judgment in favor of police officers and town in a deadly force case involving a mentally disturbed subject. No video of the event was available. The court found no violation of the decedent’s constitutional rights, despite the decedent’s mother’s testimony that the decedent was under the officers’ control shortly before the shooting occurred. Expert testimony was used to prove that the physical evidence established that the decedent was attacking the officers when deadly force was used. Jones v. Town of Highland, 204 F. Supp. 3d 1030 (N.D. Ind. 2016).
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of Drug Treatment Court case manager in a case where 21 plaintiffs alleged that they had been unlawfully held in jail for months without due process while awaiting placement in treatment facilities or halfway houses. Hoffman, et al. v. Knoebel, et al., 2017 WL 3191198 (S.D. Ind. July 27, 2017). Affirmed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 894 F.3d 836 (7th Cir. 2018).
- Obtained defense verdict in jury trial alleging excessive force by a police officer when the police officer performed a takedown of the plaintiff as the plaintiff was handcuffed. Successfully used surveillance video at trial to demonstrate that the plaintiff had tried to pull away from the police officer before the takedown. Herschell v. Watts, Northern District of Indiana 1:17-cv-2828.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of town officials and town where the plaintiff claimed that he had been fired for political reasons and in retaliation for his testimony in an administrative proceeding. Tomsheck v. Town of Long Beach, et al., 2019 WL 3778690 (N.D. Ind., Aug. 12, 2019).
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of city officials and city in claim alleging that the plaintiff was fired in violation of the First Amendment, Title VII, and other federal civil rights statutes. The plaintiff claimed that she was fired by the incoming mayor for political reasons. Although we contended that the plaintiff was fired for reasons other than her political affiliation, we successfully proved that, even if she had been fired for political reasons, her claims would still fail because she was a policymaking official. Marnocha v. City of Elkhart, et al., 400 F. Supp. 3d 735 (N.D. Ind. 2019).
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of police officers and city in claim alleging wrongful conviction. The plaintiff sued the investigating officers after his murder conviction was vacated after 21 years in prison. We successfully used information in the investigative file to demonstrate that the plaintiff had likely committed the crime, despite the plaintiff’s testimony that he was innocent and despite the recantations of witness statements implicating the plaintiff in the murder. Humphrey v. City of Anderson, et al., 2021 WL 447806 (S.D. Ind., Sept. 30, 2021).
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of police officers who used deadly force against the driver of a vehicle fleeing the scene of a shooting. No video of the event was available. Successfully used physical evidence and discovery admissions to show that the decedent was involved in the shooting, despite an eyewitness’ contrary testimony, and to disprove other testimony about the event. Gary v. City of Elkhart, et al., 2022 WL 524339 (N.D. Ind., Feb. 18, 2022).
- Obtained a dismissal of a federal lawsuit claiming that sheriff’s deputies had deprived the decedent’s family of the right of access to the courts. The plaintiff claimed that his father had been murdered, and that the deputies had destroyed evidence of the murder. We successfully moved in the probate court to vacate the order giving the plaintiff the right to sue on behalf of his father’s estate. Owsley v. Gorbett, et al., 2022 WL 3359240 (7th Cir., Aug. 15, 2022).