Martin Garbus has a diverse practice that consists of individuals and companies involved in politics, media, entertainment, and the arts.
Martin Garbus represented Lenny Bruce against obscenity charges, best-selling writer Robert Sam Anson in a lawsuit claiming Michael Eisner and Walt Disney tried to stop the publication of a book critical of Disney, Penguin Books against attempts by Lawrence Walsh, Special Council to Iran-Contra, to stop the publication of Jeffrey Tobin’s book on Iran-Contra, and in a case tried in Illinois, successfully stopped the unauthorized publication of the short stories of author John Cheever. He presently represents individuals who maybe part of a “spy swap” with Cuba.
Marty Garbus has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court. After a trial in Alabama, he won a unanimous 9-0 decision striking down laws in 14 states that had disenfranchised millions of people. He filed in New York Federal Court, in the case of Goldberg v. Kelly, and won a 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court that is, according to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, perhaps the most important due process case of the 20th Century. He participated in Ashton v Kentucky where the supreme court, in one of its most important first amendment cases, struct down criminal libel laws throughout all 50 states.
This year Martin Garbus won a series of cases brought by fraudulent Chinese Corporations against “short sellers”. Previously he won a four-month class action securities-fraud suit, successfully representing plaintiffs against one of America’s largest corporations. He also won a jury trial in a Mississippi Federal Court on behalf of Britain’s Channel 4 and the Public Broadcasting System in a case involving claims that Robert Maplethorps photographs were obscene.
Mr. Garbus’ passion for protecting the interests of his clients has been widely recognized. He was appointed to serve as the lawyer and/or executor and/or trustee of numerous individuals and estates, including those of Marilyn Monroe, Igor Stravinsky, Philip Roth, John Cheever, and Margaret Mitchell. Assuming an active role as guardian, he represented the Stravinsky Estate in a seven year precedent-setting suit contesting the late author’s will and the Mitchell Estate in a case involving a parody of Gone With the Wind.
Marty Garbus also represented Public Enemy No. 1, a hip-hop and rap group, for whom he won a copyright suit against the Coors Beer Company that wrongfully sampled its work in beer advertisements. Other prominent cases he has worked on include representing Miramax when the Motion Picture Association tried to give several of its films an “R” rating, trying and winning before a federal jury the Isley Brothers’ accounting and infringement suit against Motown Records, and defending Terry McMillan in a libel suit. In addition, Mr. Garbus also defended Peter Matthiessen and Penguin Books in libel suits filed in South Dakota and Minnesota by South Dakota Governor and Senator William Janklow and the FBI over allegations that the FBI wrongfully coerced testimony through physical abuse and that the Governor had raped an Indian woman.
During his legal career, Martin Garbus has also represented and advocated on behalf of many political dissidents such as Vaclav Havel, Daniel Ellsberg, and Andrei Sakharov. He has also worked on many high profile criminal cases.
Pioneering the legal future of the digital age, he represented Eric Corley and The Electronic Frontier Foundation in the Open Source Movement in the first copyright case to be tried under the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That landmark case, involving the Motion Picture Association of America, became a battle where First Amendment and copyright values clashed, permanently affecting the art, movie, music and DVD industries, including the rights of MP3 and IPOD owners.
Nobel Prize-Winning Clients
- Vaclav Havel
- James Watson
- Andrei Sakharov
During his legal career, Martin Garbus has represented and advocated on behalf of Prisoners of conscience and political dissidents such as Vaclav Havel, and Daniel Ellsberg. Mr. Garbus also smuggled a list of political prisoners, with descriptions of their awful jail conditions, out of the Soviet Union on behalf of Andrei Sakharov, and other Russian dissidents and personally delivered it to President Jimmy Carter in January 1980, just two weeks before his inauguration. President Carter acknowledged that this document was the beginning and a cornerstone of his new American human rights policy. He also served as an international election observer in the Ukraine, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador.
Mr. Garbus has been involved in several cases internationally. He played a role in writing the Czechoslovakian constitution, the Russian media laws, and laws in other foreign countries. He represented the Rwandan government after the genocide in its negotiations with the International Court over questions concerning the trials of the accused. He has also represented government officials in other countries, including members of Salvadore Allende’s goverment, cabinet ministers and judges of the highest court of India during Indira Gandhi’s emergency crackdown, jailed opponents of the regime in Taiwan, Basques in Spain, and members of the African National Congress in South Africa. He presently represents, sikh groups in the Punjab and The Cuban Five in a Florida Federal Court that had convicted them of murder.
In China, Mr. Garbus advised the government in their attempts to enforce copyright and gave lectures to Chinese officials and students in on copyright enforcement. Mr. Garbus has also been an international observer in trials and elections in South Africa, Ruwanda, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
Martin Garbus has also represented individuals and corporations in media and commercial matters overseas.
Marty Garbus’ diverse practice as an entertainment lawyer consists of individuals and companies involved in media, entertainment, and the arts. He has handled entertainment-law cases involving free speech, intellectual property, and commercial-law issues as well as book and movie negotiations, including movie negotiations for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Oppenheimer. His media clients include:
David Halberstam, Philip Roth, Tom Brokaw, Amy Tan, Philip Roth, John Irving, Terry McMillan, Peter Matthiessen, Martin Sherwin, Kai Bird, Nancy Reagan, and Alger Hiss.
Actors, Playwrights, Directors, & Producers
Al Pacino, Lauren Bacall, Martin Lawrence, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Richard Gere, Robert Redford, Penny Marshall, Spike Lee, Lenny Bruce, Michael Moore, Garry Marshall, Sidney Lumet, Samuel Beckett, Peter Stone, Michael York, Frederick Wiseman, and Jonas Mekas.
Penguin-Putnam Books, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Random House, Alfred A. Knopf, Pantheon, Ballantine Books, Grove Press, and Scholastic Books.
Artists, Photographers & Galleries
Agnes Martin, Tom Wesselman, Sally Mann, Bert Stern, Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, The Estate Of Mark Rothko and The Pace Gallery.
Motion Picture Studios, Media, and Corporate Entities
Martin Garbus has done corporate litigation for Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Miramax, LucasFilms, Paramount, Michael Bloomberg, and Bloomberg, L.P.
Among the litigations involving high-profile individuals that Mr. Garbus has handled are:
- Defense of the Mayor of the City of New York’s, Michael Bloomberg’s, private company against Rupert Murdoch and Fox.
- Successful defense of actor Richard Gere against criminal assault charges.
- Successfully representation of Richard Avedon, renowned photographer, against invasion-of-privacy claims.
- Successfully representation of Robert Redford in a false-advertising suit against the Lorillard Tobacco Company.
- Successfully representation of LucasFilms in the corporate litigation of its book negotiations for Star Wars.
Find out more about Marty Garbus’ extensive and impressive list of current and former clients: