Sussman & Associates is a civil rights firm located in Goshen, NY. Michael Sussman has been fighting for social and individual justice for more than 35 years. He is well known as one of the top trial lawyers in the region. Christopher Watkins, Of Counsel, is an experienced and well-regarded trial attorney and litigator who has consistently obtained outstanding results for his clients. With a team of knowledgeable and hard-working staff, Heather M. Abissi, Esq., Mary Jo Whateley, Esq., Jonathan Goldman, Esq., and Geri Prescott, we comprise the law firm of Sussman & Watkins, dedicated to preserving civil rights and fighting for justice.
— Michael H. Sussman, Esq.
— Christopher D. Watkins, Esq
— Background & Mission
— Our Staff
— Domestic Violence
— Employment Discrimination
— Employment & Labor
— First Amendment: Retaliation
• Carpenter v NYS OCFS
— Governmental Abuse
— Land Use
— Police Abuse & Misconduct
• Police Abuse Cases
— Voting Rights
In 1986, Michael Sussman and his late father, Morton J., opened Sussman & Sussman at 30 South Broadway in Yonkers, New York. This building was next door to Yonkers City Hall. Five weeks earlier, federal district Judge Leonard Sand had issued a 700 page decision finding the city of Yonkers and its School Board had engaged in 40 years of intentional racial segregation. Michael had represented the NAACP, a main plaintiff in the case, since 1981.
Morton was a CPA by training and experience. Having graduated law school in 1955, he had never practiced law a day in his life before he started the firm in January 1986.
Through the late 1980's, Michael continued to represent the Yonkers’ NAACP and other NAACP Branches throughout the United States in major civil rights cases. The cases involved voting rights, employment discrimination, housing and school segregation. In 1988, the City of Yonkers refused to comply with federal court orders requiring it to pass an effective Fair Housing ordinance. Sussman took Yonkers to the Supreme Court of the United States which ruled that the district court could, literally, bankrupt the city if it refused to obey federal court orders.
In 1991, having started a family in Orange County and having seen Morton retire, Michael re-located Sussman Law Offices to Goshen, New York. Quickly, the firm commenced representing Orange Environment in its struggle to stop the County of Orange from opening a $57,000,000 landfill adjacent to the Wallkill River, on the principal aquifer feeding the southern part of our County and on top of wetlands. This fight lasted for eight years; the County never opened the landfill and was forced to expedite its clean-up of the old land-fill which was leaking leachate into the Wallkill River.
Sussman also branched out into fighting the totalitarianism which was represented by the majority in Kiryas Joel, a religious community in the Town of Monroe. The leaders of that community pressured state government to create a public school district. On the fifth try, the courts allowed its version of such a district to be implemented. However, when Joseph Waldman sought to run for the School Board, the main congregation expelled his seven children from school in mid-year. With no place to educate his children, Mr. Waldman brought suit. Sussman convinced the state courts to intervene in an unprecedented manner, forcing a private religious school to admit the children. So began twenty years of litigation to bring Kiryas Joel into compliance with the state and federal constitutions.
In the late 1990's, Sussman hired Christopher Watkins, a Yale graduate with a law degree from Boalt in California. Watkins brought renewed energy to the law practice. His steady diligence has earned significant victories in employment discrimination and other civil rights cases.
Since 2003, Sussman and Watkins have continued to expand their work, litigating numerous cases on behalf of people injured by police misconduct and police abuse. At the same time, they have represented many police officers and other civil service employees whose rights have been ignored by local and state governments. They have won pioneering legal victories in such diverse areas as domestic violence and the rights of motorists not to cooperate with probing and unjustified police interrogations.