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Human And Civil Rights

Ensuring that all people are treated fairly and enjoy equal protection under the law is a top priority in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The office has worked on a number of initiatives with various groups throughout the district to further this goal.

In 2010, U.S. Attorney Dettelbach created the position of Director of Human and Civil Rights. This assistant U.S. Attorney coordinates all of the office's efforts on civil rights, including criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement actions. The Director of Human and Civil Rights is Bridget M. Brennan, who can be reached at

The office has a vigorous docket on civil rights. It prosecuted the largest case, in terms of number of defendants, using the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The office has convicted more than 30 people of human trafficking and related crimes dating to 2010. And the office has used civil tools to ensure equal access to housing and voting rights and equal treatment for those with hearing or vision impairments or HIV.

Among our recent successes:

United States v. Mullet: Sixteen people were sentenced to prison for their roles in a series of religiously motivated attacks on practitioners of the Amish faith. The group's leader, Samuel Mullet, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

United States v. Linn: Indiana native Randy Linn pleaded guilty to hate crimes related to efforts to set fire to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, the largest mosque in northwest Ohio. Linn's plea agreement included a binding recommendation of a 20-year prison sentence. Linn said during his plea hearing that he specifically targeted the mosque because of the faith of those who worshiped there.

United States v. Pudder: A white supremicist was sentenced to more than four years in prison after setting fire to the only predominantly African-American church in Conneaut, Ohio. That case led to the formation of United Against Hate, a group of religious leaders and clergy who have pledged to work together, regardless of denomination, to foster interfaith understanding and tolerance. Their message is that people should be able to worship as they see fit, free from intimidation.

United States v. Cuyahoga County: The Northern District of Ohio, working with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights section, sued Cuyahoga County in 2010 to obtain a bilingual ballot to ensure the county complied with the Voting Rights Act of 1964 as it applies to citizens from Puerto Rico. One year later, neighboring Lorain County agreed to add a bilingual ballot following discussions with our legal team.

Settlement with the Cleveland Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena: Our office reached a settlement with the Cleveland Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena following a complaint by a woman in a wheelchair who attended a concert at the arena. Under the terms of the agreement, the Cavs agreed to add additional wheelchair spaces, add captioning on arena scoreboards and ensure people with disabilities are provided accessible seating options, among other provisions.


The Civil Rights Working Group consists of approximately 90 members representing more than 40 local organizations. It is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is sponsored by The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio. The goal is to increase understanding, break down barriers and educate the public and law enforcement on the prevention of hate crimes. The group’s quarterly meetings are open to the public. For more information, call Mike Tobin at 216.622.3651

Citizen complaints may be registered with the Civil Rights Unit by telephone. Call 1-855-DOJ-CIVL (1-855-365-2485).

The National Human Trafficking Resource center is a toll-free hotline that can be used to access anti-trafficking resources, general information and to report a tip. That number is 1-888-373-7888.


Updated April 4, 2016

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