Al (Alphonse A.) Gerhardstein papers
Scope and Contents
The Al (Alphonse A.) Gerhardstein Papers contain material produced during Al Gerhardstein's career in civil rights litigation and advocacy, with focuses in reproductive rights, prisoner's rights, policing, employment discrimination, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. Material to be found in the collection include briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, research documents, reports, newspaper articles, magazine and journal articles, website articles, books, employee training and discipline documents, correspondence, and speeches. Formats include paper-based objects, photographs, VHS, DVD, audio cassette, floppy disks and compact discs.
Series 1: Reproductive Rights-attacks on laws restricting abortion. This series contains material related to cases challenging the necessity and constitutionality of laws restricting a woman’s access to professional abortion services. Challenged restrictions to abortion access include requirements for parental consent or judicial bypass for minors seeking an abortion, requirements for fetal disposal, a ban on intact dilation and extraction- the abortion procedure criticized as “partial birth abortion”, a denial for a license to operate an abortion clinic. Contents consist of briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcripts, case exhibits, notes, research documents, newspaper articles, magazine articles, and website articles on paper-based objects and medical instruments used for abortions.
Series 2: Reproductive Rights-harassment of women and abortion providers by anti-abortion protestors. This series contains material related to cases seeking to protect women and abortion clinics from harassment by anti-choice activists. Cases involve the anti-abortion activist groups Project Jericho and Tri-State Rescue, who at different times had prevented women from accessing care through blockades, intimidation, and assault. This series also contains material related to the 1991 criminal prosecution of John Brockhoeft for the 1985 firebombing of the Margaret Sanger Center in Cincinnati. Brockhoeft had been one of the lead defendants in Planned Parenthood of Cincinnati v. Project Jericho, the case requiring peaceful protests at the clinics. Contents consist of briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, research documents, newspaper and magazine articles, on paper-based objects, photographs, VHS tapes and DVDs.
Series 3: Prisoner Rights—State Prisons. This series contains material related to the class action lawsuit against state prison officials by inmates present at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility during the 1993 Lucasville riot. The Lucasville Riot was the longest and one of the most deadly prison riots in the history of the United States. Other cases in this series involve violations of prisoners’ first amendment rights; wrongful deaths; failure to protect the safety of prisoners; abuse poor health conditions and medical neglect. Contents consist of briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, research documents, newspaper and magazine articles, and reports on paper-based objects, photographs and DVDs. Many of the records from the Lucasville riot remain under seal by court order.
Series 4: Prisoner Rights—jail medical care. This series contains material related to the cases of failed medical care in county jails which led to prisoner deaths. Many of these deaths involve suicide. Others involve drug withdrawal. Contents consist of pleadings, depositions, and reports on prison health care on paper-based objects.
Series 5: Prisoner Rights—jail sex abuse, excessive force, and other abuses. This series contains material related to cases regarding wrongful death; excessive force; failure to protect inmates; and a case of wrongful imprisonment which led to a person’s deportation. Contents consist of pleadings, depositions, officer training, evaluation, and discipline files, reports, and training documents on paper-based objects.
Series 6: Police Misconduct- excessive force. This series contains material related to the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement, which was the result of a collaboration between the Cincinnati Black United Front, American Civil Liberties Union, City of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police. After charges of discriminatory policing including racial profiling, excessive force, and days of civil unrest, the parties adopted a Community Problem Oriented Policing (CPOP) strategy which included use of force reforms, accountability measures, terms to ensure bias free policing, and established the Citizen Complaint Authority for citizen review of complaints against the police for discipline recommendations and police reform recommendations. Other material in this series are related to cases of excessive force; improper taser deployment; police cover-ups; improper investigations; and challenges to the use of no-knock raids. Contents consist of pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, training manuals, research documents, reports, newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, pamphlets, correspondence, on paper-based objects, floppy disks, photographs, compact disc, audio cassettes, and VHS tapes.
Series 7: Police Misconduct—wrongful conviction and other abuses. This series contains material related to cases regarding police failures to investigate murder; cover-ups; falsified forensic evidence; defense attorney malpractice; false arrest; prisoners rights after arrest; and unconstitutional use of sex and drugs in an investigation. Contents consist of briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, subpoenas, research documents, reports, and interview transcripts on paper-based-objects, photographs, compact discs, floppy disks, and audio cassettes.
Series 8: Employment—employment discrimination and harassment. This series contains material related to cases of discrimination and harassment at work, including sexual harassment and discrimination; public corruption involving violations of first amendment rights; sex discrimination and retaliation at the University of Cincinnati; and LGBT discrimination. Contents consist of pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, reports, research documents, newspaper articles, interview transcript, and an employee manual, on paper-based objects and photographs.
Series 9: Affirmative Action. This series contains material related to lawsuits to ensure equal opportunity and equitable representation in the Cincinnati police and fire departments. Contents consist of pleadings, briefs, case exhibits, reports, research documents, newspaper articles, test materials and answers, on paper-based objects and a floppy disk.
Series 10: LGBT Rights. This series contains material related to Obergefell v. Hodges, which challenged bans on same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court's decision on this case ruled that it is unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriage. Other cases in this series defended the provision of benefits to same-sex domestic partners (prior to Obergefell v. Hodges); and challenged the constitutionality of Article XII of the Cincinnati Charter, which prohibited LGBT people from receiving legal protection from discrimination. Contents consist of briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, reports, research documents, newspaper, journal and academic articles, and books on paper-based objects, floppy disks, VHS, and audio cassettes.
Series 11: Additional Cases. This series contains material related to other cases related to other subject matters. Such cases include defense of voter registration; defense counsel to a psychologist in a class action lawsuit for victims of the Cincinnati Radiation Experiments that took place at the University of Cincinnati; improper use of race in adoptions; sex discrimination; abuse of corpsesat the Hamilton County Morgue; a challenge by Marian and Donald Spencer to protect African-American voting rights; voting rights for felons; free speech for candidates in judicial elections; a challenge to restrictions on campaign contributions; and failure to protect students from sexual harassment in public schools. Contents consist of briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, research documents, election results and voter demographics, and newspaper articles on paper-based objects and VHS.
Series 12: Reference Material, Professional Development, and PRAC (Prisoner Rights Advocacy Center, later Prisoner Reform Advocacy Center). This series contains material collected during the course of research and professional development of Al Gerhardstein and his work with PRAC, now the Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC). Contents consist of reference books, newsletters, seminar and conference notes, meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, and news articles on paper-based objects.
Series 13: Speeches, Lectures, and Articles. This series contains speeches, lectures, and articles written by Al Gerhardstein throughout the course of his career. Contents consist of written speeches and articles on paper-based objects, compact discs, VHS and a camcorder cassette.
Series 14: Prisoner Rights- State Prisons Sealed Boxes. This series contains documents related to the Lucasville riot that are under seal by court order.
- Creation: 1973-2013
Conditions Governing Access
Series I-XIII of this collection are open for research. Series XIV Prisoner's Rights State Prisons (sealed documents) are sealed under court order.
Conditions Governing Use
Audio/Video material may not be immediately accessible. Advanced notice prior to visit is necessary for staff to accommodate access. Audio/video material may be accessed on authorized equipment only. See staff prior to use. Available equipment to access audio/video material is not guaranteed.
Biographical / Historical
Al Gerhardstein is a civil rights lawyer and social justice advocate based in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was born in 1951 to Richard and Carolyn Gerhardstein in Cleveland, Ohio. After being raised on a chicken farm, and watching his father lose his job and pension, he became concerned with how little power and support individuals had against giant corporations. He attended Beloit College and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government. He then went on to attend the New York University School of Law with a Root-Tilden Public Interest Law Scholarship, graduating in 1976.
Gerhardstein’s professional career in law began in 1976 at the legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow. He remained in Cincinnati, joining civil rights attorney Robert Laufman in 1978. He remained with Laufman until Laufman retired in 2004, and was joined by Jennifer Branch as a partner to form Gerhardstein and Branch, LPA. After Branch was elected as a common pleas judge in 2020, Gerhardstein joined with Cleveland-based Gordan Friedman and Terry Gilbert, forming Friedman, Gilbert, and Gerhardstein.
Gerhardstein’s legal work in defending women’s reproductive freedom began in 1985. A firebomb destroyed the Margaret Sanger Center abortion clinic operated by Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 30, 1985. The clinic was forced to relocate, and Gerhardstein began serving as general counsel to the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati as protest activities by anti-abortioin activist groups continued at the clinic’s temporary location. Gerhardstein filed a defendant class action and an injunction issued requiring orderly conduct at the site. Many protesters were arrested and convicted for contempt of court. Their convictions were ultimately upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. It would be discovered in 1991 that one of the class action defendants, John Brockhoeft, was the person responsible for the 1985 bombing of the Margaret Sanger Center and the Women’s Health Care Center in Mt. Auburn, as well as attempting to firebomb the temporary Margaret Sanger Center again in 1987. Brockhoeft was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to the firebombing.
Gerhardstein continued to champion women’s reproductive rights for Planned Parenthood of Cincinnati and other abortion clinics in Ohio, including challenging laws imposing restrictions on access to abortion. This included bans on late-term abortion, requiring in person meetings 24 hours in advance of abortions, imposing criminal and professional penalties on doctors, and challenging parental notice and consent requirements for women under the age of 18, all of which can put the health and safety of the pregnant person in jeopardy.
On April 11, 1993, one of the largest and most violent prison riots broke out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. Three prison gangs- the Gangster Disciples, Black Muslims, and Aryan Brotherhood formed an alliance to take over the facility in response to overcrowding, abuse, facility mismanagement, and mandated tuberculosis testing. Muslim prisoners refused the tuberculosis tests as they contained phenol- which they claimed would violate an Islamic restriction on alcohol consumption. Prisoners took eight prison guards hostage, killing one and killing nine prisoners during the course of the riot. On April 21, the prisoners surrendered control of the facility and released the hostages after prison officials agreed to review the complaints brought forth by the prisoners. In a class action lawsuit, Gerhardstein was lead counsel representing inmates who were present in, but did not participate in the violence of the riot. The lawsuit challenged prison officials’ failure to protect inmates from the forces that caused the riot and failure to protect inmates during the riot from death, injury and property loss and the unconstitutional conditions of confinement since the riot ended. Gerhardstein and cocounsel secured $4 million in settlement funds for the victims. Shortly after, in 1997, he founded the Prisoner Rights Advocacy Center (now the Ohio Justice & Policy Center) to address the overcrowding, abuse, neglect, and racial disparities that he witnessed in his career fighting for the rights of prison inmates.
Gerhardstein continued to work for meaningful reform in the justice system when he joined attorneys Scott Greenwood and Ken Lawson in filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the ACLU and the Cincinnati Black United Front against the City of Cincinnati in 2001. Following over a dozen acts of police brutality in Cincinnati over a short time period, the Black United Front and ACLU charged the city with excessive force, racial profiling and biased policing. The lawsuit was settled and the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) joined as a a defendant. The settlement, or the Collaborative Agreement, was negotiated after receiving public input from and dialogue with a wide variety of stakeholders. Approved in 2002, the agreement required that police adopt problem solving as a primary strategy for promoting safety. With “Community Problem Oriented Policing” (CPOP), in which the police act as partners within the community to address specific situations after thoughtful analysis of evidence and joint planning. The agreement also worked to reestablish trust between the police and the community by including use of force reforms, accountability measures, terms to ensure bias free policing, as well as esteablishing the Citizen’s Complaint Authority, which allows for citizen review of complaints against the police followed by recommendations for discipline and policy changes where appropriate.
In 2013, after same-sex marriage was legalized in Maryland, gay couple Jim Obergefell and his partner John Arthur flew to the state to be legally married before Arthur would die from ALS. After their return, Gerhardstein learned about their marriage and Arthur's terminal condition, and was invited to their condo. He explained that Ohio would not recognize their out-of-state same sex marriage. He produced a blank death certificate for showing that when John died John would be listed as single (not married) and the box for a spouse would be blank where Jim’s name should be. Under federal law at the time, Ohio had no legal obligation to honor same-sex marriages performed out of state. The couple decided to sue. Obergefell applied for and was granted a temporary restraining order allowing him to be listed as Arthur’s husband on his death certificate. After the state of Ohio successfully appealed to the 6th circuit court, Gerhardstein took Obergefell’s case to the Supreme Court, which combined the Ohio case with others from various states and then reversed the 6th circuit court’s decision. The ruling established marriage equality for same-sex couples in all 50 states.
Gerhardstein has cut back on his active practice as of 2022, but has continued his work in civil rights as a consultant for other lawyers and activists.
235 Linear Feet (222 Paige boxes, 5 Hollinger boxes, 1 oversized document box, 31 poster boards. 44 of the 222 Paige boxes are sealed and stored offsite.)
Language of Materials
The Al (Alphonse A.) Gerhardstein papers contain briefs, pleadings, depositions, trial transcriptions, case exhibits, notes, research documents, reports, newspaper articles, magazine and journal articles, website articles, books, employee training and discipline documents, correspondence, and speeches. Formats include paper-based objects, photographs, VHS, DVD, audio cassette, floppy disks and compact discs produced and collected through the course of his work as a civil rights lawyer. Gerhardstein's practice specialized in supporting access to abortion, prisoner's rights, prison reform, police misconduct, police reform, and LGBT rights.
The collection is arranged into fourteen series, twelve of which have been arraned in subseries. The subseries have been arranged by individual court cases, with the exception of series twelve, which is arranged by content type.
Series 1, Reproductive Rights-attacks on laws restricting abortion Subseries 1, Cleveland Surgical Center Inc., et al., v. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, et al. Subseries 2, Akron Center for Reproductive Health, et al. v. Lynn Slaby, et al. Subseries 3, Planned Parenthood v. City of Cincinnati, et al. Subseries 4, Women's Medical Corporation, et al. v. Taft, et al. (Hb 351) Case No: C-3-00-368 Subseries 5, Women's Medical Professional Corp. v. Voinovich, et al. Case No. 1:95-cv-414 Subseries 6, Cincinnati Women's Services, et al. v. George Voinovich, et al. (HB 421) Case No. 1:98-cv-289 Subseries 7, Women's Medical Profession v. Baird, et al.
Series 2, Reproductive Rights-harassment of women by anti-choice protestors Subseries 1, Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati v Project Jericho, et al.; Thomas Condit, et al. v. Planned Parenthood, et al. (consolidated) Subseries 2, Planned Parenthood, et al., v. Tri-State Rescue, et al. Subseries 3, Trespass Ordinance (Criminal case: City of Cincinnati v. Charlotte Thompson, et al.) Subseries 4, Abortion Research and Publications
Series 3, Prisoner Rights—State Prisons Subseries 1, Stephen William Gumpl et al., v. Richard P. Seiter Subseries 2, Robert A., a minor, v. Lincoln Stokes Subseries 3, Robert Hendrix v. William Dallman et al. Subseries 4, Hussain Abdullah Ar Raheem v. Sgt. Dan White, et al. Subseries 5, Vina Gilliam v. John Rose, et al. Subseries 6, Dunn, et al., v. Voinovich, et al. Subseries 7, Dunn, et al., v. Voinovich, et al. Subseries 8, Cahill, et al., v. Zent, et al. Subseries 9,Atchinson v. Russell, et al. Subseries 10, In re SOCF Darrin E. Morris et al v. Arthur Tate, et al. Subseries 11, McLindon v. Russell Subseries 12, Busey, et al. v CCA, et al. (In re NOCC) Case No. 4:97-cv-1995 Subseries 13, Traci Greene v Gayle Bowles, et al. Case No. 1:98-cv-476 Subseries 14, Davis v. Mendel, et al. Subseries 15, Dwain K. Singer, et al. v. Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, et al. Subseries 16, William T. Fletcher Jr., et al. v. Robert A. Woods, et al. Subseries 17, William Crutcher v. Ronald Edwards, et al. Subseries 18, Fussell, et al., v. Wilkinson, et al. Subseries 19, Charles Bennett v. Mark Saunders Subseries 20, Brian Parker v. Mary Spotswood, et al. Subseries 21, Cornelius Wayne Hoevenaar v. Alan Lazaroff Subseries 22, Bernice Bingman v. Ohio Dept of Rehabilitation and Correction Subseries 23, SH, et al., v. Strickrath, et al. Subseries 24, Kelly Probst, as Administrator of the Estate of Christopher Probst, v. Central Ohio Youth Center, et al. Subseries 25, DD, et al., v. Washington County, et al Subseries 26, In re: John Perotti Subseries 27, In re: Danny Lee Grimm Subseries 28, Dennis M. Wofel v. Troy E. Holbrook, et al. Subseries 29, Anthony Riggins v. Harold Carter, et al. Subseries 30, John Meyer v. Barbara McNicholas, et al. Subseries 31, Henry Hernandez, et al. v. Reginald Wilkinson, et al. Subseries 32, Eric Swofford v. Terry L. Morris, et al. Subseries 33, Albert Dotson, et al. vs. Richard P. Seiter, et al.
Series 4, Prisoner Rights—jail medical care Subseries 1, Angela Lowe, as Admx. of the Estate of Sean Levert, v. Cuyahoga County, et al. Subseries 2, Padula v. Trumbull County, et al. Subseries 3, Prison Health Reports
Series 5, Prisoner Rights—jail other including sex abuse, excessive force Subseries 1, Shirley Faig as Admx. Of the Estate of Ronald Roberts, et al. Subseries 2, Wanda Butts, v Lincoln Stokes, et al. Subseries 3, Lisa Robertson v. Bruce Martin, M.D., et al. Subseries 4, Aldini v. Johnson, et al. Subseries 5, Rodriguez-Trevino, et al. v Jones, et al. Subseries 6, Jerome Ferguson vs. R. Benson, et al. Subseries 7, In re: Harry J. Weeks Subseries 8, James Thiel v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., et al. Subseries 9, Michael Jackson v. Hamilton County, Ohio, et al.
Series 6, Police Misconduct- excessive force Subseries 1, In re: Cincinnati Policing (aka The Collaborative Agreement) Subseries 2, Carpenter v. City of Cincinnati Subseries 3, Cundiff v. Mueller, et al. Subseries 4, Cline, et al. v. Mansfield, et al. Rush, et al., v. Mansfield, et al. (consolidated) Subseries 5, State of Ohio v. Joseph Chavalia Subseries 6, Elisabeth Kemper v. Milford
Series 7, Police Misconduct—wrongful conviction and other abuses Subseries 1, Helen Matje, et al. v. Simon Leis, et al. Subseries 2, Debra Culberson v. Vincent Doan, et al. Subseries 3, David Fossyl v. Thomas Watson, et al. Subseries 4, Anthony Michael Green v. City of Cleveland, et al. Subseries 5, Mark Miller v. Simone, et al. Subseries 6, Richard Hinig, et al., v. Huff., et al. Subseries 7, Simon Leis v ACLU, et al. Subseries 8, Judi Patrizi v. Scott W. Huff, et al. Subseries 9, Patricia Kammeyer, et al. v. City of Sharonville, et al. Subseries 10, Scott Mosser v. Kolby Watson, et al.
Series 8, Employment—discrimination and harassment Subseries 1, Richard Wirmel, et al., v. Daniel S. Wurst Subseries 2, Connie Lynn Wheeler v. Southland Corp., (7/11 Stores) Subseries 3, Lori Shields, a minor, through her parents Arlene and Bernard Shields v. Board of Education of Campbell County and Dan Sullivan, Superintendent of Campbell County Schools Subseries 4, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Fred DeBra Company Subseries 5, Gisela Walberg v. The University of Cincinnati, et al. Subseries 6, Scott Greenwood v. Taft, Stettinius & Hollister Subseries 7, Glover v. Williamsburg Board of Education, et al. Subseries 8, Sarah Gable v. Lewis, et al. Subseries 9, Dianne Benaugh v. OCRC Subseries 10, Neligan v. Sargent Subseries 11, Bryant v. Central Community Health Board
Series 9, Affirmative Action Subseries 1, Youngblood, et al., v City of Cincinnati, et al. Subseries 2, Will Jones, et al. v City of Cincinnati, et al. Subseries 3, Police and Fire affirmative action materials Subseries 4, Broach v. City of Cincinnati, et al. Case No. 1:12-cv-0066
Series 10, LGBT Rights Subseries 1, Equality Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, et al. v City of Cincinnati, et al. Subseries 2, Brinkman, et al. v. Miami University, et al and Jean Lynch, et al. Defendant-Intervenors Subseries 3, Obergefell v. Hodges; Henry v. Hodges (Consolidated)
Series 11, Additional Cases Subseries 1, Americans for Civil Participation, et al., v. Hamilton County Welfare Department, et al. Subseries 2, In re Cincinnati Radiation Litigation Subseries 3, Doe, et al., v. Hamilton County, et al Subseries 4, Tippecanoe Country Club v. Ohio Civil Rights Commission/ Judy Baker, et al. v. Tippecanoe Country Club, inc. Subseries 5, Chesher v. Neyer, et al. Subseries 6, Spencer, et al., v. Blackwell Subseries 7, CURE-Ohio Racial Fairness Project v. Kenneth Blackwell, et al. Subseries 8, Ohio Council 8 AFSCME, AFL-CIO, et al., v. Brunner, et al. Subseries 9, Logan, et al., v Sycamore Community School Board of Education, et al. Subseries 10, Range, et al. v. Douglas, et al. Subseries 11, Gunaratna Sarika F.K.A. Douglas E. Spies v. Reginald Wilkerson Subseries 12, Florence Urgent Care, et al., v. Healthspan, Inc., et al. Subseries 13, Ohio V. Van Gundy
Series 12, Reference Material, Professional Development, and PRAC (Prisoner Rights Advocacy Center) Subseries 1, Reference Material, Newsletters, Seminars Subseries 2, PRAC (Prison Reform Advocacy Center)
Series 13, Speeches, Lectures, and Articles
Series 14, Prisoner's Rights- State Prisons Sealed Boxes
Archives and Rare Books Library
- Spencer, Donald A. (Donald Andrew) (Person)
- Spencer, Marian A. (Marian Alexander), 1920- (Person)
- Obergefell, James (Person)
- Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (Lucasville, Ohio) (Organization)
- Affirmative action programs
- Anti-gay discrimination
- Civil rights
- Community policing -- Ohio -- Cincinnati
- Discrimination in employment
- Gay rights -- United States
- LGBTQ+ civil rights
- Police misconduct
- Prison riots
- Prisoners -- Civil rights
- Prisons -- Ohio
- Reproductive rights
- Same-sex marriage -- Law and legislation -- United States
- Trials (Police misconduct)
- Finding aid for the Al (Alphonse A.) Gerhardstein Papers
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- Alex Temple
- September 2022
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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