H. Louis Sirkin is one of the nation's preeminent First Amendment and criminal defense attorneys. Over more than 50 years of practice, Sirkin has consistently defended the free speech and constitutional rights of countless individuals and businesses, including adult entertainment establishments, museums, artists, activists, and ordinary citizens in all types of cases. Lou is also a Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.
Born in Cincinnati in 1940, Sirkin obtained both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Cincinnati. He entered private practice and quickly earned a reputation as an effective civil rights lawyer. He achieved national prominence in 1990 when he successfully defended Dennis Barrie, the director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, against obscenity charges for displaying the nude artwork of Robert Mapplethorpe,. The controversy was later depicted in the Golden Globe-winning movie Dirty Pictures (2000). He has also served as President of the First Amendment Lawyers Association and the Greater Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
Sirkin is a true believer and has distinguished himself as a compassionate mentor, a sought-after lecturer, and a tireless advocate. He has represented persons whose message was completely contrary to his own beliefs and has risked both his career and his physical safety to do so. (He was once escorted out the rear door of the courthouse to avoid being assaulted by individuals who opposed his clients.) But perhaps Sirkin's most notable accomplishment was his 2002 victory before the United States Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, which declared the Child Pornography Prevention Act unconstitutional. In addition, Sirkin has also represented artists charged with crimes, including morgue photographer Thomas Condon, and has defended on appeal numerous individuals on Ohio's and Georgia's death rows. In total, he has handled more than 125 appeals in civil and criminal cases.
Sirkin frequently lectures to students at the country's top universities and has recently participated in panels at Harvard University, New York University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan, and Northern Kentucky University. For the past decade, he has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati, where he has taught habeas corpus law and a First Amendment seminar.
Sirkin has been selected by his peers as a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has received numerous awards for his professional endeavors, including most recently the Nicholas Longworth III Alumni Achievement Award for Distinguished Professional Service from the UC College of Law, the Southwestern Ohio Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union Award for his commitment to the First Amendment, and the District Award from the Ohio State Bar Association for his outstanding contributions to the profession of law. He is also a fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.
Sirkin is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court; the United States Tax Court; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits; the United States District Courts for the Southern and Northern District of Ohio, the District of Colorado, the Eastern District of Kentucky, and the Eastern District of Michigan; and all courts in Ohio.
Louis is not only a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, but also a Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.