Neal E. Minahan
In only eight years of practice, Neal E. Minahan has accomplished an extraordinary amount of pro bono for a young lawyer. In particular, Minahan has devoted over 2,500 hours of pro bono hours to a series of landmark civil rights cases affecting institutionalized people in Massachusetts. His successful pro bono representations have resulted in broad institutional reforms and have set important precedent for the rights of incarcerated people.
Minahan's pro bono cases have included his fighting for the religious rights of Muslim inmates serving life sentences to securing medical care for a transgender person who was civilly committed as a sex offender. As with many prison cases, his clients' pro se complaints languished for years before they found pro bono representation. In each case, Minahan was able to secure his clients' rights despite fierce opposition and the unpopularity of the cause. One of Minahan's landmark cases spanned half a decade and sparked statewide prison reform. The case involved two Muslim inmates who had filed a pro-se complaint to secure their right to daily Halal meals (meals that meet the dietary requirements of Islam). At the end of trial, the Court issued a decision requiring the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide Minahan's clients with Halal meals and access to religious services. The ruling led to the DOC revisiting its religious policies and providing Halal meals and religious services to Muslim inmates on a system-wide basis.
Minahan also represented a civilly committed, transgender inmate in her suit to secure prescribed medical treatment for her Gender Identity Disorder. This case was wildly unpopular due to the nature of the treatment and the plaintiff's underlying criminal offense. After years of litigation with complex constitutional issues, Minahan was able to obtain access to treatment for his client. The decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit where it was a case of first impression; the case significantly advanced the rights of transgender people and those seeking medical care while incarcerated.
Aside from his pro bono representation of disenfranchised populations, Minahan serves as President and Chair of the Board of BAGLY, Inc., a 30 year old nonprofit organization promoting educational, social and leadership opportunities for LGBT youth in Massachusetts, as well as spearheading state and national advocacy around LGBT youth issues.