H. Louis Sirkin
Santen & Hughes LLP
600 Vine Street, Suite 2700
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
H. Louis Sirkin, a founding member of Sirkin & Kinsley, is one of the nation’s preeminent First Amendment and criminal defense attorneys. In his over 40 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.
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 much- 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 has had to be escorted out the rear door of courthouses to avoid being assaulted by citizens angered by the conduct of his clients). Sirkin’s most notable accomplishment was arguing before the United States Supreme Court in October 2001 in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, in which he successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Child Pornography Prevention Act. He 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 110 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 seven years, he has taught a class on habeas corpus at the University of Cincinnati’s law school as a member of the school’s adjunct faculty.
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.
Sirkin is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme 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.