Attorneys & Staff
Lea Spiess, an Associate at the Law Office of Ronald L. Kuby, has been with the firm since 2008. In the short period since she joined the firm, she has participated in several high-profile cases, representing, among others, Queens Imam Ahmad Afzali, a government informant accused of acting as a double agent in the 2009 New York City subway bombing plot; Occupy Wall Street protestors who became victims of police brutality; members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club; artists and models, arrested during demonstrations involving public nudity; and gun-toting granny Margaret Johnson, granddaughter of the late crime boss Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, who is being sued by a man who was shot by Ms. Johnson after he tried mugging her. Read more
Ms. Spiess has successfully represented clients in civil and criminal matters, at trial and on appeal, in state and federal courts. She got the juvenile conviction of Declan Devlin vacated based on newly-discovered evidence. She drafted the argument in the appellate brief for Henry Matyjewicz, challenging the lawfulness of conditions unilaterally imposed by the trial court at a court appearance subsequent to the plea proceeding. The Appellate Division vacated Mr. Matyjewicz’s felony conviction and 11 month prison sentence, ordering that he be given the benefit of the plea agreement.
Ms. Spiess negotiated the return of 74 vintage New York City subway signs to Billy LeRoy, owner of the iconic Bowery store Billy’s Antiques and Props. The signs had been seized from the store by police, who claimed that the signs were stolen from the MTA; Mr. LeRoy was charged with grand larceny. Kuby and Spiess got the charges against Mr. LeRoy dismissed, and Spiess’s efforts resulted in the return of 74 of approximately 100 signs. Read about the case in The Villagerand the New York Times.
Spiess filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit on behalf of Michael Clancy, who spent the last decade in prison for a murder he did not commit. She has successfully sued the City of New York in numerous civil rights cases involving false arrests, excessive force, malicious prosecutions, warrantless searches, and other police misconduct, recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars for clients whose rights have been violated.
She has petitioned the courts for review of cases involving cutting-edge legal issues, and has been granted leave to appeal to the State’s highest court in three cases. Ms. Spiess wrote the briefs in the landmark case People v. Khemwattie Bedessie, an appeal in which the Court of Appeals acknowledged, for the first time, a defendant’s right to present expert testimony on the phenomenon of false confessions. She helped draft a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, filed with the United States Supreme Court, urging the Court to review a constitutional challenge to the expansive application of the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to the Confrontation Clause.
Ms. Spiess is a member of the New Jersey and New York State Bars, and she is admitted to practice in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.