Carlton L. Johnson

Carlton is a Partner in the firm’s Litigation Department. He is Co-Chair of the firm’s Civil Rights and Government Relations practices.  He is an active member of the firm’s Diversity and Hiring Committees.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Johnson served as the Chief Deputy City Solicitor of the Civil Rights Unit for the City of Philadelphia. In this position, he handled and oversaw the management of civil rights claims against the City and its employees. Most of these cases involved representation, primarily in the federal court, of the Police Department and the prisons in matters alleging deprivation of civil rights where personal injury was involved. Mr. Johnson practiced with the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department from 1984 to 2006.

In addition to handling municipal class action litigation and consent decrees, he has experience handling municipal Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) claims, airport security claims, high speed police pursuits, as well as claims alleging denial of adequate prison mental and medical health services.

He has provided extensive advice and counseling services to police and sheriff’s departments, child welfare agencies, correctional facilities, and other municipal agencies aimed at prudent risk management in order to avoid costly litigation of municipal liability claims. Carlton is a frequent lecturer on police and prison municipal liability and “Monell Proofing” municipal agencies. He is the author of Philadelphia’s Civil Rights Unit: A Model (July/August 2003, International Municipal Lawyers Association Journal) and is a highly regarded expert on civil rights and employment law case valuations, and specializes in managing and resolving high profile cases.

Carlton specializes in Government Relations and Litigation with a focus on minority and women-owned small and medium-sized businesses. He represents a wide range of clients from closely- held and emerging growth companies, to governmental and quasi-governmental entities, to larger privately and publicly-held companies. In the heavily regulated Cannabis Industry, Carlton provides counseling and assistance to minority and women-owned businesses engaged in matters relating to the cannabis sector, in whatever stage of development a business is in. Areas in which Carlton works with clients include licensing and regulatory compliance, lobbying, real estate, financing and banking, taxation, administrative law, and business services. He can help many types of businesses, including cultivators, manufacturers, transporters, distributors, researchers, testing labs, and retailers.

Carlton also represents and counsels a number of business clients, large and small, with regard to Government Affairs and also is frequently asked to serve as a mediator in high profile litigation and non-litigation matters.

Representative Experience

While employed in the public sector, Carlton managed, supervised and resolved problematic and challenging litigation on behalf of the City of Philadelphia and its operating departments including:

  • The 39th District Police Litigation (class action alleging systemic police corruption)
  • The Baby Neal Litigation (a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of abused and neglected children against the City of Philadelphia, the Courts and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)
  • The Pennhurst Consent Decree (class action alleging mistreatment of institutionalized mentally ill)
  • The Jackson and Harris Prison Consent Decrees (state and federal consent decrees concerning the conditions of confinement of inmates within the Philadelphia Prison System)
  • The NAACP, ACLU, Police-Barrio Relations Project Settlement Agreement (class-action civil rights lawsuit alleging that the City of Philadelphia had condoned the systemic practice by its police officers of violating the rights of citizens of Philadelphia in general, and particularly those of minorities)
  • National Republican Convention 2000 Litigation (First Amendment rights of protestors)
  • Rosen et al v. City of Philadelphia (diabetics in custody)
  • The Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons in various litigation matters involving Section 1983 issues and the Federal Torts Claims Act
  • The City of Philadelphia in numerous matters including in a Class Action “Stop and Frisk” law suit

Professional And Community Involvement


  • Advisor and Mentor, Temple University School of Law, Black Law Student Association
  • Member, Philadelphia Bar Association, Medical Marijuana and Hemp Committee
  • Executive Board Member, Temple University School of Law Alumni Association
  • Executive Board Member, Habitat for Humanity, Philadelphia
  • Board of Directors, Community Legal Services
  • Co-Chair Annual 5K, Community Legal Services
  • Member, The Barristers, Philadelphia Chapter
  • Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Minority Bar Committee
  • Member, International Municipal Lawyers Association
  • Member, Philadelphia Bar Association, Public Policy Committee
  • Member, Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Member, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Marion Anderson Monarchs Parent Advisory Committee
  • Member, Pennsylvania State University Alumni Association


  • Member, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Homeland Security and Law Enforcement and Justice Advisory Committees
  • Member, Board of Governors, Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Co-Chair, William Penn Charter School Lower School
  • Co-Chair, Philadelphia Bar Association, Public Policy Committee
  • Member, Nutter for Mayor Police, Personnel, Prison and Law Department Transition Teams
  • Girl Scouts of America, Take the Lead Campaign

Awards And Recognition

  • “Super Lawyer,” Pennsylvania Bar Association, Labor and Employment and Government Relations (2010)
  • Temple Law School Cecil B. Moore Community Service Award (2011)
  • “Super Lawyer,” Philadelphia Magazine, Government Relations (2013, 2014)


  • Author, Philadelphia’s Civil Rights Unit, A Model, International Municipal Lawyers Association Journal, July/August 2003


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