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About me

I am a First Amendment and criminal defense attorneys with over more than 45 years of practice.  I have 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, I obtained both my undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Cincinnati. I entered private practice and quickly earned a reputation as an effective civil rights lawyer. I achieved national prominence in 1990 when I 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).  I have also served as President of the First Amendment Lawyers Association and the Greater Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.


I have represented persons whose message was completely contrary to his own beliefs and has risked both his career and his physical safety to do so. (I was once escorted out the rear door of the courthouse to avoid being assaulted by individuals who opposed my clients.)  My most notable accomplishment was a 2002 victory before the United States Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, which declared the Child Pornography Prevention Act unconstitutional. In addition, I have also represented artists charged with crimes, including morgue photographer Thomas Condon, and defended on appeal numerous individuals on Ohio's and Georgia's death rows. In total, I have handled more than 125 appeals in civil and criminal cases.


I frequently lecture to students at the country’s top universities and have 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, I have served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati, where I taught habeas corpus law and a First Amendment seminar.


I have been selected by peers as a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and have received numerous awards for 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 commitment to the First Amendment, and the District Award from the Ohio State Bar Association for  outstanding contributions to the profession of law.


I am 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.


Practice areas


  1. First Amendment Law: 67%
  2. Criminal Law: 33%

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Contact info

Santen & Hughes

600 Vine Street
Suite 2700
Cincinnati, OH, 45202


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
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Legal answers
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
AttorneySanten & Hughes2010 - Present
Association namePosition nameDuration
First Amendment Lawyers AssociationNational Chairman1994 - 1995
Cincinnati Bar AssociationMemberN/A
Ohio State Bar AssociationMemberN/A
First Amendment Lawyers AssociationMemberN/A
National Association of Criminal Defense LawyersMemberN/A
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of Cincinnati College of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1965
University of CincinnatiN/AA.B1962