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Taking on the Terrorists: How to Use Civil Lawsuits to Bankrupt the Bad Guys

(1869 reviews)

Produced on November 17, 2015

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$ 59 Constitutional Law and Litigation In Stock
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Course Information

Time 60 minutes
Difficulty Beginner

Course Description

Foreign terrorist organizations need money to survive. The United States, unlike most other countries, provides a forum for nationals of foreign states to bring civil actions against their tormentors in federal court, even if the alleged violations took place outside of U.S. territory. By using such legal action to bring civil lawsuits, those who have been victimized by acts of terrorism can cut off the money supply that is the lifeblood of these terrorist organizations.  


In this course, attorney Ameer Benno provides an overview of the different claims that can be brought in U.S. courts to help accomplish this important goal, including the “state sponsored terrorism” exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the Alien Tort Statute (also known as the Alien Tort Claims Act), the Torture Victims Protection Act, and the Anti-Terrorism Act. This course also provides an overview on the process of conducting international discovery, and getting judgments obtained pursuant to these lawsuits recognized and enforced in non-U.S. domestic judicial fora.   


Learning Objectives:

I.     Understand the state-sponsored terrorism exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

II.    Become acquainted with the Alien Tort Statute

III.   Explore the Torture Victims Protection Act

IV.   Gain insight into the Anti-Terrorism Act

V.    Identify the nuances of conducting international discovery

VI.   Comprehend how to get judgments obtained pursuant to these lawsuits recognized and enforced in non-U.S. domestic judicial fora

Credit Information

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Ameer Benno

Ameer Benno, Attorney at Law

Mr. Benno began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney at the esteemed Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where, under then-District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, he served in both the trial division and the appeals bureau. In the trial division, Mr. Benno investigated and prosecuted violent and white-collar crimes and tried several jury trials to verdict, all as primary chair. In the appeals bureau, Mr. Benno handled all aspects of criminal appeals, and regularly submitted arguments to the New York State Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest tribunal.

After several years as an Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Benno left government service to work for a premier civil litigation law firm where he tried civil cases and managed a caseload that focused on civil rights matters in state and federal court.

In 2009, Mr. Benno opened his own law practice, which focused on civil rights cases in state and federal court, criminal defense, and appellate litigation.

In addition to an active trial practice, Mr. Benno has briefed and argued criminal and civil appeals in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Departments of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, the New York State Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

In 2010, Mr. Benno argued People v. Mothersell in the New York State Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest tribunal. That case, which challenged the constitutionality of the City of Syracuse’s usage of “all persons present” search warrants, resulted in a unanimous reversal of the client’s criminal conviction and the dismissal of his indictment, and changed the landscape of criminal law practice in New York State. More recently, Mr. Benno was lead counsel in Bailey v. Pataki, a Section 1983 civil rights action against former New York State Governor George Pataki and several members of his administration for creating and implementing an unconstitutional civil commitment policy for a class of prisoners. Mr. Benno briefed and argued the interlocutory appeal in that case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He won that appeal, and thereafter tried the case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. After a three and a half week trial, the jury found a top member of Gov. Pataki’s administration liable for violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

From 2006 through 2012, Mr. Benno was an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he taught Legal Reasoning and Writing and Written and Oral Advocacy.

Mr. Benno is admitted to the New York and Connecticut state bars, and is admitted to practice in the federal courts of the Southern, Eastern, Western, and Northern Districts of New York as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

He serves on the Civil Rights and Liberties Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association, and is a member of the Civil Rights Section of the American Association of Justice. Mr. Benno is also a member of the National Police Accountability Project, the New York City Policing Roundtable, the First Amendment Lawyers Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the Brooklyn Bar Association. 

Mr. Benno also is a member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the New York State Defenders Association. He is a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Legal Committee.

In 2012 and again in 2013, Mr. Benno was selected to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list as one of the top up‐and‐coming attorneys in the metro-New York area in the areas of First Amendment and civil rights law. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.

In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Benno was also selected by the National Trial Lawyers for inclusion in the Top 100 trial attorneys in New York State in the area of criminal law. This is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. In 2014, Mr. Benno was also selected for inclusion in the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.

Mr. Benno is rated 10.0, the highest rating given, by the online lawyer rating service Avvo.com.

Mr. Benno received his B.A. degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University, and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. While at Cornell Law School, Mr. Benno received recognition for his superior litigation abilities and was a member of the prestigious Moot Court Board.


Isaac M.


Deborah S.

Another fantastic Benno class!

M. Henry H.

Great presentation.

Donald B.


Richard R.

Solid information, professionally delivered. Thank you

Richard C.

One of your best lecturers, if not the best.

Wendy Y.

Excellent, very interesting topic and great presenter

Martin W.

Interesting topic. Good overview.

Marc P.

Listen again

Ian R.

Truly excellent!

Alicia A.

Ameer Benno is an excellent presenter

Beth F.

I would recommend to a colleague who has an interest in this field of law.

Douglas R.

excellent well-versed presenter!

Jeanne Anne N.

Outstanding course. Knowledgeable presenter and good selecton of materials.

Christa J.


Michael W.

good written materials to supplement oral presentation

William L S.


Retha M.

Excellent program.

Lisa D.

interesting topic and theory.

Thomas B. M.

Informative. I didn't know about this.

Dorrie W.

This is a fascinating concept, and I am glad I know more now about these civil remedies.

Nicolas G.

Fascinating sweep of a critical subject!

Ruth G.

Extremely informative. The best!

Patricia L.


Magin P.

Very solid overview. Good speaking style, tone and pace.

Robert F.


Lois L.

Excellent communicator.

Richard C.

Tons of excellent backup information that is worth reviewing.

Jerod B.

good speaker, I wonder how many cases have actually recovered damages from outside the USA

michael c.

good presentation

David G.

Excellent presentation. Very informative.

Constance H.

Excellent presentation.

Lynne C.

Really informative on a broad topic in a very short amount of time.

John G.

very good

Karin V.

There was a lot of material in this presentation. I think the topic (even as just an introduction) warrants a little extra time for presentation.

Michele C.

highly informative

Lee C.

not relevant to my job but very interesting!

Mary S.

It was a fantastic overview

Thomas J.


Ken s.

Excellent. An admirable person trying to help people who need it.

Michael L. Simonini S.

Thought provoking

Patrick G.

Very interesting course.

Sheila M.

a true expert on the subject matter

gary t.

Excellent presentation

Maria H.

He was very informative. I just wish the course could have been a bit longer so he could have expanded some more of the concepts discussed. He was excellent though!

Melissa E.

A really interesting update on this area of the law.

Siobhan C.

very engaging, I like this one, recommended it to others

Nancy B.

I watched this more from an interest point of view as I will never be practicing in this area, pretty interesting.

priscilla w.

very good presentation

James W.


Michael B.

Not an area that I practice in nor have any intention of practicing in, but I still found the presentation to be interesting and worthwhile to gain a basic sense of this field of law.

Charlene U.

Very informative and well presented

Amy L. B.

Excellent, clear and informative presentation.

Stuart T.

outstanding synthesis of many disparate concepts

arthur a.

Interesting and timely ; topic was well developed and presented; extremely informative

Paul J.

Good lecture.

Mike S.

Compelling presentation of a large quantity of material on a fascinating subject.

Chalin S.

Really fascinating subject matter. Great lecture as well.

Rachel T.

Very timely, really enjoyed

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