John C. Connell

Biography

Mr. Connell practices civil litigation as first-chair trial attorney in jury and bench trials and appeals in State and federal courts. Mr. Connell’s clients range from Fortune 100 companies to individuals in an array of complex commercial, employment, civil rights, communications law, health care and intellectual property matters. Mr. Connell’s work has resulted in precedential reported opinions on issues of constitutional jurisprudence, as well as statutory and common law.

In January 2017, Mr. Connell appeared as counsel of record to argue before the Supreme Court of the United States, representing Simon Shiao Tam in Matal v. Tam, No. 15-1293. Mr. Connell was the primary author of the winning Tam brief argued before the Federal Circuit Court. As respondent, he defended the ruling of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Simon Shiao Tam, 808 F.3d 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2015), arguing that the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s denial of Mr. Tam’s trademark, “The Slants,” under the disparagement clause of §2(a) of the Lanham Act was unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment. This appeal was considered by many as one of the most important matters before the Court this term, as well as one of the most significant First Amendment cases in many years.

On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous 8-0 favorable decision in the high-profile case. The Court ruled that the Asian-American rock band, The Slants, were subject to viewpoint discrimination by virtue of the USPTO’s denial of registration. Under the ruling, the landmark decision will likely put an end to the statutory bar that precluded an applicant from obtaining registration of a trademark that was deemed offensive by the government, including the case involving the Washington Redskins football team currently on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

A report of Mr. Connell’s argument may be found at SCOTUSblog Case Updates: here.

As Chair of the firm’s Media and Communications Law Group, Mr. Connell has represented local, regional and national companies in a broad variety of communications law issues, including national, regional, and local newspaper companies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, national and local wire services, national television companies and local affiliates, regional and local cable stations, radio stations, a regional professional association, as well as local commercial companies, government officials, politicians, and private individuals. Among other things, Mr. Connell’s work has resulted in precedential reported opinions on First Amendment jurisprudence, as well as public records and access issues. Mr. Connell has also testified at hearings of the New Jersey State Legislature and provided legal counsel on legislative issues concerning the adoption of New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, and lectured and written on these issues. He has also been retained as an expert consultant in communications law by Lloyds of London.

Mr. Connell also serves as Chair of the firm’s Appellate Advocacy Group. In this regard, Archer is one of the first New Jersey-based law firms to have a dedicated appellate group, handling both federal and State appeals. Mr. Connell has represented clients before these courts:

  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third and Federal Circuits
  • New Jersey Supreme and Superior Courts, Appellate Division
  • Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts

In doing so, he has subject matter expertise in numerous areas of legal practice.

Mr. Connell is Co-Chair of the firm’s Civil Rights Defense Group and member of the firm’s Employment Law Group. Since 1987, Mr. Connell more than 25 years of experience representing the Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey as Special Counsel to the New Jersey State Police and other State and county agencies, including the Department of Banking and Insurance and numerous County Prosecutor Offices. In this role, he has provided defense representation in various matters involving claims of employment discrimination and civil rights violations under federal and state laws, and other tort matters. Mr. Connell was commended by the New Jersey State Police for his work defending the agency in a civil suit related to the fatal shooting of a suspect. Mr. Connell’s civil rights and employment practice also includes representation of management of Fortune 100 corporations to privately held companies in litigation matters involving the full range of employment issues, including age, gender and race discrimination, hostile work environment, sexual harassment, employment-at-will, wrongful discharge, privacy/confidentiality, whistle-blower, workplace and employment defamation and speech, §1983, and ERISA.

Further, as a member of the firm’s Business Litigation Group, Mr. Connell’s experience includes litigation and counseling in a variety of complex commercial matters such as real estate actions, corporate dissolution suits, shareholder derivative actions, insurance coverage disputes, construction law, and general contract and tort issues.

Additionally, Mr. Connell works in conjunction with our Intellectual Property Group as trial counsel in litigated matters. He has experience in litigation in the fields of patent infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, copyright, and trademark actions.

Finally, Mr. Connell is a member of the firm’s Healthcare Law Group, in which he has represented hospital interests in a range of commercial, regulatory and patient care matters.

Since 2008, Mr. Connell has been an appointed member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Rules of Evidence Committee. He is also the former chair of the New Jersey Supreme Court IOLTA Board of Trustees, and a member of the editorial boards of the New Jersey Law Journal and the New Jersey Lawyer Magazine.

Mr. Connell holds degrees from Columbia University (A.B., 1978), New York University (M.P.A., 1982), and Rutgers University Law School (J.D., 1986). He was the Law Secretary to Hon. Thomas F. Shebell, Jr., P.J.A.D., Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, from 1986-1987.

Practice Areas

  • Intellectual Property

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