Daniel Sheehan, Esq.

Chief Counsel, President & Co-founder

Daniel Sheehan is president and co-founder of the Romero Institute and former president and co-founder of the Christic Institute.

Carrying degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Danny has helped lead multiple lawsuits of historic importance, including three Supreme Court cases. Prior to forming the Christic Institute, he litigated a number of high-profile social justice cases.

These included:

  • Defending First Amendment rights in the “Pentagon Papers Case”
    (New York Times Co. v. United States
  • Defending reproductive freedom
    (Eisenstadt v. Baird)
  • Defending First Amendment rights of press protection
    (In re Pappas: Branzburg v. Hayes)
  • The Watergate burglary case
    (United States v. George Gordon Liddy, et al.)
  • Defending the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs interpretation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, in hiring and promotion practices
    (Morton v. Mancari)
  • Serving as amicus curiae in the eight-month long Wounded Knee Trials against American Indian Movement leaders

As General Counsel to the United States Jesuit Order's National Office of Social Ministry in Washington, D.C., Danny partnered with Father William Davis, met leaders of the country's religious and progressive movements, and developed a reputation as a fierce advocate for the rights of political and peace activists.

In 1977, Danny was contacted by Sara Nelson, the National Organization of Women’s (NOW) National Labor Secretary, and partnering with her and a coalition of activists, won a record-setting $10.5 million judgment on behalf of nuclear worker and whistleblower Karen Silkwood. The case effectively ended construction of all new nuclear power plants in the United States.

Following the success of the Silkwood case, Danny, Sara, and Father Davis formed the Christic Institute. They prevailed in several celebrated cases opposing the structural sources of injustice in the United States and around the world, including:

  • Representing victims of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster
    (PIRC v. Three Mile Island
  • Defending Catholic workers who provided sanctuary to Salvadoran refugees in the American Sanctuary Movement
    (U.S. v. Stacey Lynn Merkt, et al.
  • Seeking damages from the KKK and American Nazi Party members for the murder of civil rights demonstrators in the Greensboro Massacre
    (Waller v. Butkovich
  • Bringing charges against 29 people involved in the civil case associated with the Iran-Contra Affair
    (Avirgan v. Hull, et al

Danny formed the Romero Institute in 1992 with Christic Institute co-founder Sara Nelson. A law and policy center based in Santa Cruz, CA, the Institute exposes and implements solutions to serious threats to the environment, structural injustice, and human and constitutional rights violations. Current projects include:

Through public education and grassroots organizing, we build the people power necessary to implement big, community-wide solutions to the global climate crisis.

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We partner with the Lakota to secure their rights to autonomy and self-determination, protect sacred lands and water from pipelines and other imminent threats, and win the return of children seized by South Dakota’s Department of Social Services.

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In addition to his work at the Romero Institute, Danny often serves as a guest professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz and is the author of a memoir, The People's Advocate: The Life and Legal History of America's Most Fearless Public Interest Lawyer.