Witold "Vic" Walczak, Esq.
ACLU of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
Vic, whose family survived the Holocaust and post-war Communism in Poland, was born in Sweden. He emigrated to the United States at age three. Vic graduated with a BA degree from Colgate University in 1983, where he majored in philosophy and played Division I soccer. While at Colgate, he became active in helping resettle Solidarity refugees from Poland. In the summer of 1983, he traveled to Poland, which was under martial law, where he assisted underground Solidarity activists and experienced the deprivation of civil liberties first hand, being subjected to police brutality, wiretapping and a strip search. Vic graduated cum laude from Boston College Law School in 1986. Between 1986 and 1991, he worked with the Prisoner Assistance Project of the Legal Aid Bureau in Baltimore, Maryland, where he litigated civil rights and civil liberties claims on behalf of state prisoners. Vic has served in various capacities with the ACLU of Pennsylvania since 1991, most recently becoming the statewide Legal Director in 2004. Vic has handled many high-profile First Amendment free-speech and religious-liberty cases. Most recently, in Fall 2005, Vic was one of three lawyers who tried a case that garnered international attention, known as the Dover Intelligent Design case. This was the first legal challenge to the teaching of “intelligent design” (ID) in public schools. The ACLU claimed that ID was merely creationism re-packaged. After a six-week trial, the federal judge agreed. In another series of high-profile cases, since 2002 Vic has helped lead a nationwide-ACLU effort to end the use of discriminatory “protest zones” at Presidential and Vic-Presidential appearances. A lawsuit, filed in September 2003, resulted in the Secret Service stopping its practice of relegating protesters to distant areas where they could not be seen or heard. Vic has also handled cases challenging systemic misconduct by the Pittsburgh police department and deficient services by the Allegheny County Public Defender trial. In March 2007 he will be one of several lawyers trying Lozano v. City of Hazleton, the first federal trial challenging a municipality’s efforts to regulate illegal immigration. Vic has received numerous honors, including the Federal Lawyer of the Year award from the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Federal Bar Association in 2003 and a 1998 award from the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County.