Ruth O’Meara-Costello represents clients in criminal defense, Title IX, and employment law matters. Ruth is a committed and thoughtful advocate for her clients and has achieved significant victories both in and out of court.Title IX and Campus Discipline
Ruth’s commitment to individual rights and to due process inform her work with university students and faculty facing disciplinary action at their universities. Her experience handling criminal sexual assault cases complements her work representing accused students, and allows her to provide comprehensive legal representation to the students and faculty members she represents. Ruth has represented more than sixty clients accused of sexual misconduct (sexual harassment or assault) at colleges and universities in Massachusetts and nationwide. She has won many cases by bringing a well-developed strategy to each case and helping her clients to marshal evidence and arguments to convince campus hearing boards or investigators of their innocence. Ruth also assists students and faculty accused of other university disciplinary violations, including plagiarism and academic dishonesty.
Ruth represents clients already found responsible for disciplinary violations in internal appeals at their academic institutions and has convinced many colleges to grant her clients new hearings or reduce the penalties against them. Ruth has litigated cases in federal court on behalf of her clients when schools have violated their rights to fair and unbiased disciplinary processes. Because of her background in employment law, Ruth is well situated to represent university faculty and staff in discrimination and sexual misconduct matters.
Ruth’s legal expertise and insight have resulted in victories or reduced sanctions for her clients in criminal matters. Ruth’s criminal defense practice encompasses trials and appeals in both state and federal court, and she has represented defendants on a range of charges, including murder, stalking, attempted rape, fraud-related offenses, drug possession and conspiracy, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, indecent assault and battery, harassment, assault and battery of a family member, assault and battery of a police officer, rape of a child, perjury, violation of a restraining order, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving, trespassing, leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury, unlicensed taxi operation, vandalism, disorderly conduct, armed assault with intent to rob, and breaking and entering. Ruth has tried multiple murder cases, including one which resulted in a hung jury and mistrial for her client.
Ruth has secured favorable dispositions for many clients short of trial or even before charges were brought. Working with clients and their families and friends to craft powerful sentencing presentations, Ruth has persuaded many judges to impose the sentence her client requested. She has successfully prevented the issuance of a complaint in numerous show-cause hearings. She also has convinced judges to dismiss charges against her clients, including in cases where they were denied the right to a show-cause hearing or where evidence at a show-cause hearing did not support the charges. She has convinced courts to return her clients to probation, avoiding jail time, following even repeated probation violations.
Ruth is a board member of the Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (MACDL) and a member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild’s Mass Defense Committee, for which she volunteers to represent pro bono clients arrested in mass protests and related matters.Employment Law and Civil Litigation
Ruth represents plaintiffs subjected to discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, unequal pay, or other violations of their workplace rights in litigation in the state and federal courts and before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). She also frequently works with employees behind the scenes to help them handle difficult situations at work and preserve their employment or achieve settlements without any litigation. In a 2015 trial Ruth and Inga Bernstein convinced a jury that an employer had violated the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act by paying her less than a male employee doing the same job. Ruth has secured significant settlements for numerous clients short of trial.
Ruth has represented many university faculty members in court, before the MCAD, and in campus disciplinary proceedings. In one significant case, Ruth and Inga Bernstein successfully defended a female professor’s gender discrimination claims against the university’s motion for summary judgment. In others, she has convinced the MCAD to dismiss charges of sexual harassment or discrimination against her clients.Prior Experience
At Harvard Law School, Ruth was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, where she represented clients in domestic relations cases and before the Department of Unemployment Assistance. She was a member of the editorial staff of the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender and a board member of Students Organized for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (STOPDV). Before becoming a lawyer Ruth was a recipient of the Michael C. Rockefeller Fellowship.
J.D., Harvard Law School, 2006
A.B., Harvard College, 2002
U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
- Chief Judge William K. Sessions, U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, 2006-2007
Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Board Member (2017-present)
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Boston Bar Association