Minneapolis attorney Sam Diehl has distinguished himself handling First Amendment litigation for Twin Cities area churches.
“I care deeply about religious liberty,” said Diehl, who primarily practices employment law.
Just two years after graduating from law school, Diehl represented the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka in 2009 against the city of Wayzata. The church wanted to erect a new building; the city initially denied the church’s request, citing neighborhood concerns about noise.
Diehl contended Wayzata’s denial abridged the church’s First Amendment rights. Two years of fierce litigation quickly ended when a federal judge granted the church’s motion for summary judgment. Wayzata settled the case, agreeing to the church’s demands and paying $500,000 in damages.
Meanwhile, in May, a federal judge ruled the city of St. Michael’s zoning ordinance violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Diehl’s client, the Riverside Church, which wanted to convert a former movie theater complex into a new worship center. After a lengthy bench trial, the judge awarded the church $1.3 million in damages plus attorney fees.
Colleague Loren Hansen said these types of cases illustrate that “Sam has taken the initiative to go above and beyond and advocate for issues important to him and the community at large.”