Attorneys

Tom B.

Thomas Brejcha,

President and Chief Counsel

Tom Brejcha has been litigating cases in federal and state courts over the last four and a half decades.  For the last 17 years, he has served as president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, defending the sanctity of life, religious liberty, and family values.

Tom grew up on Chicago’s South Side, attending Catholic schools and graduating with honors from Notre Dame.  He won a competitive Root-Tilden Scholarship to New York University Law School where he was Note & Comment Editor of the NYU Law Review and was elected as Class Representative for other members of the Class of 1968.

Serving as an Army Captain in Vietnam during 1969-70, Tom was awarded a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal.  Then he enrolled on the GI Bill to pursue further studies at the Sorbonne and Alliance Francaise in Paris.  Coming home, he became a successful business litigator in two private law firms, handling antitrust, securities, labor, and other cases, two of which reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1986, Tom volunteered to assist the principal named defendants in the infamous NOW vs. Scheidler case. The NOW case was so vast and complex that it crowded Tom out of his business law practice.  When his law partners told him to “quit the case or quit the firm,” he resigned his law partnership and co-founded the Thomas More Society with Joe and Ann Scheidler in March, 1997.  NOW vs. Scheidler went before the U.S. Supreme Court three times.  The pro-life defendants prevailed on the merits by decisive margins of 8-1 in 2003 and then again by 8-0 in 2006 (Justice O’Connor retired before the decision was handed down or else it would have been 9-0).  The case finally drew to a close (28 years after its filing!) when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago finally rejected the abortion forces’ last appeal from the lower court’s award of some $65,000 as reimbursement for the pro-lifers’ out-of-pocket costs (filing fees, witness fees, etc. – a fraction of their actual total costs).  The opposition’s objections were rebuffed as groundless and even “preposterous.” Mirabile dictu!  Four weeks later, NOW actually paid in full!

Tom has testified before U.S. Congressional Committees (Judiciary, Ways & Means), as well as before state and city legislative and regulatory committees.  He has appeared on many national and local broadcast shows and other media, such as Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity shows, MSNBC, CNN, Relevant Radio, EWTN, CBN, the 700 Club, and Chicago Tonight. Many groups have given him awards for his legal work as well as for his pro-life and religious commitments, including Catholic Charities, Pro-Life Action League, National Lawyers Association, Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, Illinois Citizens for Life, Illinois Students for Life, Chicago Catholic Citizens, and others.

He has been a featured speaker at conferences sponsored by the March for Life, National Catholic Bioethics Council’s U.S. Bishops Conference, SpeakOut Illinois, Law of Life Summit, National Council of Catholic Women, American Bar Association, National Lawyers Association, and more.

Tom lives in Evanston, IL with his wife, Deborah, a recently retired high school Spanish teacher and amateur painter.  They have two sons, Matthew, a marketing executive based in the Chicago area, and Peter, a lawyer in Los Angeles.

Peter Breen,

Special Counsel

Peter has represented many churches, organizations, and individuals pro bono in state and federal courts across the country. He is regularly sought out by local and national television, radio, and print media as an expert legal analyst. Peter has served as the Society’s Vice-President, as well as its Executive Director & Legal Counsel, directing its day-to-day operations. During his five-year tenure as Executive Director, the Society grew substantially, successfully taking on numerous lawsuits of national importance, setting fundraising records, and retiring all of its long-term debt.

In 2004, Peter left his lucrative private law practice in Chicago to enter full-time public service. The following year, he founded the Woman’s Choice Services crisis pregnancy centers in Illinois and the Project Gabriel ministry, which have since served thousands of pregnant women in need and their children.

Peter holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, which he earned in 3 years, and a law degree from the University of Notre Dame. He is a member of Lombard’s Father Boecker Council of the Knights of Columbus and is an Eagle Scout. Peter is currently an Illinois State Representative in the 48th district. He and his wife Margie have been married since 2005 and in 2016, they became parents by adoption of one son, Matthew.

Thomas Olp

Thomas Olp,

Senior Counsel and Co-Executive Director

Thomas Olp earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, his J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, and an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center. Tom started his career as a labor attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, Peoria, Illinois regional office and later with Montgomery Ward’s Baltimore regional office. He practiced labor and employment law and general litigation in Washington, D.C. from 1985 until 1994, first with Finley Kumble and then with Ross & Hardies, where he was a partner. From 1994 to present he has served as Vice President and General Counsel for Connor-Winfield Corporation, Aurora, Illinois.

Tom serves as a board member for Thomas More Society, as well as for The Connerstone-Forum, Santa Rosa, California, the Illinois Girls’ Lacrosse Association, and Toward Educating America’s Children (TEACH), a non-for-profit organization serving Guatemala’s rural Mayan population in the area of schooling. Tom has also served on his parish’s advisory council, outreach commission, St. Vincent de Paul conference, and was a track and cross country coach for many years. Recently he has led service trips to Guatemala and the Congo. He is the current President of the St. Thomas More Society of DuPage County, a spiritual group for DuPage County attorneys.

Tom has devoted significant time volunteering on Thomas More Society’s major cases, including the cases involving the abortion mega mill in Aurora, Illinois and several First Amendment cases. Tom is admitted to practice law in Illinois, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

Special Counsel Attorneys Around the Country:

Belz Timothy

Tim Belz has been in private practice in St. Louis, Missouri since 1982. He has handled dozens of cases concentrating on the civil liberties of individuals and organizations, particularly first amendment rights of free speech, religious freedom and association, and parental rights. He has also handled numerous business litigation matters. He has practiced in many state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Belz is a 1976 graduate, with high honors, of the University of Iowa Law School, where he graduated Order of the Coif, an honor open to those in the top ten percent of their class. He was a 1972 graduate of Covenant College, where he was the Editor in Chief of its award-winning student newspaper.

Prior to private practice, Mr. Belz was a prosecutor in the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, where he earned the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award.

Mr. Belz was honored as a Lawyer of the Year for 2004 by Missouri Lawyers Weekly, primarily for his successful representation of a private school against government authorities that sought to put the school out of business. He has also been included in the Missouri and Kansas edition of Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell continues to give Mr. Belz a peer rating of “a.v.,” its highest rating for competence and ethics.

Stephen Crampton serves as President of Crampton Legal Services, a law firm specializing in complex litigation and civil rights.  He also serves as Special Counsel to Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty.

Prior to founding his own firm, Mr. Crampton served as Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, and as Chief Counsel for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy. He has served as lead counsel in numerous reported decisions in state and federal district and appellate courts. In his role as a policy advisor, Mr. Crampton has assisted in drafting legislation at both state and national levels, as well as advising lawmakers on constitutional issues.

Mr. Crampton has also appeared as a guest on nationally televised news programs such as CNN, CBS, FOX News and MSNBC, and innumerable national and international radio programs, commenting on matters of constitutional law and social policy.

Mr. Crampton received his B.A. from St. John’s College and his law degree from the University of New Mexico.  He resides in Tupelo, MS with his wife and children.

Jocelyn Floyd

Jocelyn Floyd’s legal practice encompasses a broad variety of aspects—from advising clients behind the scenes to keep them out of court to defending them in court; from bringing lawsuits on their behalf to educating broader audiences through amicus briefs, speaking engagements, and media appearances.  But all of it has one thing in common: she uses the power of her words to make sure that you keep the right to say yours.

Jocelyn earned her J.D. (magna cum laude) from Chicago-Kent Law School and a B.A. in French Language & Literature and English (summa cum laude) from Oakland University.  She is also a graduate of Chicago-Kent’s elite Honors Scholar program, for which she wrote a seminar paper arguing against the Supreme Court’s expansion of the government speech doctrine in Pleasant Grove v. Summum.

In her time at the Thomas More Society, Jocelyn has advised and defended many pro-life speakers, including acting as lead counsel for Students for Life of America’s high school clubs.  When students face issuing unlawful bans on their pro-life clubs, she works to help them to get their administrations to respect their First Amendment rights.  She won her first federal lawsuit in a single week, from filing to the school district’s prompt call to negotiate a settlement.

Jocelyn appears frequently in the media—print, radio, and television—both in the Chicago area and nationally, and has had op-eds published in the Chicago Tribune and the Detroit News, among others.  She speaks regularly on specific cases and on free speech and religious liberty issues in general.

Prior to joining the Thomas More Society, Jocelyn worked for Jones Day for several years in corporate transactions.  She currently serves as Vice-President of the Board for the Northern Illinois chapter of the Christian Legal Society.

In her life between undergrad and law school, Jocelyn taught dance, ran away to France to teach English, worked for a foreclosure law firm, and sold donuts at a cider mill. She learned three important things from those experiences: law is fun, foreclosure is not, and facing a room filled with eleven hyper three-year-olds in tutus takes more courage than it gets credit for.

Patrick Gillen

Patrick T. Gillen received a B.A. in History from Providence College, an M.A. in American History from Fordham University, and a J.D. and Ph.D in American History from the University of Notre Dame.

After graduating from Notre Dame Law School in 1992, he entered the practice of law and clerked for the Honorable Daniel A. Manion, Circuit Judge, for the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and the Honorable Robert D. Potter, United States District Judge for the Western District of North Carolina.

Prior to joining Ave Maria School of Law, Pat focused his practice in the area of civil litigation, where he represented clients on a wide variety of matters involving civil rights and constitutional law.

Currently, Pat serves as an Associate Professor at Ave Maria School of Law, where he teaches Constitutional Law and American Legal History, among other subjects.  Pat also serves as special counsel for the Thomas More Society and has assisted the Society in its representation of clients in cases involving religious liberty and free speech.

Edward Greim

Edward Greim focuses his practice on complex commercial and securities litigation, internal investigations and whistleblower claims, and free speech and election law. Edward has been recognized for his successful representation of businesses and individuals in commercial litigation while also being named a “go-to” lawyer on policy issues.

A recipient of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s 2013 Influential Lawyer of the Year award, Edward has argued before the Missouri Supreme Court on four occasions and has been tapped on controversial issues including trial and appellate challenges to the Missouri Court Plan.

Edward represents businesses and individuals in complex commercial litigation, internal investigations, regulatory compliance, securities litigation, and political speech and election law. His free speech and election law practice has included numerous constitutional challenges to election and campaign finance laws; representation of clients in ethics and campaign finance enforcement actions and investigations; initiative petition drafting and litigation; litigation and advice regarding First Amendment protections for petition circulation; representation of not-for-profit clients before state regulators; and advice on campaign and election law compliance.

Edward has successfully represented clients in trial and appellate courts in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Oklahoma, and the United States Courts of Appeal for the Sixth and Tenth Circuits. He is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Missouri, New York, and Kansas.

Rebecca Messal Photo

Rebecca Messall is the managing partner at the Messall Law Firm, LLC, in Colorado where she maintains a litigation practice in state and federal courts. Since 2009, Rebecca has served as the CEO of the National Lawyers Association, a national pro-life bar association founded in 1993. For six years, Rebecca served on the board of directors for the Denver and Northern Colorado Catholic Charities, including serving as the board chairwoman from 2009-2010.

Rebecca previously served as the Respect Life Director and Program Developer for Catholic Charities in Kansas, a position that included organizing community volunteers, supervising a start-up pregnancy shelter and a post-abortion healing program, and educating on the sanctity of life and challenges to it by modern and historical eugenic philosophies and programs.

In 2011, Rebecca led the charge against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice when they brought a ten-claim civil action against pro-life advocate Ken Scott under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (“FACE”) for “physical obstruction” against those attempting to enter and exit the Planned Parenthood in Denver. Scott faced a $10,000 fine and, if criminally charged, one year in a federal penitentiary.  After eight months of hard-nosed litigation, Rebecca fended off the five Department of Justice attorneys and three private law firms representing Planned Parenthood employees/claimants, winning a preliminary hearing so handedly, with the aid of the Thomas More Society’s own Peter Breen, that the Department of Justice dropped the entire lawsuit against Scott.

Rebecca graduated cum laude from Kansas State University with her bachelors in history. She earned her J.D. from the University of Missouri, where she served on the UMKC Law Review and was on the Dean’s List. In 1994, Rebecca received the FDIC Special Recognition for recovering $37.5 million from two international investment firms, a case covered by the Wall Street Journal and by a U.S. House of Representative’s Banking Sub Committee report.

Rebecca is the author of various articles and columns on life-issue topics, published by New York’s Human Life Review and various other publications, the best-known of which is “The Long Road of Eugenics: from Rockefeller to Roe v. Wade.” It traces the history of abortion as a special project of the American and British eugenic societies until its culmination in 1973 in Roe v. Wade.

Joan Mannix

Joan Mannix specializes in civil appellate practice. She has written hundreds of appellate briefs and argued numerous times before the Illinois Appellate Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Joan has also participated in the representation of clients before the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Some of her noteworthy appeals include an Illinois Supreme Court decision reversing an appellate court ruling which vacated judgments in favor of her clients totaling $16 million and an Illinois Appellate Court decision affirming a wrongful death verdict for $8.3 million in favor of her client.

Joan earned both her bachelor’s degree in History and her J.D. from the University of Notre Dame, and is proud to be a Double Domer.  She volunteered for the Peace Corps, teaching science in Burkina Faso.

In 2012 and 2013, Joan was recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyer  for her appellate work. She is the co-author of a chapter on Settlement and Compromise in the Illinois Institute of Continuing Education (“IICLE”) Class Actions 2001 publication, as well as the chapter on Settlement Procedures in the IICLE Class Actions 2007 and 2013 publications.

Sally Wagenmaker.pic.higher resolution

Sally Wagenmaker provides legal counsel in corporate, tax, employment, and real estate matters for nonprofit, tax-exempt clients, including public charities, private foundations, and trade associations operating on local, national, and international levels. Her clients include churches and other religious organizations, social service providers, and schools.  She practices law through her firm of Wagenmaker & Oberly, LLC, and as Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society.

Sally’s corporate and tax work includes development of new tax-exempt entities, resolving IRS disputes, counseling clients on the responsibilities of board members, providing guidance for effective nonprofit governance within the current legal climate, and other operational legal issues. In addition, she represents clients in property tax exemption matters for charitable, religious, and educational purposes, shared occupancy arrangements, and property transfers. Sally also regularly advises and counsels nonprofit clients on employment matters including contracts, termination, employment policies, tax, unemployment insurance, discrimination issues, and compliance with other employment laws, particularly as they relate to nonprofit issues such as volunteers and clergy. She also authored the “State Property Tax and Sales Exemptions” chapter in the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Not-For-Profit Corporations publication.

Both professionally and personally, Sally has worked and volunteered with numerous community organizations in the Chicago area, including the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, the Cabrini-Green Legal Aid Clinic, and the Lawndale Christian Health Center. She is currently a member of the IRS TE/GE Advisory Council for the Great Lakes Region. Sally serves as the President of the Northern Illinois Chapter of Christian Legal Society and as a director of the national Christian Legal Society. She also serves as a volunteer mediator with the Center for Conflict Resolution, a state-funded Chicago organization that provides court-referred and other mediation services.

Sally is a graduate of Emory University School of Law and the University of Mississippi. Upon finishing law school, she clerked for United States District Judge William C. O’Kelley of the Northern District of Georgia. Sally currently lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.