HanselLaw, PC
Trial and Appellate Counsel
About Us
“We get results through straightforward and aggressive representation. The successes we achieve in partnership with our clients also help drive social and political change, leaving our world a better, more just place.”

Cary J. Hansel

Firm founder, Cary Hansel, has been voted Trial Lawyer of the Year twice by the Maryland Association for Justice.  Cary has extensive trial and appellate experience representing clients in civil rights, constitutional law and government liability cases.  His broad practice also encompasses medical malpractice, business and contract disputes, employment law, public regulation, insurance litigation, products liability, and administrative law.

Cary obtained, and successfully defended on appeal, a verdict the Washington Post called “the largest made by a jury in a civil case involving abuse by Prince George's County police.”  The groundbreaking case established that citizens can hold municipalities liable for engaging in a “pattern and practice” of violating constitutional rights under the Maryland constitution.  This sea change in the law allows victims of government misconduct to introduce evidence of past wrongdoing in each new case, thus sharply raising the penalty for civil rights violators in Maryland.

After representing over 100 vulnerable female residents of Baltimore Public Housing who were forced to trade sex for necessities like heat and electricity for themselves and their children, Cary obtained a multi-million dollar settlement the Baltimore Sun reported was “the largest in a sexual harassment case under the Fair Housing Act” in the United States.  Yvonne Wenger, Tenants to Share up to $8 Million in Settlement of Sex-for-Repairs Lawsuit, Baltimore Sun, Jan. 8, 2016.  Cary’s work also led to the terminations of the perpetrators and the head of the Housing Authority, the hiring of 50 new maintenance employees, the clearing of the repair backlog, better housing and improved policies to protect residents in the future.

Cary has also achieved significant settlements and awards in the area of unlawful and unconstitutional employment practices and discrimination.  He has successfully represented numerous victims of illegal employment practices, including a young woman whose employer, a fast-food chain, refused to permit her to wear work-appropriate religious garb, a country-club waitress who was sexually assaulted by a club owner, and a high-level federal government lawyer who suffered severe harassment after her boss inadvertently discovered she was a lesbian.

In a whistleblower case covered in such diverse outlets as the Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone, Cary represented a Securities and Exchange Commission investigator wrongly terminated after uncovering historic security breaches and ethical violations at the SEC.  Cary’s client came to him after having been barred from SEC facilities based on false allegations.  As Cary soon demonstrated, the allegations were made in an effort to discredit the SEC investigator after he exercised his duty to disclose the wrongdoing he discovered to Congress.  After less than six months of aggressive representation, including the filing of a lawsuit, the SEC was forced to drop all of its allegations, publicly clear the investigator’s record, reinstate him and pay him the third largest payment ever made to a federal whistleblower as a result of retaliation.

In a First Amendment case, Cary successfully represented a long-time government employee fired for being a member of the wrong political party.  Cary’s work gave rise to legislative hearings and new laws protecting government employees from termination for their private political views.  He also succeeded in reversing his client’s termination and obtaining a significant award.

In another First Amendment matter, Cary obtained the dismissal of a case in which the plaintiff sought to enmesh the court in changing the religious direction of a large church under the guise of challenging the election of its board of directors.

In an animal cruelty case, Cary represented the Humane Society in obtaining the first court order ever issued in Maryland to stop the use of steel-jawed leg-hold traps.  These traps, which are banned in many countries as cruel and inhumane, were being used despite the widespread availability of cost-effective and humane alternatives.

In a case in which Mr. Hansel obtained the highest verdict in the country for a dog wrongly shot by police, it was reported that the Sheriff whose Deputy shot the dog “called Hansel a ‘good salesman.’”  Brian Engler, $620,000 in Damages for Dog Shooting, Frederick News Post, Apr. 3, 2012.

In 2019, Cary scored the highest civil rights verdict in Maryland history for a correctional misconduct case resulting in a $25 million award for a young man who was detained awaiting trial when guards cooperating with gang members allowed them to attack the victim, rendering him permanently mute and wheelchair bound.

Cary’s appellate career includes the successful defense of over $30 Million in awards, the creation of a new cause of action in Maryland, and the expansion of citizens’ rights to recover just compensation from governmental wrongdoers and insurance companies.

Cary has also filed amicus curiae briefs in the Maryland Court of Appeals on behalf of the Maryland Education Coalition, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Maryland Association for Justice, and former chair of Maryland’s Commission on Education Finance, Equity and Excellence (the Thornton Commission).

Cary is frequently invited to lecture on a variety of legal topics for organizations, including the National Business Institute, the Levin School of Law at the University of Florida, the Louis L. Goldstein Criminal Law Seminar, Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, and Maryland and D.C. chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Cary provided invited legislative testimony to the Joint Judiciary Committee of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates in favor of the Equal Access to Justice Act, which was proposed in response to an opinion piece he had published in the Baltimore Sun.  He was also invited to testify before the Judiciary Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates during its consideration of legislation requiring the videotaping of police interrogations, which was proposed after one of his cases brought unlawful interrogation techniques to light.

Cary offered testimony to the Maryland Commission on the Death Penalty warning of the problem of false confessions and the real potential for them to lead to the execution of innocent people.  The Commission quoted him in its final report, recommending abolition of the death penalty in Maryland, a recommendation adopted by the legislature shortly thereafter.

Recorded Oral Arguments
Potential clients are invited to watch one of Cary’s oral arguments online.  Click here for video and audio of his appellate arguments.
Press Coverage
Although some of his most successful cases are those in which he avoids media exposure, when a client hopes his or her case will help drive larger social change, Cary’s cases are frequently featured in the media. He has been quoted in more than 300 newspapers nationwide and has appeared on television numerous times.  Click here for press coverage of our work.

Reported Cases
Cary’s reported cases include the following:

Cole v. State Farm Mutual Ins. Co., 359 Md. 298; 753 A.2d 533 (2000) (changing Maryland law to make it easier to recover fair compensation from an insurance company) (click here for opinion)

Wells, et al. v. Chevy Chase Bank, et al., 363 Md. 232; 768 A.2d 620 (2001) (amicus curiae)

Compucel Corp. v. Comm. of Internal Revenue, 2002-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) P50, 284 (2002)

Moore v. Norouzi, 371 Md. 154; 807 A.2d 632 (2002) (amicus curiae on behalf of Maryland Trial Lawyers Association; the Court of Appeals held that, “We agree with the Amicus Maryland Trial Lawyers Association,” and adopted the position, which opened a new avenue of recovery for civil rights violations.)

LGB Group LLC v. John Booty, 2004 MDBT 1 (Cir. Ct. for Prince George's Co., 1/28/04) (one of the first trial court opinions reported under Maryland Rule 16-205)

Maryland State Bd. of Educ. v. Bradford, 387 Md. 353; 875 A.2d 703 (2005) (amicus curiae)

Kane v. Board of Appeals of Prince George’s County, 390 Md. 145; 887 A.2d 1060 (2005)

Public Service Com’n of Maryland v. Wilson, 389 Md. 27; 882 A.2d 849 (2005)

Prince George’s County v. Longtin, 190 Md. App. 97 (2010)

Prince George’s County v. Longtin, 419 Md. 450 (2011) (establishing a new cause of action and protecting the largest verdict against the County in a police misconduct case) (click here for opinion)

Jones v. State, 38 A.3d 333 (2012) (redefining the boundaries of the public duty doctrine to make it easier to recover fair compensation in cases of police misconduct) (click here for opinion)

Brooks, et al. v. Jenkins, et ux., 103 A.3d 899 (2014) (affirming one of the highest verdicts in history for the intentional shooting of a dog) (click here for opinion)

Rodriguez v. State, No. 0748, Sept. Term, 2012 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2014) (reinstating an award for over $18 Million at Mr. Hansel's request) (click here for opinion)

Cooper v. Rodriguez, 118 A. 3d 829 (MD Court of Appeals 2015) (affirming Mr. Hansel's arguments to reinstate a jury verdict)

George Washington University Law School, JD, 1999
Washington and Lee University, BA, 1996

Bar Admissions
District of Columbia

Court Admissions
United States Supreme Court
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
U.S. Court of Appeals Federal Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Professional Affiliations
American Inns of Court, Marlborough Inn, Past President
American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, Board of Governors
Maryland Attorney General’s Task Force on Electronic Weapons, Appointed Member
Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ), Board of Governors
American Bar Association
American Association for Justice
Montgomery County Bar Association
Prince George's County Bar Association

Awards & Honors
Trial Lawyer of the Year, Maryland Association for Justice 2016
Trial Lawyer of the Year, Maryland Association for Justice 2011
President’s Award, Maryland Trial Lawyers Association
Wall of Heroes, American Civil Liberties Union

Ashton Zylstra

Ashton Zylstra is an attorney with Hansel Law, P.C., who practices civil rights law, medical malpractice, employment discrimination law, and constitutional law. She represents clients in both trial and appellate practice.

Ashton joined Hansel Law, P.C., after clerking with the Honorable Jeannie E. Cho on the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, where she assisted with a wide variety of civil and criminal cases. Prior to her experience as a clerk, Ashton previously practiced as an Associate at Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, in the Baltimore office. While at Womble Bond Dickinson, Ashton was part of a busy contract practice, structuring, documenting, and reviewing lease and loan documentation for moving assets such as aircraft, locomotives, trucks, and tankers.

As a law student at the University of Maryland, Ashton participated in an appellate practice clinic, where she argued two criminal appeals before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. Ashton also competed on her law school’s National Trial Team and Moot Court Board, representing her school at competitions all throughout the country.

When she is not working to provide the best advocacy possible for her clients, Ashton can generally be found training, out running in the streets of her neighborhood or cycling on the virtual streets of Watopia in Zwift. She enjoys racing a wide variety of endurance races, from 5K races through Ironman triathlons. To date, Ashton has run 9 marathons, 14 half marathons, 1 Ironman, and 2 Half Ironman triathlons, plus numerous races of shorter distances.

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, J.D., 2017
Pennsylvania State University, M.I.A., 2013
Santa Clara University, B.A., 2011

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Cary J. Hansel, Founder, Hansel Law, PC
2514 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
Telephone: 301-461-1040
Facsimile: 443-451-8606
E-mail: cary@hansellaw.com
Avvo - Rate your Lawyer. Get Free Legal Advice.
Cary Hansel in Court
Click photo above for courtroom video.
Click photo above for our appellate practice.
Click photo to read about our trial work.
Click photo for Hansel Law media reports.
Click photo to contact Hansel Law.
Ashton Zylstra, Associate
Hansel Law, PC
2514 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
Telephone:     301-461-1040
Facsimile:        443-451-8606
E-mail:             azylstra@hansellaw.com

Monica A. Carranza

Monica Carranza has an LL.M. in International Law from the University of Nottingham and has diverse legal experience in areas including human rights law, consumer protection law, and technology law.

Monica’s experience includes work on international humanitarian law, transitional justice and peace negotiations with a well-known DC think tank.  She has also done legal work monitoring congressional hearings on the status of global civil liberty issues and analyzing freedom of religion in developing nations.

Monica drafted a legal brief on behalf of a public interest organization for submission to the United Nations Human Rights Counsel arguing for reform of oppressive foreign laws.

Monica’s advocacy work includes working with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to facilitate the March to Keep Families Together in response to family separation policies at the Mexico-U.S. border and serving as a health mentor teaching health workshops in underserved communities.

During law school, Monica advocated for clients in disputes with the IRS as a student attorney at the American University Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic. She also volunteered at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program where she provided free tax preparation services to D.C. communities. As an editor on the American University Business Law Review, Monica managed online publications and mentored incoming staff.

In her free time, Monica cooks, bikes, and tends to her small indoor garden. As a novice plant parent, she owns a growing collection of healthy succulents and tropical plants.

Department of Justice Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger,
American University Business Law Review, October 2018

Jay-Z Creates Space for Diversity in Arbitration,
American University Business Law Review, March 2019

American University Washington College of Law, J.D., 2020 (Dean’s Merit Scholarship)
University of Nottingham, LL.M., 2015
Boston University, B.A. 2014

Bar Admissions
District of Columbia
New York
Monica A. Carranza, Associate
Hansel Law, PC
2514 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
Telephone:     301-461-1040
Facsimile:        443-451-8606
E-mail:            mcarranza@hansellaw.com

Our Future Lawyers and Support Staff

At Hansel Law, your case benefits from the dedication of both our lawyers and our top-notch staff.  

Paralegals like Tiana Boardman (pictured right) are experienced in investigating and building your strongest case.  Ms. Boardman is an honors graduate of the University of Maryland and currently attends the University of Baltimore School of Law.  She is also a recent winner of the prestigious J. Franklyn Bourne Scholarship in recognition of her high academic achievement and service to the community.  Ms. Boardman has testified before the Court of Appeals and she has been quoted in prominent media outlets in connection with her advocacy for reform.

All of our well-trained team is available to answer your questions and assist you in gathering the information necessary to prove your case.  The many hours of detail-oriented casework and preparation performed by both lawyers and staff at the firm prepare us for success.

Tiana Boardman, Paralegal                                  

Our Team

The strength of our firm comes from the deep commitment to justice for our clients shared by every member of the Hansel Law team.  Our dedication to you binds us together as a tight-knit family.  From the internships Hansel Law provides to top college students to our law clerks, legal assistants, paralegals, associates and our founder, we work as one cohesive unit to contribute to the quantum of justice in the world.

Pictured at left are firm members attending the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association Scholarship Awards Banquet in support of Tiana N. Boardman, who was awarded one of only 4 annual law school scholarships.

 Judges and lawyers from across the State gathered to honor the scholarship recipients and to lend support to the association's stated mission to support "legal excellence, community service, and the advancement of African Americans in the legal profession."