Marc DeSisto

For almost 40 years, Marc DeSisto has represented clients in a wide variety of litigation matters – both at the trial and appellate levels in both state and federal courts.  Not only have elected and appointed officials and judges as well as various governmental agencies turned to Marc for representation, but both the Rhode Island Supreme Court and Federal District Court of Rhode Island have relied on Marc to handle special prosecutions of diverse matters before them including, civil contempt and judicial and attorney discipline.

In the course of his career, Marc has tried more than 250 jury trials in the state and federal courts and has hundreds of reported decisions in the Rhode Island Superior Court, the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Prior to private practice, Marc worked for the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office Criminal Division, where he tried numerous felony cases, including multiple murder trials.  

Marc’s primary practice areas include defense of municipalities from all forms of constitutional claims including First Amendment, due process, equal protection, Fourth Amendment search and seizure, disability discrimination and police excessive force. Marc’s varied caseload also includes all aspects of employment law such as workplace age, sex, race and other discrimination claims. He has also defended contract disputes, as well as general state tort claims.  In addition, Marc has been lead counsel in a number of complex class action lawsuits.  

Some of Marc’s representative cases include:

  • Represented a number of Governors in defense and prosecution of various matters including those involving the executive privilege and separation of powers doctrine.
  • Appointed as Special Prosecutor by the Federal District Court for Rhode Island to investigate and prosecute a potential violation of a protective order issued in one of the “Plunder Dome” criminal cases.  Marc first successfully challenged a reporter’s claim to First Amendment “newsman privilege” resulting in a Court Order compelling the reporter to reveal the source of the breach. In re Special Proceedings, 291 F. Supp. 2d 44 (2003). Despite the Reporter’s continued refusal, Marc successfully investigated and prosecuted the person who leaked video material to the media in violation of the Protective Order.  
  • Marc was specifically selected by all municipalities to be lead counsel defending the municipalities from challenges to the R.I. Retirement Security Act of 2011 that implemented an overhaul of the public pension system.
  • The tragic Station Nightclub Fire involving the deaths of 100 individuals resulted in multiple lawsuits against various entities. Marc represented the Town of West Warwick, Rhode Island and multiple officials in defense of all claims. 
  • Marc received an appointment from the Rhode Island Supreme Court as Special Disciplinary Counsel to investigate and successfully prosecute the misconduct of a Rhode Island attorney.
  • Marc has also been appointed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court to investigate and prosecute the conduct of numerous Rhode Island judges before the Rhode Island Supreme Court Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline, including an investigation and eight-week hearing which resulted in a recommendation for removal.
  • Marc represented the State of Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority in a complex, six-month trial arising from the termination of the original contract for construction of the newly built Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge.  Clark-Fitzpatrick, Inc./Franki Found. Co. v. Gill, 652 A.2d 440 (1994).
  • On behalf of the State of Rhode Island Marc, negotiated the first Consent Decree with the United States Department of Justice relating to the State’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  He continues to represent the State concerning the implementation and compliance of the Consent Decree.
  • Marc successfully represented the Rhode Island Superior Court Judiciary in a First Amendment challenge involving the media’s claimed access to juror information.
  • More than one Supreme Court Justice has also turned to Marc to defend them from claims of improper conduct including successfully defended one Supreme Court Justice from an ethics violation claim.
  • Marc has been appointed as conflict counsel by the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office to represent individual State defendants and agencies, including the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), Rhode Island Department of Taxation, Rhode Island Department of Business Regulations, and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, concerning civil rights violations, defamation, and wrongful death claims.
  • Marc has been legal counsel to a private independent secondary school for many years offering advice on a wide range of issues and topics.  
  • Marc has performed numerous internal investigations of police and fire departments, as well as public and private school departments.  
  • While with the Attorney General’s Office, Marc tried approximately 75 felony jury trials, including 14 murder trials in one year.  He was selected to be lead prosecutor for the retrial of Claus Von Bulow in a trial that lasted approximately four months.
  • Marc has successfully represented and defended a number of lawyers and law firms in legal malpractice actions.


  • JD, Suffolk University Law School (1982)
  • BA, Providence College (1977)

Court/Bar Admissions

  • Rhode Island
  • United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court

Professional Affiliations

  • Rhode Island Bar Association
  • Roger Williams University School of Law - Board of Directors (2014 – present)
  • Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (2007 – present)
  • Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (2009 – present)

Publications and Speaking

  • Instructor with the United States District Court Litigation Academy
  • Conducted numerous and various training sessions of municipal police departments and municipal officials
  • Presenter at CLE seminars for fellow attorneys on trial tactics and issues on behalf of the First Circuit, the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Superior Court, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and the Rhode Island Bar Association
  • Practical Guide to Evidence in Rhode Island, MCLE New England (2011-2019), Chapter 3 “Evidentiary Exclusions and Limitations” and Chapter 7 “Reputation Evidence”
  • Training orientations for faculty and staff at Portsmouth Abbey School on sexual harassment policies and, most recently, COVID-19 policies and procedures.

Awards & Recognition

  • Selected to Rhode Island Super Lawyers (2008 – 2020)
  • Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Rating Recipient