2023 Amicus Award Recipients

2023 Amicus Award Recipients

IMLA’s amicus program is very busy and has had a successful year – filed over 30 briefs in the last year.

Most of the cases below are pending cases but we’ve had notable wins as well.  As a reminder, the Supreme Court accepts cert in only about 1% of cases, so denial of cert can be due to many reasons and in each of our cases we were exceptionally well represented.

We can only enjoy this success and help our members out with these briefs by having high caliber attorneys dedicate their valuable time and resources to drafting these briefs for us on a pro bono basis. We therefore seek to honor them with this Amicus Service Award, which is our way of thanking them for their hard work and dedication to local governments.

180 Land Co., LLC v. City of Las Vegas (Supreme Court of Nevada)

Whether a zoning ordinance trumps the General Plan such that a developer has an “absolute right’ to build residential units on a property despite it being designated as open space in the General Plan.

Steven Silva
Nossaman, LLP

Steven Silva is an attorney whose practice focuses on the areas of eminent domain and takings litigation. He also practices in a broader array of governmental and municipal law, from the creating and termination of redevelopment agencies, to charter revisions, to election issues, to the occasional traffic court matter.  He has an extensive appellate background and is a frequent drafter of amicus briefs in various courts.  He is a partner at Nossaman, LLP and before entering practice was a staff attorney for the Nevada Supreme Court, and a law clerk to the Hon. Judge Patrick Flanagan in Reno, Nevada.  He also writes extensively, and is the author of several chapters in numerous practice manuals, as well as short scholarly articles for the benefit of the bench and bar.

303 Creative v. Elenis (Supreme Court Merits)

Whether applying Colorado’s public-accommodation law to compel a website designer to serve LGBTQ marriage clients violates the First Amendment.

Aileen McGrath
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Aileen M. McGrath is a partner in Akin Gump’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice who focuses on handling appeals in the 9th Circuit and California state appellate courts. She has first-chaired representations at every appellate level, and recently argued several important appeals for significant firm clients in the 9th Circuit and in the California Court of Appeal. She is one of only a handful of lawyers in the country to have clerked at both the U.S. and California Supreme Courts. Joining Akin Gump in 2021 after nearly a decade of service in the City Attorney’s office in San Francisco, she also has extensive experience litigating complex legal issues in high-stakes trial litigation. Ms. McGrath received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2007, where she served as president of the Harvard Law Review, and her B.A. magna cum laude from Columbia University in 2003.

Juliana DeVries
Appellate Attorney

Juliana is a former member of the Supreme Court and Appellate Group at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Her previous positions include serving as a Clinical Teaching Fellow at UC Berkeley, School of Law and as an Assistant Federal Public Defender. She clerked on the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit.  Juliana received her BA from Columbia and her JD from UC Berkeley School of Law.


Association of Club Executives of Dallas, Inc. v. City of Dallas (Fifth Circuit)

Whether curfew on exotic dance clubs is a restriction on conduct, not expression, and passes muster under intermediate scrutiny.

Joshua Skinner
City of Arlington
Assistant City Attorney

Joshua Skinner is an assistant city attorney with the City of Arlington. Before joining the City Attorney’s Office, he spent more than a decade litigating on behalf of cities, counties, school districts, and public officials at Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, PC, and then went in-house at the University of Dallas, where he oversaw a wide variety of legal compliance matters, including all civil rights and Title IX compliance.


Baker v. City of McKinney (Fifth Circuit)

Damage to home during police pursuit of hostage taker is not compensable Fifth Amendment taking.

Justin Johnson
City of Plano, Texas
Assistant City Attorney

Justin Johnson is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Plano, Texas. He graduated magna cum laude from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in 2006 and has spent most of his career as a criminal prosecutor. He served as an assistant criminal district attorney in Collin and Dallas counties, prosecuting white collar, homicide, and child abuse cases in both trial and appellate courts. He has served numerous times as a special prosecutor and is board certified in criminal law. Justin joined the City of Plano in 2020. He works in the municipal court and also represents the city in civil matters.

Timothy Dunn
City of Plano, Texas
Assistant City Attorney

Tad brings significant experience to the firm representing governmental entities in a variety of actions in both state and federal courts. Tad focuses his practice on governmental litigation including civil rights, municipal ordinance defense, land use, employment law, personal injury claims, and civil rights claims. Tad has experience handling cases at the trail court level, in the state and federal courts of appeal, in the Texas Supreme Court and in the United States Supreme Court.

Brookhaven v. Ardent (Georgia Court of Appeals)

Whether a city can be liable to a developer for its refusal to abandon a road at a price dictated by the developer.

Ryan Bowersox
Georgia Municipal Association
Assistant General Counsel

Ryan Bowersox is the Assistant General Counsel for the Georgia Municipal Association representing Georgia’s 537 cities where he advocates for the collective interest of Georgia’s cities at the state level. Ryan previously served as a Governmental Relations Associate for the GMA and prior to joining the Georgia Municipal Association, Ryan worked for the Georgia State Senate Research Office as a Senior Policy Analyst where he assisted and advised in the passage of legislation relating to taxation, economic development, and banking law.

Ryan holds a J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law where he served on Moot Court and as an editor of the Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law. Ryan holds degrees in both Political Science and Advertising from the University of Georgia. He has lived in Georgia since 2000 and currently resides in Chamblee, Georgia with his wife, Erica and dog, Riley.

Louisville-Jefferson County v. Carr (Supreme Court Petition)

Whether all pardons which restore civil rights and nullify punishment or legal consequences of a crime, regardless of the implications on the underlying conviction, sufficiently invalidate a conviction under Heck?

Tim Coates
Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP
Partner Emeritus

Tim Coates is Partner Emeritus at the appellate firm of Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland LLP in Los Angeles, and over the past 39 years he has briefed and argued more than 250 matters in the state and federal appellate courts, including successfully arguing five cases in the United States Supreme Court, and obtaining per curiam reversals in two other cases. Tim’s Supreme Court victories have addressed absolute and qualified immunity (Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335 (2009), Messerschmidt v. Millender, 565 U.S. 535 (2012), Stanton v. Sims, 571 U.S. 3 (2013), Rivas -Villegas v. Cortesluna, 142 S.Ct. 4 (2021)), Monell liability (Los Angeles County v. Humphries, 562 U.S. 29 (2010)) warrantless arrests (County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991)) and standards governing discharges under the Clean Water Act (Los Angeles County Flood Control Dist. v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 568 U.S. 58 (2013)). He has been named a Southern California Super Lawyer in the area of appellate practice (2007-current), and has also been named in The Best Lawyers In America (Appellate Law) (2014-current). The Los Angeles Daily Journal has repeatedly recognized Tim as one of the Top 100 Attorneys in California, he has received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award for his United States Supreme Court work, and Reuters News Service named him one of the “Top Petitioners” in the United States Supreme Court. Tim lectures widely on issues related to appellate practice, as well as section 1983 liability.

Celcog v. Perkins (Supreme Court Petition)

Whether an award of attorneys’ fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 is inappropriate in a state court case where only state claims were raised.

Joy Rabalais
Borne, Wilkes & Rabalais LLC

Rabalais was born in Cut Off, Louisiana, on February 10, 1972. In 1994, she graduated cum laude from Nicholls State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. Mrs. Rabalais received her Juris Doctorate from Louisiana State University in 1999, where she was a member of the Moot Court Board and winner of the Robert Lee Tullis Moot Court Competition. She is a member of the Louisiana State University “Hall of Fame”. Mrs. Rabalais was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1999 and is licensed to practice in all state courts, federal district courts in Louisiana, as well as the Federal Fifth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. Prior to joining the firm, Mrs. Rabalais was a judicial law clerk for the Second Circuit Court of Appeal under the Honorable James Jay Caraway from 1999-2002. Mrs. Rabalais joined the firm in 2003 as an associate, and has been the firm’s sole managing partner since 2017.

Mrs. Rabalais is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Lafayette Bar Association. She has served as a guest lecturer at the Acadiana Law Enforcement Training Academy on the topic of civil liabilities, and she has lectured at seminars for the National Business Institute on the topics of Handling a Police Liability Claim and Louisiana Public Records Laws.

In 2015, she was named as one of Acadiana’s Top Lawyers in the February/March 2015 edition of Acadiana Profile magazine in the field of Workers’ Compensation. Her selection was based on nominations made by attorneys and colleagues in the Acadiana area.

She has been acting as an Assistant City-Parish Attorney working on various issues for Lafayette City-Parish Government since 2011, including litigation of civil rights claims, handling responses to public records requests generally, and specifically assisting the Lafayette Police Department with media relations in high profile cases.

Her primary areas of practice include litigating and defending municipalities and police officers in civil rights lawsuits, workers’ compensation defense, and providing assistance and guidance to municipalities and parish governments when responding to production of sensitive documents under Louisiana Public Records Laws. Mrs. Rabalais also assists various municipalities with media relations and responses, as well as compliance with Open Meeting laws. Mrs. Rabalais has also litigated and defended the firm’s clients in the timber, logging, and trucking industries, and has also defended Titan International in products liability matters.

City of Grants Pass v. Johnson (Ninth Circuit Petition for Rehearing En Banc)

Whether Martin v. City of Boise requires confirmation that available beds exceed the number of homeless before reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions can be enforced.

Harry Wilson
Markowitz Herbold’s Government Practice Group

Harry Wilson is an advocate for state and local governments with a trial and appellate practice on both coasts. He chairs Markowitz Herbold, PC. Harry has represented a wide array of governments, public officials, election campaigns, and advocacy organizations. His clients include the Governor and Attorney General of Oregon, state legislators, members of congress, labor unions, industry associations, and ballot measure and political campaign organizations. He has led trial teams working on multiple cases worth more than $300 million, including the defense of a public health authority from claims of Medicaid billing irregularities, prosecuting civil fraud claims against the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma, and representing the State of Oregon in seven lawsuits with Oracle America, the second-largest software company in the world. Although Harry concentrates on trial work, he has a sophisticated appellate practice and has worked on more than 60 appeals to state and federal appellate courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He has argued more than a dozen times before appellate courts. Harry has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America, Benchmark Litigation, the Portland Business Journal, and International Law Office and his legal work has been featured on MSNBC and in the New York Times and Washington Post, among others.

Anit Jindal
Markowitz Herbold, PC

Anit is a skilled litigator who has a record of helping his clients achieve success in trial and appellate courts and before regulatory bodies. His clients include public utilities, state and local governments, and privately held businesses. Anit’s commercial litigation practice focuses on energy law, class action defense, and complex contract disputes. He is also a skilled appellate lawyer and has briefed appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Oregon Court of Appeals.

Hannah Hoffman
Markowitz Herbold, PC

They say there is no such thing as a former journalist and Hannah Hoffman is a prime example. Although she left her journalism career to pursue a law degree, Hannah brings strong communication, reasoning, and investigative skills to bear for her business litigation clients in both appellate and trial courts. Hannah is an excellent writer and oral advocate. Hannah specializes in complex litigation, including high-stakes business and contract disputes, government and election law, and employment litigation, particularly non-competition disputes.

City of South Miami v. DeSantis (Eleventh Circuit)

Whether a Florida statute prohibiting local sanctuary policies violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Raphael Rajendra
County of Santa Clara, California
Deputy County Counsel

Raphael (Ravi) Rajendra is a Deputy County Counsel with the County of Santa Clara, California. Mr. Rajendra serves on the Social Justice and Impact Litigation Team, in which capacity he litigates and develops policy protective and supportive of the communities served by the County, and especially low-income communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color. Mr. Rajendra also advises several agencies, departments, boards, and commissions dedicated to workers’ rights, immigrant empowerment, juvenile justice, and the well-being of families with young children. Before joining the County in 2018, Mr. Rajendra’s practice at Altshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco and Bredhoff & Kaiser PLLC in Washington, D.C. focused on litigation, including affirmative litigation and class actions, legislative drafting and policy development, and public advocacy campaigns on behalf of labor unions, low-wage workers, and nonprofit entities. He holds a J.D., cum laude, from New York University School of Law and a B.A. in History from Columbia University.

Susan Greenberg
County of Santa Clara, California
Deputy County Counsel

Susan Greenberg has worked in local government since 2013, including as an appellate practitioner for the City of New York and in her current role as a Deputy County Counsel handling writs, appeals, and affirmative litigation for the County of Santa Clara. As a member of the County’s Social Justice and Impact Litigation section, Susan litigates affirmative cases on behalf of the County and the People of the State of California and helps to develop initiatives intended to advance economic and social justice and improve the well-being of County residents.

Connor v. Cleveland County (Supreme Court Petition)

Whether “gap time” is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act or if it may only be brought as a state contract law violation.

Heidi Wilbur
Fox Rothschild LLP

Heidi counsels businesses on a range of employment issues and defends their interests in litigation and administrative proceedings.

She represents employers in a broad range of industries including transportation, health care and the arts, in single-plaintiff lawsuits, nationwide class actions including pattern-and-practice lawsuits brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and collective actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act. When clients’ litigation is at an inflection point, they rely on Heidi’s skill at drafting complex, high-stakes trial and appellate court briefs, including motions for summary judgment and dismissal.

She has handled claims brought under various laws, including:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Title VII
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Various state laws

Heidi advises businesses on an array of employment issues, including personnel policies, investigations of complaints and misconduct, wage and hour processes, terminations, restrictive covenants, social media and employment agreements. In recent months, this has included counseling clients on implementation of workplace health and safety measures and compliance with government regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her advice is pragmatic and actionable, helping employers understand their obligations under federal and state law, avoid litigation and find inventive solutions to problems arising in the workplace.

Heidi also conducts training sessions for human resources and management personnel on various topics such as conducting investigations and preventing harassment in the workplace.

Patrick Kane
Fox Rothschild LLP

Patrick is an experienced trial attorney and Certified Appellate Specialist whose practice includes high-stakes commercial litigation, municipal litigation and appellate law. He helps clients overcome legal challenges so they can focus on their business.

Municipalities facing litigation turn to Patrick to defend their interests against allegations of civil rights violations, police misconduct, employment discrimination, breach of contract and other claims. Patrick is an experienced advocate, well versed in handling both the legal aspects of municipal litigation and the accompanying crisis management challenges.

Patrick represents clients throughout the litigation process, handing commercial and municipal cases not only in the trial court, but in the appellate courts as well. He is one of a small number of appellate attorneys in private practice who have earned the designation of Certified Appellate Specialist from the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

Kip Nelson
Fox Rothschild LLP

Kip has an active appellate practice in both state and federal courts, and holds a certification as an appellate specialist from the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

He has argued before the Supreme Court of North Carolina and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

He also represents clients in a range of litigation matters, including disputes involving intellectual property, product liability, employment discrimination, breach of contract and subrogation actions.

Crawford v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania)

Whether the Pennsylvania Firearms Act violates Philadelphia’s Home Rule authority delegated to it by the State.

Jared Make
A Better Balance (ABB)
Vice President

Jared Make is Vice President of A Better Balance (ABB), a national legal nonprofit that uses the power of the law to advance justice for workers, so they can care for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their economic security. A member of ABB’s staff since 2010, Jared has worked with advocates and coalitions to draft and pass dozens of state and local laws that guarantee paid sick time, paid family and medical leave, and emergency leave for COVID-19 and other public health emergencies.

In 2014, Jared co-founded ABB’s LGBTQ Rights and Family Recognition Project to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ workers, raise awareness about the diversity of family structures, and enact workplace policies that cover a range of caregiving relationships. In 2017, Jared also launched ABB’s Defending Local Democracy Project, a nationwide effort to strengthen, protect, and defend progressive, local laws. Through this effort, he has worked closely with municipalities—as well as the Local Solutions Support Center and other organizational partners—to prevent and challenge efforts to restrict local laws that guarantee paid leave, LGBTQ nondiscrimination, fair scheduling, and other work-family and public health protections.

Jared graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University and cum laude from NYU School of Law. At NYU Law, he served as President of the HIV Law Society and volunteered with OUTLaw, the National Lawyers Guild, and Law Students for Human Rights. He was honored at NYU Law with the Ann Petluck Poses Memorial Prize for outstanding work in a clinical course requiring student practice. He resides in Denver, Colorado.

Robert Toland
Vaughan Baio & Partners

Robert Toland specializes in appellate practice with extensive experience handling appeals in state and federal court. He has substantial expertise in isolating and framing the most viable appellate issues, drafting clear and compelling briefs and presenting effective arguments. His goal is to achieve the most polished, professional and efficient presentation of an appeal. He has regularly appeared before all levels of state and federal appellate courts. He is frequently involved in trials to ensure that key issues are identified and preserved before, during and after trial. These efforts help expand the options if an appeal is necessary.

Robert has briefed and argued many high-profile appeals for national and multinational corporations faced with complex issues. He often presses how the law should be developed or changed in a given area, from appropriate measures to limit the recovery of punitive damages in product liability litigation, to the admissibility of expert testimony, to nationwide personal jurisdiction in civil RICO Act cases, to the constitutionality of state laws on various grounds.

Robert is also experienced in appellate practice that resides beyond the realm of traditional channels, such as through interlocutory appeals of collateral orders, mandamus, extraordinary applications and other means to achieve immediate review.

His practice has represented automotive and chemical manufacturers in product liability litigation, doctors and hospitals in medical malpractice litigation and a wide variety of clients in commercial, constitutional, insurance coverage and construction litigation. He has represented clients in product liability litigation throughout the United States.

Robert was one of the founding editors of the Villanova Environmental Law Journal and clerked in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after graduating from law school.

El Papel, LLC v. City of Seattle (Ninth Circuit)

Whether moratorium on landlord evictions during COVID is a Fifth Amendment taking and satisfies Penn Central standards.

Rachel Fried
Democracy Forward
Senior Counsel

Rachel L. Fried is a Senior Counsel at Democracy Forward, a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 that litigates cases involving government action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities. The organization has taken 650 legal actions and achieved victories supporting democracy and improving the lives and wellbeing of people and communities. At Democracy Forward, Rachel has focused on health equity and open government issues, defending ESG against regressive attacks, and of course, defending state and local governments’ authority to regulate the housing market to protect vulnerable tenants. Prior to joining Democracy Forward, Rachel was a Clinical Fellow and Staff Attorney at the Civil Litigation Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. Rachel served as a Law Clerk to judges on the 11th Circuit and in the District of Vermont, and was formerly an associate with Covington & Burling LLP. Rachel graduated from Yale Law School. In her free time, Rachel enjoys jogging with her dog along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, salsa dancing, and catching a show at one of DC’s many fantastic theatres.

Moore v. Harper  (Supreme Court Merits)

Whether the “times, places, and manners” clause in Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution gives state legislatures absolute authority to redistrict and to control federal elections, free of any reference to state constitutions or oversight by state courts.

John Korzen
Wake Forest University School of Law
Director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic

John Korzen is the Director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic at Wake Forest University School of Law. Korzen is certified by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in Appellate Practice. He has argued in the Supreme Court of the United States, Fourth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, North Carolina Supreme Court, and North Carolina Court of Appeals; supervised oral arguments by 51 third-year law students in various appellate courts; and filed numerous amicus briefs. Before joining the law school faculty, Korzen served as a law clerk for the late Sam J. Ervin, III, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and practiced at two law firms. Before law school, Korzen taught in public schools for six years. He and his wife Catherine were married 40 years ago this July.

Health & Hospital Corp of Marion County v. Talevski (Supreme Court Merits)

(1) Whether the Supreme Court should reexamine its holding that spending clause legislation gives rise to privately enforceable rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (2) whether, assuming spending clause statutes ever give rise to private rights enforceable via Section 1983, the Federal Nursing Home Amendments Act of 1987’s transfer and medication rules do so.

Christopher Wright
Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP

Chris Wright, co-chair of the Issues and Appeals group at HWG LLP, is both an appellate lawyer and a communications lawyer. Prior to joining the firm in 2001, Chris served as General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States, and as a law clerk to Chief Justice Warren Burger of the United States Supreme Court. He is one of very few lawyers who has argued more than twenty cases in both the Supreme Court and the D.C. Circuit, and he has argued in numerous other federal circuit courts as well.

As a generalist appellate lawyer, Chris has argued cases in diverse areas of law, ranging from administrative law to tort law. He, along with HWG’s appellate team, is experienced both in taking the lead on appeals previously handled by other firms at earlier stages and in helping other counsel prepare briefs and conduct appellate arguments. The firm has filed amicus briefs on a variety of topics in the Supreme Court and the federal circuits. Chris and HWG’s appellate group pride themselves on their ability to take complex issues and present them in a way that is comprehensible and persuasive to generalist judges.

Chris is a former President of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, the nation’s preeminent association of appellate lawyers, and has been recognized as an outstanding appellate lawyer by Chambers USA and Best Lawyers. Chris is a former member of the Board of Governors of the D.C. Circuit Historical Society and the D.C. Circuit’s Rules Committee. He co-teaches the D.C. Bar’s annual course on Judicial Review of Agency Decisions.

John Grimm
Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP

John R. Grimm is an experienced trial and appellate litigator. A former Assistant Attorney General for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office Civil Litigation Division, Mr. Grimm represents clients in federal and state courts at all stages of litigation. He has served as lead counsel in civil cases in both federal and state trial courts, and has tried numerous criminal cases in Maryland state courts. John has argued in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Fourth Circuit and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, and authored briefs in more than a dozen appeals, including cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals around the country, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Civil, Criminal & Administrative Appeals

  • Argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a non-profit organization challenging a decision by the Copyright Royalty Board.
  • Argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of an indigent criminal defendant challenging his conviction.
  • Represented an entertainment company defending a jury verdict in its favor on appeal.
  • Successfully represented a large communications company in an appeal challenging the FCC’s decision to give a contract.

Litigation & Investigations

  • Represented a national entertainment company in a lawsuit seeking unpaid royalties under a licensing agreement, resulting in the jury awarding the client 100% of the damages it sought.
  • Represented a major telecommunications company in a consolidated multi-district lawsuit, including drafting an opposition to consolidation by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

John is the vice-chair of the section council of the Maryland State Bar Association’s administrative law section; a member of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association’s amicus committee; and a contributing author to the Maryland Appellate Blog. He has served as an adjunct professor of evidence at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and devoted significant time as an attorney advisor to a public high school participating in the D.C. Circuit Historical Society’s Mock Court program.

Earlier in his career, John clerked for the Honorable Kathleen G. Cox on the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland and served as an assistant public defender in Baltimore County, Maryland where he represented hundreds of clients charged with offenses ranging from minor traffic violations to first-degree murder.

City of Huntington v. AmerisourceBergin (Fourth Circuit)

Whether opioid distributors’ conduct violates West Virginia public nuisance law and requires payment of abatement costs.

Carl Cecere
Cecere PC

Carl Cecere is skilled in delivering arguments that provide maximum impact. He’s the product of an elite, big-firm appellate practice, but he started Cecere PC in 2012 to deliver those same services more efficiently, with direct attention, flexible fee arrangements, and malleable roles.

Carl works in areas where the law is uncertain, where the stakes are high, and the subject matter is often highly technical—where the need to clearly deliver skillfully crafted, high-impact arguments is most critical. He frequently represents clients in the United States Supreme Court, as well as federal and state appellate courts around the country.

His specialty is the art of appellate advocacy and is not restricted to any particular subject matter. He has handled a variety of path-breaking issues of constitutional law, foreign sovereign immunity, administrative law, bankruptcy, class actions, intellectual property, securities law, insurance, and energy law.

His client roster is as wide ranging as his expertise. He’s represented venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, banks, corporations, and victims of serious accidents. He’s also represented former high-ranking government officials, heads of federal agencies including ambassadors, congressmen, FCC commissioners, ambassadors, former ambassadors, prominent academics, and other experts.

Outside the courtroom, Carl frequently writes and speaks on a wide variety of legal issues. Several of his writings have been published in prestigious academic journals, and others have been cited and examined by academics and public advocates. He often speaks on the Supreme Court, appellate advocacy, and issues in patent law. He also makes radio and television appearances to discuss important legal developments. His practice has been featured on numerous podcasts and been the subject of a feature profile by legendary U.S. Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro.

Recent successes include:

  • Defeating trade secret misappropriation claims on appeal against the inventor of Bunch O’ Balloons, one of the most popular toys in the world, in the Texas Supreme Court
  • Invalidating the $6 billion plan of reorganization for Purdue Pharma, L.P.
  • Reversing a decision of the United States Court of Federal Claims that invalidated Takings claims raised by hundreds of landowners arising from the flooding of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs after Hurricane Harvey.

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (Supreme Court Merits)

Whether prayer by football coach at midfield after game, surrounded by players, may be prohibited by school district based on Establishment Clause concerns.

Michael Dreeben
O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Michael Dreeben is a partner at O’Melveny and Myers LLP in the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Group. Michael also serves as a Distinguished Visiting Professor from Government at Georgetown University Law Center and a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches courses on Supreme Court advocacy. He served in the US Department of Justice’s Office of the Solicitor General for more than 30 years, including 24 years as the Deputy Solicitor General in charge of the government’s criminal docket in the Supreme Court. In that capacity, he supervised nationwide the government legal positions on criminal matters.

Michael has argued 108 cases in the Supreme Court.  These include successfully representing the City of Austin in a First Amendment challenge to the city’s bill board regulation in City of Austin v. Reagan National Advertising, 142 S. Ct. 1464 (2022).  He has also counseled and represented state and local bodies in other constitutional controversies and represented individuals in a variety of appellate matters.  Beyond his Supreme Court practice, he has argued cases in every regional federal court of appeals, including ten cases before en banc courts, and has argued appeals in the Montana Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.  He has received the Department of Justice’s John Marshall Award for the handling of appeals and has twice received the Department’s Distinguished Service Award.  He has also received the Rex Lee Advocacy Award and the Tom Clark Award for Outstanding Government Lawyer.

Michael graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a Master’s degree at the University of Chicago in history before receiving his J.D. degree from Duke Law School. He clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for Judge Jerre S. Williams.  He is a member of the American Law Institute and the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court.  His most recent published article, “Defending Duren:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Criminal Defense Attorney,” appeared in the ABA’s Criminal Justice magazine (Winter 2022).

Jenya Godina
O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Jenya Godina is a litigation associate in the Washington, DC office of O’Melveny & Myers, where she is a member of the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice group. Prior to joining O’Melveny, Jenya served as a judicial clerk for Chief Judge Debra A. Livingston of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Judge Richard J. Sullivan, first at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and then at the Second Circuit.  Jenya attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where she was an executive editor of the Harvard Law Review and a finalist in the Ames Moot Court competition.

Kirola v. City & County of San Francisco (Ninth Circuit)

Whether a plaintiff must personally encounter ADA violations to bring a claim under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG) and whether a few scattered non-compliant issues can create liability under the ADAAG for the public entity or whether violations must be widespread and attributable to policies and practices pervading the whole system.

Erin Bernstein
Bradley Bernstein Sands LLP

Erin Bernstein is a founder of Bradley Bernstein Sands LLP, where she represents municipalities and private clients across California in both affirmative litigation and complex defense. Prior to founding BBS, Erin was a Supervising Deputy City Attorney at the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, heading the Community Lawyering and Civil Rights Unit (CLCR). She previously served as a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, working as a litigator on that office’s Complex and Affirmative Litigation Team. She also served as the Executive Director of the office’s Affirmative Litigation Task Force. Erin has served as lead trial and appellate counsel in cases involving novel issues of data privacy, breach of contract, consumer law, housing law, healthcare, and First Amendment claims.

Knight v. The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Sixth Circuit)

Whether requirement that builders of new homes or substantial additions must build sidewalks or contribute to citywide sidewalk fund is a taking under the Fifth Amendment.

Richard Coglianese
City of Columbus
Assistant City Attorney

Myrick v. City of Hoover (Eleventh Circuit)

Whether administrative leave and military leave are comparable for the purposes of benefits under USERRA.

Robbie Alexander Hyde
Alexander Hyde, LLC

Robbie is a native of Cherokee, Alabama. She graduated from Auburn University, Summa Cum Laude, and in 1993, graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Law. After more than 20 years in the practice of law, Robbie opened the firm Alexander Hyde, LLC in 2014. Robbie is admitted to practice before all state and federal trial and appellate courts in Alabama, as well as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She is a member of the Alabama Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Defense Research Institute and the Lee County Bar Association.

Robbie’s practice is focused on federal civil defense litigation and related matters, with a specific emphasis on municipal, civil rights, and employment law. She has defended multiple Alabama businesses and governmental entities and their officials against claims alleging violations of civil and constitutional rights, personal injury, and property damage. Robbie has substantial experience in all facets of employment and personnel matters (both in the private and governmental sectors), including matters before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, federal and state Departments of Labor, and National Labor Relations Board. Her experience includes employment and discrimination law, wage and hour law, workplace harassment litigation, wrongful termination, sex, race, age and disability discrimination along with providing training for employers in those areas. In 2022, Robbie was recognized as a Mid-South Region Super Lawyer, and her work has resulted in decisions in the United States Supreme Court, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Alabama federal district courts, the Alabama Supreme Court, and the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

National Pork Producers Council v. Ross (Supreme Court Merits)

1) Whether allegations that a state law has dramatic economic effects largely outside of the state and requires pervasive changes to an integrated nationwide industry state a violation of the dormant commerce clause, or whether the extraterritoriality principle described in the Supreme Court’s decisions is now a dead letter; and (2) whether such allegations, concerning a law that is based solely on preferences regarding out-of-state housing of farm animals, state a claim under Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc.

John Korzen
Wake Forest University School of Law
Director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic

John Korzen is the Director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic at Wake Forest University School of Law. Korzen is certified by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in Appellate Practice. He has argued in the Supreme Court of the United States, Fourth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, North Carolina Supreme Court, and North Carolina Court of Appeals; supervised oral arguments by 51 third-year law students in various appellate courts; and filed numerous amicus briefs. Before joining the law school faculty, Korzen served as a law clerk for the late Sam J. Ervin, III, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and practiced at two law firms. Before law school, Korzen taught in public schools for six years. He and his wife Catherine were married 40 years ago this July.

New Harvest Christian Fellowship v. City of Salinas (Supreme Court Petition)

The question in this case is what a RLUIPA plaintiff must show as a part of its prima facie case in an “equal terms” facial challenge before the burden shifts to the local government.

Derek Cole
Cole Huber LLP
Partner and Co-Founder

Derek Cole is a partner and co-founder of Cole Huber LLP, a California law firm focusing on municipal law. Derek provides advisory and litigation services to a wide range of cities, counties, and special districts.  He graduated from the Pacific-McGeorge Law School and attended college at the University of California-Santa Barbara.


Philadelphia v. Armstrong (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania)

Whether the Pennsylvania Firearms Act preempted a local government’s ordinance that imposes a fine on an individual who fails to report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours after the theft/loss was discovered.

Marissa Roy
Local Solutions Support Center

Marissa is a civil rights attorney based in Los Angeles. Marissa has spent her career working with local governments to engage in high-impact litigation. As a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles, Marissa helped bring one of the Office’s first large-scale workers’ rights lawsuits to hold accountable port trucking companies that were classifying truck drivers as independent contractors rather than employees and deducting thousands of dollars from their wages. In addition to protecting workers’ rights, Marissa worked with the City of Los Angeles and later the County of Los Angeles to challenge the Trump Administration’s hostile immigration agenda, from the federal district court all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a staff attorney with Public Rights Project, Marissa brought a lawsuit on behalf of eight cities in Florida against Governor Ron DeSantis for blocking their ability to engage in police reform.

Marissa earned her J.D. from Yale Law School as well as her Master in Public Diplomacy and B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from the University of Southern California.

Dilini Lankachandra
Brightline Defense Project
Legal Director

Dilini worked at A Better Balance from 2017-2022 as Director of the Defending Local Democracy Project from 2016. Throughout her time there she specialized largely on preemption issues, working closely with the Local Solutions Support Center. She currently serves as Legal Director at Brightline Defense Project in San Francisco.


R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Bonta (Opposition to Supreme Court Emergency Order)

Whether the Tobacco Control Act expressly preempts state and local laws that prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products

Joelle Lester
Public Health Law Center
Executive Director

Joelle Lester is the Executive Director at the Public Health Law Center, a national organization seeking to improve health through the power of law and policy. The Center collaborates with others to reduce and eliminate commercial tobacco, promote healthy food, support physical activity, strive for environmental justice, and address other causes of chronic disease. The Center is based at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Joelle joined the Center in 2012 and has become a respected national leader in commercial tobacco control law and policy. Early in her tenure, she spearheaded the Center’s work partnering with Black-led organizations to advocate for a federal ban on menthol cigarettes. After years of advocacy by these organizations, the FDA proposed a regulation to this effect in April 2022. In June, Joelle was given the Velvet Fist Award for steadfast commitment to saving Black lives, awarded by the Center for Black Health and Equity and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in New Orleans.

Prior to joining the Center, Joelle worked as a litigation associate at the Minneapolis firm of McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb, Chartered. Before attending law school, Joelle was a grassroots organizer, organizing director, and executive director of the Oregon Student Association, a nonprofit higher education advocacy group. She also worked as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, advocating for public K–12 education. Joelle earned a B.A. in psychology and women’s studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (Supreme Court Merits)

Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit set forth the proper test for determining whether wetlands are “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1362(7).

Andre Monett
Best Best & Kreiger

Andre Monette works with both public and private clients in matters involving water quality issues. He is a member of the Environmental & Natural Resources practice group in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. Andre works extensively with water districts, cities, counties and agricultural interests, and other private entities on matters involving the Federal Clean Water Act and its state law analogues.

Andre works with public agencies and farmers on matters involving water rights, water supply and water quality. Andre also works with investors interested in water projects, helping funds assess the viability of potential water related investments. Representative matters include the following:

  • Testifying before the United States House of Representatives Resources Committee on the potential water supply impacts of legislation relating to salmon conservation.
  • Testifying before the United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act and proposed revisions to the definition of “waters of the United States.”
  • Representing a municipality in matters involving cross border sewage flows and compliance with the Clean Water Act, resulting in a $300 million appropriation for projects in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) and $40 million in additional funds.
  • Filing multiple briefs as amicus with the United States Supreme Court on matters involving the Clean Water Act and water supply.
  • Representing clients in water rights acquisitions via purchase of mutual water company shares, and other water rights vehicles.
  • Representing investment funds in contracting and due diligence involving water related investments.
  • Representing farmers in California on groundwater rights issues including implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
  • Representing clients on complex water rights matters including adjudicated stream systems and federal reserve water rights.
  • Defending enforcement actions brought by EPA and state agencies regarding alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, RCRA and TSCA.

A major area of focus for Andre’s practice is the intersection of the water quality and water supply regulation. Federal and state laws across the nation divide water quality and water supply regulations into separate categories that often do not intersect and can preclude efficient use of the supply. Andre’s practice focuses on areas of overlap where acute knowledge of multiple regulatory schemes is required, including; streambed restoration, groundwater recharge projects, indirect potable reuse projects, large scale recycled water projects, and effluent limitation compliance.

Andre is the managing partner of BB&K’s Washington, D.C. office.

Roderick Walston
Best Best & Krieger
Of Counsel

Walston is Of Counsel with the law firm of Best Best & Krieger, in Walnut Creek, California, where he specializes in natural resources and water law, and in appellate litigation. Before joining the firm, Mr. Walston spent virtually his entire legal career representing the State of California and the federal government, and has served in several high legal positions:

  • Deputy Solicitor and Acting Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior, in Washington, D.C. (2002-2004), the highest legal positions in the Interior Department.
  • General Counsel of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, in Los Angeles (2000-2002), which provides water to most water agencies of southern California.
  • Chief Assistant Attorney General for the State of California, and head of the Attorney General’s Public Rights Division, in Sacramento (1991-1999). The Public Rights Division represents the State of California is several major fields of law—natural resources law (including water law), environmental law, land use regulation, antitrust law, consumer protection, civil rights, and charitable trusts.
  • Deputy Attorney General of the State of California, in San Francisco (1963-1991).
  • Law clerk to Judge M. Oliver Koelsch of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco (1961-1962).

As a California Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Walston argued seven cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including the landmark decision of California v. United States, 438 U.S. 645 (1978), which held that the federal government must comply with state water laws in operating federal water projects in the western states.  He has also argued the landmark decision of National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, 33 Cal.3d 419 (1983), where the California Supreme Court held that the public trust doctrine applies to regulation of water rights.

In his current practice, Mr. Walston has handled several cases raising significant issues of natural resources and water law, including cases holding that the public trust doctrine applies to appropriative water rights but does not authorize reallocation of adjudicated water rights (Mineral County v. Lyon County, 473 P.3d 418 (Nev. 2020); that federal reserved water rights apply to groundwater (Agua Caliente Tribe v. CVWD, et al., 849 F.3d 1262 (9th Cir. 2017)); that California’s public trust doctrine applies to groundwater (ELF v. SWRCB, et al., 26 Cal.App.5th 844 (2018)); and that state possessory interest taxes are not preempted as applied to non-Indians on Indian reservations (Agua Caliente Tribe v. Riverside County, et al., 749 Fed.Appx. 650 (9th Cir. 2019); Albrecht, et al. v. Riverside County, et al., 45 Cal.App.5th 96 (2020)).

Mr. Walston has written numerous amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of states, governors, legislatures, counties, and water agencies, among others, in cases addressing significant federal environmental law issues, such as Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006) (holding that Clean Water Act applies to wetlands under limited circumstances), and Nat’l Ass’n of Homebuilders v. Defenders of Wildlife, 551 U.S. 644 (2007) (holding that the Endangered Species Act does not override Clean Water Act requirements that federal permit programs must be transferred to states).

Mr. Walston is listed in “The Best Lawyers of America,” and was named Lawyer of the Year (2022); was named California’s “Outstanding Public Lawyer of the Year” by the California State Bar (2004); and received the National Association of Attorneys Generals’ “Best Brief Award,” for the best brief submitted to the U. S. Supreme Court in the 1997 Term.  He has  served as California’s legal representative to the Western States Water Council; as chairman of the American Bar Association’s Water Resources Committee; and was a co-founder of the ABA’s annual water law conference.  He has written numerous law review articles and made numerous presentations at conferences addressing the subjects of natural resources and water law.

Mr. Walston received his law degree from Stanford University, and his undergraduate degree from Columbia University.

United States v. Hansen (Supreme Court Merits)

Whether prohibition against compensated counseling of undocumented immigrants about obtaining US citizenship violates the First Amendment.

Jamie Huling Delaye
San Francisco City Attorney’s Office
Deputy City Attorney

Jaime Huling Delaye is a Deputy City Attorney with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office’s Complex and Affirmative Litigation Team. She has handled some of the office’s largest and most high-profile litigations, including: San Francisco’s recent victory in its bellwether trial against Walgreens in the national Opioid MDL; its groundbreaking litigation against lead paint manufacturers and distributors for causing lead poisoning in children; its successful challenge to the Trump administration’s healthcare “conscience” rule; and its complete defense verdict in a $170 million jury trial over the financing of the City’s taxi medallions.  She also serves as the coordinator of the office’s Idea Generation Committee, working to develop new affirmative cases.  Huling Delaye has obtained restitution for low-income workers denied benefits, authored amicus briefs on civil rights issues and public comments on federal regulations, and defended high-ranking government officials including department heads and the Mayor.

Ms. Huling Delaye was previously a staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, where she worked on the slew of marriage cases after Windsor, culminating in Obergefell.  There, she also litigated a wide variety of issues, from health care access for trans people to parentage rights for same-sex couples.  A graduate of Stanford Law School, Ms. Huling Delaye clerked on the Ninth Circuit for Judge A. Wallace Tashima and at the Northern District of California for Chief Judge Richard Seeborg.  She began her career in private practice.  Ms. Huling Delaye lives in the Mission District of San Francisco with her husband, their two children, and little dog Shorty.

Molly Alarcon
San Francisco City Attorney’s Office
Deputy City Attorney

Molly Alarcon is a Deputy City Attorney in the office of San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu, where she serves on the Complex and Affirmative Litigation Team. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2016 and clerked for the Honorable William J. Kayatta, Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.


Valenzuela v. City of Anaheim (Supreme Court Petition)

Whether a state’s prohibition on post-death “hedonic” damages, which purportedly compensate the deceased for the pleasure he would have taken from his life had he lived, is inconsistent with Section 1983.

Steven Renick
Manning Kass

Steven J. Renick is a partner with the law firm of Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP, which is headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in California, Arizona, New York, and Texas. The firm handles a broad range of litigation, a significant portion of which is on behalf of cities and counties and their employees, particularly law enforcement.

Mr. Renick has represented clients in both civil and criminal appeals and writs in the United States and California Supreme Courts as well as in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Court of Appeal.  Mr. Renick’s practice has included matters in the areas of civil rights, Freedom of Information Act/California Public Records Act, administrative law, contract disputes, employment law, and negligence and personal injury claims, among others.

Mr. Renick received his A.B. degree from Dartmouth College in 1978 and his J.D. from the Boston University School of Law in 1981.  He was admitted to the California Bar in 1981 and joined Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP in December 1995.  Mr. Renick has served on the State Bar of California’s Committee of Bar Examiners and on the Appellate Law Advisory Commission to the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar.

Mr. Renick is proud to have previously received an IMLA Amicus Service Award in 2017, 2021, and 2022.

Wilkins v. United States (Supreme Court Merits)

Whether the Quiet Title Act’s statute of limitations is a jurisdictional requirement or a claim-processing rule.

Jeffrey W. Mikoni
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Special Counsel

As a member of Pillsbury’s award-winning Insurance Recovery & Advisory group, Jeff Mikoni applies his diverse experience across the legal industry to the resolution of complex coverage disputes. He supplements his insurance practice with an appellate portfolio that has spanned the country, including multiple merits cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.  Jeff’s keen analytical skills and talent for sophisticated writing empower him to provide effective advocacy on behalf of clients facing their greatest challenges.