2024 Amicus Award Recipients

2024 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.

Culley v. Attorney General of Alabama (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Whether criminal asset forfeiture requires preliminary probable cause hearing; does “speedy trial” standard suffice for Due Process.

Gilbert C. Dickey
Consovoy McCarthy PLLC

Gilbert Dickey is a partner at Consovoy McCarthy. He represents clients in trial and appellate courts, with a focus on constitutional issues and complex litigation. He has argued in numerous federal circuit courts, federal trial courts, and state courts. He has served as lead counsel in high-profile challenges to state law and civil rights litigation.

Before joining Consovoy McCarthy, Gilbert worked at a major international law firm, where he was elected partner. He also served as an Associate White House Counsel. In that role, he assisted with the confirmation proceedings for Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Earlier in his career, Gilbert was an Assistant Solicitor General in the West Virginia Attorney General’s office, where he assisted with key appellate matters for the state and served as lead trial counsel defending the state’s right-to-work law.

Gilbert is a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was selected to the Order of the Coif. He earned his B.A., magna cum laude, from Samford University.

C’Zar D. Bernstein
Consovoy McCarthy PLLC

C’Zar Bernstein is an associate attorney at Consovoy McCarthy PLLC, where he works on appellate and litigation matters that encompass constitutional law. Prior to joining the firm, he served as a law clerk to Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and Judge Gregory E. Maggs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Florida State University, his Master’s in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, and his J.D. with High Honors from The George Washington University Law School.

Groff v. Dejoy (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Religious accommodation Title VII-substantial burden. Must employer demonstrate more than de minimis cost/inconvenience to other employees?

F. Andrew Hessick
University of North Carolina School of Law
Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law/Associate Dean – Strategy

Andy Hessick is the Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Strategy at the University of North Carolina School of Law. He co-teaches the Supreme Court Program at Carolina, which provides students with the opportunity to assist in representing clients before the United States Supreme Court.

Hessick received his J.D. from Yale Law School, and then clerked for Judge Reena Raggi on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Judge A. Raymond Randolph on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He then served as a Bristow Fellow in the U.S. Solicitor General’s office and practiced litigation at Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel PLLC in Washington, D.C.

Richard A. Simpson
Wiley Rein, LLP

Richard A. Simpson is a partner with Wiley Rein, LLP in Washington D.C.  Previously, he has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, an Attorney Adviser in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, a Deputy Independent Counsel for one investigation and an Associate Independent Counsel for another investigation, and a law clerk to Judge Butzner on the Fourth Circuit.  Rick is currently a co-director of the Supreme Court Program at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Rick has acted as lead counsel for trials in the District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, New York, Texas, and Virginia, as well as for arbitration hearings. On the appellate side, Rick has presented oral argument in the Supreme Court of the United States; 10 of the federal courts of appeals; the Supreme Courts of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and Ohio; and state intermediate appellate courts in California, Florida, Maryland, New York, and Texas. His record of success includes winning the United States Supreme Court case and all five state Supreme Court cases.

Lindke v. Freed (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Whether public officials use of personal web pages is state action for First Amendment purposes/can they block members of the public from those personal web pages.

O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Whether public officials’ use of personal web pages is state action for First Amendment purposes/can they block members of the public or delete the public’s postings from those personal web pages.

Caroline Mackie
Poyner Spruill LLP

Caroline represents financial services institutions, governmental entities, and companies regarding a broad range of legal matters, including disputes involving commercial contracts, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. She has represented companies and individuals in cases involving both tort and contractual liability, at the trial and appellate levels. She also has significant experience representing governmental entities in litigation in state and federal courts and in litigating constitutional voting-related and redistricting cases at the trial and appellate levels.  In addition to voting-related litigation, Caroline has advised local governments with respect to election laws and redistricting.

She routinely represents banks and other financial institutions in all types of litigation in state and federal courts. In this capacity, she defends lender liability claims while also handling all aspects of collection matters for banks. In addition, she regularly represents landlords in commercial lease disputes and individuals and companies in professional malpractice matters.  Caroline also maintains an active pro bono practice.

Robert Hagemann
Poyner Spruill LLP

Bob’s practice is centered on government-related matters, with a special emphasis on representing local governments. He represents his clients in myriad matters from transactional matters to litigation. Bob spent 24 years in the Charlotte City Attorney’s office, including 7 years as the Charlotte City Attorney, and brings his deep understanding and extensive experience in local government to the firm.

Murthy v. Missouri (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Whether government’s request that social media delete posting is coercive and violates First Amendment rights of posting party.

NRA v. Vullo (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Can government regulator threaten adverse regulatory actions if regulated entities do business with a controversial speaker, due to (a) government’s own hostility to the speaker’s viewpoint or (b) a perceived “general backlash” against the speaker’s advocacy?

Meaghan VerGow

Meaghan VerGow is a highly regarded litigator who assists clients with complex commercial litigation and class actions at the trial and appellate levels. She also counsels clients on legal, policy, and regulatory matters. In recommending Meaghan, Chambers USA reports that clients consider her “impressive” and “very smart and strategic,” with a knack for thinking through “the best arguments.”

A member of the firm’s Financial Services and Appellate practices, Meaghan has briefed and argued cases in federal and state trial and appellate courts across the US, and has obtained multiple unanimous Supreme Court victories. Meaghan’s strategic insights have supported a long record of judgments in her client’s favor.

Meaghan’s areas of focus include ERISA, health care, administrative law, insurance law, federal jurisdiction and preemption, constitutional law, and securities law. Meaghan also maintains an active First Amendment practice.

Daniel Lautzenheiser

Daniel Lautzenheiser is a litigation associate in the Washington, DC, office. He rejoined the firm after clerking for the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr., of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Previously, he also clerked for the Honorable Thomas D. Schroeder of the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Nina Oat

Nina Oat is a litigation associate in O’Melveny’s Washington, DC office. She rejoined the firm after completing judicial clerkships with the Honorable Loren L. AliKhan of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the Honorable Michael F. Urbanski of the US District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Nina’s experience spans a variety of litigation, including appellate matters and insurance coverage disputes. Nina has also co-authored briefs before the US Supreme Court.

Sheetz v. El Dorado County (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Whether conditioning building permit on payment of impact fee is impermissible Taking under Nollan/ Dolan exaction analysis.

Austin M. Yang
San Francisco City Attorney’s Office
Deputy City Attorney

Austin Yang is the head of the Land Use team in the SF City Attorney’s Office.  In this role he serves as co-general counsel to the Planning Commission, and advises the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and various city departments on compliance with environmental and housing laws, as well as the implementation of large development projects.  In addition to his work on land use, he helped launch the City’s community choice aggregation program, battled with TNCs over traffic congestion, and drafted public health regulations during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Giulia Gualco-Nelson
San Francisco City Attorney’s Office
Deputy City Attorney

Giulia is a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco where she practices land use, environmental, and local government law. Her previous positions include Deputy County Counsel at the County of Santa Clara, California and a Research Fellow at the UC Berkeley Institute of Urban and Regional Development. She previously clerked on the California Supreme Court.



Kristen A. Jensen
San Francisco City Attorney’s Office
Deputy City Attorney

Kristen is a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco where she practices land use, environmental, and local government law. She is Assistant Team Lead for the City Attorney’s Land Use Team; Co-General Counsel to the Planning Commission and Planning Department; advisor to the Board of Supervisors, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Department of  Building Inspection, Port of San Francisco, and other City departments on land use, housing and planning issues; represents the City in litigation challenging San Francisco legislative and land use decisions in state and federal trial, appeal and supreme courts.  Before joining the City Attorney’s Office, she was Special Counsel with Sheppard Mullin, and before that, an associate with Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges (later known as Thelen LLP).

Tyler v. Hennepin County (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Retention of excess funds on state real property tax forfeiture and sale. Taking/Excessive Fine.

John M. Baker
Greene Espel

John Baker is one of the six founding attorneys of Greene Espel, which has grown into a successful litigation boutique, well respected in the Twin Cities legal community—and beyond. He has practiced law in Minnesota since 1988. From his first day, he has represented cities and city officials in state and federal litigation. After making a name for himself as an exceptional brief writer, he became an appellate advocate and trial attorney—and is a leading authority in the area of land-use law.

While John has significant experience in private and public-sector matters, he is best known as an advocate, author, and speaker on constitutional law, land-use litigation, appellate practice, First Amendment law, and defamation. He routinely receives and accepts invitations to speak at annual state and national programs on topics related to one of these areas of focus, including several mid-year or annual IMLA conferences. He received IMLA’s award for Outstanding Associate Member in 2021. John has presented oral argument on appeal more than 30 times.

Katherine M. Swenson
Greene Espel

Kate Swenson, an attorney at the Minneapolis litigation boutique Greene Espel, focuses her practice in the areas of government and constitutional litigation and appellate law. She has significant experience representing public entities, including cities, counties, and educational institutions. Formerly legal counsel to the Minnesota Special Redistricting Panel, Kate brings the problem-solving skills honed in that role to bear in her work for clients. Kate has successfully argued before the Eighth Circuit, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, federal and state district courts, and administrative bodies. She has also tried cases and briefed appeals in federal and state courts.

Kate currently serves as the secretary of the Public Law Section Council of the Minnesota State Bar Association, which provides services and programs related to the unique needs of attorneys working in public law. She also serves as the Vice President of the Minnesota Justice Foundation, which creates opportunities for law students to perform public interest and pro bono legal services.

In the last several years, John and Kate have written or co-authored amicus briefs to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of IMLA and other organizations of public-sector officials and entities in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, Township of Millburn v. Palardy, and Tyler v. Hennepin County. They have co-authored amicus briefs on behalf of IMLA and others to the First Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, California Supreme Court, and Minnesota Supreme Court.

United States v. Rahimi (Supreme Court Merits Stage)

Whether federal statute violates Second Amendment by criminalizing possession of a firearm after restraining order due to domestic violence.

Lawrence Rosenthal
Chapman University
Professor of Law

After graduating from Harvard Law School, where he won the Fay Diploma and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Professor Rosenthal clerked for Judge Prentice Marshall of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court. Professor Rosenthal entered the practice of law as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, specializing in organized crime and public corruption prosecutions. Among other things, he brought the first racketeering case involving insider trading, and secured the longest sentence in the history of the district in an organized crime case (200 years). He subsequently joined the City of Chicago’s Department of Law, where he was Deputy Corporation Counsel for Counseling, Appeals, and Legal Policy. In that capacity, he argued three cases in the United States Supreme Court, and supervised a large volume of complex litigation as well as legislative as policy matters.

To his great embarrassment, Professor Rosenthal was named by Chicago Magazine as one of “Chicago’s 25 Toughest Lawyers”. Since then, he tries to be nicer. Professor Rosenthal joined the Chapman faculty in the fall of 2005. He also continues to engage in litigation in the United States Supreme Court and other appellate courts, usually on a pro bono basis.

City of Grants Pass v. Johnson (Supreme Court Certiorari Stage)

Whether ordinance prohibiting camping in public parks violates Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Brandon Rain
Seattle City Attorney’s Office
Legal Project Counsel

Brandon Rain is currently Legal Project Counsel at the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. A defense attorney by nature, Brandon joined the office’s Constitutional and Complex Litigation unit in 2022 to defend the City in § 1983 civil rights actions. Before that, Brandon spent ten years practicing criminal defense, and from 2013 to 2021 served as a full-time public defender in King and Pierce Counties. In his spare time Brandon enjoys golf, spending time in the mountains, and losing his voice at Husky football games.

County of Tulare v. Murguia (Supreme Court Certiorari Stage)

Whether allowing mentally ill mother to take children to new premises is “state created danger”.

Amy Hoyt
Best Best & Krieger LLP

For more than 30 years, Amy Hoyt has achieved victories in trial and appellate courts for cities, counties and special districts in environmental and public law litigation matters. Amy is a Certified Appellate Specialist, certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. She has extensive experience successfully litigating cases involving the myriad of issues facing public agencies, including matters involving the California Environmental Quality Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and other state and federal environmental laws, planning and zoning law, regulatory takings and writs challenging administrative and legislative decisions. Complementing her work in the courtroom, Amy counsels public agencies and developers on compliance with CEQA, NEPA and other environmental laws.

Gregg W. Kettles
Best Best & Krieger LLP

Gregg W. Kettles represents clients in litigation matters, covering areas of law including land use regulation (e.g., zoning, inverse condemnation and takings), environmental law (e.g., California Environmental Quality Act, California Coastal Act and hazardous waste litigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, local government (e.g., Brown Act and California Public Records Act), civil rights, anti-SLAPP and unfair competition. A State Bar of California Certified Specialist in Appellate Law, Gregg’s practice emphasizes appellate work, having briefed dozens of appeals, writs and petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, California Supreme Court and California Court of Appeal.

Courts deciding trial court motions, writs and appeals look first to the briefs submitted by the parties in the dispute. Gregg brings a methodical approach, first assuming the role of historian, combing through the record to find out what happened. He studies the facts from the perspective of the legal scholar, to consider how they may be viewed against the fabric of the law. When it comes time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), Gregg becomes a storyteller, weaving the facts and law into a compelling narrative to be presented to the court.

Gregg’s litigation work draws on a broad range of professional experiences. Gregg was a tenured professor at Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Miss. There, he focused his teaching and writing on land use regulation, environmental law and local government. In the land of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Richard Wright, Gregg also learned about storytelling. He has served as deputy counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, giving Gregg a view of law practice from the perspective of the client. Immediately prior to joining Best Best & Krieger LLP, Gregg practiced law with Jenkins & Hogin, LLP.

Gregg regularly writes and presents on municipal law and litigation issues. He is past chair of the League of California Cities City Attorneys’ Attorney Development and Succession Committee, and past president of the City Attorneys’ Association of Los Angeles County.

Duarte v. City of Stockton (Supreme Court Certiorari Stage)

Whether nolo plea admitting guilt and completion of diversion program is adequate “conviction” or “sentence” for Heck purposes.

Nadia Sarkis
Miller Barondess, LLP

Nadia Sarkis is a Partner with Miller Barondess, LLP in Los Angeles.  She works with public entity clients to reframe and develop their cases for success in federal and state appellate courts on a broad array of issues, including First Amendment, civil rights, employment, and general tort liability.  She frequently appears as amicus curiae in the Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court.  Nadia received her Juris Doctor from Northwestern University School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Princeton University.  She started her legal career with two appellate clerkships for the Honorable Ferdinand F. Fernandez of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey of the Colorado Supreme Court.  She is licensed to practice in California, Illinois, and Colorado.

Indiana Municipal Power Agency v. United States (Supreme Court Certiorari Stage)

Whether interest refunds to issuers of Build America Better bonds can be sequestered as “direct payments” or must be continued as “appropriations Act”or contractual obligations.

Katharine D. David
Husch Blackwell
Office Managing Partner

Kate is a highly regarded public law litigator with extensive experience representing government entities, public officials and private companies.

Clients trust her counsel in condemnation, public contracting, constitutional tort disputes and election law disputes. As a Houston public law attorney, other areas Kate focuses on include sovereign, governmental, prosecutorial and qualified immunity issues.

Serving as primary outside counsel or special counsel, Kate advises government clients in matters relating to the Open Meetings Act, the Texas Public Information Act, contract negotiation and litigation avoidance. She is known as a persuasive advocate at both the trial and appellate levels.

Kate served as a rules clerk for the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, and worked with the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, experience that helps her examine clients’ matters from the judicial perspective.

Ben Stephens
Husch Blackwell

Ben takes a tactical, goal-oriented and creative approach to client public law and litigation matters.

Ben represents a broad range of public and private clients in state and federal court. As a Houston public law attorney, he keeps the big picture in mind, including clients’ long-term goals, priorities and public relation needs.

A major focus of Ben’s practice is public law and real-estate law. He represents government entities, private companies and public officials in cases related to eminent domain, zoning and land use, title litigation, and civil rights litigation, as well as other matters of public policy. Ben also provides government relations advice to public-sector clients.

Ben has experience with commercial litigation and arbitration matters for a range of industry clients, covering disputes in the real estate, oil and gas, automotive, construction and specialty manufacturing industries.

Sebastian Waisman
Husch Blackwell
Senior Counsel

Sebastian has experience counseling both public and private clients regarding a wide range of matters, including land use and development regulation, municipal finance, redistricting and elections, and Freedom of Information Act and Public Information Act disclosure. He has also assisted in the handling of complex litigation involving challenging questions of constitutional law and governmental structure, statutory interpretation, administrative law, and federal jurisdiction and procedure.

Sebastian previously served as an Assistant City Attorney with the City of Charlottesville, Virginia. His years in Charlottesville gave him an in-depth understanding of local government and the unique concerns and challenges with which local officials routinely grapple. He knows how public officials and entities think and operate, positioning him well to represent both local governments and those who need to do business with them. Sebastian’s experience in Charlottesville also taught him how outside counsel can play a critical role in supporting public client needs.

He has served as a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Danny G. Solomon
Husch Blackwell
Senior Associate

Danny uses his creativity to assist clients with appellate proceedings and complex litigation.

Danny focuses his practice on appellate advocacy and briefing major motions at the federal trial-court level. He has briefed appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits and several state appellate courts. He has orally argued appeals in the Fourth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, and the Missouri Court of Appeals.​ At the trial-court level, he has experience in a wide range of complex commercial litigation matters, with an emphasis on healthcare litigation and class action defense.

Before joining the firm, Danny served as a judicial intern to the Hon. Raymond W. Gruender, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and to the Hon. Stephanie A. Gallagher, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. He also served as an intern with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC.

Spencer Tolson
Husch Blackwell

Spencer advocates for clients in complex commercial litigation matters.

Time abroad as a teen left Spencer fascinated by differing legal systems, and he came to see law as the foundation for society. He credits life in the U.S. to the country’s incredible judicial system and was motivated to pursue a legal career so that he could play a role in that system himself.

While Spencer’s competitive nature automatically drew him to litigation, serving three clerkships after law school confirmed his interest. Spencer clerked for the Eastern District of Kentucky and the District of Guam, as well as for the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He had myriad opportunities to observe how stellar attorneys argued their cases, and he developed a keen understanding of judicial thinking: Spencer intuitively grasps where the sticking point in a case will be for a judge, and he constructs his argument accordingly. His extensive time in the courts also helped him understand both sides of a case, a perspective that lets him anticipate how the opposition will argue and always remain a step ahead.

Spencer’s experience in Guam let him dive particularly deep into complex legal matters. Given its unique status as an unincorporated territory, Guam’s courts routinely see and analyze creative arguments concerning unsettled questions about territorial sovereign immunity and constitutional rights for territorial citizens. Additionally, the District of Guam is one of a handful of federal district courts that doubles as a bankruptcy court, and thus Spencer routinely handled bankruptcy proceedings in addition to civil and criminal matters. What was learned at the trial level was solidified during his experience clerking at the largest federal appellate court in the country. After having received top-tier mentorship and advising appellate panels on dozens of cases, Spencer has a unique understanding of what needs to happen during trial proceedings to be successful on appeal.

Today, Spencer represents clients in general commercial litigation cases and business disputes. While he works with a wide variety of cases, he has a particular interest in bankruptcy, securities litigation, constitutional matters, arbitration and immigration.

In addition to his ability to anticipate opposing arguments and a judge’s thinking, Spencer is known as an attorney who always has the client’s back. He understands how stressful and disruptive litigation is and how high the stakes can be for a business, and he aims to be available and accessible whenever and wherever a client needs assistance. Spencer can promise clients that he’ll always outwork the other side.

Los Angeles County v. Ray (Supreme Court Certiorari Stage)

County is not joint employer with state for purposes of Fair Labor Standards Act, not responsible for overtime payments to domestic workers under state In Home Supportive Services program. Circuit split.

Derek Cole
Cole Huber LLP

Derek Cole is a partner with Cole Huber LLP.  His practice focuses on municipal law and litigation.

Berry v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County (Virginia Supreme Court)

Whether adoption of zoning ordinance via electronic meeting during COVID emergency violates Virginia open meetings act.

J. Patrick Taves
Pandack and Taves PLLC

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.

Sharon Pandak
Pandak and Taves PLLC

Sharon Pandak was County Attorney, Prince William County, Virginia for 15 years.  Sharon continues to represent localities, other public entities and associations interested in public policy as partner of Pandak and Taves PLLC, in Woodbridge, Virginia. She currently serves as the General Counsel for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and is also Counsel for a transit commission, economic development authority, and regional jail.

Sharon is a long-time member of IMLA for which she has presented seminars and authored amicus briefs.  She is an American Bar Foundation Fellow. She is past chair of the governing Council of the ABA’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, and a current member of Council. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Virginia Bar Association.  Sharon is a past President of the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia and past president of the County Bar Association.  She is a past member of the Virginia State Bar Council where she served on the Unauthorized Practice of Law and Judicial Nominations Committees and Special Committee to Study the Code of Professional Responsibility.  She was a member of the Virginia State Bar Professionalism Faculty.  She served on the Virginia Supreme Court’s Commission on Virginia Courts in the 21st Century. She also served on the VSB Board Governors for the Education of Lawyers Section.  She was a gubernatorial appointee to the Virginia Conflict of Interests Advisory Council.

Sharon graduated from the College of William and Mary and earned her law degree from the College’s Marshall Wythe School of Law.

Castanares v. City of Chula Vista (Appellate 4th Division)

Whether CPRA requires public access to first responder drone footage and/or provision of extensive redactions.

Calvin House
Gutierrez, Preciado & House, LLP

Following his graduation from Columbia Law School, Mr. House joined the Wall Street law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He then served as Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. He came to California to teach law at Western State University College of Law in 1984, and then joined the Los Angeles office of Fulbright & Jaworski (now known as Norton Rose Fulbright). In 1995, he joined his present firm as a partner.

Mr. House has tried 38 cases to a jury verdict, and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He has handled over 100 appeals in the state and federal courts in California. He has argued four cases in the California Supreme Court, and frequently authors amicus filings in the state and federal appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He is a frequent lecturer on employment law and public entity liability issues.

Coalition on Homelessness v. City and County of San Francisco (Ninth Circuit)

Injunction against SF sweeps of encampments based on Martin-unless as many beds as homeless, no removal or citation is legal.

Rahi Azizi
Deputy City Attorney
Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office

Rahi Azizi is a skilled and tenacious advocate and has secured exceptional results for public and private entities in high-stakes matters. He’s prosecuted civil enforcement actions and defended parties in labor and employment and various other disputes. He has litigated cases in state and federal court and successfully handled multiple appeals. He earned his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. While in law school, he deserved on the California Law Review.

Ruth M. Bond
Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo

Ruth Bond’s practice focuses on representing public entities in labor and employment matters as well as other areas of public law. Her labor and employment matters include litigation in state and federal court, workplace investigations, arbitrations, labor relations, day-to-day advice regarding compliance with relevant statutes and regulation, handling charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Office of Civil Rights and the Public Employment Relations Board and more.

Before joining AALRR, Ms. Bond was a Partner at a boutique law firm where she represented a variety of non-profits and public agencies, including cities, counties and special districts, primarily in labor and employment matters. Ms. Bond oversaw the firm’s litigation and investigations practices. Before that, Ms. Bond spent nearly 14 years as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Francisco, under the leadership of City Attorney Dennis Herrera. As a member of the Labor team, Ms. Bond represented the City of San Francisco in every aspect of labor and employment law. Ms. Bond gained extensive experience in employment litigation in state and federal court. This included appellate work in the California Court of Appeal, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and successfully opposing a Petition for Review in the California Supreme Court. Ms. Bond also has a great deal of experience with grievance arbitrations and labor negotiations.

While at the Office of the City Attorney, Ms. Bond advised several city departments including Juvenile Probation, Adult Probation, Recreation and Parks, and the City Attorney’s Office. These departments relied on Ms. Bond to provide insight and guidance on compliance with federal, state and local employment laws such as Title VII, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and San Francisco’s Civil Service Rules. Ms. Bond also served as a member of the City Attorney’s Affirmative Litigation Task Force from 2015 to 2017.

Before the Office of the City Attorney, Ms. Bond was a litigation associate for another firm, and a judicial clerk for the Hon. Barrington D. Parker Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Bond was an award-winning journalist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and other publications. She applied these journalism skills in law school as an Articles Editor on the New York University Law Review.

District of Columbia v. Exxon Mobil Corp (D.C. Circuit)

Climate change litigation involving questions under state / D.C. public nuisance law and attendant preemption and federal officer removal questions.

Robert S. Peck
Center for Constitutional Litigation, PC

Robert S. Peck is the founder and president of the Center for Constitutional Litigation, PC, a Washington, DC appellate law firm with a nationwide practice. Peck has argued precedent-setting civil rights and civil liberties cases in courts through the Nation, including in the U.S. Supreme Court and 23 state supreme courts. He has taught advanced constitutional law seminars at the law schools of George Washington University and American University. He serves as a member of the advisory committee of the Civil Justice Research Institute at UC Berkeley Law School. He is also a past chair of the Board of Advisors of the RAND Corporation’s Institute for Civil Justice, past president of the U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Alumni Association, past president of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and a former board member for the National Center for State Courts.

Among his books are The Bill of Rights and the Politics of Interpretation (West 1991); To Govern a Changing Society (Smithsonian 1990); and We the People: The Constitution in American Life (Abrams 1987), companion volume to the award-winning PBS documentary series he helped produce. He is also a contributing editor to the Appellate Advocacy Blog of the Law Professor Blog Network.

Sathya S. Gosselin

Sathya is an accomplished high-stakes litigator with nearly two decades of experience in antitrust, commercial, and sports and entertainment litigation. He advises a diverse roster of clients across numerous industries, helping each navigate complex litigation and achieve dispute resolution. Sathya prides himself on his hands-on approach to litigation, working with select teams to secure favorable results at the trial and appellate levels and deliver outstanding client service.

At Hausfeld, Sathya manages the firm’s marketing efforts (US), oversees professional-development programs for attorneys, and supervises the U.S. Conflicts and Compliance department.  He is also a member of the firm’s Global Business Development and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committees.

Sacramento Homeless Union v. County of Sacramento (Ninth Circuit)

Whether enforcing encampment clean up policies during high heat is “state created danger”.

Ellen van Riper
Gresham, Oregon
City Attorney

Ellen M. Van Riper was recently appointed as the City Attorney for Gresham, Oregon in February 2024.  Her previous position was as a Chief Counsel with the Law Department for the City of Phoenix, Arizona, where she prepared the Amicus Brief on behalf of Phoenix for IMLA in support of the appeal to the 9th Circuit in Sacramento Homeless Union v. County of Sacramento.   Prior to serving Phoenix, Ellen was the Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of Surprise, Arizona for six years.  Ellen is a 1987 graduate of the Rutgers-Newark School of Law, where she was a member of the Rutgers Law Review.  Ellen is admitted to practice law in Arizona, Oregon, and Colorado (inactive).  Ellen is a native of New Jersey and received her undergraduate degree from Wilkes University in 1983 (B.A. in English Literature).

Scott v. Baltimore County (Fourth Circuit)

Whether prisoners working at offsite recycling facility are “employees” entitled to minimum wages under the FLSA.

Christopher C. Jeffries
Kramon & Graham, P.A.

Chris Jeffries is a trial lawyer with a broad litigation practice, focusing primarily on commercial and personal injury litigation. Chris has tried several jury and bench trials to verdict and successfully briefed or argued in the appellate courts of Maryland.

Chris has represented businesses in litigation matters, including breaches of contract and business defamation. Chris also has significant experience defending individuals and businesses in personal injury actions, particularly claims against property owners for alleged lead paint exposure. Chris also has significant trial experience representing police officers for alleged civil rights violations.

Steven M. Klepper
Kramon & Graham, P.A.

A lead attorney in Kramon & Graham’s appellate practice, Steve Klepper has more than 13 years of successful appellate experience handling civil and criminal cases before federal and state appellate courts.

Serving as lead appellate counsel or co-counsel, Steve has successfully advocated for clients in in complex matters involving commercial litigation, insurance coverage, real estate development, business torts, employment law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, premises liability, attorney-client privilege, and constitutional and civil rights.

Steve’s practice focuses on all phases of civil and criminal appeals, including briefing, emergency appellate motions, oral argument, certiorari practice, and trial preservation. He works collaboratively with trial counsel to bring favorable final results in multi-million-dollar cases.

Steve joined Kramon & Graham in 2001 following a summer associate clerkship in 2000.

Summer Hughes Niazy
Kramon & Graham, P.A.

Summer Hughes Niazy practices in the firm’s litigation section. Her civil practice includes a variety of commercial litigation matters in areas such as complex business litigation, employment, contract disputes, and construction litigation. She also has experience defending healthcare providers in licensing actions before the various professional boards under Maryland’s Department of Health.

Summer represents clients in federal and state courts, and in arbitrations, mediations, and before administrative agencies. Her geographic focus is Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Before joining Kramon & Graham, Summer clerked for the Honorable Stephanie A. Gallagher, United States Magistrate Judge.

During law school, Summer practiced as a student attorney in the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Immigration Clinic, representing clients before the U.S. Immigration Court and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. She served as Executive Technology Editor of the Journal of Business and Technology Law. Summer was also selected as a Writing Fellow and Rose Zetzer Fellow in the Women and Leadership Program.

Before becoming a lawyer, Summer worked as a print and web editor in the publishing industry and at Harvard University.

Texas v. United States (S.D. Tex)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals-Texas et al seek to invalidate new Biden interpretation.

O’Melveny DACA Amicus Team
Abby Formella
Daniel Suvor
Jonathan Eisenman
Kelsey Chandrasoma
Meaghan VerGow

Mike Dundas
Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office
Senior Assistant City Attorney

Michael Dundas is a Senior Assistant City Attorney in the Office of Los Angeles City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto.  Mike jointly supervises 100+ attorneys and 35+ support staff who provide legal and transactional advice to the City’s elected officials and all but five of the City’s offices and departments. Municipal Law Branch staff are responsible for advising on the City’s statutory and constitutional rights and obligations, as well as the City’s pension funds, labor relations, and bond financing. Branch attorneys draft many of the City’s ordinances and negotiate and draft most City contracts, frequently involving complex matters like the 2028 Olympics.

Trumbull County v. Purdue Pharma (Sixth Circuit)

Pharmacies’ liability as distributors and dispensers (failure to fulfill Controlled Substances Act duties ) under Ohio public nuisance for opioid epidemic.

J. 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.

Tucson v. City of Seattle (Ninth Circuit)

Whether anti-graffiti ordinance violates First, Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments.

Charlene Koski
Van Ness Feldman LLP
Of Counsel

Charlene Koski is an appellate attorney at Van Ness Feldman LLP who represents public and private clients in state and federal appellate courts. Prior to joining Van Ness Feldman, Charlene served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Appellate Section of the Western District of Washington, where she represented the United States before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on a wide range of matters. She also served as judicial law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.