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Deborah J. Fox

Deborah J. FoxPrincipalDownload PDFvCard213.626.2906


Deborah Fox is the Chair of Meyers Nave’s statewide First Amendment and Trial and Litigation Practice Groups. She is one of California’s foremost experts on First Amendment issues, particularly those affecting the public sector, and has a unique expertise with cases involving the convergence of First Amendment, land use, and zoning laws and regulations.

Deborah’s practice includes trial and appellate work in state and federal courts, as well as extensive experience with administrative hearings and other proceedings before regulatory agencies. She has handled a wide range of litigated matters, including those that involve First Amendment issues, land use, zoning, inverse condemnation, environmental claims, federal preemption, public records, elections and ballot initiatives, and civil rights claims for violations of substantive and procedural due process and equal protection.

Her First Amendment cases frequently involve issues that attract intense media attention and public scrutiny, including matters involving vending and solicitation/panhandling ordinances, newsrack restrictions, billboard and sign ordinances, public forum issues, parade and park regulations, adult use regulations, and matters relating to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Her cases have involved preemptive issues and matters that clarify existing law and establish precedent.

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Deborah’s complex litigation experience includes multi-party and multi-district cases, civil litigations that are intertwined with pending criminal actions, and matters that require managing, researching, reviewing and interpreting extensive electronic information. Outside the courtroom, she provides day-to-day guidance to public and private clients statewide as they address a myriad of legal issues.

Deborah’s recent victories include a trial on behalf of the City of Chula Vista that resulted in the granting of a permanent injunction closing a strip club that had violated zoning codes. The case was a complete validation of the constitutional sufficiency of the City’s regulations. The court also overruled objections and granted the City’s cost bill, which included a trial technician assisting with 350 exhibits, including maps, photos and videos.

Deborah also successfully obtained an award of attorneys’ fees for Culver City and the City of Palmdale. She defended Culver City in a challenge to its sign ordinance, obtaining a motion to dismiss with prejudice. In an unusual ruling, the Ninth Circuit affirmed an attorneys’ fees award to Culver City totaling $140,000 for a frivolous case. In a state court civil rights/takings challenge based on a failed apartment project, Deborah obtained a judgment in the City of Palmdale’s favor by way of demurrer and motion for summary judgment. The case culminated in the City obtaining an award in excess of $100,000.

Deborah recently authored an amicus brief on behalf of the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the American Planning Association California Chapter in the Lamar Central Outdoor, L.L.C. v. City of Los Angeles  First Amendment related billboard case. Lamar involved the constitutionality of Los Angeles’s billboard regulations under the California Constitution’s Liberty of Speech clause, California’s counterpart to the First Amendment. In a landmark opinion in June 2016, the Second Appellate District upheld the ability of California cities and counties to continue using the onsite/offsite and commercial/noncommercial distinctions as a regulatory tool in their sign codes.

Deborah’s leadership and experience are recognized by the Litigation Counsel of America, which selected her among its prestigious list of Fellows, an honor awarded to less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. Her expertise is also recognized by Martindale-Hubbell, which awarded her its preeminent ranking of “AV” and lists her among the nation’s “Top Rated Lawyers in Land Use and Zoning” (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), “Register of Top Rated Lawyers: Women Leaders in the Law” (2013, 2015), “Register of Preeminent Lawyers” (2004, 2005, 2006), and inaugural “Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers” (2011). Deborah also has been named as one of California’s “Top Women Litigators” by the Daily Journal (2007, 2009) and among the “Top 100 Lawyers in Los Angeles” by the Los Angeles Business Journal (2009).

Along with her legal representation, Deborah has published articles and presented at numerous educational conferences and training programs hosted by the International Municipal Lawyers Association, League of California Cities, and County Counsels’ Association of California, among many others. Deborah is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of California, United States Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and several U.S. District Courts.


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