• email
  • share

Deborah J. Fox

Headshot of Deborah Fox
Deborah J. FoxPrincipal213.626.2906Bio PDF


Deborah Fox is the Chair of Meyers Nave’s statewide First Amendment and Trial & 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. Outside the courtroom, Deborah provides daily guidance to clients as they address a myriad of legal issues.

Deborah’s practice includes trial and appellate work in state and federal courts, as well as 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, housing, general plans, coastal issues, CEQA, 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 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.

Deborah’s cases frequently involve issues that attract intense media attention and public scrutiny, including matters of first impression. For example, she is defending counties, cities and public officials throughout California in federal and state court litigation challenging Shelter In Place Orders, Public Health Orders and Reopening Plans related to the coronavirus pandemic. Plaintiffs in these cases are churches, gyms, nail salons, restaurants, wine bars, brew pubs, lodging establishments, and other businesses challenging various restrictions that are placed on the operation of their organizations. These cases also include defending local government entities in class actions that request the refund of business and licensing fees, permits and taxes paid by organizations that are closed or are operating under various restrictions. Deborah has obtained precedent-setting victories at both the district and appellate court levels. Deborah is also defending California cities and counties that have passed hazard pay ordinances in response to the coronavirus pandemic for full-time and/or part-time employees of various businesses including groceries, restaurants, pharmacies, and farms.

In another front-page new victory, Deborah won a final ruling for the County of Los Angeles that awarded a total of $6,673,496.22 in civil penalties, discovery sanctions, costs and attorneys’ fees, plus permanent injunctive relief, in a front-page Los Angeles Times case that involved the illegal transport and dumping of concrete and other construction debris in the Santa Susana Mountains.

Many of Deborah’s other high-profile cases involve First Amendment issues relating to commercial solicitation and panhandling ordinances, news rack restrictions, billboard and sign ordinances, public forum issues, parade and park regulations, adult use regulations, and regulation in compliance with the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. For example, in California New Business Bureau, Inc. v. County of San Bernardino (Case No. CIVDS 1616334, Nov. 8, 2016), after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Deborah drafted a constitutionally sound solicitation ordinance for the County. When that ordinance was challenged by CNBB, Deborah and her First Amendment litigation team obtained a complete victory in court for the County. CNBB brought suit after it received four administrative citations for violating the ordinance by soliciting business on the grounds around the County’s Hall of Justice. Meyers Nave successfully argued that the area around the Hall of Justice was not a public forum, and the Superior Court denied CNBB’s request for an injunction.

Deborah also authored an amicus brief on behalf of the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the American Planning Association in the Lamar Central Outdoor, LLC v. City of Los Angeles First Amendment related billboard case. Lamar involved the constitutionality of Los Angeles’s billboard regulations under the California Constitution. 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 speaks and writes about topical issues facing municipalities along with addressing the complex balance between various regulatory constraints and constitutional protections. Her speaking includes numerous presentations at conferences provided by the International Municipal Lawyers Association, League of California Cities, and County Counsels’ Association of California. Deborah is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of California, United States Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and all U.S. District Courts in California.


Unsolicited e-mails do not create an attorney-client relationship and confidential or secret information included in such e-mails cannot be protected from disclosure. Please do not include any confidential, secret or otherwise sensitive information concerning any potential or actual legal matter in your e-mail message. Thank you.