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Deborah J. Fox

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Deborah J. FoxPrincipalDownload PDFvCard213.626.2906

Overview

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 has obtained victories on behalf of  counties, cities and public officials throughout California at the district and appellate court levels in litigation brought by businesses and churches challenging COVID-19 Shelter In Place Orders and Reopening Plans. She also recently 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.

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