Meyers Nave proudly announces that the Daily Journal selected Deborah Fox to its 2020 list of the “Top 100 Lawyers in California.” The list honors “those whose superior achievement and stellar results place them in a super-elite category.” The State Bar of California licenses more than 266,000 attorneys to practice law in California, making Deborah’s recognition that much more outstanding. The honor is one of the California legal profession’s most highly respected and coveted recognitions of legal expertise, exceptional client service, consistent results and team leadership.
Deborah chairs Meyers Nave’s First Amendment Practice and Trial & Litigation Practice. Her cases frequently attract intense media attention and public scrutiny, including matters of first impression and matters requiring her additional expertise in crisis management. For example, Deborah represents the County of Santa Barbara in a dispute with Southern California Edison regarding potential liability for the 2017 Thomas Fire and subsequent Montecito debris flow and she recently achieved a victory for the County of Los Angeles in a final ruling that awarded $6.6 million in attorneys’ fees, sanctions and civil penalties plus permanent injunctive relief in a case that involved the illegal transport and dumping of concrete and other construction debris in an ecologically sensitive region in the Santa Susana Mountains.
Below is the “Top 100 Lawyers” description of Deborah’s legal expertise, which focuses on her pioneering defense of counties, cities and named public officials throughout California in a new wave of federal litigation challenging Shelter In Place Orders and Reopening Plans related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fox successfully defended government entities in cases in which two churches and a gym are fighting orders to close or limit operations because of the coronavirus. “The first two are pastors and congregations who want to have in-person church. The last is a mega-fitness center who wants to have in-person classes and say they have a constitutional right to work out on an elliptical machine,” she said. Gish v. Newsom, et al., 2020 WL 1979970 (C.D. Cal. filed April 24, 2020); Cross Culture v. Newsom, et al., 2020 WL 2121111 (E.D. Cal. filed May 5, 2020); Best Supplement Guide v. Newsom, et al., 2020 WL 2615022 (E.D. Cal. May 22, 2020).
Fox isn’t one to gloat. She offered high praise for her main adversary but notes that the public entities have prevailed across the board – at the district court, the 9th Circuit and even the Supreme Court of the United States. Noting that even Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh have deferred to the ability of the public entities to decide how they’re going to combat this deadly virus.
Fox’s victories mostly rest on a 1905 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local governing bodies had the right to mandate vaccinations during a smallpox outbreak. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905). “It is within the police power of a state to enact a compulsory vaccination law, and it is for the legislature, and not for the courts, to determine,” the court wrote. Nevertheless, Fox said she has sympathy for the plaintiffs she is fighting. “There’s some folks who try to pit this as a political and ideological debate and demonize people, but these plaintiffs have very heartfelt religious convictions,” she said. “They’re well intended people of faith but it is the responsibility of public health to protect the public. The consequences are extremely high.”