Civil Rights Cases

Peruta v. County of San Diego
Ongoing lawsuit challenging San Diego’s strict “good cause” requirements for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon (CCW). This case of first impression addresses whether the right to “bear” arms includes a right to carry a handgun in public. It also alleges favoritism by the San Diego Sheriff in issuing CCW permits on equal protection grounds. The case received significant media coverage:

Group Sues County and Sheriff Over Concealed Weapon Permits, San Diego Union-Tribune (Nov. 27, 2010)
More Evidence of Police Favoritism in Peruta v. San Diego Gun Case, (Oct. 20, 2010)
Peruta v. San Diego Case Likely Delayed, (Oct. 6, 2010)
Brady Center: Fed Court Must Uphold California Gun Law, (Oct. 5, 2010)

Assenza v. City of Los Angeles
This matter challenged Los Angeles’ illegal refussal to issue CCWs.  A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge has ordered LAPD Chief Parks to bring the policed department in compliance with a 1994 judgment against the city for refusing to issue CCWs.  Judge Buckner found that the City had failed to freely provide CCW applications to would be applicants, and had failed to supply applicants with a copy of the judgment against the City, as the Judgment itself required.  The Judgment explained what constitutes “good cause” for a permit, and limits the City’s ability to deny CCWs without reason.  This was a significant victory for self-defense advocates, as it enabled CRPA/NRA civil rights attorneys to monitor LAPD’s CCW practices by tracking applicants.

Fuller-Corona v. Huntley Family Trust, et al.
Litigated on behalf of landlord against claims of disparate treatment of tenant’s children at low-income apartment housing complex brought by housing rights advocacy group. Significantly reduced clients’ liability by raising issues of housing rights advocates’ solicitation and investigation practices, and used threat of business practices liability to leverage favorable settlement.

Ortega v. Long Beach Affordable Housing Coalition, et al.
Litigated on behalf of landlord where housing rights advocacy group alleged discrimination against tenant with companion animal. Significantly reduced clients’ liability by raising issues of housing rights advocates’ business and investigation practices.

Perez v. Long Beach Affordable Housing Coalition, et al.
Litigated claims on behalf of landlord where housing rights advocacy group alleged discrimination against tenant’s children in access to common areas. Negotiated claim down to a nuisance-value settlement based on developing evidence of tenant’s criminal history and threats against landlord’s employees.

Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco
This case challenges city ordinances requiring that firearms be disabled by a trigger lock or stored in a locked container, banning the sale of certain ammunition, and prohibiting firearm discharges with no self-defense exception because they unconstitutionally infringe on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. The case has already prompted the City to amend its discharge ban – a law that had been in place for some 75 years – to allow for discharges in lawful self-defense and all other circumstances allowed for under state and federal law.  Successfully defended against each of the City’s preliminary motions, and secured an important published “standing” ruling that clarifies the rights of future litigants in the Ninth Circuit to bring Second Amendment challenges to improper restrictions on the right to arms.

Sheriff Clay Parker v. State of California
Represented ammunition vendors and shippers, law enforcement, and individual consumers challenging controversial statewide legislation (AB 962) requiring law-abiding individuals to provide private personal information and a thumbprint for every purchase of “handgun ammunition” and prohibiting mail order and internet purchases of “handgun ammunition.” The Court ruled that AB 962 was unconstitutionally vague on its face and enjoined enforcement of the statutes as enacted. The case received significant media coverage:

Locked and Loaded: The American Gun Control Debate, City On A Hill Press (Feb. 24, 2011)
AB 962 Web News, (Jan. 29, 2011)
Formal Injunction Against Enforcement of California Ammunition Sales Ban Regulations Issued, (Jan. 24, 2011)
California Handgun Ammunition Rules Shot Down, Orange County Register (Jan. 20, 2011)
Judge Rules California Ban On Some Handgun Ammunition Unconstitutional, CBS – San Francisco (Jan. 19, 2011)
California AB962 Found Unconstitutionally Vague, No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money (Jan. 18, 2011)
Win In Suit Against California Ammunition Law, Of Arms & the Law (Jan. 18, 2011)
нтиконституционный закон отменен, Путешествие длиною в жизнь (Apr. 2011)

McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010)
Authored amicus brief in United States Supreme Court on behalf of 34 California elected District Attorneys, various law enforcement groups, and others. This case resulted in the Second Amendment being “incorporated” to limit state and local government infringement. The case received significant media coverage.

Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority
Challenged San Francisco Housing Authority’s ban on the possession of firearms by public housing residents. The strategic litigation was filed to secure a ruling that the Second Amendment limited state and local governmental infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. Rather than litigate, San Francisco repealed the gun-banning policies. The case has since been used as precedent in fighting bans on lawful gun possession in public housing across the country. The case received significant media coverage:

San Francisco Housing Authority Settles Gun Lawsuit, (Jan. 14, 2009)
NRA Eyes More Targets After D.C. Gun Ban Win, National Public Radio (June 29, 2008)
NRA Sues S.F. Over Guns In Public Housing, (June 28, 2008)
NRA Sues San Francisco Over Its Handgun Ban, The Washington Post (June 28, 2008)
NRA Files Suit to Overturn SF Handgun Ban, ABC 7, KGO-TV San Francisco (June 27, 2008)
NRA Sues to Overturn San Francisco’s Handgun Ban, Fox News (June 27, 2008)

District Attorneys Hunt and Vroman v. Lockyer
Two elected District Attorneys and others sued to invalidate or clarify the state’s so-called “assault weapon” law in this unprecedented prosecutor vs. prosecutor lawsuit. The case got the attention of police and prosecutors throughout the state, many of whom then recognized that the law’s vague terms were impossible to understand. Many prosecutions were avoided, valuable discovery obtained, and many vague interpretations were clarified in favor of gun owners as a result of this case. The case was settled in light of imminent pending Second Amendment challenges to these laws. The issue received significant media attention.

Heller v. District of Columbia
Co-authored amcius brief to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of 29 California elected District Attorneys, various law enforcement groups, and others. This case resulted in the Supreme Court’s acknowledgment that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental individual right to self-defense. The case received significant media coverage.

Fiscal v. City and County of San Francisco
Brought suit to invalidate “Prop H,” a ballot initiative that banned civilian residents of San Francisco from possessing handguns and also criminalized the sale, transfer, and/or distribution of all firearms and ammunition within the city. In June 2006, the Superior Court invalidated the ordinance on preemption grounds. The City appealed and lost in a published opinion which clarified California’s preemption doctrine as applied to local firearms regulations and serves as current leading precedent on the subject. (158 Cal. App. 4th 895 (Ct. App. 2008).) The City paid back $380,000 to NRA in attorney’s fees. This victory received significant media coverage and made international news. The Firm thanks all those who participated in and supported this victory.

State High Court Shoots Down S.F. Handgun Ban, (Apr. 10, 2008)
Municipalities Can’t Ban People from Owning Handguns, Court Rules, (Jan. 10, 2008)
Judge Invalidates Prop H Handgun Ban, Ruling Says Measure Intrudes on Area Regulated by State, (June 13, 2006)

Kasler v. State of California Lungren
Represented a consortium of law professors, doctors, law enforcement officers, and Colt Manufacturing in a civil lawsuit against the State of California, challenging the constitutionality of the 1989 Roberti/Roos ‘Assault Weapons’ Control Act.” The Third District Court of Appeal ruled that AWCA is unconstitutional. In its 51 page decision, the court held that the list of firearms deemed “assault weapons” was vague and violated constitutional equal protection principals and that other provisions of the Act allowing guns to be added to the prohibited list violated constitutional due process and separation of powers requirements. The California Supreme Court heard the case and overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal. A renewed challenge is pending in light of subsequent Supreme Court Second Amendment decisions.

Huish v. Sacramento Unified School District
Steven Huish was a state and national sporting champion and scholarship winner in the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Scholastic Clay Target Program. A student at El Camino High School, Huish was disciplined for wearing an NSSF t-shirt with a silhouette picture of a shotgun shooter on it to school. In violation of his First Amendment rights, he was threatened with expulsion if he wore the shirt. Faced with litigation and our demand that the dress code be revised along the lines of Newsom v. Albemarle County School Board, 354 F.3d 249 (4th Cir. 2003), the school board revised the dress code so that only depictions of “unlawful use of weapons” were prohibited. Huish was given 50 identical NSSF t-shirts to hand out to his friends. All wore the shirts to school regularly.

Miller v. City of Sacramento
Challenged Sacramento’s ban on the sale of affordable self-defense handguns on preemption grounds. The ordinance was repealed while an appeal was pending.

CRPA v. City of West Hollywood
Challenged West Hollywood’s ban on the sale of affordable self-defense handguns. In 1993, the Second District Court of Appeals ruled the California preemption statute did not bar these laws, but subsequent cases such as the Fiscal decision have essentially nullified this incorrect ruling. The ordinance was ultimately repealed at our insistence. (66 Cal. App. 4th 1302(Ct. App. 1998).)

Doss v. Lungren
This lawsuit sought an injunction against District Attorneys in Los Angeles and Santa Clara and the California Department of Justice (DOJ) from prosecuting people who possessed SKS “Sporter” rifles. Between 1991 and 1997, thousands of SKS “Sporter” rifles were sold in California with the explicit approval of the DOJ, which had declared the rifles legal. As a result of this litigation and the political response, an unprecedented retroactive immunity bill (AB 48) and state funding to buy-back these rifles was passed.

McGee v. City of Los Angeles
Suit challenged LAPD’s policy of seizing guns without legal justification and refusing to return them although they had no legal right to keep them. LAPD revised its policy in response to the suit, but this continues to be a problem throughout California, particularly in urban areas.

B&B Sales v. City of Los Angeles
Challenge to a Los Angeles city ordinance prohibiting the “sale or transfer” of magazines that hold over ten rounds. The ordinance contained no exception for the motion picture industry and firearms museums, so the ordinance would have put the movie industry out of business in Los Angeles. The case made national news and was covered by Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. Plaintiffs joined with the American Entertainment Armorer’s Association, demanding an exemption to the ordinance. The ordinance was amended. The ordinance was then superseded by state law.

Gun Dealers See Biz Beef in LA Fire Clip Ordinance, Variety Magazine (Nov. 16, 1997)
Lawsuit Targets Gun Control Ordinance, L.A. Times (Nov. 15, 1997)

Nordyke v. King
Assisted on behalf of several amicus, and as a consulting firm in this case which challenged a ban of firearms on all public property and whether the Second Amendment should be applied to the state and local governments. After 13 years and dozens of hearings at different levels of the state and federal court system, Alameda County, California promised that gun shows could be held on county property, essentially repudiating its ordinance.

Tudesko v. Glenn County Board of Education
Seventeen-year-old Gary Tudesko went duck hunting before school and, since he was aware of Willows High School’s zero-tolerance policy regarding firearms on campus, parked his locked truck containing his unloaded hunting firearms off campus. Tudesko was expelled from school, despite the fact that he broke no laws. Assisted Tudesko on appeal to the County Board of Education. The expulsion was reversed, and Gary went back to school with his record expunged. The matter received significant media attention:

NRA and CRPA Foundation Assisting High School Student with Appeal of Expulsion for Having Unloaded Shotguns in Off-Campus Truck, (Dec. 18, 2009)

Cornerstone Elementary School Zero-Tolerance “Weapons” Policy Challenge

A fifth-grade promotion ceremony in Rancho Palos Verdes turned into a free-speech battleground when the school principal forced ten students to cut off little plastic firearms from the green toy soldiers the students had glued on their pro-armed-forces decorated mortarboard graduation caps. Because of the school’s zero-tolerance policy for “weapons” on campus, the students were forced to comply with the order before they could participate in the graduation ceremony. At our insistence, the school revised its unconstitutional policy, and the principal was transferred.

RPV Principal in Flap Over Guns Leaves Job, The Daily Breeze (Sept. 21, 2007)
RPV School Apologizes for Graduation-Cap Flap, The Daily Breeze (Sept. 12, 2007)
Palos Verdes School Apologizes for Graduation Mortarboard Flap, O.C. Register (Sept. 12, 2007)
Zero Tolerance or Unnecessary Legislation?, ABC Good Morning America (Aug. 18, 2007)
States Mull Dropping School ‘Zero Tolerance’ Rules, Southeast Missourian (June 16, 2007)

Independent Commission Investigating the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
Worked as Staff Counsel under former Secretary of State Warren Christopher on the “Christopher Commission” that studied and proposed reforms of the LAPD in the aftermath of the videotaped beating by LAPD officers of motorist Rodney King in 1991. When four LAPD officers arrested for beating King were acquitted of most charges the following year, Los Angeles erupted in days of deadly rioting. In examining years of police records following the riots, the Christopher Commission found “a significant number of LAPD officers” routinely used excessive force and that “[t]he department not only failed to deal with the problem group of officers but it often rewarded them with positive evaluations and promotions.” Numerous suggested reforms of LAPD were eventually put in place, including limiting the police chief to two five-year terms, having the chief appointed and supervised by a civilian commission, and adopting “community policing” practices.