News

Appellate court affirms trial court’s ruling in favor of CW’s client

May 2024

California’s Second District Court of Appeal sided with CW’s client in a ruling that brings clarity to the enforcement of arbitration agreements under California law.

 

CW partner Marc Williams and associate Cris Santos represented a California individual who entered into a business partnership with two associates. When the client eventually provided his associates with written notice of his express will to withdraw from the partnership and a demand for payment for his partnership interest, they neither responded nor tendered payment. CW filed a complaint with a single cause of action for Buyout of Interest in Partnership under California Corporations Code section 16405. In response, the defendants moved to compel arbitration, claiming the client was a mere employee, not partner, who had previously, impliedly agreed to an arbitration agreement. A declaration filed by the company’s Chief People Officer revealed that the client had, in fact, expressly refused to sign or agree to the agreement and told his associates they would have to terminate their relationship with him if they could not accept his rejection of the clause. In light of this evidence, the trial court denied the petition to compel arbitration. California’s Second District Court of Appeal then affirmed the ruling in a published opinion.

 

Employers in California can enforce an arbitration agreement that is made an express condition of employment against employees who do not sign the agreement. However, as the court opined, “where an employee promptly and unequivocally rejects an arbitration agreement as a modified term of employment, mutual assent to arbitrate is lacking. If [the defendants] did not want [CW's client] to continue his employment without an arbitration agreement, it had a simple remedy—to terminate him. It did not.”

CW wins gender discrimination and retaliation jury trial

April 2024

Jennifer Seetoo, captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Malibu/Lost Hills station, has served the county as a law enforcement officer for more than two decades. Though the local community viewed Seetoo as a competent, trustworthy leader after her outstanding performance handling the Woolsey Fire in 2018, the evidence in a recent jury trial demonstrated that former sheriff Alex Villanueva waged a long-ranging campaign to tarnish her reputation. He blocked her promotion to captain, belittled her, and accused her of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with an elected official. After months of enduring discriminatory treatment, Seetoo submitted a complaint and was swiftly removed from her position at the station and transferred elsewhere. She retained Cohen Williams to file a complaint against Villanueva and his staff, alleging gender discrimination, retaliation, and failure to prevent discrimination or retaliation. 


The case proceeded to trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. At trial, CW partners Kathleen Erskine and Roya Ladan painted a vivid picture of the double standards and targeted mistreatment Seetoo had suffered for more than a year—mistreatment that amounted to unlawful discrimination and retaliation at the highest levels of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Notably, our team proved that the department’s alleged promotional requirements, which had been cited as grounds for Seetoo’s non-selection to interview for the captain position and for various other actions taken against her, were not official departmental standards. In fact, numerous male employees had been exempt from these requirements over the years. We also provided the court with testimony from a former assistant sheriff who witnessed Villanueva stating that Seetoo was having an affair with a city official, which was false and defamatory.

 

After hearing the evidence, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Seetoo on all of her claims and awarded $971,369 in damages. 

CW achieves sentence reversal from the Ninth Circuit in published opinion

April 2024

CW represented a bank executive on appeal of her convictions before the Ninth Circuit. After the Ninth Circuit reversed the client's conviction for making a false entry in the bank's records, CW represented the client at her resentencing. Over CW's objection, the district court found that the client was a leader/organizer of the alleged scheme and sentenced her to custody. CW filed a second appeal. Before the Ninth Circuit, the government argued that CW's challenge to the leader/organizer enhancement was waived because it was not raised in the first appeal. A team led by partners Alyssa Bell and Michael Schafler and associate Rachael Robinson convinced the Ninth Circuit to reject the government's novel waiver theory in a published opinion, and to reverse the district court's erroneous application of an enhancement that never should have applied in the first instance. The Ninth Circuit's opinion reaffirmed the plenary nature of resentencing proceedings and forestalled the government's effort to limit the issues defendants may present on appeal.

CW's client secures reversal of criminal conviction after 17-year legal battle

March 2024

For the past 17 years, partner Reuven Cohen has represented Charles C. Lynch, a Morro Bay medical marijuana dispensary owner whose 2007 arrest and federal prosecution resulted in the loss of his home and livelihood. Mr. Lynch opened and operated Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers with the express, unanimous support of the entire city government. Despite his dispensary's strict compliance with California law governing medicinal marijuana, the federal government indicted Mr. Lynch. His brave stand against the federal government went on to attract national media attention. Prosecutors, seeking a mandatory five-year prison sentence for Mr. Lynch, pursued the case through appeals, delays, and a maze of changing state and federal laws—even as marijuana became fully legal in California. Now, Mr. Lynch's battle to reverse his conviction is at an end. After nearly two decades of litigation, Cohen Williams has helped Mr. Lynch secure a diversion agreement that will expunge his prior felony convictions on April 20, 2024. 

 

For press coverage, click here

CW legal team files Ninth Circuit appeal on behalf of client Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas

January 2024

A team led by CW partners Alyssa Bell and Michael Schafler filed its appeal of Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas's 2023 convictions and sentence with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, calling on the court to reverse Dr. Ridley-Thomas's convictions or grant a new trial. The brief challenges an unlawful expansion of federal jurisdiction over local government, including the U.S. Attorney's novel prosecution of bribery and honest services. This misapplication of federal fraud statutes, according to Dr. Ridley-Thomas's team, stands to inhibit routine government operations. "The government used an unprecedented bribery theory that chills legitimate policymaking," Bell said in a statement. "What should have begun and ended as an internal investigation at USC resulted in a prosecution untethered to federal precedent."

 

For further reading, click here.
For press release, click here.

CW promotes Roya Ladan to partnership; Rachael Robinson and Yusuf Saei join as associates

January 2024

CW is proud to announce the promotion of Roya Ladan to partner. Managing partner Marc Williams said, “We are thrilled to welcome Roya to the partnership. During her time at the firm, she has delivered the highest quality of service to our clients, including securing numerous successful outcomes in high-stakes matters.” New associates Rachael Robinson and Yusuf Saei will add further depth and strength to CW's bench. “Both attorneys will be tremendously valuable assets to the firm,” said partner Reuven Cohen. "Their legal knowledge, strategic acumen, strong writing skills, and commitment to client service will power our firm’s continued growth.” For further reading, click here.

CW secures dismissal for individual charged with two felonies

December 2023

CW’s client, a California woman in her 80s, had endured decades of brutal verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband. One morning in 2021, she called 911 to report a violent physical incident. When the police arrived, however, a dire miscommunication occurred. They arrested our client, rather than her husband, and charged her with two felonies: elder abuse and domestic violence. These charges completely upended our client’s safety, well-being, and reputation. While CW attempted to have them dismissed, citing a documented history of spousal abuse, the district attorney’s office continued to insist on her guilt. Finally, when all other avenues to relief had been exhausted, CW petitioned the court to grant a mental health diversion, which allows criminal defendants in California to undergo mental health treatment in lieu of prosecution. Six months after enrolling in the program, the court dismissed all charges against CW’s client.

CW discusses Supreme Court's mootness jurisprudence in the Daily Journal

November 2023

The No Fly List is a classified federal database of thousands of U.S. citizens who are prohibited from boarding commercial flights in U.S. airspace. This term, the Supreme Court will hear a case brought by an individual who was removed from the No Fly List after filing suit against the government, which resulted in the trial court dismissing his suit as moot. As CW partner Alyssa Bell and associate Cristopher Santos recently discussed in the Daily Journal, this case will require the Supreme Court to revisit its mootness jurisprudence in considering the government’s ability to moot such suits by voluntarily removing plaintiffs from the list during litigation. For further reading, click here

CW secures $7 million affirmance in court of appeal

October 2023

CW secured an affirmance of right to attach orders (RTAO) for $7 million on behalf of two former executive employees of NMSI, Inc., a national, multibillion-dollar residential mortgage lender, in a breach of contract case. 

 

Several years ago, the employees entered into revenue sharing agreements that could only be modified by a signed written agreement between the parties. Their compensation was later reduced purportedly by agreement in an email exchange. After the employees were advised that NMSI was terminating their employment, they filed a complaint against NMSI, seeking their lost share of revenues. The trial court issued RTAO in the amount of approximately $7 million against NMSI, which NMSI appealed. CW attorneys Alyssa Bell, Marc Williams, and Cristopher Santos successfully persuaded the California Second District Court of Appeal to affirm the trial court's orders. The Court of Appeal issued a published opinion rejecting a novel theory of statutory construction that would have vastly expanded the scope of California's Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. 

 

For further reading, click here.

 

CW's client, Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas, will remain out on bail pending appeal

October 2023

CW is pleased to announce that the U.S. Attorney's Office has approved Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas's request for bail while his appeal is pending before the Ninth Circuit. Although Dr. Ridley-Thomas had been slated to begin a 3 1/2-year prison sentence next month, he was granted continued release on bond pending appeal after the defense team—led by CW partners Alyssa Bell and Michael Schafler—filed a motion for bail. After reviewing the motion, which cited the numerous merits of Dr. Ridley Thomas's appeal, the USAO agreed to submit a joint request to the court. 

 

"The agreement between the parties establishes that Dr. Ridley Thomas's appeal to the Ninth Circuit will present at least one 'substantial question of law or fact' that would call into question his conviction and sentence," Bell said in a statement. "We continue to believe that Dr. Ridley Thomas's appeal will present exceptionally strong issues." The case has generated significant coverage from the Los Angeles press, including the L.A. Times. 

 

For press coverage, click here
For more information, click here.

CW to represent Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas in the Ninth Circuit

September 2023

Partners Alyssa Bell and Michael Schafler will lead the appeal to the Ninth Circuit of Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas's conviction and sentence, alongside a team that includes Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the Berkeley Law School and Paul Watford, former Ninth Circuit Judge and present Wilson Sonsini partner. Dean Chemerinsky explained that "this entire appellate team is honored and privileged to represent Dr. Ridley-Thomas in this important appeal, and we look forward to presenting our case to the Ninth Circuit. There are several grounds that we believe could warrant a reversal of his convictions or, at a minimum, a new trial." 

For further reading, click here.

CW partner elected Chair of LA County Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section

July 2023

CW partner Kathleen Erskine has been elected Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association ("LACBA") Labor & Employment Law Section, after serving as the organization's Vice-Chair last term. LACBA is an organization of over 20,000 attorneys in Los Angeles and promotes collegiality, ethics, and excellence in legal practice. The Labor & Employment Law Section is one of LACBA's largest sections and offers more educational programming and professional development opportunities than any other organization of its kind in the nation. 

CW defends client's victory in hard-fought post-trial motions

July 2023

After a prominent tech startup achieved victory at trial in a corporate dispute that stemmed from a founding executive's termination, CW was retained to handle all post-trials motions and appeals. After months of litigation, CW succeeded in defending the client's victory before the trial court and fended off an attorneys fees motion that sought nearly $1 million.

CW resolves Title IX allegations absent investigation

June 2023

CW's client was facing expulsion following serious Title IX accusations of misconduct on campus. After CW assumed representation, the University ceased its investigation and resolved the matter without any finding of wrongdoing or stain on the client's academic record. 

CW wins yet another jury trial in 2022

November 2022

On November 17, 2022, CW partner Kathleen Erskine and counsel Roya Ladan secured a complete defense verdict in favor of CW's client, United Teachers Los Angeles ("UTLA"), following an 11-day jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court. After only approximately 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury rejected the plaintiff's claims of constructive termination, retaliation, and failure to prevent retaliation and delivered a verdict entirely in favor of UTLA, finding no liability and awarding no damages against UTLA.

 

Ms. Erskine, the head of CW's Employment Litigation practice, explained, "[i]t is gratifying that the jury clearly saw that UTLA did nothing to retaliate against the plaintiff, Ms. Astine Suleimanyan, and that her resignation was just that -- a voluntary choice to leave UTLA. . . We are extremely happy for UTLA. It is an important organization in Los Angeles dedicated to supporting workers and promoting fairness and respect in the workplace. The jury got it right." 

For further reading, click here

CW's client fully vindicated and restored to college faculty position, after CW secures reversal of investigator's findings

September 2022

CW's client, a college faculty member, was suspended by the college following allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment on campus. After an investigator found violations by CW's client, CW challenged the investigator's report to an adjudicator, who concluded that the evidence did not support any of the allegations and determined that CW's client did not violate any of the college's policies, fully vindicating CW's client. The college did not appeal and restored CW's client to their position.

CW wins third civil jury trial in last nine months

June 2022

On June 13, 2022, after a five-week jury trial before the Honorable Maureen Duffy-Lewis in Los Angeles Superior Court (Stanley Mosk Courthouse), the jury sided with CW's client, a highly accomplished corporate and venture capital lawyer, in a legal malpractice suit filed by Lifespeed, Inc., a technology company in the electronic medical records industry. CW's client was represented at trial by Cohen Williams managing partner Marc Williams. This was Mr. Williams' third jury trial in the last ninth months, all of which have resulted in resounding victories for CW's clients. 

 

CW's client was thrilled with the result: "CW was there for me every step of the way during this tough time in my life. Marc Williams was absolutely terrific at trial and was a consummate team player in our joint defense with my former firm. I can't thank him enough for the significant impact this favorable verdict will have on my career."

For further reading, click here.

Former CW Counsel to lead Access to Justice office at US Department of Justice

June 2022

CW congratulates former CW Counsel Rachel Rossi on her new position at the Department of Justice ("DOJ") as the head of the newly reconstituted Office for Access to Justice, an Obama administration-era program to ensure poor defendants have legal representation in civil and criminal cases. She will be the first former public defender to hold that office, and one of few to hold such a high-ranking position at the DOJ.  

For further reading, click here.

CW obtains full declination of prosecution and 7-figure return of funds from U.S. Attorney's Office for prominent LA physician

May 2022

After receiving a target letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office and enduring bank seizures and FBI searches of his businesses and Beverly Hills residence, a prominent Los Angeles physician retained Cohen Williams.  CW's presentation to the government resulted in a full declination of prosecution, as well as the seven-figure return of the seized accounts in their entirety. 

CW wins jury trial after nine-year legal battle over unlicensed contractor claim against top Los Angeles interior designer

May 2022

On April 29, 2022, after a two-week jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, the jury sided with CW's client, an interior designer, in a fiercely contested, longstanding dispute against the owner of a Beverly Hills home that CW's client helped transform into a sophisticated mid-century modern showplace.  The jury delivered CW's client and the CW team a resounding victory -- providing CW's client nearly a full recovery on her breach of contract claim, and awarding the homeowner nothing on any of his counterclaims, including finding that CW's client did not perform unlicensed contractor services or breach the parties' agreement. 

For further reading, click here.

CW secures victory and punitive damages award in closely-watched trade secrets trial pitting Elysium Health against rival biosciences company Chromadex

September 2021

After a four-day jury trial before the Hon. Cormac J. Carney in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the jury sided with Cohen Williams LLP's clients, Elysium Health, Inc. and Mark Morris, in a hotly contested dispute against biotechnology company Chromadex, Inc., the former supplier of ingredients Elysium Health used in its anti-aging supplement, Basis. After two days of deliberation, the jury delivered Elysium Health and the Cohen Williams team a victory on September 27, 2021.

For press coverage, click here.
For further reading, click here.

CW Counsel invited to serve as Visiting Lecturer/Coach at University of California - Davis School of Law

August 2021

CW is pleased to announce that Roya Ladan will be serving as a visiting lecturer/coach at University of California - Davis School of Law, her alma mater, starting in the fall of 2021. She will be one of five small section leaders teaching an externship seminar for second and third year law students currently in field placements with government, judiciary, and non-profit organizations. 

Litigator Atoosa Esmaili joins CW's team as an associate

July 2021

CW is proud to announce that Atoosa Esmaili has joined the firm as an associate. Atoosa is an accomplished litigator with years of experience representing clients in complex commercial disputes, white collar criminal cases, and employment matters. Managing partner Marc Williams says: "We are thrilled to have Atoosa join our firm as an associate. She has the legal experience, sophistication and strategic thinking to be a valuable member of our team and contribute right away as we continue to grow and provide excellent service to our clients." Atoosa previously served as a law clerk for the Honorable Lawrence J. O'Neill of the Eastern District of California during his tenure as Chief Judge, and is a graduate of the New York University School of Law. For further reading, click here.

CW partner elected Treasurer of LA County Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section

July 2021

CW partner Kathleen Erskine has been elected Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Bar Association ("LACBA") Labor & Employment Law Section, after serving as the organization's Secretary last term. LACBA is an organization of over 20,000 attorneys in Los Angeles and promotes collegiality, ethics, and excellence in legal practice. The Labor & Employment Law Section is one of LACBA's largest sections and offers more educational programming and professional development opportunities than any other organization of its kind in the nation. Kathleen's term as Treasurer will run through June 30, 2022. 

CW successfully negotiates non-prosecution of clients implicated in international bribery and public corruption investigation

May 2021

CW represented two former US-AID subcontractors implicated in a bribery and public corruption investigation involving millions in intended loss and spanning three continents. Both stood accused of assisting in the falsification of documents to support a bid for a coveted US-government-funded project in Afghanistan, and the bribery of public officials in Uganda in support of the scheme. Following numerous rounds of negotiations, CW convinced federal prosecutors to decline to prosecute both clients.

CW discusses federal courts' increasingly stringent standards for defense counsel's performance in the Daily Journal

April 2021

Recent opinions across the Circuit Courts of Appeal demonstrate an increased willingness to protect criminal defendants against the potential missteps of their defense counsel. As CW's Alyssa Bell and Brittany Lane recently discussed in the Daily Journal, these precedents may help provide better guidance at the many crossroads defense attorneys face in the course of zealously defending their clients. For further reading, click here.

CW issues statement of solidarity with the AAPI community, denouncing anti-Asian violence

March 2021

CW is deeply saddened by the escalation of hatred, violence, and discrimination against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community in our nation. The mass shooting in Atlanta that cut short the lives of eight innocent people -- six of them Asian -- was not an isolated incident, but part of an alarming surge of anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Too often, these crimes target the most vulnerable among us.  Victims, many of them elderly, have been shoved to the ground, slashed in the face, and set on fire.  We condemn these heinous acts of hate.  They have no place in a free and just society.

Everyone, regardless of race, is entitled to feel safe from discrimination and harassment.  CW stands in solidarity with our Asian colleagues, friends, and neighbors, and we hereby commit to speak out and stand up against hatred and racism in our society, today and every day. 

CW client pays nothing after settling multimillion dollar corporate espionage case brought against her

December 2020

Accused of participating in a conspiracy of corporate espionage, CW's client was sued for trade secret misappropriation and invasion of privacy based on allegations that she surreptitiously photographed confidential communications on her boyfriend's cellphone from which an algorithm that predicts the stock market can be reverse engineered. The plaintiff sought to recover millions of dollars in lost income and unpaid royalties arising from CW's client purportedly disseminating his proprietary financial information to his business competitors without his consent. CW came onto the case more than two years after its inception when initial counsel was unable to advance any defense. After CW prevailed on four discovery motions, all of which resulted in sanctions awards against the plaintiff and one of which required the plaintiff to disclose his trade secrets with greater particularity, the plaintiff immediately agreed to a "walkaway" settlement in which CW's client paid nothing and the plaintiff dismissed all causes of action with prejudice.

CW discusses landmark, bipartisan legislation affirming prosecutors' Brady obligations in the Daily Journal

December 2020

On October 21, 2020, during the homestretch of the presidential election, Congress unanimously passed the Due Process Protections Act (S. 1380) and President Trump signed it into law. As CW Partners Alyssa Bell and Michael Schafler recently commented in the Daily Journal, the Act affords courts the opportunity to participate in, and supervise, the prosecution's otherwise unilateral determination of what Brady requires, both in terms of investigation and disclosure. For further reading, click here.

Federal district court dismisses near $100 million civil RICO, fraud and breach of contract case brought against CW client

December 2020

CW's client was sued by his estranged wife in federal court for nearly $100 million in damages based on state law claims for fraud and breach of contract arising from his failure to have a Liechtenstein trust for which he was the protector distribute funds to her in exchange for her ending prior divorce proceedings. After CW moved to dismiss for lack of diversity jurisdiction, the plaintiff abandoned that jurisdictional ground and instead amended her complaint to add a civil RICO cause of action to create federal question jurisdiction and enable the state law claims to be heard based on supplemental jurisdiction. CW then filed a second motion to dismiss, arguing that the sole basis for federal question jurisdiction was fatally flawed because CW's client's alleged racketeering activity was not the proximate cause of the foreign trust not distributing the promised funds to the plaintiff. The district court agreed, holding that no causation existed despite the plaintiff's many theories of CW's client's predicate acts, such defect could not be remedied by subsequent amendment, and thus there was no basis for subject matter jurisdiction. In addition to dismissing the RICO causes of action with prejudice, the district court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims against CW's client and dismissed them as well.

Federal judge orders immediate release of CW client serving unprecedented 505-year sentence

November 2020

More than 30 years ago, CW's client was convicted after a nine-month financial crimes trial tainted by Brady error. Following revelations that the government failed to disclose material benefits that the FBI conferred upon a key cooperating witness, CW assumed representation. After six years of litigation, the government relented, ultimately stipulating to Section 2255 habeas corpus relief. A federal district judge nonetheless denied the agreed-upon relief, a ruling that CW has challenged in the Ninth Circuit. In the interim, Alyssa Bell and Reuven Cohen moved the district court for compassionate release in light of the client's age, health, and unparalleled efforts at rehabilitation. Yesterday, the same federal judge granted that relief and ordered immediate release. Follow CNN's coverage here.

CW Counsel selected as Co-Chair of Diversity Committee for Women in White Collar Criminal Defense Association

September 2020

CW Counsel Rachel Rossi has been selected to serve as the Co-Chair of the Women in White Collar Criminal Defense Association ("WWCDA")'s Diversity Committee. WWCDA was founded in 1999 to address the glaring lack of women in white collar practice; currently, membership in these chapters consists of more than 2,000 women throughout the world in the practice of white collar defense. WWCDA recently formed the Diversity Committee to address racism and other discrimination and intolerances that are prevalent in our nation and criminal justice system. The Committee leads WWCDA efforts through, among other things, learning and educating on the issues, working to correct injustices, defending those who are wronged, and leading inclusively. 

Experienced business and employment litigator Roya Ladan joins CW's elite trial lawyers

August 2020

CW is proud to announce that Roya Ladan, most recently Senior Counsel at King & Spalding LLP and previously Boies Schiller LLP, has joined the firm as counsel. Before entering private practice, Roya was a trial attorney for the State of California, Department of Fair Employment & Housing, where she investigated and prosecuted civil rights cases including employment and housing discrimination and Unruh Act violations. For further reading, click here.

Ninth Circuit affirms district court's dismissal of indictment against CW client, based on flagrant Brady violations

August 2020

On December 20, 2017, nearly two months into a federal criminal trial, a Nevada federal judge dismissed the case against cattleman Cliven Bundy and his sons with prejudice, finding that the prosecution committed multiple Brady violations by suppressing plainly exculpatory evidence in the custody of several investigating agencies assisting in the prosecution. On August 6, 2020, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal in a groundbreaking published opinion, saying prosecutors' misconduct was "flagrant," even if unintentional. CW partner Alyssa Bell, who represented Ryan Bundy on appeal, said in a statement: "The Ninth Circuit issued a historic decision today, one that sends a strong message nationwide that exculpatory evidence must be turned over to the accused if he or she is to receive a fair trial. We are thrilled with this righteous and amply justified decision." For further reading, click here.

CW issues press release decrying institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system following the brutal killing of George Floyd

June 2020

Following George Floyd's murder, CW joined a chorus of voices in the legal community condemning this senseless act of violence and recognizing that Black lives matter, structural racism is entrenched in our judicial system, and the time for change is now. In solidarity with the protesters who risked their health and lives to demand meaningful reform, CW committed to change from within by representing, including on a pro bono basis, protestors and those charged with curfew violations; making financial contributions to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization dedicated to justice and healing for those negatively impacted by law enforcement's use of force; continuing to hire and promote diverse lawyers and staff; and, supporting minority-owned small businesses as vendors and experts, among other initiatives. For further reading, click here.

CW partner elected Secretary of LA County Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section

May 2020

CW Partner Kathleen Erskine has been elected Secretary of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Labor & Employment Law Section. LACBA is an organization of over 20,000 attorneys in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and promotes collegiality, ethics, and excellence in legal practice. The Labor & Employment Law Section is one of LACBA's largest sections and offers more educational programming and professional development opportunities than any other organization of its kind in the nation. Kathleen has organized, moderated, and been a featured speaker at dozens of seminars on labor and employment law topics, including serving as Chair of LACBA's 40th Annual Labor & Employment Law Symposium. Kathleen's term as Secretary will run from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

CW Counsel named to national COVID-19 criminal justice taskforce

April 2020

CW Counsel Rachel Rossi has been named to a national taskforce uniting law enforcement and first responders in an effort to save lives in our nation's criminal justice system amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. "Congressional funding is needed to incentivize further safe reductions in incarceration and to allocate resources to local jurisdictions, agencies and community-based organizations for improved reentry services and resources," Rossi said. For further reading, click here.

Ninth Circuit seals highly favorable outcome for CW client in civil jury trial

November 2019

In 2013, federal authorities linked a hepatitis A outbreak in the western United States to consumption of Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, a blend of frozen fruits sold at Costco. CW's client, a multinational corporation, produced one of the multiple ingredients used in the Antioxidant Blend. The FDA and CDC identified CW's client as the sole cause of the outbreak. At trial, however, CW exposed flaws in the FDA and CDC analyses, and the jury held CW's client liable for less than 7% of the $40 million in damages caused by the outbreak. CW also handled the appeal, where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with CW's client, affirming the jury's favorable compensatory damages award and striking the jury's unlawful punitive damages award. 

CW achieves reversal of unlawful sentence before the Ninth Circuit

November 2019

CW was appointed to represent a client on appeal after the district court imposed an unlawful, consecutive sentence lacking a factual basis in the record. Following several rounds of negotiations, CW convinced the government to concede the error and jointly request relief. The Ninth Circuit remanded for a plenary resentencing, permitting CW's client to present additional mitigation to the sentencing judge. 

CW named Top Boutique in the Daily Journal

October 2019

CW has been named one of the 2019 Top Boutique Law Firms in California by the Daily Journal. The Daily Journal noted CW's "culture of inclusivity, grounded in meaningful professional development." For further reading, click here.

CW attains complete reversal of disciplinary action on behalf of University student

September 2019

In the wake of the nationwide college admissions scandal, CW's client was summarily expelled in violation of her due process rights. After CW set forth its legal position and made a fulsome presentation of the facts and equities, the University reversed course 100% and reinstated CW's client to her prior status as an enrolled student. 

CW partner named Top 40 under 40 in the Daily Journal

August 2019

CW Partner Alyssa Bell has been named one of the 2019 Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal.  The Daily Journal noted Bell's criminal appellate accomplishments in a "field where young women are a rarity, and even the smallest successes are hard-earned." For further reading, click here.

CW hosts WWCDA luncheon

June 2019

CW had the pleasure of hosting members of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association (“WWCDA”) for a luncheon focusing on the oft-debated theme of "self-care." Chandler Chang, a licensed psychologist, therapist, and co-founder of Golden Hour Therapy and Therapy Lab, discussed evidence-based approaches to maintaining work-life balance in our highly digitized environment. Sustain LA, a local woman-owned business, provided sustainable event services. 

CW promotes three lawyers to partnership

June 2019

CW is proud to announce that Alyssa D. Bell, Kathleen M. Erskine, and Gabriel Pardo have been named Partners.  "We are thrilled to welcome these immensely talented attorneys to our partnership.  Their track record of litigation success and their skill as attorneys demonstrate the firm's commitment to providing the highest quality services to our clients," said Managing Partner Marc Williams. As partners, Bell, Erskine, and Pardo will continue to further the firm's commitment to aggressive, client-centered advocacy in a collegial and inclusive environment.

CW attains reversal of 108-month sentence on appeal before the Ninth Circuit in seminal, published opinion

April 2019

Before retaining CW, the client, a prominent Southern California physician, was convicted on multiple counts of healthcare fraud arising from his certification of patients as eligible for hospice care. On appeal, CW argued that the client's 108-month sentence violated the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause because the district court applied the most recent federal sentencing guidelines' manual, although an earlier, less-punitive version applied to all but one count of conviction. The Ninth Circuit reversed, rejecting the government's theory that the continuing offense doctrine permitted sentencing for a scheme to defraud under a single manual, despite the prosecution's election to charge the client with multiple counts arising from independent executions of the alleged scheme.

For further reading, click here.

CW secures terminating sanctions on the eve of trial in defense of business fraud claim

February 2019

After a prominent local surgeon lost nearly $1 million at trial on a claim that she defrauded the seller of real estate, she retained CW to retry the matter in Los Angeles Superior Court. Following extensive motions practice, CW convinced the court that the plaintiff abused the discovery process and provided false testimony on material facts at the first trial. The court granted CW's request for terminating sanctions mere days before retrial was to commence.

CW attains reversal of three healthcare fraud counts on appeal before the Ninth Circuit

November 2018

CW was retained after the client sustained three healthcare fraud convictions and received a 57-month sentence. On appeal, CW argued that the district court erred in admitting prejudicial expert testimony and failed to adequately instruct the jury on how to weigh the expert's opinions. The Ninth Circuit reversed, agreeing with CW that the district court failed to exercise its gatekeeping function.

CW argues before the Ninth Circuit on a First Amendment matter of first impression

November 2018

As part of an ongoing commitment to giving back the local community, CW continued its representation of indigent clients before the Ninth Circuit. The client, a federal inmate, faced discipline that included solitary confinement after sending outgoing correspondence that expressed his frustration with the justice system in harsh terms. CW argued that the First Amendment protected his speech, and that the BOP regulation under which he was subject to sanction was not tailored to any legitimate government interest.

CW negotiates dismissal of federal assault charges on behalf of foreign national

October 2018

Federal prosecutors charged CW's client with sexual assault on an airplane, arising out of two separate incidents. After CW litigated numerous pretrial motions, the prosecution dropped the assault charges and the parties agreed to a probationary disposition. The client was permitted to return to his home nation without serving a single additional day in custody.

Client sentenced to time-served after CW attains reversal on appeal in rare, published opinion

September 2018

CW stepped in to handle the appeal in an aggravated identity theft case after the client was convicted at trial on two counts and sentenced to 65 months in custody. Before the Ninth Circuit, CW argued that the district court erred in refusing to excuse an obviously biased juror for cause. Upon remand, CW successfully negotiated a time-served sentence. For further reading, click here.

CW teams up with the ACLU to represent undocumented people and homeless advocates

August 2018

As part of an ongoing commitment to pro bono representation, throughout the summer, CW partnered with the ACLU of Southern California and the Immigrant Defenders Law Center to provide legal counsel to undocumented persons detained in federal prison without charge. This fall, CW attorneys joined the team representing a local advocate for the rights of homeless and food-insecure people to receive food in Orange County's public parks.

CW achieves dismissal of all charges on behalf of European-based client

July 2018

Local prosecutors charged CW's foreign client with grand theft, and theft of personal property, arising from a series of suspicious transactions. CW used evidence that the client had been a frequent victim of identity theft to argue persuasively, and successfully, for a dismissal of the charges.

CW partner named to Super Lawyers' Top 100

February 2018

CW founding partner Reuven Cohen was named to Super Lawyers' 2018 Top 100 Southern California Lawyers. Reuven is one of only 7 white-collar practitioners to receive this honor. For further reading, click here.

Rare, voluntary dismissal with prejudice following USAO presentation

May 2017

Federal prosecutors charged CW's client, a bank officer, with conspiring to launder money and evading a currency reporting requirement. Following aggressive negotiations and a presentation inside the United States Attorney's Office, prosecutors took the extraordinary step of voluntarily dismissing all charges against the client with prejudice, saving the client money and avoiding the stress and publicity of trial.

Complete acquittal following two-week federal jury trial

December 2016

Federal prosecutors charged CW's client with a string of bank thefts that allegedly netted him and his co-conspirators more than $20 million. Before retaining CW, the client pleaded guilty to similar crimes that took place both before and after the charged events. Following an eight-day trial, in which the government called two cooperating witnesses, 10 law-enforcement officers, and multiple experts, the jury returned a verdict completely acquitting the client. His co-defendant was convicted.

CW clears federal prosecutor of wrongdoing.

September 2016

CW was retained to represent an Assistant United States Attorney facing false allegations of misconduct. Following an extensive evidentiary hearing, the court found in the client's favor, and his professional reputation remained untarnished.

Complete defense victory and $500,000 fee award in arbitration between former business partners

August 2016

Two firm clients removed their former business partners as managers of a jointly-owned LLC.  The former business partners responded by suing for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and defamation, claiming $6 million in damages.  Following a four-day arbitration, the arbitrator found in favor of the firm clients and ordered the former business partners to pay all of the firm clients' attorney's fees, which she characterized as "just and reasonable" for several years of litigation.

Complete dismissal of 57-count indictment in $150 million fraud prosecution

July 2016

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office obtained a 57-count indictment charging CW's client with conspiracy, insurance fraud, and 21 counts of aggravated mayhem, each of which carried a $1 million bond and potential life sentence. After extensive briefing and argument, the Court dismissed the case -- in full -- based on prosecutors' errors during grand jury proceedings.

Complete acquittal in complex federal prosecution

May 2014

Federal prosecutors charged CW's client with two Clean Water Act violations and two counts of criminal contempt. The contempt charges stemmed from nine years of Clean Water Act litigation brought by the United States Attorney’s Office.  The client also had a prior Clean Water Act conviction. Following an eight-day trial, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a “Not Guilty” verdict on all four counts. For further reading, click here.