Litigation & Appeals

California State Seal Sacramanto, California, Usa
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The attorneys at Olson Remcho are renowned for their California trial and appellate work on complex cases raising novel issues of political, governmental and constitutional importance.  

For over 40 years, our attorneys have successfully defended clients’ trial court victories, reversed erroneous trial court rulings, filed original writs at all levels of the California courts, and prepared amicus curiae briefs on behalf of clients who wish to raise issues in cases brought by other parties.

Our lawyers are renowned for trial and appellate work on complex cases raising novel issues of political, governmental and constitutional importance.

Our clients include political candidates, city and county governments, state government agencies, ballot measure committees, nonprofit organizations and associations, the California Legislature, the Governor and other constitutional officers. Our attorneys appear before the highest courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California Supreme Court.  Our firm has unique expertise and experience practicing before the California Supreme Court.

Our experience extends across diverse areas of litigation:

  • Constitutional challenges to legislation or administrative regulations at the state or local level
  • Constitutional or procedural challenges to initiatives and referenda (pre-and post-election)
  • Election-related litigation, including ballot litigation, candidate designations, and election contests
  • Litigation involving state mandates and state/local governmental relations, public finance, public employee benefits and administrative regulation
  • Litigation related to education law and educational audits
  • Original writ litigation in trial and appellate courts
  • Litigation involving state or local agency compliance with the Public Records Act, open meetings laws (Brown Act and Bagley-Keene Act) and the California Administrative Procedure Act
  • Administrative enforcement proceedings before the Fair Political Practices Commission, including campaign finance violations or conflicts of interest
  • Administrative proceedings before the Education Audit Appeals Panel

Representative Cases

California Hotels & Lodging Association v. City of Oakland, 393 F. Supp. 3d 817 (2019). Successfully defended against preemption challenge Oakland Measure Z, protected wages for hotel employees.

National Asian American Coalition v. Brown, 25 Cal. App. 5th 60 (2018)Represented Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and Director of Finance Michael Cohen in a lawsuit challenging the use of approximately $350 million of settlement funds awarded to the State as part of the National Mortgage Settlement. 

Vargas v. Vu, San Diego County Superior Court, No. 37-2018-00035775; Greene v. Vu, San Diego County Superior Court, No. 37-2018-00037778 (2018).  Represented supporters of San Diego County Measure D (2018) in defeating litigation that sought to prevent the measure from reaching the ballot, and in litigation that prevented the county from placing the measure on a later ballot.

Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 908 F.3d 1175 (9th Cir. 2018), cert. denied, 2019 U.S. LEXIS 3748 (June 3, 2019). Successfully defended the City of Los Angeles’s 2012 Redistricting Ordinance against a lawsuit alleging that district boundaries violated the Federal and State Constitutions, and the Los Angeles City Charter.

Brown v. Superior Court, 63 Cal. 4th 335 (2016). Successfully defended Proposition 47 in first challenge brought under new state law allowing pre-circulation amendments to initiative measures.

Taylor v. Yee, 780 F.3d 928 (9th Cir. 2015).  Successfully defended district court’s dismissal of due process challenges to California’s Unclaimed Property Program.

Cruz v. State of California, Alameda County Superior Court, No. RG14727139 (2015). Successfully defended the State Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction against a preliminary injunction motion alleging constitutional inadequacies in instructional time.

Doe v. Harris, 772 F.3d 563 (2014). Defended ballot measure proponents in constitutional challenge filed one day after measure was passed by voters.

Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., 59 Cal.4th 407 (2014).  Filed amicus curiae brief on behalf of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association in support of employee who argued that California workplace protections apply to undocumented employees.

City of Berkeley v. Dupuis, Alameda County Superior Court, No. RG14720117 (2014). Successfully represented the City in effort to use Council-approved redistricting map until a referendum election took place.

Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. Bowen, 212 Cal. App. 4th 1298 (2013). Represented Legislature in challenge to ballot measure title and summary.

Dillman v. Bowen, Sacramento County Super. Ct., No. 34-2012-80001093 (2012). Successfully defended Congressional candidate José Hernandez’s ballot designation for the 2012 election.

McDonough v. Superior Court, 204 Cal. App. 4th 1169 (2012). Represented opponents of the City of San Jose’s Measure B in successful ballot pamphlet litigation striking partisan and prejudicial portions of the City’s ballot title and question.

Williams v. City of Alameda, Alameda County Superior Court, No. RG12622649 (2012). Won a court order upholding the ballot pamphlet title, summary, and statement in favor of the City of Alameda’s Measure C for the June 2012 election.

Association of Special Agents v. Brown, Sacramento Superior Court, No. 34-2011-80001009 (2012) Successfully represented Governor and Director of Finance in challenge to Budget Act allocations. 

CASE v. Brown, 195 Cal. App. 4th 119 (2011).  Represented the California State Controller in cases successfully challenging the Governor’s authority to impose furloughs unilaterally on the state workforce.

California Redevelopment Association v. Matosantos, 53 Cal. 4th 231 (2011). Filed amicus curiae brief on behalf of the California Teachers Association in support of the State’s efforts to restructure California’s redevelopment agencies and provide additional funding for California’s public schools. 

California School Boards Association v. State of California, 192 Cal. App. 4th 770 (2011). Established the state’s practice of deferring mandate reimbursement to schools was contrary to California law.

Camp v. City of Sacramento, Sacramento Superior Court, Case No. 34-2009-00065404 (2010). Successful challenge to initiative that proposed changing Sacramento to a strong-mayor form of government because initiative was not proposed as a charter “revision.”

Riverside County Democratic Central Committee v. Dunmore, Riverside County Superior Court, No. RIC 10012986 (2010). Won a court order requiring the Registrar of Riverside County to count 12,500 ballots that the Post Office had failed to deliver on Election Day.

Clark v. Superior Court, 2010 WL 928384, 2010 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1911 (Cal. Ct. App. 3d Dist. 2010). Successful challenge to legislatively-prepared ballot materials.

Yes on 25, Citizens for an On-Time Budget v. Superior Court, 189 Cal. App. 4th 1445 (2010). Represented the ballot measure committee in defense of title and summary for majority vote budget measure

 California School Boards Association v. State Board of Education, 186 Cal. App. 4th 1298 (2010). Successful challenge to unlawful action taken by the California State Board of Education in approving a statewide charter.

Professional Engineers Cal. Gov. v. Schwarzenegger, 50 Cal.4th 989 (2010).  Represented the California State Controller in cases successfully challenging the Governor’s authority to impose furloughts unilaterally on the state workforce.

St. John’s Well Child and Family Center v. Schwarzenegger, 50 Cal. 4th 960 (2010).  Represented the Senate President Pro Tempore and the Assembly Speaker in novel litigation over the constitutionality of the Governor’s use of line-item veto.

Suever v. Connell, 579 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2009).  Won reversal of district court’s ruling that would have required the State to pay interest on unclaimed property, while successfully defending district court victory that shields the State from exposure to an award of damages.

California School Boards Association v. State of California, 171 Cal. App. 4th 1183 (2009). Successful challenge to state’s efforts to reduce its obligation to reimburse local governments for state imposed mandates.

In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (2008).  Filed amicus curiae brief on behalf of individual California Senators and assembly members in support of the right of same-sex couples to marry. 

Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party, 128 S. Ct. 1184 (2008). Amicus brief in support of Washington Democratic Party challenge to change in primary rules.

 San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber PAC v. City of San Jose, 546 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir. 2008). Amicus brief in support of challenge to local campaign finance restrictions.

Gravel v. American Leadership Project, 249 F.R.D. 264 (N.D. Ohio 2008).  Successfully defended a 527 advocacy group before the Federal Elections Commission and in a federal lawsuit challenging the group’s electioneering communications during the 2008 Presidential election.

Migden v. Fair Political Practices Commission, No. 2:08-CV-00486-EFB (E.D. Cal. 2008). Won an injunction prohibiting the FPPC from enforcing a Political Reform Act provision that unconstitutionally restricted individuals from spending campaign funds left over from prior elections.

California Family Bioethics Council v. California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, 147 Cal.App.4th 1319 (2007).  Represented the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine in successfully defending at the trial and appellate levels a constitutional challenge to Proposition 71 (initiative funding stem cell research in California).

Del Beccaro v. Brown, Sacramento County Superior Court, No. 06AS04494 (2007). Represented State Attorney General Jerry Brown in post-election litigation that unsuccessfully attempted to challenge his qualifications for office.

Professional Engineers in California Government v. Kempton, 40 Cal.4th 10165 2007).  Amicus brief on behalf of legislative leadership relating to interpretation of “private contracting out” initiative.

Mendoza v. State of California, 149 Cal. App. 4th 1034 (2007). Successful challenge to State legislation transferring control of the Los Angeles Unified School District to the Mayor.

Lee v. Keith, 463 F.3d 763 (2006). Successful challenge to Illinois ballot access rules on constitutional grounds.

Californians For Fair Representation v. Superior Court, 138 Cal. App. 4th 15 (2006). Successful lawsuit to compel timely pre-election reporting of campaign contributions to ballot measures.

Nadler v. Schwarzenegger, 137 Cal. App. 4th 1327 (2006). Successfully defended the State’s 2001 redistricting plan against a lawsuit challenging the state legislative plans on the grounds that they violated the California Constitution.

Costa v. Superior Court, 37 Cal. 4th 986 (2006). Challenge to ballot measure proponent’s failure to circulate legally approved version of measure.

Independent Energy Producers Association v. McPherson, 38 Cal. 4th 1020 (2006). Defended Proposition 80 in a case that now defines the standard for pre-election review of ballot measures.

California Teachers Association v. Schwarzenegger, Sacramento County Superior Court, Case No. 05CS01165 (2006). Represented the California Teachers Association and the Superintendent of Public Instruction in a successful challenge to efforts to reduce education funding far below the amount agreed upon in the 2004-05 budget compromise. Recovered $3 billion in Proposition 98 funding for schools.

Californians For Fair Representation v. Superior Court, 138 Cal. App. 4th 15 (2006). Successful lawsuit to compel timely pre-election reporting of campaign contributions to ballot measures.

R.J. Reynolds v. Shewry, 423 F.3d 906 (2005).  Amicus brief defending constitutionality of state’s anti-smoking advertising campaign.

Worthington v. City Council of City of Rohnert Park, 130 Cal. App. 4th 1132 (2005). Successful defense of City’s agreement with Indian tribe over claims that agreement was subject to public referendum.

Harris v. Westly, 116 Cal.App.4th 214 (2004).  Defended constitutionality of the California Unclaimed Property Law on behalf of the California State Controller.

Franklin v. Correa, Orange County Superior Court, No. 03CC11220 (2004). Successful anti-SLAPP motion brought against candidate’s opponent’s attempt to stop him from transferring campaign funds from a prior campaign committee. 

San Diego Unified School District v. Commission on State Mandates, 2004 WL 1664857, 2004 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7097 (Cal. Ct. App. 3d. Dist. 2004). Amicus brief in support of school district claim for reimbursement of costs related to state-mandated testing program.

Franklin v. Correa, Orange County Superior Court, No. 03CC11220 (2004). Successful anti-SLAPP motion brought against candidate’s opponent’s attempt to stop him from transferring campaign funds from a prior campaign committee. 

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003). Challenge brought on behalf of California Democratic Party and others to constitutionality of McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.

Cano v. Davis, 191 F. Supp. 2d 1135 (C.D. Cal. 2001); 211 F. Supp. 2d 1208 (C.D. Cal. 2002), aff’d, 537 U.S. 1100 (2003). Represented the California Assembly in a successful defense of the State’s 2001 redistricting plan against a federal lawsuit challenging the congressional and state legislative plans on the grounds that they violated the Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

County of Riverside v. Superior Court, 30 Cal.4th 278 (2003).  Amicus brief addressing constitutionality of state law directing binding arbitration for public safety officers.

Lindelli v. Town of San Anselmo, 111 Cal. App. 4th 1099 (2003). Successfully challenged an interim contract approved by a municipality before a referendum election could take place.

California Association of Retail Tobacconists v. State of California, 109 Cal. App. 4th 792 (2003). Represented proponents of Proposition 10 (initiative establishing the First Five Commissions) as interveners in successful defense of statewide ballot measure’s constitutionality.

Westly v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System Board of Administration, 105 Cal. App. 4th 1095 (2003). Prevailed in a challenge to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s interpretation of its powers under Proposition 162.

Governor Gray Davis Committee v. American Taxpayers Association, 102 Cal. App. 4th 449 (2002). Represented Governor Gray Davis in case that established the standard for “express advocacy” versus “issue advocacy” in California.

California Democratic Party v. Jones, 120 S. Ct. 2402 (2000). Successful challenge to constitutionality of California “blanket primary” initiative.

California ProLife Council Political Action Committee v. Scully, 164 F.3d 1189 (9th Cir. 1999). Successfully challenged Proposition 208, a statewide campaign finance initiative.

Wilson v. State Board of Education, 75 Cal. App. 4th 1125 (1999). The California Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of California’s Charter Schools Act of 1992, as urged by the firm’s client, the California Charter Schools Association.

McLaughlin v. State Board of Education, 75 Cal. App. 4th 196 (1999). Amicus brief in litigation over the authority of the State Board of Education to grant waivers to school districts from the requirements of Proposition 227 (bilingual education).

Bramberg v. Jones, 20 Cal. 4th 1045 (1999). Challenge to constitutionality of initiative requiring candidate’s position on term limits to be included on ballot.

Jahr v. Casebeer, 70 Cal. App. 4th 1250 (1999). Challenge to local initiative setting Board of Supervisor salaries.

Department of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives, 525 U.S. 316 (1999). Represented the California Assembly before the United States Supreme Court in a case challenging the way in which the decennial census is conducted.

Californians for Political Reform Foundation v. Fair Political Practices Commission, 61 Cal. App. 4th 472 (1998). Challenge to FPPC regulation affecting contributions to political action committees.

Schabarum v. California Legislature, 60 Cal.App.4th 1205 (1998).  Successfully defended the Legislature against claim that the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s budget was included in the Legislature’s constitutional spending cap.

Labrie v. Board of Supervisors, Placer County Superior Court, Case No. SCV-0030835 (1996). Successful defense of lawsuit challenging ballot arguments relating to city charter proposal.

Lungren v. Superior Court, 48 Cal. App. 4th 435 (1996). Challenge to official ballot title and summary of Proposition 209 (affirmative action initiative).

American Lung Association v. Wilson, 51 Cal.App.4th 743 (1996).  Successful action to enforce funding provisions of Proposition 99 (tobacco tax).

California Teachers Association v. Gould, Sacramento County Superior Court, Case No. 373415 (1996). The firm was lead counsel for a coalition of education groups and the Superintendent of Public Instruction in a challenge to education funding components of the 1992-93 budget compromise. The coalition won at the trial court and ultimately negotiated a settlement that restored $2 billion in school funding.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District School Reorganization. Represented the City of Watsonville in this administrative proceeding before the State Board of Education, successfully opposing an attempt by an affluent portion of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District to split off from the generally less affluent remainder of the District.

Lungren v. Superior Court, 48 Cal. App. 4th 435 (1996). Challenge to official ballot title and summary of Proposition 209 (affirmative action initiative).

Planning and Conservation League v. Lungren, 38 Cal. App. 4th 497 (1995). Challenge to statute regulating the process by which initiatives qualify for the ballot.

Andal v. Miller, 28 Cal. App. 4th 358 (1994). Challenge to candidate’s ballot designation.

Wilson v. Eu, 1 Cal. 4th 707 (1992). Represented the California Assembly in proceedings before the California Supreme Court regarding the submission and enactment of a statewide redistricting plan by court-appointed special masters.

ABC Unified School District v. State of California, Orange County Superior Court, Case No. 686300 (1992). In this sequel to Serrano v. Priest, the seminal case requiring equal per pupil funding in California, the firm successfully defended the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s compliance with the court’s mandate in Serrano.

California Teachers Association v. Hayes, 5 Cal. App. 4th 1513 (1992). Represented the California Teachers Association in the first appellate court decision addressing the implementation of legislation implementing the Constitution’s minimum funding guarantee for K-14 education.

Kennedy Wholesale v. Board of Equalization, 53 Cal. 3d 245 (1991). Amicus brief in support of validity of Proposition 99.

Service Employees International Union v. Fair Political Practices Commission, 747 F. Supp. 580 (E.D. Cal. 1990). Successfully challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 73, a statewide campaign finance initiative.

Serrano v. Priest, 200 Cal. App. 3d 897 (1986). Represented the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction in trial and appellate court litigation upholding the State’s compliance with the Supreme Court’s order to equalize school funding throughout the State.

Assembly v. Deukmejian, 30 Cal.3d 638 (1982). Represented California Assembly in successful action before California Supreme Court to order use of state legislative and congressional districts in 1982 elections despite qualification of a referendum against the districts.