David Lawrence is one of the founding shareholders of LBAC and has been with the firm since its inception in 1992. Mr. Lawrence is the senior trial attorney in the firm, having successfully defended numerous clients in employment, civil rights, and general liability matters in both the state and federal courts. The civil rights matters have generally involved allegations of peace officer misconduct such as excessive force, false arrest, and malicious prosecution, or malfeasance by other public officials. The employment matters have included claims of wrongful termination based upon a protected class such as gender, or harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
Mr. Lawrence obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona School of Law in 1980. He spent the first five years of his practice as a criminal prosecutor for the Pima County Attorney’s Office in Tucson, Arizona, where he tried numerous difficult and high profile criminal cases. In that capacity, he argued before the Arizona Courts of Appeal and the Arizona Supreme Court. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Attorneys (ABOTA), which is the nation’s most highly regarded organization of trial attorneys, and requires completion of numerous jury trials and recommendations as to moral character. In May of 2000, Mr. Lawrence was named “Attorney of the Year 2000” by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He is also a Board Member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Youth Foundation.
In 1986, Mr. Lawrence joined Cotkin, Collins & Franscell, where his practice consisted almost exclusively of defense of public entities and/or employees in civil rights-related matters. Notably, Mr. Lawrence defended the City of Manhattan Beach and its employees in the civil litigation that resulted from the McMartin Preschool criminal investigations and prosecutions. None of those cases were successful for the plaintiffs and no settlement monies were paid out. See, e.g., McMartin v. County of Los Angeles, 202 Cal.App.3d 848 (1988).
In 1992, Mr. Lawrence, George Franscell, Tracy Strickland and Barbara Roberts started this firm under the name Franscell, Strickland, Roberts & Lawrence. Since its inception, the firm has represented, almost exclusively, public entities and/or their employees. That representation has covered a variety of areas including, but not limited to: the defense of police misconduct; defense of the District Attorney’s Office; defense of the Public Defender’s Office; defense of the Superior and Municipal Courts; defense of public entities in employment litigation; defense of Fair Housing matters; and jail-related litigation including, but not limited to, conditions of confinement class actions, over-crowding, over-detention, and the like. Mr. Lawrence has also defended public entities in a variety of employment actions, typically involving claims of wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation and harassment in the workplace. In addition, Mr. Lawrence has successfully defended other general liability matters for a number of public entities including dangerous conditions of public property, slip and fall, automobile accidents and other general negligence claims. Mr. Lawrence has also litigated a number of class action lawsuits for the County of Orange and County of Los Angeles including a multi-million dollar class action alleging failure to properly calculate and pay interest on real estate tax refunds.
In 1999, Mr. Lawrence successfully defended the City of West Covina before the United States Supreme Court in a case entitled City of West Covina v. Perkins, 525 U.S. 234 (1999). The case involved service of a search warrant, and LBAC obtained a defense verdict at trial. The matter was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which subsequently entered judgment for the Plaintiffs notwithstanding the defense verdict. LBAC offered to represent the City in the United States Supreme Court, essentially, on a pro bono basis. Mr. Lawrence argued the matter before the Supreme Court on November 3, 1998, and the high court reversed the Ninth Circuit, entering judgment in favor of the City of West Covina.
Recent jury trial defense verdicts include Forbes v. Orange County and Rhoden v. Orange County. Both were federal civil rights actions, the former alleging use of excessive force by an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy at a courthouse lock-up, and the other involving an array of allegations brought by a civil detainee at the Orange County jail regarding conditions of confinement. Mr. Lawrence has also won numerous cases before the Arizona appellate courts, the California Courts of Appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Lawrence has arbitrated and mediated numerous cases, including a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit brought against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department alleging that hundreds of thousands of inmates had been detained in jail well beyond the point at which they should have been released.
Since being admitted to the Arizona bar, Mr. Lawrence has tried over 85 jury trials to verdict. Almost all of these cases resulted in either a criminal conviction or a complete civil defense verdict. The remaining few cases had mixed results. Mr. Lawrence has also taught MCLE classes on a variety of subjects relevant to public entities.
Bar Admissions and Memberships
California State Bar
Arizona State Bar
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit 1980
U.S. District Court, Central District of California
U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
United States Supreme Court
U.S. District Court
District of Arizona American
Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA)
Los Angeles County Bar Association
International Association of Chiefs of Police
California Peace Officers’ Association