February 18, 2015 -- Partners David J. Aleshire and Anthony R. Taylor received the annual 2015 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award. They were honored among 62 lawyers throughout the state for their legal work which had a significant impact in 2014. Award recipients will be honored in the March 2015 issue of California Lawyer.
Aleshire and Taylor were substantially assisted by Partners June Ailin, Anita Luck, and Stephen Onstot. They were honored for guiding the City of Bell’s recovery from corruption and near bankruptcy. Bell received over $25 Million in recoveries from malpractice, financial, and restitution awards and property sales, and avoided an estimated $75 Million in liability claims.
In 2010, the Los Angeles Times exposed corruption in the City of Bell. Soon city council members were indicted, the City was flooded with liability claims and lawsuits, and the City’s reserves disappeared. Bell faced over 50 lawsuits with liabilities from audits, investigations and claims by the IRS, SEC, and State Controller; a $35 Million bond default; unfunded pension liabilities; property foreclosures; employment lawsuits; civil actions against the City and police department; and indemnity claims for legal costs by former employees and city officials.
When the City sought a new city attorney in 2011, the law firm of Aleshire & Wynder, LLP, was selected. David Aleshire was hired as City Attorney and Anthony Taylor was the lead civil litigator. By 2014, the City of Bell had received over $25 Million in recoveries and eliminated $75 Million in liabilities, restoring the City to financial soundness. Corrupt officials and former city council members were sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution of millions of dollars. Mr. Taylor argued for restitution to the City at each of those sentencing hearings.
Two important published appellate decisions resulted from the firm’s representation of Bell. The Court of Appeal found it contrary to public policy to permit public officials to earn salaries which “shock the conscience” in violation of applicable law, or for a city to be mandated to indemnify an employee whose crimes were against the public entity itself. These decisions are precedent upon which cities and other public agencies can fight future corruption.
People ex rel. Harris v. Rizzo (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 921
City of Bell v. Superior Court (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 236