Stephen G. Larson

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Stephen Gerard Larson
Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California
In office
March 20, 2006 – November 2, 2009
Appointed byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byRobert Timlin
Succeeded byJesus G. Bernal
Personal details
Stephen Gerard Larson

1964 (age 54–55)
Fontana, California
EducationGeorgetown University (B.S.F.S.)
USC Gould School of Law (J.D)

Stephen Gerard Larson (born 1964) is a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California and a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Larson O'Brien LLP,[1] which he co-founded in 2016. He consistently ranks among the top litigators in the U.S., and since 2015 has appeared before the Supreme Court of California and the Supreme Court of the United States.[2] In 2012, Larson was named one of the Leading Trial Lawyers in the country by Legal 500 US.[3] As a judge and an attorney, he is known for high-profile cases, including his role since 2011 as lead defense counsel in People v. Biane, what former California Attorney General (and current governor) Jerry Brown once touted as "the biggest corruption scandal in San Bernardino County, if not the state's, history." [4] Larson also secured dismissals of money laundering and conspiracy charges for Angela Aguilar in U.S. v. Noriega, in what was one of the few Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases to go to trial.[5]

In February 2016, Larson was tapped to file a legal brief supporting the U.S. government's efforts to force Apple Inc. to unlock the encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the shooters in the 2015 San Bernardino attack.[6]

Larson and former Arent Fox California Managing Partner Robert C. O'Brien opened Larson O'Brien LLP in January 2016. Before founding the firm, Larson was practice leader of Arent Fox's Complex Litigation group.


Early life and education[edit]

Larson was born in Fontana, California. He received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1986, and a Juris Doctor from the USC Gould School of Law in 1989. He was admitted to the California State Bar in 1989.[7]

Prosecutor and federal judge[edit]

After two years in private practice, Larson began working for the U.S. Attorney's Office for California's Central District, and from 1991 to 2000, led 24 criminal trials, receiving the U.S. Department of Justice Director's Award for Superior Performance from Attorney General Janet Reno. As chief of the office's organized crime section, Larson conducted joint training exercises and investigations with foreign law enforcement agencies in Russia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, the Ukraine, and South Korea.[8]

Larson's work as a U.S. Attorney led him to the bench, first as a United States Magistrate Judge in September 2000. In December 2005, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the Central District of California vacated by Robert J. Timlin. Larson was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 16, 2006.[9] Important cases he presided over included United States v. Nazario, involving a former Marine sergeant ultimately acquitted of manslaughter for his role in four fatal shootings during the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq; Mattel v. MGA Entertainment, the so-called "Bratz doll" case involving copyrights and trade secrets; and United States v. Duro, in which Larson blocked the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs' decade-long effort to close down a major migrant worker camp on the Torres Martinez Indian Reservation in the Coachella Valley.[8]

He resigned his position September 17, 2009, and entered private practice.[10]

Private practice[edit]

Larson joined Arent Fox in Los Angeles as a partner in 2011, became the practice leader of the Complex Litigation group in 2013, and has earned a string of dismissals in high-profile white-collar and commercial litigation cases. His defense of San Bernardino County real estate developer Jeff Burum in People v. Biane has, to date, led to the dropping of five of seven conspiracy and bribery-related charges and a formal apology from the FBI regarding misstatements by agents following a search and seizure.[11] Defending Angela Aguilar in U.S. v. Noriega, Larson's push to suppress intercepted communications helped lead to the court's finding of broad government misconduct and, ultimately, a dismissal of charges against his client.[12] In 2012, Larson successfully defended Taco Bell against a lawsuit seeking $51 million in damages over alleged unwanted telephone marketing calls.[13] He currently[when?] represents Fleischer Studios in a highly watched case involving Fleischer's rights to the "Betty Boop" trademark. On October 25, 2012, Larson received the Jennifer Brooks Lawyer of the Year Award from the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association.[14]

In December 2015, Larson argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Arizona voters challenging the constitutionality of unequally populated voting districts created by a state commission. In their case, Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Larson and co-counsel argued that the five-member Commission violated the Supreme Court's one-person, one-vote principle under the 14th Amendment.[2]

Additional work[edit]

Larson is a founding member of and continues to serve on the executive board of the U.S. Department of State's Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan. He is also a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and is a frequent lecturer on law and international affairs.[8] Larson is the Distinguished Jurist in Residence and a member of the Board of Visitors at the University of La Verne College of Law, and was appointed by founding Dean Erwin Chemerinsky to serve on the Dean's Advisory Council for the newly chartered law school at the University of California at Irvine.[15] Larson also is vice president and lead counsel for the Ontario Airport Alliance, which is supporting efforts to pull Ontario International Airport out from under the control of the Los Angeles World Airports.

In 2011, Larson, a devout Catholic, was awarded the Amar Es Entregarse Award from Diocese of San Bernardino.[8]


  1. ^ "Boutique Law Firm Launches; Larson O'Brien to Focus on High Stakes Trials and Appeals," January 2016
  2. ^ a b "Upland attorney argues before U.S. Supreme Court". 9 December 2015.
  3. ^ “Colonies defense attorney named one of top trial lawyers in country,” San Bernardino Sun, July 4, 2012
  4. ^ “Prosecutors allege biggest corruption scandal in San Bernardino County history,” San Bernardino Sun, February 10, 2010 “Judge dismisses most felony counts against Burum; all four Colonies defendants enter not guilty pleas,” San Bernardino Sun, August 19, 2011
  5. ^ “Arent Fox’s Stephen Larson obtains vacation of conviction for Angela Maria Gomez Aguilar, indicted under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” Business Wire, June 5, 2012
  6. ^ "Exclusive: San Bernardino victims to oppose Apple on iPhone encryption". 22 February 2016 – via Reuters.
  7. ^ California, The State Bar of. "State Bar of CA :: Stephen Gerard Larson".
  8. ^ a b c d "People Lookup - Arent Fox LLP, Law Firm".
  9. ^ ""Senate Confirms Judge Stephen G. Larson as District Judge for Central District of California," United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit, March 20, 2006". Archived from the original on April 2, 2017.
  10. ^ “U.S. District Judge Stephen G. Larson to join Girardi Keese,” Metropolitan News-Enterprise, September 28, 2009
  11. ^ ""Feds to return Burum property," "Riverside Press-Enterprise", November 1, 2011".
  12. ^ "Arent Fox’s Stephen Larson Obtains Vacation of Conviction for Angela Maria Gomez Aguilar Indicted under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act" Business Wire, June 5, 2012
  13. ^ "JUDGMENT by Judge Cormac J for Tracie Thomas v. Taco Bell Corporation et al :: Justia Dockets & Filings". Justia Dockets & Filings.
  14. ^ "InlandPolitics: Former Federal Judge Larson named lawyer of the year -". 21 September 2012.
  15. ^ "Honorable Stephen G. Larson - La Verne Law". Archived from the original on 2012-05-22.

External links[edit]

General reference[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Robert Timlin
Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California
Succeeded by
Jesus G. Bernal