|David C. Codell
David Codell's law practice focuses on constitutional and appellate litigation, entertainment litigation, and business litigation. Representing clients in state and federal courts, both at the trial-court and appellate level, Mr. Codell has secured numerous precedent-setting victories. Mr. Codell has represented major clients in the television, motion picture, recording, and advertising industries in disputes concerning the First Amendment, copyright law, antipiracy and internet issues, idea origination, defamation, rights of publicity, talent contracts, profit participation, employment discrimination, and insurance. Mr. Codell also has significant experience in class action and securities litigation, as well as extensive experience in appellate litigation, having handled a wide variety of appellate matters involving constitutional issues, business disputes, employment law, land use, securities law, and arbitration.
Mr. Codell received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Harvard College, and his J.D. degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was a Supreme Court Editor of the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Codell served as a law clerk for Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Before opening his own law office in 2003, Mr. Codell practiced constitutional law in association with Harvard University Professor Laurence H. Tribe in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was a partner at Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles, where he practiced in the litigation, intellectual property, and appellate practice groups. In 2013, Mr. Codell served as Visiting Legal Director and Senior Scholar of Law at the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law that focuses on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy. In 2014, Mr. Codell became Constitutional Litigation Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), litigating cases seeking marriage equality for same-sex couples in Utah, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, and Tennessee. In the Tennessee case, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that same-sex couples throughout the nation have a constitutional right to marry.
Mr. Codell has provided pro bono representation to individuals and organizations in numerous cases that have resulted in historic rulings advancing civil rights, and he has been honored for his pro bono work by numerous organizations. Mr. Codell also is a frequent speaker about legal issues at universities and continuing legal education events.
- Represented major television studios in numerous disputes and lawsuits regarding profit participation and talent contracts.
- Represented motion picture studios, television studios, and television networks regarding copyright issues, including matters involving the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
- Represented corporate officers and directors in numerous securities lawsuits, including class actions involving financial institutions.
- Represented a major television network, a television studio, and individual writers and producers in a lawsuit alleging misappropriation of ideas, defamation, and fraud in connection with the creation of a hit television series. Successfully argued for dismissal of the major claims on First Amendment grounds.
- Successfully defended on appeal a major television network and a television station against claims of "reverse discrimination" by a former news anchor for the station who alleged that he had been improperly passed over when the station hired an African-American anchor. See Hicks v. KNTV Television, Inc., 160 Cal.App.4th 994 (2008).
- Successfully defended on appeal a major motion picture actor against allegations of fraud in connection with cast insurance coverage.
- Obtained dismissal of numerous securities claims in multiple class actions against an officer of a major banking institution.
- Successfully represented several LLC members in an appeal involving the scope of an arbitrator's authority. Obtained reversal of the trial court's judgment.
- Representing on appeal a clothing company in a dispute raising contract, fiduciary duty, and fraud claims.
- Representing a plaintiff travel services company in a lawsuit including breach of contract, unfair business practices, and fraud claims.
Civil Rights Litigation
- Served, along with other NCLR lawyers, as counsel in the Supreme Court for three Tennessee same-sex couples who successfully challenged Tennessee's refusal to recognize their marriages, which they lawfully entered into in other states before moving to Tennessee. The Supreme Court held that all states throughout the nation must permit same-sex couples to marry and must recognize the lawful marriages of same-sex couples.
- Served, along with other NCLR lawyers, as counsel for same-sex couples in Alabama, Florida, and Idaho who successfully challenged state laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage.
- Served as appellate co-counsel, along with other NCLR lawyers, for plaintiffs who successfully challenged Utah's exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, resulting in a holding by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that the U.S. Constitution requires states to permit same-sex couples to marry and to recognize the out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. See Kitchen v. Herbert, 755 F.3d 1193 (10th Cir. 2014). The Supreme Court let the Tenth Circuit stand, and same-sex couples are now permitted to marry in numerous states within the Tenth Circuit.
- Along with other NCLR lawyers, succesfully represented Equality California, the state's largest LGBT rights organization, in litigation successfully defending California's first-of-its-kind legislation prohibiting state-licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of patients under 18 years old. The Ninth Circuit upheld California's statute, see Pickup v. Brown, 740 F.3d 1208 (9th Cir. 2013), and the Supreme Court allowed the Ninth Circuit's ruling to stand.
- Along with other NCLR lawyers, successfully represented New Jersey's largest LGBT rights organization, Garden State Equality, in litigation in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld New Jersey's statute prohibiting therapists from attempting to change minors' sexual orienation or gender expression. See King v. Governor of the State of New Jersey, 767 F.3d 216 (3rd Cir. 2014).
- Represented numerous plaintiffs in litigation in which the California Supreme Court ruled that the state of California must permit same-sex couples to marry and that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation are subject to the strictest level of constitutional scrutiny. See In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (2008).
- Represented Equality California and numerous same-sex couples in litigation upholding approximately 18,000 marriages that were performed in California in 2008 before the enactment of California's Proposition 8. See Strauss v. Horton, 46 Cal.4th 364 (2009).
- In United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013) (invalidating Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S.Ct. 1521 (2013) (regarding Proposition 8), co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of Williams Institute scholars, the National Women's Law Center, and other leading women's legal groups, explaining that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny by the courts because such laws frequently are impermissibly based on gender-based stereotypes about women's and men's roles in relationships and families. See http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Brief-of-Amici-Curiae-Williams-Institute-Scholars-and-Womens-Legal-Groups-in-U.S.-v.-Windsor-No.-12-307.pdf.
- Successfully represented Equality California and numerous same-sex couples in trial court and appellate litigation that resulted in repeated rulings in 2005 and 2006 upholding California's domestic partnership statutes against constitutional challenges. See Knight v. Superior Court, 128 Cal.App.4th 14 (2005).
- Successfully represented a wrongful death plaintiff in a groundbreaking case in which the California Court of Appeal upheld the California Legislature's power to enact legal protections for domestic partners. See Armijo v. Miles, 127 Cal.App.4th 1405 (2005).
- Provided pro bono representation to high-school students in Orange, California in the first case in the United States in which a court ordered a school district to permit a gay-affirming student club to meet on campus. See Colin ex rel. Colin v. Orange Unified School District, 83 F.Supp.2d 1135 (2000).
- Represented amicus curiae NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the states cannot criminalize private sexual conduct between consenting adults.
- Southern California Super Lawyer (limited to 5% of the attorneys in the region) for ten consecutive years (2006-2015)
- Humanitarian Award, presented by Los Angeles synagogue Beth Chayim Chadashim (2013)
- Liberty Award, presented by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (2008)
- Coalition for Justice Award, presented by the ACLU of Southern California (2008)
- Lawyer of the Year, presented by the Orange County Equality Coalition (2008)
- Equality Advocate Award, presented by Equality California (2006)
- LGBT Advocacy Award, presented by the ACLU of Southern California (2006)
- Gay and Lesbian Leadership Award, presented by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (2005)
- Defender of Democracy Award, presented by People for the American Way (2000)