Elliot R. Peters
Partner

epeters@kvn.com
Tel. (415) 676-2273

Education

New York University School of Law, J.D., 1985

Yale University, B.A., 1980

Prior Experience

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York

Clerkships

Hon. Whitman Knapp
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

Bar Admissions

California

New York

Elliot R. Peters

CEOs, AmLaw100 law firms, and leading corporations trust Elliot Peters to litigate their most high-stakes commercial and criminal cases. Having tried more than 50 cases over the past three decades, he built a reputation for protecting clients when colossal damages, reputations or even freedom hang in the balance. As demonstrated by the cases of note described below, his practice is based upon a client’s need for master strategy and storytelling, rather than practice area or industry.

He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and has been named the Attorney of the Year by California Lawyer and The Recorder, The American Lawyer's Litigator of the Week, and The Daily Journal’s Top 100 Attorneys in California.

WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL & SECURITIES
Mr. Peters is one of the few attorneys trusted to protect prominent corporations, executives and celebrities from daunting battles with the U.S. government, whether a multi-billion dollar judgment or even a client’s freedom is at stake.

LEGAL MALPRACTICE
Equally impressive are Mr. Peters’ cases which must carefully avoid the spotlight, such as his legal malpractice work on behalf of some of the nation’s most prestigious law firms.

COMMERCIAL & INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Mr. Peters represents cutting-edge technology companies as well as high-profile individuals in both commercial and intellectual property cases.

Cases of Note

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We defended an Am Law 200 law firm against claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty arising from our client's work on a series of patent infringement cases. The case was originally dismissed against our client, later reinstated, litigated, and then settled for less than four percent of the co-defendant’s settlement.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We successfully defended an AmLaw 100 firm in a legal malpractice action, which stemmed from the firm’s work to dissolve a series of oil drilling and leasing partnerships. After two years of extensive litigation in the Complex Department of the San Francisco Superior Court, the matter was resolved.

Financial Institution v. Law Firm: We defended a large Nebraska law firm from a multi-million dollar legal malpractice case in connection with a real estate transaction. The action stemmed from a separate law firm’s failure to adequately protect a financial institution’s priority in a debt transaction where that client was the lender. As a result of the law firm’s failure to ensure the proper paperwork was filed, the client lost its priority to subsequent lienholders when the borrower went bankrupt. Six months after the original law firm’s malpractice occurred, our client was hired and then sued for indemnification by the financial institution as a third party. On the eve of trial, the plaintiff dismissed our client from the litigation.

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Executive: The Securities and Exchange Commission launched a securities fraud suit in California federal court against our client, a former vice president of sales. The SEC claimed he grossly inflated his company's revenue in order to raise additional capital from investors. We also defended him in a parallel criminal investigation. We were able to prevent any criminal charges from being filed, and resolved the SEC case for a small penalty.

United States v. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., et al.: We are defending Standard and Poor's from a $5 billion lawsuit filed by the U.S. government. The government accuses the McGraw Hill Cos Inc. unit of a scheme to defraud investors in mortgage-related securities that collapsed in the financial crisis.

United States ex rel. Robert C. Baker v. Community Health Systems, Inc., et al.: We serve as lead counsel for Robert Baker in a qui tam False Claims Act case against Community Health Systems. This case alleges the defendants manipulated the Medicaid funding program by a scheme which resulted in the illegal receipt of federally funded Medicaid payments. The Relator seeks the maximum amount allowed to a qui tam plaintiff and the United States seeks to recover damages and civil penalties from the defendants, in an amount exceeding tens of millions of dollars, arising from false and/or fraudulent statements, records, and claims of FCA violations.

United States v. Investment Banker: We defended a former Silicon Valley investment banker on obstruction of justice charges. After two trials and a successful appeal, all charges were deferred. Related charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Association of Securities Dealers were also dismissed.

Awards and Honors

  • Top 100 Lawyer, Daily Journal, 2010, 2013, 2014
  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) for Pro Bono, California Lawyer, 2014
  • White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2) and featured as one of the Leaders in Their Fields, Chambers USA, 2012-2014
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, White Collar Criminal Defense, Commercial, and Legal Malpractice Litigation, 2006-2014
  • Top 75 IP Litigator, Daily Journal, 2012
  • Recommended Attorney, Litigation - White Collar Criminal Defense, The Legal 500, 2011-2012
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, 2011
  • Attorney of the Year, The Recorder, 2010
  • Litigator of the Week, The American Lawyer, 2009
  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY), California Lawyer, 2003
  • America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Chambers USA
  • U.S. Department of Justice Director’s Medal for Superior Performance
  • Moot Court Champion, New York University School of Law
  • Best Brief, Best Oralist, New York University School of Law
  • Most Outstanding Clinical Student, New York University School of Law

Publications and Presentations

  • "Identification and Management of Cases Almost Certainly Destined for Trial," American Bar Association's National Legal Malpractice Conference, 2014
  • "Defending a Charles Ponzi or Bernie Madoff," the California Bar's Eighteenth Annual Statewide Ethics Symposium, 2014
  • "A Lawyers Holiday," Huffington Post, 2013
  • "Digital Defense: Representing the Alleged Cyber Criminal," NACDL's Annual West Coast White Collar Conference, 2013
  • "Computer Searches in the New Millennium: The Collision between the Fourth Amendment and Computer Forensics," Cybercrime Conference, 2012
  • "Criminal Investigation of Lawyers," Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society Annual General Meeting 2012
  • Co-author with Nic Marais, “Battening Down the Hatches: Representing a Law Firm in the Stormy Seas of a Criminal Investigation,” Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society Annual General Meeting 2012
  • "Daubert Challenges in Federal Intellectual Property Litigation," Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL) Annual Meeting, 2011
  • "Fourth Amendment Litigation," Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court, 2011

 

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Executive: The Securities and Exchange Commission launched a securities fraud suit in California federal court against our client, a former vice president of sales. The SEC claimed he grossly inflated his company's revenue in order to raise additional capital from investors. We also defended him in a parallel criminal investigation. We were able to prevent any criminal charges from being filed, and resolved the SEC case for a small penalty.

United States v. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., et al.: We are defending Standard and Poor's from a $5 billion lawsuit filed by the U.S. government. The government accuses the McGraw Hill Cos Inc. unit of a scheme to defraud investors in mortgage-related securities that collapsed in the financial crisis.

United States v. Executive: Our client hired us two months after his four-week trial resulted in a conviction for bid-rigging conspiracy and obstruction of justice. We were hired for post-trial motions, sentencing and appeal. Within two weeks, the judge granted our motion for a judgment of acquittal on the obstruction count pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 29. We are currently working to secure a new trial on the antitrust conspiracy conviction.

United States v. Aaron Swartz: We defended brilliant software engineer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz from federal criminal allegations surrounding computer hacking. Mr. Swartz was indicted in Boston on criminal charges that he stole more than four million documents from MIT and JSTOR, an archive of scientific journals and academic papers. The case ended tragically, when Mr. Swartz took his own life.

United States v. Lance Armstrong: We represented American cyclist and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into professional cycling, which terminated on February 3, 2012 with the announcement that there would be no charges and the investigation was being closed.

United States v. Former Chief Executive Officer: We represented the former CEO of a public company in a criminal stock options backdating trial. Following a six-week trial in Los Angeles federal court, jurors acquitted our client on 16 of 20 counts. A federal judge then threw out one of two mail fraud counts. Despite the government's recommendation of a six year prison term, our client only received eight months of home confinement and a fine.

United States v. Investment Banker: We defended a former Silicon Valley investment banker on obstruction of justice charges. After two trials and a successful appeal, all charges were deferred. Related charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Association of Securities Dealers were also dismissed.

Mr. Peters represents a number of leading law firms, including four international firms on the AmLaw 100. In accordance with firm policy, we do not disclose the names of those firms.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We defended an Am Law 200 law firm against claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty arising from our client's work on a series of patent infringement cases. The case was originally dismissed against our client, later reinstated, litigated, and then settled for less than four percent of the co-defendant’s settlement.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We successfully defended an AmLaw 100 firm in a legal malpractice action, which stemmed from the firm’s work to dissolve a series of oil drilling and leasing partnerships. After two years of extensive litigation in the Complex Department of the San Francisco Superior Court, the matter was resolved.

Financial Institution v. Law Firm: We defended a large Nebraska law firm from a multi-million dollar legal malpractice case in connection with a real estate transaction. The action stemmed from a separate law firm’s failure to adequately protect a financial institution’s priority in a debt transaction where that client was the lender. As a result of the law firm’s failure to ensure the proper paperwork was filed, the client lost its priority to subsequent lienholders when the borrower went bankrupt. Six months after the original law firm’s malpractice occurred, our client was hired and then sued for indemnification by the financial institution as a third party. On the eve of trial, the plaintiff dismissed our client from the litigation.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We represented an international law firm in a legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary case arising from the firm’s work on a series of patent infringement cases. We won a complete dismissal of the case.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We represented an Am Law 100 firm and one of its former partners in suits over the alleged mishandling of a patent application relating to electronic billboard technology. We won the complete dismissal of a state court action which was upheld by the California Court of Appeal. The plaintiff then filed a certiorari petition, however the U.S. Supreme Court denied it. We also secured the dismissal of four federal court claims, and won summary judgment on the remaining federal claim.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: We successfully defended at trial an Am Law 50 law firm and one of its former partners against a $100 million claim. The plaintiff alleged malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty related to estate planning. After an eight-week trial in California state court, we won a complete victory.

Plaintiff v. Law Firm: The plaintiffs alleged our client, the plaintiff's former attorneys, were negligent. After we successfully transferred the case to Sacramento Superior Court and revealed key facts about the plaintiff during discovery, the case settled before trial for a small fraction of the demand.

United States v. Lawyer: The U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated our client, a prominent plaintiff’s lawyer, in connection with the federal criminal investigation of his firm's historical payment of referral fees in class action litigation. We negotiated a very favorable plea deal before charges were filed.

Plaintiffs v. Law Firm: We defended a law firm in a legal malpractice lawsuit connected to an underlying patent infringement action. The case involved complex intellectual property issues, in addition to issues relating to legal representation and performance. The plaintiff sought $75 million, plus trebling for willful patent infringement and punitive damages. However we resolved the case for a settlement of only $800,000.

United States ex rel. Robert C. Baker v. Community Health Systems, Inc., et al.: We serve as lead counsel for Robert Baker in a qui tam False Claims Act case against Community Health Systems. This case alleges the defendants manipulated the Medicaid funding program by a scheme which resulted in the illegal receipt of federally funded Medicaid payments. The Relator seeks the maximum amount allowed to a qui tam plaintiff and the United States seeks to recover damages and civil penalties from the defendants, in an amount exceeding tens of millions of dollars, arising from false and/or fraudulent statements, records, and claims of FCA violations.

United States ex rel. Landis v. Tailwind Sports, et al.: We represent Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in a False Claims Act case brought by a former teammate and joined in by the United States. The government is attempting to recover from Armstrong the sponsorship payments paid by the United States Postal Service to now-defunct Tailwind Sports, the team for whom Armstrong road while winning seven consecutive Tours de France. Our prior representation of Armstrong resulted in the closing of a federal criminal investigation without charges being filed.

Plaintiffs v. Corporation: We achieved an early resolution of a lawsuit which challenged our client’s rights to purchase and develop the largest section of undeveloped land in the San Francisco Bay Area. The case settled favorably following our demurring to the complaint and moving to compel arbitration.

Plaintiffs v. Casino: We have been hired us to establish a legal precedent that California’s 90 card rooms, which collectively gross almost $1 billion in revenue, are operating illegally by offering Las Vegas-style “banked” card games. Plaintiffs seek to declare the casino's card room a public nuisance for violating the state’s gambling laws, and an abatement order that would force the casino to end illegal gambling activities and close its card room.

Televisa v. Univision Communications: We represented Univision, the country's leading Spanish language television network, in a breach of contract jury trial. Televisa, a Mexican multimedia conglomerate which supplied Univision with its most popular Spanish language programs, attempted to terminate a long-term exclusive licensing agreement and sought more than $100 million in damages. The case was settled during trial on favorable terms. We also represented Univision in a bench trial which sought declaratory judgment to prevent Televisa from broadcasting over the Internet the same highly popular programs that it exclusively licensed to Univision. We won a complete victory at trial.

Department of Justice v. Major League Baseball Players Association: We successfully represented the Major League Baseball Players Association in its high-profile battle with the U.S. government. In August 2009, an en banc panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit ruled that federal investigators unlawfully seized drug-testing records of more than 100 athletes. In September 2010, the court issued a revised opinion that upheld its ruling.

VS Technologies LLC v. Twitter Inc.: By winning a defense verdict in this federal jury trial, we protected Twitter Inc. from a patent infringement suit and $40 million damages claim. Virginia-based VS Technologies had obtained a patent for “an interactive virtual community of famous people,” and sued Twitter over its virtual community technology. During the six-day trial, we argued that Twitter's Browse Interests feature did not infringe the terms of the patent and that in fact, the patent was invalid. The jury agreed, and found Twitter not liable for patent infringement.

Software Co. v. Software Co.: We defended a red-hot Silicon Valley software company that provides information analysis to the intelligence, defense, and law enforcement communities from trade secret and copyright charges. Our client's competitor brought the charges in the Eastern District of Virginia. We successfully settled the case after five and a half torrid months of rocket docket litigation.

Digital Link Corp. v. Tiara Networks, Inc.: After a ten-week jury trial, we won a defense verdict for Tiara Networks, Inc. The networking technology company was accused of trade secret misappropriation involving high-tech routing technology.

In re Ronald W. Ross: In this pro bono habeas corpus case we won freedom for Ronald Ross, an innocent man who had been wrongfully convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2006. Over the course of a four-year investigation, we, along with our co-counsel at the Northern California Innocence Project, uncovered trial-witness recantations and other newly discovered evidence that conclusively established Mr. Ross’s innocence. We presented this evidence at a three-day evidentiary hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, and we eventually convinced the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to join in our request that Mr. Ross’s conviction be vacated. The Court granted Mr. Ross’s habeas petition and the District Attorney dismissed the underlying charges. After spending almost seven years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Mr. Ross was freed. We also represented Mr. Ross in post-habeas proceedings, winning him significant compensation from the State of California for his wrongful conviction and incarceration.

John J. Tennison v. City and County of San Francisco: We pursued John Tennison’s civil rights claim against the City and County of San Francisco and the police and prosecutor responsible for Mr. Tennison’s wrongful conviction. We had previously represented Mr. Tennison in his habeas corpus case, where we unearthed exculpatory evidence hidden by the police which proved Mr. Tennison’s innocence - including the taped confession of another man. As a result, we won an order reversing Mr. Tennison’s conviction, after which he was set free. After several years of hard-fought litigation, we settled the civil rights case for $4.6 million. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it was the largest amount the city has ever paid to a wrongly convicted person.

State of California v. John J. Tennison: After pro bono client John Tennison had spent 13 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, we won his freedom via habeas corpus. We unearthed exculpatory evidence hidden by the police—including the taped confession of another man—and proved our client’s innocence. We then sued the City and County of San Francisco, claiming that members of the San Francisco Police Department unconstitutionally withheld evidence at trial. We negotiated a $4.6 million settlement for Mr. Tennison.

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