Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams partners Whitney Z. Bernstein, Tony Bisconti, and John L. Littrell have been selected as 2023 “Lawyers of the Year” by Best Lawyers® for Criminal Defense: General Practice, Litigation – Bankruptcy, and Criminal Defense: White Collar, respectively, in Orange County.
Only one lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the "Lawyer of the Year.” The fact that three BKLW partners earned this rare distinction simultaneously—with Whitney and John sweeping the criminal defense category—makes this accolade particularly significant. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity from other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas.
Whitney has spent her career successfully defending felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses, leading companies in internal investigations to prevent litigation, and representing companies and individuals in contract and business tort claims and employment litigation.
Most recently, Whitney lead the BKLW trial team that secured a global misdemeanor settlement for her client and several other technology professionals charged in one of the first federal prosecutions under the CAN-SPAM Act. Whitney negotiated an ultimate loss amount of $9,700 for her client, a huge departure from the initial $70 million claimed, and a government agreement to request no jail time.
Whitney is busy preparing for oral argument before the Ninth Circuit in a high-profile criminal case implicating the First Amendment. She is also defending an individual in an alleged complex $150 million fraud and money laundering case recently charged in the Southern District of California, a civil dispute related to a multimillion-dollar estate, and other matters being investigated by the DOJ and the SEC.
Tony represents debtors, principals, creditors, creditor committees, trustees, and other stakeholders in all phases of both in-court and out-of-court reorganizations and related litigation. On the white-collar side, Tony has represented businesses and individuals in investigations and litigation prosecuted by various federal, state, and local agencies.
In recent months, Tony and the BKLW team obtained a nearly $4 million non-dischargeability judgment against a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detective under Section 1983 for violating his client’s constitutional rights, secured a multi-million dollar settlement on behalf of a liquidating trustee based on fraudulent transfer claims, and secured the dismissal of a $10 million lawsuit brought by a former minority shareholder against the principals of a corporate debtor and related entities, alleging various fiduciary duty claims and shareholder suppression.
Tony is currently representing a nationally recognized banking institution serving as a secured creditor and DIP-lender in a chapter 11 reorganization, the sole shareholder and CEO of a leading nutrition and health supplement company that recently emerged from bankruptcy successfully, and trustees, creditors, and debtors in a variety of other matters pending in bankruptcy court and before other federal and state courts.
John is a specialist in white collar defense and investigations. He has handled all types of fraud cases, public corruption and bribery offenses, violations of international trade and export laws, anti-kickback statutes, and other regulatory offenses. He advises clients under government scrutiny in highly regulated industries, including health care, government contracts, finance, and firearms and explosives.
John most recently led the BKLW trial team that secured no jail time for a former Congressman following convictions for making false statements to federal agents and concealing material facts. The team exposed serious anomalies in the government’s case, including improper forum shopping, and called into focus the huge potential for abuse by investigators of the federal false statement statute.
John is currently representing a respected pain management physician in a complex criminal case due to start trial in January 2023, and handling numerous other matters pending before the DOJ and the SEC.