John L. Littrell
John is an accomplished trial lawyer who specializes in complex criminal cases and civil litigation.
John represents individuals and businesses in high-stakes disputes.
A specialist in white collar defense and investigations, John has handled all types of fraud cases (including wire fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, mail fraud, health care fraud and securities fraud) as well as 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. He has represented clients from all over the world, including elected officials, professional athletes, health care providers, lawyers, and financial professionals.
John has nearly two decades of experience negotiating with the United States Department of Justice and state and local prosecuting agencies. He has persuaded prosecutors to narrow or dismiss potential charges, and he has convinced judges to dismiss indictments based on obscure and novel constitutional challenges. If a case is prosecuted, John dissects the charging document with creative, original motions. He has successfully challenged illegal searches and interrogations, resulting in the suppression of evidence and leading to complete dismissals. At trial, John applies sophisticated techniques to identify jurors who will treat his clients fairly and presents them with a compelling narrative to support a verdict of not guilty. John has prevailed at every level in the trial and appellate courts in California and elsewhere, including significant trial victories in both federal and state courts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. John has also had considerable success in getting wrongful convictions reversed based on prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. He has obtained reversals of two death sentences, multiple life sentences, and decades of prison terms for a variety of offenses. Finally, John has an extensive background in immigration law. He is an expert in negotiating “immigration-safe” pleas for non-citizens and seeking post-conviction relief for individuals facing deportation or removal.
On the civil side, John brings his considerable trial experience to bear when handling civil litigation and business disputes. Having tried more than twenty cases to verdict, John prepares every case, big or small, as if it is going to trial. This approach quickly exposes the pressure points that make either a favorable verdict or a favorable settlement possible.
John graduated 7th in his class at UCLA School of Law. After law school, John was an Associate at Morrison & Foerster, LLP in San Francisco. He was a law clerk for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. John went on to serve as a Deputy Federal Public Defender in the Central District of California, where he handled hundreds of challenging and unique cases and ultimately served as the Chief of the Los Angeles Trial Unit. John supervised 30 lawyers, led training in trial advocacy, and coordinated district-wide challenges to federal prosecutions. He co-authored the Motions Practice chapter of the 2010 treatise Defending a Federal Criminal Case. He was also an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School, where he taught Evidence for Trial Lawyers.
John was named Orange County’s “Lawyer of the Year” for Criminal Defense: White Collar by Best Lawyers® in 2021 and 2023, and has been selected to the Best Lawyers® list since 2019. He was named as a Super Lawyers® “Rising Star” in 2009 and was selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers® list in 2021 and 2022. He has also been recognized as one of the National Trial Lawyers “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.”
On the Record: Representing a Notorious Client in the Age of Social Media, April 13, 2021, Federal Bar Council American Inn of Court, New York
China, Economic Espionage, and National Security: Government & Defense Perspectives, November 19, 2019, UC Irvine School of Law
Advancing Justice: The Legacy and Jurisprudence of the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima, January 25, 2019, UCLA School of Law