Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr., founder of the Mesereau Law Group in Los Angeles, California, is the 2020 President of the Litigation Counsel of America.
Tom Mesereau is well known in legal circles for representing both celebrities and the indigent. Each year the LCA awards the Thomas A. Mesereau Cup to a deserving lawyer, judge, or scholar practicing in the area of criminal law.
Mr. Mesereau has represented Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Mike Tyson, Robert Blake, and others in high profile celebrity cases. He currently serves as Special Counsel to John Branca, Trustee of the Estate of Michael Jackson.
Mr. Mesereau is a trial lawyer who specializes in the defense of white-collar criminal cases, corporate and individual; the defense of physicians and health care practitioners before the California Medical Board and other administrative entities; and violent and non-white collar crimes. Named “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the National Trial Lawyers in January 2016, where he was lauded for three consecutive white-collar jury victories for the defense in federal court. The award was a recognition for lifetime achievements and current successes. In June of 2016, he added a fourth consecutive victory in federal court with another favorable white-collar jury verdict in New Jersey.
Mr. Mesereau’s white-collar victories have included securities fraud, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, loan fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, and health care fraud. Mr. Mesereau successfully defended Joe Babajian, the highest grossing real estate agent in the United States in a publicized mortgage fraud trial in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. Babajian had sold homes to many celebrities including Barbara Streisand, Warren Beatty, Janet Jackson, Nicholas Cage, Bruce Willis, and David Beckham. Mr. Babajian was indicted by a federal grand jury and faced 21 felony counts, including conspiracy, money laundering, loan fraud, and bank fraud for his alleged major role in a mortgage fraud scheme. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California claimed that Lehman Brothers had been defrauded out of 40 million dollars. The jury did not convict Mr. Babajian on a single count. He was acquitted of 13 felony counts, and the jury hung on the remaining eight counts. The case was resolved with a misdemeanor plea and no jail time, with the government waiving its right to sue for civil damages. In another high-profile white-collar case, Mr. Mesereau’s client, a high-profile newscaster, was acquitted of securities fraud.
Known for unconventional, cutting edge trial strategies, during Mr. Mesereau’s defense of Robert Blake on charges of murdering his wife, he became the only criminal defense attorney in California history to obtain, over prosecutorial objection, bail in a case charging murder with special circumstances. In the most watched trial in legal history, Mr. Mesereau obtained an acquittal of the late music legend Michael Jackson on all 14 charges brought against him.
Last year, he represented a defendant charged with murder and attempted murder and, on the day of trial, secured a plea bargain in which his client did eight weeks of anger management and went free. His previous four murder trials ended in two acquittals, a hung jury, and a conviction for a lesser included offense. In over 20 years of defending capital murder cases, no client has received the death penalty.
Previously named by Barbara Walters as “One of the Ten Most Fascinating People of the Year” for his trial excellence and commitment to representing the underprivileged, Mr. Mesereau also co-manages the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic in Los Angeles, where lawyers, judges, paralegals, law students, and activists provide legal assistance to disadvantaged residents. For each of the last 20 years, Mr. Mesereau has defended a capital murder and/or murder case on a pro bono basis in the Deep South. Following a highly publicized death penalty trial in Birmingham, Alabama, in which his client Wesley Quick, who had spent six years on Alabama’s death row before Mr. Mesereau secured an acquittal on all counts, Mr. Mesereau was listed in The National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School, and Michigan State University College of Law. Mr. Mesereau was the first lawyer to use an eyewitness identification expert in a capital murder trial in Alabama. His client, a homeless black man, was acquitted of murdering a white woman in Birmingham.
A frequent national speaker, Mr. Mesereau has spoken at venues across America, including the Cleveland City Club, whose speakers have also included Presidents William J. Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, and Archbishop Desmond TuTu. Mr. Mesereau also frequently speaks before Bar Associations and law school audiences. He makes a point to speak at public schools in Los Angeles about the importance of a legal education. In addition, for the last 17 years, Mr. Mesereau has marched with the Women of Watts and Beyond and their children through the inner-city projects as peaceful protest against gang violence.