Attorney L. Marcel Stewart is a native of Oakland, California. He was an All-State football player and received a scholarship to the University of Oregon, where he played on the 1994 Pac-10 Championship, Rose Bowl team. Injury cut his collegiate career short, so he transferred his senior year to the University of California, Davis to focus on academics. There, he earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science. He then took the next step toward his lifelong goal of becoming and attorney by attending Howard University School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 2001. Upon graduating from law school, Attorney Stewart joined a major law firm in Washington, D.C. where he practiced business litigation.
In 2003, Attorney Stewart joined the Civil Division, Torts Branch of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. where he became a trial attorney on the landmark “Tobacco Litigation” case wherein the Department of Justice sued the entire tobacco industry, alleging that the companies had engaged in a fifty-year conspiracy to fraudulently deceive the American public about the health effects of smoking and environmental tobacco smoke, as well as the addictiveness of nicotine and the health benefits from low tar, “light” cigarettes. As a result of that case, the tobacco industry was required to pay 14 billion dollars to fund smoker education programs and make important health disclosures that have resulted in a significant decline in the number of smokers, particularly children. Thus, countless lives have been saved.
After leaving the United States Department of Justice, Attorney Stewart served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division (federal prosecutor) of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California. In 2008, Attorney Stewart left the U.S. Attorney’s Office to open his own practice. The Stewart Law Group’s primary practice areas are federal and state criminal defense, medical negligence and nursing home abuse and neglect.
Since leaving the federal government, Attorney Stewart has handled a number of high-profile civil and criminal cases. In Drendolyn Sims v. Mike Stanton, he represented Drendolyn Sims, who brought a civil rights action under section 1983 against City of La Mesa police officer Michael Stanton for kicking in her enclosed, front yard gate which injured her. Officer Stanton was in pursuit of someone believed to have committed a misdemeanor offense. The main issue was whether an officer can pursue a person believed to have committed only a misdemeanor (not felony) offense onto private property without a warrant or consent. The federal district court ruled against Ms. Sims, dismissing the case on qualified immunity grounds. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court and the decision created new fourth amendment, constitutional law throughout the entire Ninth Circuit, which includes California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam. Unfortunately, however, that legal victory was short lived, because the United States Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit.
In another high-profile case, Attorney represented Marcos Perez-Rodriguez, who murdered a United States Border Patrol agent. After two years of very hard-fought litigation involving highly complex matters, such as national security secrets relating to the United States’ use of operatives in Mexico, Mr. Stewart brokered a plea resolution that saved Mr. Rodriguez from both the death penalty and life in prison, which was a favorable outcome given the extreme seriousness of the crime.
Attorney Stewart also handled another high-profile case involving Cedric Tyrone Duren, a former special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, whose job was to intercept drug cartel money flowing south into Mexico. In 2016, Mr. Duren was indicted on more than 30 counts of money laundering, bank fraud, structuring financial transactions and tax evasion charges, alleging that Mr. Duren stole millions in drug proceeds. Through skillful litigation, Mr. Stewart obtained several favorable rulings that greatly curtailed the Government’s case, thereby greatly reducing Mr. Duren’s prison exposure.
In addition to providing quality legal representation, Attorney Stewart has a long history of mentoring law students and serving on the board of directors of various civic and professional organizations, including the California Association of Black Lawyers and the San Diego County Bar Assocation.