Attorney Tom Mesereau 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.Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. is best known for Acquitting the late music legend, Michael Jackson, of all fourteen charges in the most watched trial in legal history. Tom is widely recognized as one of the best trial lawyers in the country. He has been selected by his peers as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” and has been listed as one of the “One Hundred Most Influential Attorneys in California”by the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the leading legal newspaper in California.Whether he is defending a complex, white-collar case in federal court or a non-white-collar criminal case in state court, Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. is a trial lawyer who wins. For example, in 2009, he successfully defended the highest-grossing real estate agent in the country who was facing 21 counts of conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, loan fraud and mortgage fraud in the United States District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). After a five week jury trial, his client was Not Convicted on any of the indicted 21 felony counts (13 acquittals and 8 hung counts). (See Articles: Babajian Acquitted of Mortgage Fraud in Federal Court and Lawyer Who Saved Jackson in 2005 Does It Again). Earlier that year, Mr. Mesereau Acquitted his client in a murder case in a state court. Both cases were high profile. That year, two other jury trials (white collar felony embezzlement and alleged rape) ended in Hung Juries.
In 2014 Mr. Mesereau and his co-counsel commenced a jury trial in a federal court in Los Angeles. The client pharmacist was charged with multiple counts alleging that he was part of a conspiracy with a fraudulent medical client to illegally distribute the drug OxyContin. The client was facing a potential life sentence. During the third week of this jury trial, the indictment was dismissed due to prosecutorial misconduct. Federal prosecutors had failed to produce evidence to the defense and failed to properly inform the federal trial judge of certain required information relating to their witnesses. The dismissal was rare and done “with prejudice” meaning, this case can never be retried.
Also in 2014, Mr. Mesereau concluded a 4 and a 1/2 month jury trial in Alameda County Superior Court, Oakland, CA. Mr. Mesereau represented the former director of an anti-poverty agency who had been charged with multiple counts alleging corruption. Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Mesereau’s client stole federal grant money and used it for personal purposes including steak dinners, a massage and improper salaries for she and her husband. The former agency head was also alleged to have sent false information to a federal agency regarding grant funds, had improper personal work done on her residence and illegally allowed a relative and his friend to participate in agency training. The client was also accused of backdating documents for use in a formal investigation. Mr. Mesereau’s client was convicted of misappropriating federal funds and backdating documents but exonerated and acquitted of every count involving personal use of these funds (steaks, massages, hotel bills, salaries, personal work on her residence, etc.). The client received probation and no jail time.
In 2014 Mr. Mesereau was named to the Board of Directors of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, Project for the Innocent. This important project investigates and litigates cases of wrongful conviction. It seeks to free and exonerate falsely convicted individuals who are serving decades-long or life sentences in California prisons. Mr. Mesereau had previously appeared as a guest speaker before this organization because he has handled numerous death penalty cases.
In 2014 Mr. Mesereau was invited to give The City Club of Cleveland’s annual Law Day address on May 1, 2015, commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The City Club of Cleveland is one of the major speaking platforms in the country. Previous speakers have included Presidents George W. Bush, William J. Clinton and Ronald Reagan; Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright; National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In 2014 Mr. Mesereau was the guest speaker in Washington D.C. for Gideon’s Promise, an organization that is dedicated to training Public Defenders in the Deep South. Mr. Mesereau discussed his 17 years of pro-bono representation of indigent clients facing capital murder charges in Alabama and Mississippi.
In 2012, Mr. Mesereau and his law partner, Susan Yu, defended a prominent spine surgeon in a California Medical Board trial in San Diego, California. This physician was facing numerous charges of unprofessional conduct related to difficulties with alcohol. He was prosecuted by the Attorney General of California. The case was tried before the Presiding Administrative Law Judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings, San Diego. Mr. Mesereau’s client was acquitted of all counts, prompting the Presiding Administrative Law Judge to comment that this was one of the “best tried cases I have seen in a long time”. The spine surgeon was completely exonerated.
Also in 2012, Mr. Mesereau defended the ex-wife of Oscar-winning actor, Joe Pesci. She was charged with conspiracy to murder and other counts of attempted murder and was facing multiple life sentences. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office claimed that the defendant had personally written two “hit-notes” directing a hired killer to murder her next husband (not Mr. Pesci). Prosecutors planned to call numerous witnesses to testify that Mr. Mesereau’s client had arranged a murder. Her ex-husband, a prominent Hollywood stuntman, was shot four times and lost an eye. The case settled in the middle of jury selection. Mr. Mesereau’s client will serve approximately eight years while others who were convicted are serving life in prison. This case was the subject of a televised Dateline NBC Special.
In 2012, Mr. Mesereau’s client, a wealthy international Chinese businessman, was completely exonerated of felony rape charges. The case lasted three years and was prosecuted by Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. On the eve of trial, all charges were dismissed.
During his annual trip to Alabama in 2012, Mr. Mesereau’s pro bono client avoided the death penalty in a capital murder case that was tried to a jury in Birmingham.
Mr. Mesereau is a member of the Litigation Counsel of America, a Trial Lawyer Honorary Society representing approximately 3,500 fellow trial lawyers. Each year, this organization awards the “Mesereau Cup” (named after Mr. Mesereau) to the top criminal defense lawyer in the nation. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the National Trial Lawyers Association, a national organization composed of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers from each state.
He has been named one of America’s 100 Most Influential Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers organization. Also, in April 2011, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles presented Mr. Mesereau with the prestigious 2011 Fidler Institute Award for Excellence in Criminal Defense. In December, 2011, the Los Angeles Times distributed a list of the top lawyers in Southern California. Mr. Mesereau was named criminal defense lawyer of the year. Earlier that year, Mr. Mesereau and his legal team were successful in having a judge dismiss a capital murder case prior to trial.
Professor Laurie Levenson, a prominent legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, has called Tom Mesereau the “best cross-examiner” she has ever seen. (See Larry King interview, Special Video Presentation.) Beth Karas and Jami Floyd, highly regarded attorneys and long-time legal analysts for Court TV both say that Tom Mesereau is the best trial lawyer they have ever seen. (See Jami Floyd Interview, Special Video Presentation.) Rikki Klieman, award-winning criminal defense attorney and also a noted Court TV legal analyst, once called Mr. Mesereau “…if not the best, one of the best cross-examiners I’ve ever seen… He deserves all of the praise he gets.” Judge Lloyd M. Nash of the Los Angeles County Superior Court called Mr. Mesereau “one of the finest lawyers I have ever seen” after watching Mr. Mesereau cross-examine prosecution witnesses in the Robert Blake murder case. (See Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2003)
Tom was also named the “Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year” by the Century City Bar Association, Los Angeles, when he freed actor Robert Blake, from jail. California Lawyer Magazine awarded Tom its highest award for excellence in criminal law when he acquitted pop legend Michael Jackson of fourteen charges of alleged conspiracy and child molestation. Tom’s alma mater, the University of California’s Hastings College of Law, has named him the “Alumnus of the Year”. He has received the “Jerry Giesler Memorial Award” from the Criminal Courts Bar Association of Los Angeles “. . . in recognition of his outstanding skill, perseverance and achievement in representing his clients in trial.”
Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. is also widely recognized for his approximately 30 years of pro bono, free legal work for the poor and underrepresented. Mr. Mesereau is a well known presence in the African-American community where he operates a free legal clinic and assists local organizations and churches in drug recovery and youth counseling. For the past fifteen years, he has defended on average at least one death penalty case each year for free in the Deep South.
Attorney Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. specializes in both criminal and civil trials (state and federal court).
Tom Mesereau is internationally known for having Acquitted music legend Michael Jackson of all counts in a highly publicized trial in Santa Maria, California. Following a five-month jury trial, Mr. Jackson was found Not Guilty of 10 felony counts and 4 lesser-included misdemeanors. It was considered unwinnable. This case was covered by more media outlets around the world than any other case in history.
Tom first gained national attention during a three-week televised preliminary hearing in the Robert Blake murder case. Celebrity actor Blake was facing murder with special circumstances, for which he could have faced the death penalty. Mr. Blake was imprisoned at that time with no bail. Bail had never been granted in California in a murder with special circumstances case when opposed by the prosecution. However, not only did Tom obtain bail for Mr. Blake, but also changed public opinion about the case. The hearing resulted in the biggest public opinion switch in Court TV history – from 80% of viewers believing Mr. Blake was guilty to 80% believing he was innocent.
Mr. Mesereau Acquitted the highest profile real estate agent in the United States of numerous counts of mortgage fraud. The client had been indicted by a federal grand jury, and the case was tried in the United States District Court, Central District of California in Los Angeles.
Since the Michael Jackson trial, Mr. Mesereau has obtained numerous successful results for a variety of clients. For example, he successfully obtained a Dismissal in an environmental criminal case on behalf of a publicly-traded Texas corporation; Acquitted a prominent plastic surgeon of various counts of sexual misconduct in a California Medical Board Trial; Acquitted a successful spine surgeon of all counts of unprofessional conduct related to alcohol consumption in a California Medical Board Trial in San Diego, California; had a felony rape case against a prominent businessman dismissed after three years of litigation; had an assault case against a billionaire executive dismissed after one year of litigation; and successfully defended an over $800,000 embezzlement case (Hung Jury). He has also Acquitted a client in a high profile homicide case. Since the Jackson trial, Mr. Mesereau also obtained successful results in five capital murder cases — none received the death penalty.
Mr. Mesereau’s reputation as a trial lawyer is unparalleled. For example, in a one-year period, Mr. Mesereau obtained 7 Acquittals and 2 Hung Juries.
He has won many high stakes criminal, civil and administrative trials before judges and juries involving a wide-range of claims, including securities fraud, complex business disputes, health care fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, murder, sexual assault and the death penalty.
For the last fifteen years, Tom has defended on average at least one capital murder (death penalty) case per year in the Deep South (Alabama, Mississippi). He has accepted no legal fees for these cases and has paid all of his costs personally. No one has received the death penalty.
Additionally, Mr. Mesereau founded and helps to operate a free legal clinic for the poor in south central Los Angeles. The clinic is named the “Mesereau Free Legal Clinic” and is located inside Morningside United Church of Christ:
The clinic’s mailing address is:
P. O. Box 451867
Los Angeles, CA 90045-8523
At the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic, judges, lawyers, law students, community activists, and college students donate their time with Mr. Mesereau to advise and assist the poor and needy.
For many years, Tom Mesereau has supported and assisted various inner city organizations that help impoverished and vulnerable people. These include N-Action Family Network (women in drug recovery and their children); Save Our Sons (black mothers whose sons are incarcerated); Women of Watts (mothers and their children who are against gang violence); Families to Amend California Three Strikes (families who have a relative serving a life sentence under this law) and other free clinics at African-American churches. Mr. Mesereau often speaks at middle schools and high schools about the need for education and the problems surrounding gangs and interracial violence. He has received many awards for these activities. Each year, N-Action Family Network awards the “Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. Humanitarian Award” for excellence in public service.
Tom Mesereau works closely with Image Principle Studios, a small inner city entertainment and public relations company. This organization organizes and produces events that focus on inner city children, including the development of their creative talents.
Mr. Mesereau has received numerous awards and commendations from bar associations, law schools, the city of Los Angeles, the county of Los Angeles, churches, secondary schools, colleges, businesses and civil rights organizations, et al. for his excellence as a trial lawyer and devotion to equal justice for all.
Sample of Noteworthy Victories
As a medical board lawyer and as a federal and state criminal lawyer in Los Angeles and in other venues, Mr. Mesereau has obtained countless victories for his clients. A sample of noteworthy victories includes:
In 2012, Mr. Mesereau obtained a complete dismissal of felony rape charges against a prominent international business figure. This case was resolved after three years of intense litigation. Mr. Mesereau and Susan Yu were successful in having the alleged victims investigated by the local police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In 2012, after a trial before the Presiding Administrative Law Judge, the court recommended a complete acquittal of all charges against a prominent spine surgeon. This physician had been prosecuted by the California Attorney General for various counts of alleged professional misconduct.
In 2012, Mr. Mesereau obtained a favorable plea bargain for the ex-wife of Oscar award-winning actor Joe Pesci. The client had been charged with conspiracy to murder and various counts of attempted murder based on allegations that she arranged a hit-man to murder her next husband. The alleged victim is a prominent stuntman who had a major role in the movie Avatar. The plea bargain was agreed to after the start of jury selection.
In 2011, a capital murder case, in which Mr. Mesereau’s client was facing the death penalty, was dismissed prior to trial.
In 2010, Mr. Mesereau obtained a complete Dismissal of a criminal case which had been filed against a billionaire client. The client had been arrested and charged with criminal threats and battery. The alleged victim was a former girlfriend who had been a Playboy Magazine centerfold and Playmate of the Year. The Dismissal occurred after approximately one year of litigation.
Mr. Mesereau’s client, a Texas oil company, was charged with criminal conduct involving an oil spill in Southern California. The case was Dismissed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office with the agreement that it can never be re-filed.
A prominent plastic surgeon was charged with various counts of sexual misconduct by the California Medical Board. The physician could have lost his medical license if convicted. A trial took place before an administrative law judge. Mr. Mesereau’s client was Acquitted of all sexual misconduct counts and was placed on probation for minor violations which he admitted had occurred.
Mr. Mesereau’s client was charged with felony embezzlement (over $1,000,000) in state court. A 3-week jury trial ended in a Hung Jury.
Mr. Mesereau represented a celebrity newscaster who had been indicted by a grand jury for securities fraud. After an 11-week jury trial, the trial judge dismissed the case “in the interest of justice,” resulting in a complete Acquittal for the defendant.
Mr. Mesereau defended a man facing capital murder charges and the death penalty who the prosecution claimed intentionally shot someone from behind. On the day the jury was to be chosen, the prosecution Dismissed the entire case. This resulted in a newspaper editorial condemning false charges against an innocent man, wrongfully charged, who had spend one year in jail awaiting trial.
Thomas Mesereau defended music legend Michael Jackson against conspiracy and child molestation charges. During the trial, Professor Laurie Levenson of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles called Mr. Mesereau “the best cross-examiner” she had ever seen.
Tom Mesereau defended a prominent Hollywood Television Director who was charged with criminal assault. The client was Acquitted of all charges before a Los Angeles jury.
Mr. Mesereau defended actor Robert Blake against charges that Mr. Blake murdered his wife. He was successful in obtaining bail for Mr. Blake in a “murder with special circumstances” case – a result legal experts called impossible. Following the televised preliminary hearing, Court TV commentator Rikki Klieman called Thomas Mesereau “. . . if not the best, one of the best cross-examiners I have ever seen.” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash, who presided at the Blake preliminary hearing, called Mr. Mesereau “One of the finest lawyers I have ever seen.” Tom also obtained a Dismissal of the “conspiracy to murder” charge prior to trial.
Mr. Mesereau Acquitted a man who had spent six years on Alabama’s death row for a double homicide in Alabama v. Wesley Quick. Mr. Quick had been convicted while being represented by another lawyer. This case was tried before a jury in Birmingham, Alabama after a successful appeal.
Tom Mesereau Acquitted a medical doctor who was facing health-care fraud charges before a jury in Los Angeles. This physician had been secretly recorded by undercover agents. The California Medical Board was actively investigating this physician and one of its prosecutors attended each day of the jury trial. Following the acquittal, The California Medical Board ended its investigation of this physician and decided not to seek professional discipline.
Mr. Mesereau obtained 14 Acquittals (16-count indictment) for a hospital manager accused of immigration law violations in the United States District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). This was a high-profile trial in federal court. The client was placed on probation for the two remaining counts.
Mr. Mesereau defended a man charged with capital murder who was alleged to be part of a criminal conspiracy engaged in drug-related homicides. He was facing the death penalty. On the day the trial was to start, the defendant was permitted to plead guilty to a marijuana charge and go home! This was a remarkable result in a death penalty case.
Thomas Mesereau has won numerous Acquittals in sexual assault cases. Examples include the following:
Firefighter/paramedic charged with sexually assaulting two women in the ambulance during a twenty-hour shift: Acquitted.Husband/father charged with sexually assaulting daughter’s sixteen-year old girlfriend in home: Acquitted.Swimming instructor at YMCA charged with molesting child/student: Acquitted.Husband/father charged with molesting a child in his garage.
The child lived across the street and claimed four acts of molestation: Acquitted.
Three hundred and fifteen pound football player charged with raping a college student in her apartment: Acquitted.
Mr. Mesereau defended a Los Angeles man charged with committing murder behind a nightclub in Gardena, California. The claim was self-defense. The jury verdict was Not Guilty.
Mr. Mesereau traveled to Bessemer, Alabama to defend a 24 year-old mother accused of murdering her 22-month old infant daughter in a very high-profile case. She was facing the death penalty. The defense claimed that her drug addicted boyfriend committed the murder. However, the prosecution insisted that she was culpable and that she should be executed. The jury found Mr. Mesereau’s client Not Guilty of murder and convicted on a lesser charge of manslaughter. Some time later, the boyfriend was convicted of child abuse in a separate case and sentenced to prison.
In a three-strikes case that received media attention, Mr. Mesereau defended a former Los Angeles gang member who was facing a 25-year to life sentence for drug possession. Mr. Mesereau had helped his client form a non-profit organization to counsel inner city youth about the dangers of guns, drugs and gangs. The case went to a jury trial in Torrance, California and the verdict was Not Guilty. The jury believed that Mr. Mesereau’s client had significantly turned his life around and thus was not guilty of felony drug possession.
Mr. Mesereau traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to defend a homeless black man, who was accused of shooting a beautiful, 21-year old white woman to death during a robbery. He was facing the death penalty. This case was the lead story on the evening news in Alabama throughout the trial. Mr. Mesereau was asked by two local white lawyers to assist in this case because they needed help and were receiving death threats. Mr. Mesereau cross-examined all of the witnesses who claimed that they recognized the homeless man as the killer. For the first time in Alabama history, Mr. Mesereau called an eyewitness identification expert to testify about the inaccuracy of cross-racial identification. The homeless man was Acquitted of all counts.
Mr. Mesereau defended an alleged Los Angeles gang member, who was allegedly known as “Little Hit-Man,”. He was charged with murdering a rival in broad daylight at a major intersection. The prosecution called three eye witnesses who claimed that Mr. Mesereau’s client was the gunman. The defendant had cooperated with the police, requested a lie detector test and was adamant that he was innocent. The verdict was Not Guilty. The jury did not believe the prosecution’s witnesses.
He defended a former choir member at the First A.M.E. Church, who was charged with murdering her mother, a First A.M.E. Trustee. The prosecution claimed that the murder weapon, a handgun, was located in the dresser drawer of the defendant’s bedroom and that she had repeatedly lied about the facts on a 911 call and to police officers. The first trial resulted in a Hung Jury. In a re-trial, the defendant was Acquitted of first and second-degree murder. She was convicted on a lesser charge of manslaughter.
In a remarkable jury Acquittal, Mr. Mesereau’s client was cleared of any alleged involvement in a drive-by shooting. Two defendants were chased by police cars and a police helicopter after a shooting. The prosecutors claimed that the passenger had fired numerous shots at a house. The prosecution also claimed that the passenger in the suspect automobile had thrown a canister of bullets over an overpass and threw a pistol on a porch. The canister of bullets and the pistol were introduced as evidence, along with eyewitness testimony. Following the high speed police chase, Mr. Mesereau’s client was arrested. While the driver of the suspect automobile was convicted, Mr. Mesereau’s client, the passenger, was Acquitted of all counts. Eight months after Mr. Mesereau’s acquittal, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged the same defendant with two new felonies which allegedly occurred while the defendant was awaiting trial in county jail for the above described drive-by shooting. Mr. Mesereau’s client was Acquitted of all counts, again!
Public Service Awards and Accomplishments
Mr. Mesereau has received the following honors and awards:
Each year, the Litigation Counsel of America awards the “Mesereau Cup” (named after Mr. Mesereau) to the top criminal defense lawyer in the nation.
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles announced Thomas A. Mesereau, Jr. as the recipient of the 2011 Fidler Institute Award for Excellence in Criminal Defense
County of Los Angeles, California, formerly announced the celebration of “Attorney Thomas Mesereau Day” – for Mr. Mesereau’s numerous contributions to the underprivileged and civil rights.
President’s Award from United States Dream Academy, Washington D.C. – for work with inner city children whose parents are incarcerated – received with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Community Service Award from the Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, California – for years of contributions to the city, including willingness to represent unpopular defendants and commitment to poor citizens.
Humanitarian Award issued in Mr. Mesereau’s name each year by N-Action Family Network, an organization devoted to helping women in drug recovery and their children re-enter society.
Award from the Sarah Allen Women’s Missionary Society of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Los Angeles – for contributions to the African-American and other minority communities.
Eagle Award from the Honorable John Chiang, California State Controller – for “leadership, vision and outstanding contributions to California”
Certificate of Appreciation from Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke – for dedicated service to the citizens of Los Angeles County
Special Honor Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement from St. Gregory’s College, Lagos, Nigeria – for accomplishments in civil rights.
Honored by the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles for outstanding community contributions through the Mesereau Free Legal Clinic.
Sankofa Award from the National Bar Association – for legal leadership and excellence in civil rights.
Humanitarian Award from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice – “in recognition of your ongoing commitment to justice for all.”
Award from the Reverend Cecil Murray, former Senior Minister of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church – for the many hours of volunteer time devoted to the church’s free legal clinic.
Service Award from Dr. Frederick Ormonde Murph, Senior Minister, Brookins Community African Methodist Episcopal Church – for civil rights accomplishments.
Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles, California – for Mr. Mesereau’s contributions to the annual “Women of Watts Taking our Lives Back March” and his commitment to improving the lives of families in the community – presented by the Honorable Janice Hahn, Councilwoman, 15th District, Los Angeles, California.
Commendation from the District Attorney of Los Angeles County – “in recognition of dedicated community service.”
Recognition by the Honorable Linda T. Sanchez, member of the United States Congress – for “his many years of outstanding and invaluable service to the community.”
Commendation by the 13th Assembly District of the California State Legislature – for “outstanding commitment to providing quality legal services to the people of the State of California.”
Certificate of Appreciation from Sharing Love Ministries Church in south Los Angeles – for Mr. Mesereau’s “active participation in the work of the ministry of Christ.”
Formal Commendation from Compton Seventh Day Adventist Church – for Mr. Mesereau’s time and effort given to pro bono legal services in Los Angeles.
Certificate of Appreciation from the African-American Community Empowerment Organization, Los Angeles, California – for efforts to assist at-risk youth to develop their skills and goals.
California School Board President’s Award – for “outstanding contributions to the children of the Compton Unified School District, Los Angeles, California.
Award from the State Bar of California, Board of Governors – for providing pro bono legal services to low-income Californians.
Civil Rights Award from Collier Image Studios – for contributions to the inner city.
Morton Herbert Service Award from Criminal Courts Bar Association of Los Angeles, California – for “his generous and noble service and furtherance of social justice.”