Aaron Field is a Partner at Cannata, O’Toole, & Olson LLP. He focuses his practice on media and First Amendment law and civil litigation. He has extensive experience representing clients in efforts to access to public records and proceedings, defending speakers and publishers in cases alleging defamation and related torts, using California’s anti-SLAPP statute to quickly defeat meritless claims, and providing pre-publication review, subpoena defense, and other newsroom counsel services. He also represents clients in whistleblower retaliation cases, business and commercial disputes, SEC enforcement cases, and other litigation matters.
Mr. Field is a member and former Co-Chair (2018-2020) of the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter's Freedom of Information Committee (FOIC). In 2019, he received SPJ NorCal’s John Gothberg Meritorious Service to SPJ Award for his and the FOIC’s advocacy in response to searches of the home and office of a San Francisco journalist by San Francisco police. He was selected to the Northern California Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list in 2020-2022. He is a co-author of the “Access to Public Records” chapter of The Right to Know: A Guide to Public Access and Media Law (Cal. News Publishers Assn. 2021).
Before joining COFO, Mr. Field worked as a Law Clerk for Ram, Olson, Cereghino & Kopczynski, a Summer Associate at Kerr & Wagstaffe, and a Legal Intern at the First Amendment Coalition. He participated in drafting amicus curiae briefs for the First Amendment Coalition in Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper, 571 U.S. 237 (2014), a defamation case that strengthened the First Amendment “actual malice” standard, and City of San Jose v. Superior Court, 2 Cal. 5th 608 (2017), a landmark case holding that writings on public officials’ personal electronic accounts and devices can be public records under the Public Records Act.
Mr. Field graduated from St. John’s College in 2009 and from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2015. At U.C. Hastings, he earned CALI and Witkin awards in Advanced Copyright Seminar and his Liberty, Security & Technology Clinic. He was a member of the Moot Court Team and Moot Court Board and won First Place and Second Best Brief in the 2015 Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition at Brooklyn Law School.
- Resolute Forest Products, Inc. v. Greenpeace Int’l (N.D. Cal.). Represented Greenpeace Fund in a defamation and civil RICO lawsuit that sought more than $300 million CAD in damages based on an alleged international advocacy campaign and hundreds of alleged statements. Won orders dismissing all claims against Greenpeace Fund with prejudice, striking all state law claims against Greenpeace Fund under the anti-SLAPP Statute, and quashing entirety of subpoena, and recovered more than $260,000 in attorney’s fees and costs.
- Rodrique v. County of Sacramento (E.D. Cal.). Represented The Sacramento Bee in a motion to modify a protective order to allow the plaintiff in a civil rights lawsuit to disclose seventy-nine internal investigation reports by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department to the newspaper. The resulting disclosure of records was, according to the Bee, then “the largest-ever release of internal affairs and jail abuse complaints involving deputies working inside Sacramento’s Main Jail . . . and the Rio Consumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove.” Sam Stanton & Molly Sullivan, Sacramento CA jail guards abused inmates, kept jobs, files say (The Sacramento Bee, Dec. 22, 2019).
- The Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times v. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department (Sac. Cnty. Super. Ct.). Represented The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times in the first affirmative Public Records Act lawsuit by the news media to enforce SB 1421, a police records disclosure law that took effect in 2019. Won access to several internal investigation case files, rulings on numerous issues of first impression regarding the meaning of SB 1421, and a total of about $165,000 in attorney’s fees and costs.
- People v. Froste (Yolo Cnty. Super. Ct.). Represented the Davis Enterprise and its journalist in successful defense, based on California’s reporter’s Shield Law, against attempt by criminal defendant to force journalist to testify and to exclude her from the courtroom.
- Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. v. Does 1-5 (Marin Cnty. Super. Ct.). Represented anonymous online speaker in successful defense against petition to compel website to disclose speaker’s identity for use in an out-of-state defamation lawsuit against the speaker.
- SEIU, UHW v. Cal. Dep’t of Public Health (Sac. Cnty. Super. Ct.). Represented SEIU, UHW in a Public Records Act lawsuit that resulted in the disclosure to union of contact information for holders of more than 168,000 home healthcare licenses to support unionization, and in the payment to petitioner of $90,000 in attorney's fees and costs.
- Hoeper v. City and County of San Francisco (S.F. Cnty. Super. Ct., Cal. Ct. App.). Represented former Chief Trial Deputy of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office in a lawsuit arising from the City’s retaliation against her for investigating government waste and fraud while in office. Won substantial jury verdict and fee award, defeated several post-trial motions challenging the verdict, and won a complete affirmance by the Court of Appeal.
- Epic Ventures, Inc. v. Doerr (Alameda Cnty. Super. Ct). Represented plaintiffs, a wine and spirits distribution company and its owner, in complex commercial and unfair competition litigation involving dozens of causes of action and numerous defendants. Briefed and in large part defeated multiple demurrers and motions for summary judgment. Obtained favorable settlement on the eve of trial.
- SEC v. Sabrdaran (N.D. Cal.). Represented defendant in novel SEC enforcement action involving alleged insider trading and “spread bet” financial instruments purchased in the United Kingdom. Briefed and argued post-trial motions that resulted in the SEC recovering more than ninety percent less than it had sought from client.
Mr. Field can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org