A leading California law journal, The Recorder, recently selected Richard Elias as one of California’s 2012 Attorneys of the Year. Elias was one of only twenty recipients chosen from the entire pool of California lawyers litigating cases or handling deals in California.
The Recorder profiled Elias and the other honorees in a special section of the publication’s March 25, 2013 edition. Elias was recognized in particular for his work as an AUSA prosecuting the “Moonlight Fire Case.” The 2007 fire at issue killed 15 million trees and charred 65,000 acres in northeastern California. After deposing and defending more than 100 witnesses and facing exceedingly aggressive defense tactics, Elias and his colleague Kelli Taylor prevailed in securing a settlement from timber giant Sierra Pacific Industries valued at $122.5 million—the largest federal recovery ever for damage caused by a forest fire.
“We were outmanned, outspent and outpapered, but not outlawyered,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in announcing the July 2012 settlement.