Chris Skinnell is a partner specializing in law and civil litigation relating to elections, state and local initiative and referenda, redistricting and voting rights, campaign finance, tribal gaming, and general constitutional and government law matters. Representative cases include:
Field v. Bowen, 196 Cal. App. 4th 346 (1st Dist. 2011), rejecting a constitutional challenge seeking to block the implementation of Proposition 14—the Top Two Candidate Open Primary Act. Mr. Skinnell served as counsel to the campaign for Proposition 14, and since its adoption by the voters in June 2010, has successfully defended the measure against multiple legal attacks.
Gutierrez v. Superior Court, Case No. B243738 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Div. 2, 2012), successfully challenging a ballot label adopted by the El Monte City Council in connection with beverage tax measure as illegally biased.
Larson v. City & County of San Francisco, 192 Cal. App. 4th 1263 (2011), a successful constitutional challenge to enforcement of numerous provisions of Proposition M (malicious eviction) in San Francisco, and defense of cross-appeal of a judgment enjoining enforcement of one-sided attorneys’ fee provision.
Lopez v. Merced County, 473 F. Supp. 2d 1072 (E.D. Cal. 2007) & later unpublished opinions, defeating multiple claims under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act & obtaining summary judgment in Merced County’s favor.
Citizens to Save Cal. v. Fair Pol. Pract. Comm’n, 145 Cal. App. 4th 736 (3d Dist. 2006), unanimously enjoining an FPPC Regulation seeking to apply campaign contribution limits to ballot measure committees.
Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes v. City of Richmond, Case No. 3:12-cv-04545-CRB (N.D. Cal. filed Aug. 3, 2012), obtaining a preliminary injunction against enforcement of burdensome disclaimer requirements on campaign mailings. The City’s ordinance was then amended to remove the offending provisions.
Mr. Skinnell also has considerable expertise in redistricting and voting rights matters. He has advised scores of counties, cities, school districts and special districts on compliance with state and federal laws governing redistricting; has counseled many additional public entity clients regarding the requirements of the California Voting Rights Act; and has represented public entity defendants in several leading CVRA cases. He also has extensive experience obtaining preclearance from the U.S Department of Justice under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act.
He has also served as counsel to a number of local ballot measure committees, independent expenditure committees, and political action committees.
A graduate of Claremont McKenna College (magna cum laude) and the University of Chicago Law School, he has published articles and written extensively on voting rights and redistricting, California political demographics, campaign finance and ethics compliance, and Native American issues, and has been a guest lecturer on redistricting issues at Claremont McKenna College. While at the University of Chicago he served as Editor-in-Chief of The University of Chicago Legal Forum.
Prior to joining the firm Mr. Skinnell worked as a political consultant to several California legislative and initiative campaigns, a research associate at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, and chairman of a successful initiative campaign in Southern California.