Gary W. Schons

Of Counsel

Tel: (619) 525-1348


At a Glance

Gary counsels public agencies, officials and private businesses who wish to promote public confidence in their decision-making processes.

He served as trial counsel for the Commission on Judicial Performance.

Gary is an active member of the California District Attorneys Association, lecturing and authoring articles for the association.

Gary W. Schons counsels public agencies, officials and private businesses who wish to promote public confidence in their decision-making processes by ensuring that official conduct is above reproach. A member of Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Government Policy & Public Integrity practice and the immediate past head of the group, Gary works to:

  • Provide comprehensive and strategic compliance solutions to public officials, individuals and corporations seeking to conform their conduct to standards, best practices, laws and regulations 
  • Advise and represent clients on public integrity issues involving governmental and political practices 
  • Inform clients of relevant federal, state and local legislation, including those relating to the Political Reform Act and the Public Records Act

Gary is also affiliated with BB&K’s ARC: Advanced Records Center, which provides comprehensive and cost-effective support for records-related matters, including California Public Records Act request processing.

Prior to joining BB&K, Gary served as deputy district attorney and senior advisor for Law & Policy in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. In this role, he advised the District Attorney and her executive staff on legal, public integrity, legislative and policy issues and provided legal assistance to all 300 deputy district attorneys in the office.

From 2010-2016, Gary served as trial counsel for the Commission on Judicial Performance. He was responsible for conducting all formal proceedings initiated by the Commission to impose discipline on judges and other judicial officers in California.

From 1976-2011, Gary was a member of the Criminal Division of the California Attorney General’s Office in San Diego. During his career there, he served as deputy attorney general in the Appeals, Writs & Trial Section, in the Special Prosecutions Unit and as head of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit, which he established. Gary was cross-designated as a special assistant United States Attorney in the Central and Southern districts of California. In 1991, the Attorney General promoted Gary to senior assistant attorney general and head of the Criminal Division in San Diego. In that role, he supervised 75 deputy attorneys general who handled felony appeals and habeas corpus and trial matters, including numerous public integrity-related prosecutions. The office handled some 1,500 cases annually and was responsible for more than 200 death penalty appeals.

Gary is an active member of the California District Attorneys Association, lecturing and authoring articles for the association. He is also active in the San Diego County Bar Association, where he served on the Judicial Elections Evaluation and Legal Ethics committees. Gary is a long time member of the University of San Diego School of Law Board of Visitors and past president of the Law Alumni Association.

Gary is married to Judy Hagar Schons, a San Diego native. They live in the Talmadge neighborhood of the City. Gary was raised in West Covina where he attended Bishop Amat High School, before moving to San Diego for college. Gary is an avid cook and diner and contributes a column to the local newspaper on dining. He also enjoys golf and sailing.


  • University of San Diego School of Law, J.D. 


  • California


  • California District Attorneys Association 
  • San Diego County Bar Association 
  • University of San Diego School of Law Board of Visitors 
  • Law Alumni Association, past president 
Legal Alerts Feb 01, 2021

Cities are Not Liable for Lessees’ Exercise of Choice in Speakers

Ninth Circuit Affirms Limits on Private and Municipal Liability for First Amendment Violations

Legal Alerts Jan 06, 2021

Court Confirms FPPC's Authority to Punish Public Agencies That Spend Undisclosed Public Money to Influence Voters at Elections

California Trial Court Rules on Campaign-Related Public Spending

Legal Alerts Dec 17, 2020

Taxpayer Actions Can be Used to Challenge Government Contracts Even After Contract Completion

California Court of Appeal Decision in School District Case Applies to Public Agencies

Authored Articles & Publications Sep 01, 2020

City Officials Must Be Neutral & Unbiased

PublicCEO Article Examines California Precedent-Setting Bias Tainting Decision

Legal Alerts Jun 25, 2020

FPPC Regulation Clarifies Officials' Duty to Publicly Identify Financial Conflicts at Meetings

Regulation Revision Clarifies Duty Applies Despite “Partial Absences”

Authored Articles & Publications Jun 16, 2020

California Ahead of #8CANTWAIT Police Reforms

BB&K's Gary Schons Discusses Controversial Use-of-Force Campaign in PublicCEO

Legal Alerts Jun 09, 2020

Post-Redevelopment Distribution of Tax Increments Clarified

California Appellate Court Provides Guidance

Legal Alerts Jun 01, 2020

$6 Million Fine for Trustee Who Knowingly Allowed Illegal Cannabis Dispensaries on Property Owned by Trust

California Appellate Court Says Trustee Can be Held Personally Liable

Legal Alerts May 13, 2020

Court Decision on Bias Tainting a City Council Vote Now Precedent-Setting in California

Legislative Body Members Must be Neutral and Unbiased to Vote on Matters

Legal Alerts May 04, 2020

Cities Have Broad Discretion to Determine Their Rent Control Programs

Court of Appeal Holds Cities May Enact Various Forms of Residential Rent Control Measures

Legal Alerts Apr 08, 2020

Local Government Has an Important Interest in Adjudicating Zoning Disputes

Ninth Circuit Dismisses Case Brought Against Alameda County for Zoning Requirements

Legal Alerts Apr 06, 2020

California’s Voter Participation Rights Act Does Not Apply to Charter Cities

Appellate Court Takes on “Home Rule” in City of Redondo v. Alex Padilla

Legal Alerts Mar 26, 2020

Takings Claim Fails on “Ripeness” Grounds

Ninth Circuit Decision in Apartment-Condominium Conversion Program Dispute

Legal Alerts Feb 27, 2020

Election Void for Being Held on Improper Day, Court Holds

California Appellate Court Invalidates Water District Board Election

Legal Alerts Feb 26, 2020

Determining a “Super Majority” When Council Members are Missing

California Appellate Court Looks to Local Ordinance’s Intention for Determination

Legal Alerts Jan 28, 2020

“Home Rule” Authority and Local Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement

California Appellate Court Says Charter City Cannot Block California Values Act

Legal Alerts Jan 03, 2020

Only a Contracting Party May Sue Under Government Code Section 1092

Calif. Supreme Court: San Diegans for Open Government v. Public Facilities Financing Authority of the City of San Diego

Legal Alerts Dec 20, 2019

FPPC Updates Materiality Standards

Amendments Adopted for Public Official Decisions Related to Nonprofit Gifts and Personal Financial Effects

Legal Alerts Dec 03, 2019

Single Contractor Not Precluded from Providing Both Design and Construction Services

Case Provides Valuable Guidance for Public Agencies Wanting One Contractor for Two Phases

Legal Alerts Oct 04, 2019

New “Source of Income” Materiality Standard

FPPC Adopts Amended Regulations (Part 2)

Legal Alerts Oct 03, 2019

New “Materiality” Standard for a “Business Entity”

FPPC Adopts Amended Regulations (Part 1)

Legal Alerts Sep 12, 2019

Political Reform Act’s Ban on Public Money for Campaigns Upheld

Calif. Appellate Court Strikes Down SB 1107

Authored Articles & Publications Aug 14, 2019

Tire Chalking Case Treads on Cities’ Parking Enforcement Techniques

Isaac Rosen, Ryan Guiboa and Gary Schons Write About 6th Circuit Ruling in Law360

Legal Alerts Mar 06, 2019

No Committee Exception to Brown Act Public Comment Requirement for Special Meetings

California Appellate Court Decision in Preven v. City of Los Angeles

Legal Alerts Mar 04, 2019

FPPC Wants Authority to Enforce Misuse of Public Funds for Campaign Activity

Seeking Legislation to Amend Political Reform Act

Legal Alerts Jan 09, 2019

New Year, New Laws Impacting Public Agencies in California – Part I

2019 Brings Changes to Election, Revenue, Conflict of Interest, Property and Public Safety Laws… and More

Legal Alerts Dec 05, 2018

Laws Regulating Campaign Contributions Must Be Narrowly Tailored to Combat Corruption

Ninth Circuit Holds That States Have an Important Interest in Preserving the Integrity of Their Political Institutions

Legal Alerts Jun 21, 2018

“Protected Activity” Rejected by California Appellate Court Under Anti-SLAPP Statute

School District Officials’ and Board Members’ Actions at Issue

Legal Alerts Jun 12, 2018

How a Court’s Decision that the President Can’t Block Twitter Users Impacts Public Officials

First Amendment Issues and Social Media Accounts as Public Forums

Authored Articles & Publications May 17, 2018

Analysis: Calif. Attorney-Officials Must Heed AG's Ethics Warning

BB&K's Gary Schons Writes in Law360 About Opinion on Ethics and Legal Conflicts for Attorneys as Elected Public Officials

Legal Alerts Apr 20, 2018

Private Attorney General Statute to Award Fees Used in a Reverse-PRA Dispute

Part III: Pasadena Police Officers Association v. City of Pasadena

Legal Alerts Apr 19, 2018

An Appellate Court’s Observation May Have Effect on Reverse-PRA Actions

Part II: Pasadena Police Officers Association v. City of Pasadena

Legal Alerts Apr 05, 2018

A District Attorney May Employ Outside Counsel on a Contingent Fee Basis

Ninth Circuit Opinion in Unfair Competition Suit Seeking Civil Penalties

Legal Alerts Dec 11, 2017

First Amendment Rights of California Public Agencies Affirmed by Appellate Court

Anti-SLAPP Motion Successful in Dispute

Legal Alerts Dec 05, 2017

Government Actions are Not Protected Speech Under California Anti-SLAPP Law

Appellate Opinion Stems from Disputed Construction Permits

Legal Alerts Sep 11, 2017

Ban on Officers Discussing K9 Program Violated First Amendment

Ninth Circuit Decision on Nevada State Highway Patrol Prior Restraint Case

Legal Alerts Aug 31, 2017

Automated License Plate Scans Data May Be Disclosed

California Supreme Court Finds Public Record Exemptions Do Not Apply

Legal Alerts Aug 21, 2017

PRA Request Compliance May Not Shield from Attorney's Fees

California Appellate Court Orders City to Pay

Authored Articles & Publications Aug 02, 2017

Appellate Court Endorses FPPC’s “Reasonably Foreseeable” Test for PRA Conflicts Analysis

By Gary W. Schons

Authored Articles & Publications Jul 26, 2017

Independent Contractors & Consultants Acting on Government Contracts May be Subject to Conflict of Interest Laws

By Gary W. Schons and Michael Maurer

Legal Alerts Jul 18, 2017

Calif. AG Says SB 415 Applies to Charter Cities and Local School Districts Governed by Charter Cities

California Voter Participation Rights Act

Legal Alerts Jul 11, 2017

Independent Contractors & Consultants Can be Subject to Conflict of Interest Laws

California Supreme Court Sets New Precedent for GC Section 1090

Authored Articles & Publications Mar 27, 2017

San Jose PRA Decision: Q&A

By Gary W. Schons and HongDao Nguyen

Authored Articles & Publications Mar 06, 2017

Is a Private Email a Public Record? Context Matters!

By Gary W. Schons

Legal Alerts Mar 02, 2017

E-Communications on Private Accounts May Be Subject to Disclosure Under the California Public Records Act

State Supreme Court Opinion Impacts Public Agencies

Authored Articles & Publications Jan 04, 2017

The Ethics Advisor: Good Governance Floats on a Sea of Integrity

By Gary W. Schons

Legal Alerts Dec 29, 2016

Legal Invoices to Public Agencies in California May Be Exempt from Disclosure

The California Supreme Court Tackles Public Records vs. Attorney-Client Privilege

Authored Articles & Publications Dec 22, 2016

Professionalism Manual

California District Attorneys Association

Legal Alerts Dec 09, 2016

Are Private E-mails & Text Messages “Public Records?”

Decision Expected Soon from California Supreme Court

Legal Alerts Aug 22, 2016

Public Agency Not Subject to 60-Day Limit

California Appellate Court Finds Contract Void Under Government Code Section 1090

Legal Alerts Aug 11, 2016

Appellate Court “SLAPP”s Residents in Culver City Upset Over Parking Restriction Changes

City Did Not Violate Brown Act

Legal Alerts Aug 10, 2016

California Supreme Court Curbs Responses to Anti-SLAPP Motions

Elected Officials’ Free Speech Rights Analyzed

Legal Alerts Jul 21, 2016

California Appellate Court Holds Police Video of Arrest Not Protected Under “Pitchess”

Only a Record Generated as Part of an Internal Investigation is Protected by Pitchess

Authored Articles & Publications Jun 29, 2016

Public Safety Technologies: Big Brother and the Fourth Amendment

BB&K Attorney Gary Schons Examines the Intersection of Technology, Law and Public Safety for Municipal Lawyer Magazine

Authored Articles & Publications Jun 28, 2016

High Court Clarifies “Official Act” in Former Gov. Bob McDonnell Decision

BB&K Attorney Gary Schons Discusses Decision’s Implications for Public Officials in PublicCEO

Authored Articles & Publications Jun 27, 2016

High Court Clarifies “Official Act” in Former Gov. Bob McDonnell Decision

By Gary W. Schons

Legal Alerts Jun 21, 2016

California Supreme Court Clarifies Who is Liable for Prosecution for Misuse of Public Funds

Determining If Someone is “Charged” with Fiscal Responsibility is Key

Legal Alerts Jun 03, 2016

City Slapped Down on anti-SLAPP Claim

Details of a Potential NFL Deal for Carson Not of Public Interest, Court Says

Legal Alerts Jun 02, 2016

Court Clarifies the “Cease & Desist” Requirement Prior to Initiating Brown Act Litigation

City’s Loss Illustrates Risks of Litigating Open Meeting Law Violation Claims

Authored Articles & Publications Apr 14, 2016

Body-Worn Cameras, the Prosecutor, and the Question of Public Access

BB&K Attorney Gary Schons Examines Police Body Cameras From a Variety of Angles for the California District Attorneys Association's Prosecutor's Brief

Legal Alerts Apr 06, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Holds States and Localities May Continue to Draw Voting Districts Based on Total Population

Total Population, However, May Not Be the Only Standard Upon Which Voting Areas Can Be Based

Legal Alerts Feb 11, 2016

California Court Interprets Stockton’s Term Limit Non-Cumulatively to Allow Repeat Runners

Case Illustrates Why How a Measure is Worded Matters

Legal Alerts Feb 01, 2016

City Ordinance Banning New Outdoor Billboards, but Authorizing Relocated Ones, Upheld by California Court

Authorizing Relocated Ones Upheld by Court; Constitutional Challenges Rejected; Injunction Order to Remove Billboard Affirmed

Legal Alerts Dec 23, 2015

California Appellate Court Holds Unruh Act Does Not Apply to Legislative Action

Decision Comes in Short-Term Rental Ordinance Litigation

Authored Articles & Publications Nov 10, 2015

The Meaning of “Malfeasance in Office” and the Lifetime Ban to Holding Office it Carries

By Gary W. Schons

Legal Alerts Apr 16, 2015

Water District Case Clarifies California Public Records Act Exemption for Utility Customers

“Customer” Includes a Business or Corporation, Judge Rules

Legal Alerts Oct 27, 2014

Use of School Grounds for Campaign and Election Activities

The Education Code and the Courts Have Established Rules and Regulations for Campuses

  • "The 'Formalities of Making an Arrest' in California," Daily Journal, July 1, 2020
  • “Prosecutor Rule Edit Reflects Concerns,” Daily Journal, May 4, 2017
  • “Grading the Revised Special Prosecutor Rule,” Daily Journal, July 20, 2017
  • “Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor (Rule 3.8),” Daily Journal, April 25, 2017
  • ““Honorably Retired” for California Police Officer Defined by Court,” BBKnowledge, March 30, 2017
  • “Public Records Stay Public, Even in Private,” Daily Journal, March 6, 2017
  • “Reducing Cyber Vulnerability and Keeping Online Voter Registration Data Safe,” BBKnowledge, Oct. 6, 2016
  • “Giving Employees Time Off to Vote,” BBKnowledge, Oct. 5, 2016
  • “FPPC Initiates its Political Reform Act Revision Project,” BBKnowledge, Aug. 5, 2016
  • “FPPC Amends Regulations for Conflict of Interest Codes,” BBKnowledge, May 2, 2016
  • “Body-Worn Cameras, the Prosecutor, and the Question of Public Access,” California District Attorneys Association’s Prosecutor’s Brief, April 2016
  • Attorney-Client Privilege Not Waived in Mistaken Records Release, California Appellate Court FindsPublicCEO, Oct. 20, 2015 (via BBKnowledge)
  • “Who Has Access to Police Camera Footage?” Daily Journal, Oct. 9, 2015
  • “Even Pre-Litigation Is Not a Contact Sport,” San Diego County Bar Association’s For the Record, July 17, 2015
  • “FPPC Has Record Year for Enforcement Actions,” BBKnowledge, Jan. 7, 2015
  • “Bribery Is Not a Free Speech Right, Judge Says,” BBKnowledge, Dec. 3, 2014
  • “Appearance and Perception of a Conflict of Interest: Whose View?,” BBKnowledge, Dec. 18, 2014
  • “Privacy and Fourth Amendment Issues Among Legal Concerns for Law Enforcement Use of Body-Worn Cameras,” BBKnowledge, Oct. 8, 2014
  • Police Officer Body Worn Cameras: The Future is NowPublicCEO, Sept. 29, 2015 (via BBKnowledge)
  • “Privacy and Police Body-Worn Cameras,” Daily Journal, Sept. 24, 2014
  • “Conflict Law Doesn’t Apply to UC Faculty,” Daily Journal, Sept. 8, 2014

Contact Gary W. Schons

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