Anthony L. Francois

Senior Attorney

Sacramento

Tony Francois is an attorney in PLF’s Sacramento office, and has litigated cases around the country defending Americans’ property rights from land use and environmental restrictions. He is a member of the California State Bar and also practices before several federal trial and appellate courts and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Since graduating from college in 1987, Tony has continuously fought government, starting with other countries’ governments as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He served in the former West Germany at the close of the Cold War and personally removed a portion of the Berlin Wall in 1990. Close proximity to the Soviet and Warsaw Pact communist governments of the Cold War gave him a permanent desire to defend freedom against government tyranny.

The end of the Cold War and return to the States in the early 90s led him to see that many government abuses were taking hold in our country as well. Tony was also inspired to trade the military barracks for the courtroom by reading about abuses imposed by the IRS on American taxpayers, and well as the epic conflict between Wayne Hage and the U.S. Forest Service over grazing and water rights in the Western States.

Tony graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1996 with honors. After representing farmers, ranchers, and other landowners in private law practice and then for a decade as a policy advocate before the California legislature, Tony joined PLF in 2012. In his off hours, he enjoys martial arts, Giants baseball, reading history, and raising his family with his wife in Sacramento.

Tony Francois is an attorney in PLF’s Sacramento office, and has litigated cases around the country defending Americans’ property rights from land use and environmental restrictions. He is a member of the California State Bar and also practices before several federal trial and appellate courts and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Since graduating from college in 1987, Tony has continuously fought government, starting with other countries’ governments as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. He served in the former West Germany at the close of the Cold War and personally removed a portion of the Berlin Wall in 1990. Close proximity to the Soviet and Warsaw Pact communist governments of the Cold War gave him a permanent desire to defend freedom against government tyranny.

The end of the Cold War and return to the States in the early 90s led him to see that many government abuses were taking hold in our country as well. Tony was also inspired to trade the military barracks for the courtroom by reading about abuses imposed by the IRS on American taxpayers, and well as the epic conflict between Wayne Hage and the U.S. Forest Service over grazing and water rights in the Western States.

Tony graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1996 with honors. After representing farmers, ranchers, and other landowners in private law practice and then for a decade as a policy advocate before the California legislature, Tony joined PLF in 2012. In his off hours, he enjoys martial arts, Giants baseball, reading history, and raising his family with his wife in Sacramento.

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Procedural Guarantees

California Cattlemen’s Association v. California Fish and Game Commission

Wandering lone wolf in California triggers “endangered” listing

Based on the sighting of a lone non-native gray wolf in California, the state Fish and Game Commission listed the gray wolf species under the California Endangered Species Act, effective January 1, 2017. On behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, and their members, PLF sued to invalidate this illegal listing, which protects a non-native species at the expense of native species, ignores the growing wolf populations outside California, and upends a multi-year collaborative process among government, environmental, and ranching interests to balance wolf protection with livestock protection. 

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Property Rights

Duarte Nursery v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Wheat farmer vs. the federal government: will the Constitution prevail?

John Duarte and Duarte Nursery, in rural Tehama County, California, received a cease and desist order from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for engaging in normal farming activities (i.e., plowing) that purportedly affected wetlands. Duarte was not permitted any type of hearing to defend himself.

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Property Rights

California Cattlemen’s Association v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Challenging government regulation in the dark

Representing the California Cattlemen’s Association, PLF filed a petition for writ of mandamus to have declared unlawful the department’s failure to conduct mandatory 5-year status reviews of 233 plant and animal species listed as “endangered” or “threatened” under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). By abdicating its duty to conduct these mandatory reviews, the state unlawfully failed to determine which species could be downlisted, where such downlisting would restore to landowners productive use of their property.

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By Anthony L. Francois

Veterans Day

Why might Americans reflect on Communism and its almost complete demise, on Veterans Day? If you are thankful that Communism is a discredited and failed system in parts of the world it once enslaved, thank a Veteran.

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By Anthony L. Francois

Ninth Circuit poses tough questions to government in Robertson argument

Today’s Ninth Circuit oral argument in US v Robertson produced an interesting series of exchanges between the Justice Department appellate attorney and Ninth Circuit Judges Gould and McKeown A key issue in the case, as I laid out in this morning’s post, is whether the Clean Water Act’s counter-intuitive definition of “navigable water” affords regulated parties with constitutionally adequate fair notice of what the law requires and prohibits

Oddly, Mr Robertson’s attorney made no mention of this point in his argument, but Judge Gould pressed the government’s attorney on it repeatedly By my notes and rewatching of the argument video (See below, from 14:14 through 28:57), Judge

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By Anthony L. Francois

Ninth Circuit hears appeal from elderly man jailed for building ponds

Today the Ninth Circuit is hearing oral argument in US v Robertson Joseph Robertson is presently incarcerated in federal prison in Colorado, serving an 18 month sentence for building two ponds on land owned by the Forest Service in Montana He is 78 years old One of the counts for which Mr Robertson was imprisoned by the federal government was that he built the ponds without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, in alleged violation of the Clean Water Act The ponds were built on a small forest stream, Cataract Creek, at a location 60 miles from the nearest actually navigable water body, the Jefferson

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By Anthony L. Francois

PLF statement on Duarte Nursery settlement with Justice Department

August 15, 2017 (Sacramento)

“Duarte Nursery, its president, John Duarte, and Pacific Legal Foundation and their co-counsel announce that Duarte Nursery has agreed to a settlement with the United States in the federal government’s nearly five-year enforcement action over Duarte’s routine action of plowing its property to plant wheat in late 2012,” said PLF Senior Attorney Tony Francois

Under the agreement, Duarte would admit no liability, pay the government $330,000 in a civil penalty, purchase $770,000 worth of vernal pool mitigation credits, and perform additional work on the site of the plowing

“This has been a difficult decision for me, my family, and the entire company, and we have come to it

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By Anthony L. Francois

Trial to start next Tuesday on feds demand for tens of millions from Duarte Nursery for plowing a field

Next Tuesday, August 15, at 9:00 am Pacific, at the federal courthouse in Sacramento, California, trial will get underway in the federal government’s outrageous demand for tens of millions of dollars in punishment from Duarte Nursery for plowing a field to plant wheat without permission from the United States Army Needless to say, if the judge awards the government that much, it will be the end of the company and the jobs of its several hundred employees (none of whom had any role in this matter)

Today, The Weekly Standard published an excellent article summarizing what is in dispute in the case The entire piece is available here,

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By Anthony L. Francois

Duarte Nursery moves to dismiss federal Clean Water Act suit

Earlier this week, PLF clients Duarte Nursery, Inc, and its president John Duarte, moved to dismiss the federal government’s Clean Water Act prosecution against them, on the ground that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claim

The government bases the court’s jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act claim on 33 USC section 1319(b), which authorizes the EPA Administrator to bring actions for injunctive and other relief for violations of the Clean Water Act, in all cases other than those dealing with violations of an Army Corps issued permit Small problem, though: the government concedes in this case that the case is not brought by or on

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