Essential Services

Navigating Coronavirus Laws
Essential Services
Business Consulting, Civil Litigation, Contract Interpretation, Lease Agreement Negotiation

In the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, Mayor Garcetti and Governor Newsom have issued several orders. The most current order, called the “ stay at home order,” issued March 19, requires that people in California stay home unless they are on the road for essential services for themselves or as workers in essential services industries. According to Margolin and Lawrence sources in the LA sheriff’s department, the police officers are not ordered to conduct any stops pursuant to this order and we haven’t heard of anyone getting stopped on the basis of potentially violating the order.

Click here to read a copy of the Governor’s executive order. The text of the order can also be found here.

Click here to learn more about the order.

This link will take you to the Governor’s speech regarding the contents of the order, he delivered this past Wednesday. Click here to see the Governor’s address to Californians this evening.

On March 19, Governor Newsom ordered all businesses close except those deemed essential services. Essential services include those who support the following industries, as well as the retailers of the following:

  • Pharmacies and cannabis dispensaries
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, takeout and delivery restaurants
  • Banks
  • Gas stations
  • Laundromats/laundry services
  • Essential state and local government functions including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

According to the Los Angeles Times story on March 31, 2020, by writers Taryn Luna and Phil Wilson, “Should California punish people who refuse to stay home? Newsom prefers social pressure,” " The executive order Newsom signed March 19 requires the state’s 40 million residents to remain in their homes, except for necessary trips to the grocery store, pharmacy or doctor, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Though violations are punishable by a misdemeanor, jail time and fines, Newsom has emphasized that he would rather educate Californians about the restrictions, and urge them to comply, rather than take more harsh enforcement actions.”

Of course, if someone is prosecuted for violating stay-at-home orders, Margolin & Lawrence is available to help handle the criminal investigation pre-filing as well as post-filing. Pre-filing is defined as the situation that arises after a person is booked on a charge (which means the police believe there is probable cause the defendant has committed a crime) but before the City Attorney (generally in charge of misdemeanor prosecutions) or District Attorney (in charge of felony and some misdemeanor prosecutions, depending on the city or county) but before the prosecuting agency has decided to file charges. Given the psychological distress we are all under, these prosecutions will likely be dismissed if a competent lawyer handles the matter, and the client doesn’t reoffend within a year.

The Governor's stance seems to be validated by anecdotal evidence from the streets and the Sheriff’s Dept. in Los Angeles. But because the sheriff in Los Angeles only governs unincorporated areas, and not the 93 cities that comprise the county,, his position only applies to those unincorporated areas, and not the city of Los Angeles.

That being said, gun stores in Los Angeles are the one type of retail business not willing to accept a designation as nonessential without a fight, and these businesses have potentially meritorious positions.

Gun Stores

California’s governor has left the decision of whether to deem gun stores essential up to the individual counties and cities. That being said, Los Angeles city which deemed them to not be essential was sued this week by several groups. “ According to the LA Times article, "Gun rights group sues L.A. over closure of firearms stores during coronavirus” by Emily Alpert Reyes, “"A gun rights group is suing the city of Los Angeles, arguing that an order that has shuttered stores selling firearms in L.A. during the COVID-19 pandemic is unconstitutional and preempted by state law.

The lawsuit, whose plaintiffs include the California Rifle & Pistol Assn. and stores selling firearms in the San Fernando Valley, states that although Mayor Eric Garcetti did not expressly name gun stores in his written order, both Garcetti and City Atty. Mike Feuer have stated that the stores must close and the Police Department has ordered them to shut down."

We are available to handle these types of cases,
...where we feel that the interests do justify a city or County deeming a business essential, be it a firearm dealer or a cannabis retail store. Both Allison and Raza have handled civil suits representing both plaintiffs and defendants, and are seasoned trial lawyers.

Mr. Lawrence handled civil litigation issued early in his career as a federal clerk for the Honorable Arnold Morriss, and as an associate at the internationally recognized firm Munger, Tolls, and Olson, as well as with his partner Allison Margolin. He and Alison successfully handled during their partnership a matter where they prevailed in a lawsuit against California State University at Los Angeles where a female professor faced unlawful discrimination in violation of the United States Civil Rights Act. They also successfully represented a skateboard company where a major cola manufacturer used a dice game the plaintiff had trademarked.

Most recently, in 2019, after a 10-hour arbitration, Margolin & Lawrence extricated their client from a white labeling deal with a celebrity rapper who allegedly was already under contract to another cannabis company. Mr. Lawrence has an unparalleled reputation for diplomacy and negation and is also available to mediate disputes as well as represent plaintiffs or defendants. Honorable Morris Sheppard Arnold of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Ms. Margolin is also an acclaimed negotiator and is known as the “bad cop” and Mr. Lawrence as the “good cop” when they double-team their opponents. The partners have together tried approximately 30 jury trials, and done numerous successful writs and appeals, as well as been the trial lawyers for writs and appeals that ultimately prevailed.

Commercial and residential leases:

Within the last few weeks, thanks to the leadership of such LA mayor Eric Garrett and such city council members as Mike Bonin, Los Angeles passed coronavirus economic protection packages for residential and commercial renters. The ordinance can be found at:

According to the ordinance, commercial renters will have three months after the emergency has ended to pay back the rental payments deferred during the time of the emergency.

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