M. Gerald Schwartzbach

Top rated criminal defense attorney in Mill Valley, California

Law Offices of M. Gerald Schwartzbach, A Professional Corporation
M. Gerald Schwartzbach
Law Offices of M. Gerald Schwartzbach, A Professional Corporation

Practice Areas: Criminal defense, General litigation, Personal injury

Licensed in California since: 1974

Education: The George Washington University Law School

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2004 - 2023

Law Offices of M. Gerald Schwartzbach, A Professional Corporation

655 Redwood Highway
Suite 277
Mill Valley, CA 94941 Phone: 415-388-2343 Email: M. Gerald Schwartzbach Visit website


Mr. Schwartzbach won the nationally publicized acquittals of actor Robert Blake, civil rights lawyer Stephen Bingham and organ transplant surgeon Dr. Hootan Roozrokh.  He has successfully represented NFL All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch.  He also obtained acquittals in the murder trials of NeuroLinguistic Programming co-founder Richard Bandler, and Reuben Vizcarra, a Brown Beret charged with masterminding the murder of the Police Chief of Union City, California. Mr. Schwartzbach’s accomplishments also include the exoneration of Buddy Nickerson after 18 years of incarceration; pioneering the Battered Woman's Syndrome Defense; a denial of extradition based on a finding that Arkansas' penal system was unconstitutional; California Supreme Court rulings that felony defendants have a right to a preliminary hearing, and defendants in capital murder cases have a presumptive right to two lawyers; a sex discrimination judgment for a female San Francisco police officer, and a $295 million products liability verdict. 

First Admitted: 1970, Michigan

Professional Webpage: http://www.mgslawyer.com/index.php/attorney-profile

Pro bono/Community Service:
  • La Casa de las Madres, San Francisco's first shelter for battered women, First male member of board of directors, First male president of board of directors
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Marin County Bar Association
  • Northern California Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, Former Member Board of Governors
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Former Criminal Justice Advisory Council
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Former Chair, Criminal Justice Section
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Former Member of Board of Directors
  • Outstanding Service Award, Northern California Innocence Project
  • Marquis Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Law
  • The Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers
  • The Best Lawyers in America, by Woodward/White
  • For outstanding work in defense of a client, Skip Glenn Award, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, 1986
  • Distinguished Advocate, Santa Clara University School of Law, 2009
  • Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, Council of Independent Colleges, 2016
Educational Background:
  • B.A. - Washington & Jefferson College, 1966
  • J.D. - George Washington University Law School, 1969
Special Licenses/Certifications:
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, 1970
  • State Bar of Michigan, 1970
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1974
  • State Bar of California, 1974
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 1978
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 1980
  • United States Supreme Court, 1982
  • Successfully arguing that the state of Arkansas' penal system violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, Mr. Schwartzbach convinced the Governor of Michigan to deny a request by the Governor of Arkansas for the extradition of black prison escapee Lester Stiggers. At age 15, Mr. Stiggers had been convicted, by an all-white jury in a one-day trial, of the murder of his physically abusive father., 1972
  • Mr. Schwartzbach was counsel in Hawkins v. Superior Court, an opinion of the California Supreme Court in which the Court held that all California felony defendants have a right to a preliminary hearing, whether prosecuted by complaint or indictment., 1978
  • Helping to pioneer the Battered Women's Syndrome Defense, Mr. Schwartzbach successfully defended Delores Churchill against an attempted murder charge in a San Francisco Superior Court trial., 1981
  • Mr. Schwartzbach obtained the acquittal of Reuben Vizcarra in an Alameda County Superior Court trial in which Mr. Vizcarra was charged with having masterminded the assassination of the Police Chief of Union City, California., 1982
  • As counsel for the petitioner in the landmark case of Keenan v. Superior Court, Mr. Schwartzbach persuaded the California Supreme Court to establish the presumptive right of defendants in capital murder cases to have two court-appointed attorneys., 1982
  • Mr. Schwartzbach was chief trial counsel for attorney Stephen Bingham, who was acquitted of conspiracy and multiple murder charges in a Marin County Superior Court trial. This internationally publicized case arose out of an alleged escape attempt from San Quentin Prison by Black Panther George Jackson, which resulted in the death of Mr. Jackson and three prison guards., 1986
  • Representing the controversial co-founder of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Mr. Schwartzbach secured the acquittal of Richard Bandler in a celebrated Santa Cruz County Superior Court murder trial., 1988
  • Mr. Schwartzbach was chief trial counsel for Murray John Lodge, Jr. in Santa Clara County Superior Court. After two lengthy trials, Mr. Lodge received a life sentence, as opposed to the death penalty, despite the fact that he had been convicted of a double murder and an attempted murder, and 45 separate incidents in aggravation had been alleged against him., 1992
  • On behalf of former San Francisco Police Officer Joanne Welsh, Mr. Schwartzbach and his co-counsel won judgments of sex discrimination and retaliation against the City and County of San Francisco in a federal civil rights trial., 1995
  • Mr. Schwartzbach was one of the trial lawyers who obtained a jury verdict in excess of $295 million in the landmark personal injury/products liability case of Romo v. Ford Motor Co. in Stanislaus County Superior Court., 1999
  • Before Buddy Nickerson's ultimate release, Mr. Schwartzbach persuaded the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to set aside the statute of limitations of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The court based the landmark decision upon "a satisfactory showing of actual innocence.", 2000
  • Mr. Schwartzbach was lead counsel for Glen Buddy Nickerson, who, based upon a finding of actual innocence, was released from prison after having been incarcerated for 18 and a half years for a 1984 double murder. Mr. Nickerson's federal habeas corpus petition was granted by the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Patel found that Mr. Nickerson was denied a fair trial as a result of police misconduct. The court concluded that the manipulation of evidence and failure to disclose exculpatory materials pervaded the law enforcement investigation and the evidence at trial., 2003
  • Mr. Schwartzbach won the acquittal of the actor Robert Blake in a highly publicized Los Angeles murder trial that received both national and international attention. A national television audience viewed the trial's opening statements, closing arguments and rendering of verdicts., 2005
  • Mr. Schwartzbach successfully represented NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch, resulting in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office's decision not to file any criminal charges against Mr. Lynch., 2006
  • In the first criminal prosecution of its kind in the United States, Mr. Schwartzbach won an acquittal in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court for Dr. Hootan Roozrokh. Dr. Roozrokh, an organ transplant surgeon, was charged with attempting to hasten the death of a potential organ donor. The prosecution received international media attention and Dr. Roozrokh's exoneration has been widely viewed as both restoring confidence in the system of organ transplantation and making a significant contribution to the treatment of suffering in End-of-Life Care., 2008

Office location for M. Gerald Schwartzbach

655 Redwood Highway
Suite 277
Mill Valley, CA 94941


20 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2004 - 2023

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