William W. Carter
William W. Carter is a partner in the Firm's Los Angeles office and serves as a member of its Public and Environmental Law Practice Group. Mr. Carter's practice focuses primarily on the representation of public entities, including municipalities, water districts, and school districts, in environmental, OSHA, public health and safety, natural resource protection, land use, public works and climate change matters. In that capacity, Mr. Carter has represented a number of municipalities, both large and small, as a Special Counsel and/or Special Prosecutor tasked with investigating and resolving threats to public works and utilities.
Mr. Carter also counsels and represents other educational and commercial institutions, including public and private colleges, corporations, businesses and associations, as well as environmental remediation, energy, maritime, shipping and customs-related companies, on compliance, internal investigations and criminal matters, including their legal and regulatory obligations under local, state and federal law. Mr. Carter has also successfully represented clients before the National Transportation Safety Board, various state and federal legislative committees and grand juries throughout the United States relating to the investigation of, among other things, alleged environmental violations, vessel and pipeline incidents involving the release of oil or hazardous substances and the exportation of restricted goods.
Primary Focus Areas
- Air Quality and Climate Change
- Chemicals, Products and Pesticide Regulation
- Environmental Internal Investigations and Incident Response
- Land Use/CEQA
- Environmental Law and Policy
- Maritime Environmental Law/Vessel Pollution
- Water and Wastewater
- Hazardous Wastes and Materials
- Endangered and Protected Species
- Native American and Archeological Artifacts
- Workplace Safety
- Food and Drug Safety
- Environmental Litigation
- White Collar Defense, Internal Investigations and Compliance
- Litigation and Dispute Resolution
- Municipal Governance
- Import/Export/Goods Movement
- Civil Rights/Use of Force
For 25 years, Mr. Carter served as a local and federal prosecutor and a high-level public counsel, including serving as the Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles and the Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement and General Counsel at the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA). Mr. Carter has handled cases involving and developed extensive knowledge of the major state and federal environmental, public health and safety, OSHA, and natural resource protection statutes and regulations, as well as laws governing public works, utilities, energy, import/export, land use, municipal governance, civil rights and white-collar fraud, including the False Claims Act and unfair business practices.
During the years 2009 to 2013, Mr. Carter served as Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles. As Chief Deputy, Mr. Carter directly oversaw and managed, on behalf of the elected City Attorney, the day-to-day operations of the Office, which had an average annual budget of over $100 million and as many as 1000 employees, including criminal prosecutors, civil trial attorneys, municipal counsel, trial support staff and investigators. The Office included both the Criminal and Civil Branches. The Criminal Branch prosecuted both criminal misdemeanor and civil enforcement cases on behalf of the People of the State of California, including traditional street crime, nuisance abatement, contractor fraud, environmental, right-to-know (i.e., Proposition 65), consumer protection, wage theft, labor, housing and other quality of life violations committed within the City. The Civil Branch represented the municipal corporation of the City of Los Angeles, including the Mayor’s Office, City Controller, City Council and all of its various boards and departments, such as the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, Public Works Department, Recreation and Parks Department, Library Department, Building and Safety Department, Planning Department, Housing Department, Office of Finance, Convention Center, Department of Disability, Fire and Police Pension, LA Zoo, Animal Services, Ethics Commission and, prior to its dissolution in 2012, the Community Redevelopment Agency. The Civil Branch also represented the City’s three proprietary departments: the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports (LAX, Ontario, Van Nuys and Airport Police Division), and Department of Water and Power, which comprise some of the largest and best-run municipal entities in the United States.
During the years 1994 through 2006, Mr. Carter was an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California (CDCA), where he served as both the Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section, and the Environmental Crimes Coordinator for the CDCA. During that period, Mr. Carter also was a member of the United States Department of Justice's Environmental Policy Committee, Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Federal Environmental Task Force, Chair of the Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo Regional Environmental Task Force, and coordinated with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In those positions, Mr. Carter was involved in the investigation and successful prosecution of many of the most significant environmental and public safety cases in the United States, including those involving: air and water pollution; the unlawful transportation, exportation, and disposal of hazardous wastes and materials; pesticides; wetlands; ozone-depleting chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); asbestos; protected and endangered wildlife; underground storage tanks; cultural, historical, and archaeological artifacts; clandestine drug laboratories; the distribution of adulterated or contaminated foods and drugs: and the ocean-dumping of pollutants by some of the largest cruise lines and shipping container fleets in the world.
While in the United States Attorney's Office, Mr. Carter also served as the Deputy Chief of the Public Corruption and Government Fraud Section, where he investigated and prosecuted a number of cases involving, among other things: civil rights violations; police corruption; foreign-counter intelligence; import/export violations; arson; tax evasion; bribery and kickbacks; mail, wire and insurance fraud; and theft and fraud against federal agencies, including the DOD, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration, Department of Labor and Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Carter successfully prosecuted the largest commercial smuggling case in the history of the then-U.S. Customs Service involving quota-restricted Chinese-textiles and prohibited Asian pharmaceuticals. Mr. Carter also served as one of the lead attorneys in the successful prosecution of corrupt LAPD officers assigned to the Rampart Division.
In 1992, Mr. Carter was appointed by the Governor to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement and General Counsel for the newly-created Cal/EPA. As the first person to serve in that position, Mr. Carter was responsible for developing, implementing and coordinating the legal and enforcement policies and affairs of the new agency, including those of its constituent six boards and departments: California Air Resources Board; State Water Board and its nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards; California Department of Toxic Substances Control; Department of Pesticide Regulation; California Integrated Waste Management Board; and the Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment. In addition to overseeing the general counsel and legal staffs assigned to its boards and departments, Mr. Carter was responsible for coordinating the activities of Cal/EPA’s investigators, inspectors and law enforcement officers. During that period, Mr. Carter also served as the Chair of the California Hazardous Waste Strike Force, whose members included all of Cal/EPA's boards and departments, CalTrans, the CHP and the California Office of Emergency Services. In addition to his enforcement and legal responsibilities, Mr. Carter was involved in numerous state policy and legislative matters, including legislation relating to SmogCheck II, water quality, state Superfund and the funding for the cleanup of illicit drug laboratories. Mr. Carter also oversaw Cal/EPA's responses to emergencies and disasters throughout the state, including train derailments, chemical fires, the Los Angeles Riots and the Northridge Earthquake. Mr. Carter coordinated with numerous local, state, and federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies tasked with monitoring air and water quality, as well as with assessing, cleaning up and proper disposal of hazardous wastes and other contaminated demolition debris generated during those events.
During the years 1985 through 1992, Mr. Carter served as a Deputy District Attorney and Special Assistant District Attorney in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Mr. Carter was assigned to the Environmental Crimes/OSHA Division, where he investigated and prosecuted local and state felony and misdemeanor environmental and workplace safety violations. These matters included: hazardous wastes and materials; air and water pollution; asbestos; fish and game violations; streambed alteration; underground storage tanks; oak tree preservation; grading violations; manslaughter; and violations of the California Labor Code resulting in serious bodily injury or death. During this period, Mr. Carter also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where he investigated and successfully prosecuted a number of federal environmental and public safety violations, including the first federal prosecutions involving the unlawful exportation of hazardous wastes to foreign nations, such as Mexico and Pakistan.
Mr. Carter has taught and lectured extensively on local, state, and federal regulatory, environmental, natural resource protection, OSHA, and law enforcement matters throughout the United States. These forums have included: US DOJ training programs; local, state and federal bar associations; foreign delegations; business, trade, and professional groups; hazardous waste, air and water associations; and educational institutions, including universities and law schools.
Mr. Carter has been a contributing author to numerous publications relating to the investigation and prosecution of environmental law violations, including those published by Cal/EPA, the California District Attorneys’ Association and the National District Attorney's Association, and the American Prosecutor's Research Institute.
Admissions & Associations
State Bar of California
Environmental Section of the California State Bar, Member of the Executive Committee 2007-2010. As a member, Mr. Carter co-authored an article, “Climate Change Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Related Air Pollution Issues,” published in the Environmental Law News, Spring 2007.
- Environmental, Land & Resources
- Public Entity Law
- Water Law
- White Collar & Government Investigations
Loyola Law School Los Angeles, J.D.
University of California, Los Angeles, B.A.
Awards & Recognitions
Named “Best Lawyers in America”