Miguel A. Estrada is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Mr. Estrada has represented clients before federal and state courts throughout the country in a broad range of matters. He has argued 22 cases before the United States Supreme Court, and briefed many others. He has also argued dozens of appeals in the lower federal courts.
In 2014, The American Lawyer named Mr. Estrada a “Litigator of the Year,” praising his “brains and tenacity” and noting he is the lawyer to call for “a tough, potentially unwinnable case.” Chambers & Partners named him in 2014 as one of a handful of attorneys that it ranked in the top tier among the nation’s leading appellate lawyers. Chambers & Partners noted that “clients are impressed by his intellect and ability, with one saying, ‘His papers are just blindingly clear in what they say and devastating in how they marshal the arguments.’” The Atlantic recently described his oral argument in a 2014 high-profile separation-of-powers case as “one of the most dazzling arguments the marble chamber has heard in many years.”
Mr. Estrada was also selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2015 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the specialties of Appellate Law, Commercial Litigation and Criminal Defense: White Collar, Intellectual Property Litigation, and Regulatory Enforcement Litigation in the areas of SEC, Telecom, and Energy. In 2004, Legal Times named him one of the top 12 appellate litigators in the D.C. area, noting that “people who follow appellate practice in Washington have known for several years that Estrada . . . is one of the best around.” Also in 2004, Washingtonian Magazine named him one of the top constitutional law lawyers “who could become one of the legends of the Supreme Court bar.”
Mr. Estrada joined Gibson Dunn in 1997, after serving for five years as Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. He previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York. In those capacities, Mr. Estrada represented the government in numerous jury trials and in many appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Estrada practiced corporate law in New York with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Mr. Estrada is a Trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society. He was formerly a member of the Board of Visitors of Harvard Law School.
Mr. Estrada served as a law clerk to the Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy in the U.S. Supreme Court from 1988 to 1989 and to the Honorable Amalya L. Kearse in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1986 to 1987. He received a J.D. degree magna cum laude in 1986 from Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Estrada graduated with an A.B. degree magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1983 from Columbia College, New York. He is fluent in Spanish and proficient in French.
Representative Supreme Court matters include:
- In National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning (2014), he represented the Republican caucus of the United States Senate in successfully urging the invalidation of the President’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relation Board.
- In Comcast Corp. v. Behrend (2013), he persuaded the Court to grant review of, and then reverse by a 5-4 vote, a certified antitrust class seeking $2.6 billion in damages.
- In Black v. United States (2010), he represented media magnate Conrad M. Black in securing Court review and reversal of multiple convictions under the “honest services” provisions of the federal mail and wire fraud statutes.Based on his arguments, the Supreme Court significantly narrowed the scope of conduct that can be prosecuted as “honest services” fraud.
- In Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings v. Metabolite Laboratories, Inc. (2006), he persuaded the Court to leave undisturbed a Federal Circuit ruling upholding the validity of a two-step process patent setting forth a method for diagnosing vitamin deficiencies.
- In Northern Insurance Co. of New York v. Chatham County (2006), he persuaded the Court to rule unanimously that counties are not entitled to invoke sovereign immunity in admiralty actions.
- In Aetna v. Davila Health (2004), he persuaded the Court to rule unanimously that federal law preempts state laws that give patients the right to sue managed care organizations.
- In Strickler v. Greene (1999), he argued on behalf of a death row inmate pro bono in a challenge to his conviction and sentence.
In 2011, the Supreme Court appointed Mr. Estrada to brief and argue two criminal cases –Dorsey v. United States and Hill v. United States – in which the Solicitor General declined to defend the judgments of the court of appeals. Mr. Estrada was appointed to argue the position that the Solicitor General had declined to defend.
Mr. Estrada was also part of the team that successfully presented then Governor Bush’s position to the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore (2000). Other cases that Mr. Estrada handled in the Supreme Court include Granholm v. Heald (2005) (dormant Commerce Clause and Twenty-First Amendment), Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v. United States ex rel. Stevens (2000) (False Claims Act, Article III standing and Eleventh Amendment immunity), Old Chief v. United States (1997) (rules of evidence), United States v. Mezzanatto (1995) (evidence and plea bargaining), United States v. Robertson (1995) (constitutional limits on Congress’s Commerce Clause powers), Citizens Bank of Maryland v. Strumpf (1995) (bankruptcy law), and NOW, Inc. v. Scheidler (1994) (RICO).
Recent Court of Appeals matters include:
- In re Engle Cases, 767 F.3d 1082 (11th Cir. 2014): upholding dismissal of over 700 individual cases for pervasive pleading deficiencies.
- Coquina Invs. V. TD Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 1300 (11th Cir. 2014): upholding jury verdict and sanctions in fraud case arising out of a Ponzi scheme.
- FERC v. JPMorgan Ventures Energy Corp. (D.C. Cir. 2013): argued two appeals on discovery issues arising out of FERC’s investigation of alleged market manipulation; the investigation was closed by settlement before decisions were issued.
- Espenscheid v. DirectSat USA, LLC, 705 F.3d 770 (2013): rejecting class certification and collective-action treatment for overtime claims.
- Comcast Cable Communications, LLC v. FCC, 717 F.3d 982 (D.C. Cir. 2013): reversing FCC decision in program-carriage case.
- Georgia Pacific Consumer Prods. v. von Drehle, 710 F.3d 527 (4th Cir. 2013): reversing JNOV in trademark infringement case.
- Fox v. FCC, 613 F.3d 317 (2d Cir. 2010): invalidating FCC’s indecency policy under vagueness doctrine.
In addition, Mr. Estrada is lead appellate counsel to Vivendi S.A. in two securities-fraud appeals from jury verdicts that are currently pending in the Second Circuit, and to the National Association of Broadcasters in a challenge to certain procedures promulgated by the FCC in connection with the upcoming Spectrum Auction. Mr. Estrada also recently presented argument before the D.C. Circuit on behalf of the tobacco industry in a first amendment challenge to certain compelled disclosures that were imposed as part of the government’s long-running civil RICO case against the industry.
- In 2014, Mr. Estrada represented a large financial institution in a tax dispute with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and was part of a team that prevailed in a bench trial.
- In 2013, Mr. Estrada represented the CEO of PokerStars, the largest online poker card-room in the world, in settling civil-forfeiture claims by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
- From 2004 to 2009, Mr. Estrada defended Cessna in federal court litigation arising out of the largest airline disaster in Italian history, ultimately securing dismissal of most of the claims.
- From 1999 to 2005, Mr. Estrada was a lead attorney for Aetna in dozens of class actions against the managed care industry that the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation consolidated in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (MDL No. 1334).