United States Supreme Court
District of Columbia, 1989
Georgetown University (J.D., 1985, summa cum laude)
University of Virginia (B.A., 1980, with distinction)
JOSEPH R. GUERRA is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. Prior to joining the firm in 1988, Mr. Guerra served as a law clerk to Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. of the United States Supreme Court, and to the Hon. Joyce Hens Green of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. While in law school, he served as an intern to the Hon. Harry T. Edwards of the D.C. Circuit.
Mr. Guerra has filed numerous briefs in the United States Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit, and other federal and state appellate courts on a wide range of constitutional and administrative law matters. In the Supreme Court, he has filed briefs in cases involving, among other matters, takings claims, commercial and political speech restrictions, the constitutionality of term limits, federal preemption, the existence of a patient-psychotherapist privilege, the doctrine of equivalents under patent law, fee-shifting liability, and the United States obligations under international treaties. He has also briefed and argued cases in a number of federal appellate and district courts and in state lower courts. Mr. Guerra obtained dismissal of an ERISA class action challenging the division of the pension and welfare plan assets and liabilities necessitated by AT&T's spin-off of Lucent Technologies, and successfully defended that dismissal in the D.C. Circuit. Similary, he won the dismissal of a case alleging that AT&T had defrauded the Federal Circuit in a patent infringement appeal, and successfully defended that dismissal before the Fifth Circuit. He succeeded in a Fourth Circuit appeal challenging the imposition of municipal franchise fees on AT&Ts interstate cable; represented AT&T in enforcing telecommunications services patents in U.S. District Court; and handled numerous appeals for AT&T of state arbitration orders in federal district court under section 252 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Mr. Guerra also won dismissal of a class action filed in California state court challenging on interstate commerce clause grounds AT&Ts collection of local telephone taxes on interstate telephone calls charged to AT&T calling cards.
From July 1999 until January 2001, Mr. Guerra served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, United States Department of Justice, where he worked on a broad range of statutory, constitutional, administrative law, and ethics matters.
Since his return to the firm in February, 2001, Mr. Guerra has handled a variety
of statutory, administrative and constitutional law matters. He has written
briefs or advised clients concerning the scope of the Family Medical Leave Act,
the applicability of the Privacy Act to the military, separation of powers principles
under federal and state law, the justiciability of actions challenging the constitutionality
of of executive branch actions in the area of national security, and the authority
of the Securities and Exchange Commission to use its cease-and-desist authority
to punish conduct not otherwise regulated under the federal securities laws.
He has also prepared briefs addressing substantive and procedural due process
issues raised by CERCLAs contribution provisions and by the retroactive
application of new cost accounting methodologies to final settlement agreements
that apportion environmental clean-up costs. His most recent filing in the Supreme
Court was an amicus brief on behalf of the City of Los Angeles in the Lorillard
In a recent opinion, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the US Department of Justice concluded that an article intended to effectuate capital punishment by a state or the federal government is not subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The OLC's opinion appears to have been issued as a result of litigation involving the FDA's obligation to block the entry of misbranded and unapproved drugs used under state lethal injection protocols.