Steven P. Saxton

Steven P. Saxton

Of Counsel

Steven P. Saxton

Of Counsel

For nearly 30 years, public agencies, businesses and agricultural landowners have looked to Steve Saxton to successfully handle water, resources, and land use litigation and representation in both private negotiations and in state and federal courts throughout California.

Steve’s practice is grounded in a deep appreciation for the far-reaching policy concerns that are part of all resource management and land use disputes.  With each case, he offers a thorough assessment to ensure that clients make their legal decisions with the understanding that even the smallest water right or entitlement issue must be resolved with an eye to this broader context.

Steve strives for practical solutions to litigation and provides particular attention to the technical complexities entailed in all of the matters he handles. This means placing a priority on getting engineers, planners, and hydrologists engaged and prepared early in the process.  Steve’s goal in every case is to provide both the legal and technical analyses that can avoid or shorten litigation.  And when litigation is unavoidable, he works to ensure that this expertise can be readily understood and correctly acted on by judges, juries, and other decision makers.


  • Lead litigation and appellate counsel for Sacramento Valley CVP contractors asserting area of origin rights to contract water supplies.
  • Litigation co-counsel for the Kern Water Bank Authority defending CEQA and related claims challenging the Monterey-Plus Agreement for allocating State Water Project supply.
  • Lead CEQA counsel for Sacramento Municipal Utility District defending PG&E challenge to Yolo County annexation.
  • Lead litigation counsel for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in several CEQA challenges to facilities construction and modification.
  • Lead trial counsel for a consortium of Sacramento Valley water contractors in defense of Endangered Species Act claims regarding chinook salmon and Delta smelt.
  • Lead litigation counsel for Monterey County in defense of recreation contract claims arising from proposed Salinas Valley Water Project.
  • Lead trial counsel, Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin adjudication (successful representation of plaintiff against claims of groundwater basin overdraft).
  • Litigation and appellate counsel defending Sacramento River Settlement Contractors against ESA challenges to contract renewals.
  • Lead litigation counsel defending Monterey County Water Resources Agency against CEQA, Public Trust Doctrine and Constitutional (Proposition 218) challenges to Salinas Valley Water Project.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, past co-chair, Litigation Committee
  • Association of California Water Agencies, Federal Affairs Committee
  • State Bar Association, Litigation and Natural Resources Sections
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, Former Member
  • Goodwill Industries of Sacramento Valley and Northern Nevada, Board Member, 2003-present
  • Camellia Symphony Orchestra, Former Director
  • Alta California Regional Center, Former Director and President
  • Parents for Special Children, Former Director

Honors And Rankings

  • AV Preeminent® Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, 1993-present
  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Energy & Natural Resources, 2015-2016, 2018

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