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Roderick E. Walston

Of Counsel

Walnut Creek
2001 N. Main Street
Suite 390
(925) 977-3304

Roderick E. Walston is of counsel in Best Best & Krieger Litigation practice group in the Walnut Creek office. He specializes in environmental law & natural resources, water law, and in appellate practice. During his long career in the California Attorney General’s office, Mr. Walston litigated many of the State of California’s most important natural resources and environmental cases, particularly at the appellate level. He has served as the top lawyer for the U.S. Department of the Interior, and as head of the California Attorney General’s Public Rights Division, which handles all litigation in the natural resources, environmental and water law areas. In these capacities, Mr. Walston has acquired expertise in many areas of the law, including state water rights and water quality laws, federal reclamation laws, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, public trust issues, land use regulation, and constitutional takings issues, among others.

Mr. Walston has argued several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and others in federal and state appellate courts. He has argued Supreme Court cases involving the applicability of state laws to federal reclamation projects, the applicability of the public trust doctrine in the water rights context, the applicability of state laws to federal agencies under the Clean Water Act, the applicability of state laws to federally-licensed hydropower projects, and the scope of the Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory authority over navigable waters. He has also argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court under the Court’s original jurisdiction. His range of litigation and management experience extends to many other natural resources and environmental matters.

Mr. Walston’s past experience includes serving as Deputy Solicitor/Acting Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior (2002-2004); General Counsel of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (2000-2002); Special Counsel of the California Attorney General’s Office (1999-2000); Chief Assistant Attorney General of the Public Rights Division, State of California (1991-1999); and Deputy Attorney General of the State of California (1963-1991).

Mr. Walston received the United States Supreme Court "Best Brief Award" from the National Association of Attorneys General in 1997 (for brief submitted in Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154).. He is currently listed in "Who’s Who in America," "Who’s Who in the World" and "Who’s Who in American Law."

Mr. Walston received his Juris Doctorate from Stanford Law School in 1961, where he served as Editor for the Stanford Law Review. He graduated cum laude from Columbia University where he received a Bachelor of Art degree in 1958. Mr. Walston attended Boise Jr. College and served as Student Body President in 1956. He is admitted to practice in the State of California and is a member of the Bar for the U.S. Supreme Court, California Supreme Court and the U. S. Court of Appeals (First, Second, Third, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits, District of Columbia Circuit and Federal Circuit).


  • Stanford University, J.D. (1961)
  • Columbia University, B.A.

Bar Admissions

  • California (1962)

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals


  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Natural Resources & Water Law (2008-2015)
  • "Public Lawyer of the Year Award" from the State Bar of California (2004)
Roderick E. Walston
Of Counsel
  • California v. United States, 438 U.S. 645 (1978) (U.S. Supreme Court held that federal agencies must comply with state water laws in operating federal reclamation projects)
  • California v. Sierra Club, 451 U.S. 287 (1981) (U.S. Supreme Court held that private parties cannot enforce Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899)
  • California v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 495 U.S. 490 (1990) (U.S. Supreme Court held that federally-licensed hydropower projects are not subject to state regulatory water laws)
  • California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202 (1987) (U.S. Supreme Court held that states cannot apply civil regulatory laws on Indian reservations and therefore cannot regulate on-reservation tribal gambling operations)
  • California v. Texas, et al., 450 U.S. 977 (1981) (U.S. Supreme Court issued temporary restraining order preventing Texas and other states from imposing embargo against fruits and vegetables imported from California as result of infestation of Mediterranean fruit fly)
  • Environmental Protection Agency v. California, 426 U.S. 200 (1976) (U.S. Supreme Court held that federal agencies are not required to comply with state permit requirements under Clean Water Act)
  • National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, 33 Cal.3d 419 (1983) (California Supreme Court held that public trust doctrine applies to water rights, and state has right to modify past water rights decisions affecting Mono Lake to protect public trust values)
  • O.W.L. Foundation v. City of Rohnert Park, 168 Cal.App.4th 568 (2008) (California Court of Appeal, in first appellate interpretation of California's water supply assessment statute, upheld City's assessment of water supplies).

Roderick E. Walston
Of Counsel
  • "California Water Law: Historical Origins to the Present," 29 Whittier L. Rev. 765 (2008)
  • "Judicial Deference to Agency Interpretations: The Ups and Downs of the Chevron Doctrine," 15 S.E. Env. L. Jour. 405 (2007)
  • "The Supreme Court Limits the Scope of the Endangered Species Act: National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife," Calif. Water Law & Policy Reporter 3 (Oct. 2007)
  • "The Federal Commerce and Navigation Powers: Solid Waste Agency’s Undecided Constitutional Question," 42 Santa Clara L. Rev. 699 (2002)
  • "The Constitution and Property: Due Process, Regulatory Takings and Judicial Takings," 2001 Utah L. Rev. 359 (2001)
  • "Reborn Federalism in Western Water Law: The New Melones Dam Decision," 30 Hastings L. Jour. 1645 (1979), reprinted in 17 Pub. Land and Res. L. Digest 10 (1979)
  • "Western Water Law," 1 Natural Res. & Env. 6 (Winter 1986) (American Bar Association publication)
Roderick E. Walston
Of Counsel
  • American Bar Association:
    • Council Member, Section on Environment, Energy and Resources (2003 - present)
    • Chairman, Water Resources Committee (1988-1990)
    • Co-founder and Chairman, annual Water Resources Conference (1983-1991)
  • Western States Water Council (California legal representative; gubernatorial appointee) (1985-2002)
  • Association of California Water Agencies, Member, Legal Affairs Committee (2000-2002)

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