Overview

Michael R. Watts is an accomplished litigator who focuses his practice on training and advising clients regarding workplace violence and safety issues. Mr. Watts also leads and assists employers with sensitive investigations into racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and other allegations.

With years of experience in both the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps and the U.S. Secret Service, Mr. Watts brings a unique perspective and expert guidance to all matters involving workplace safety and security, including violence in the workplace, active shooter training, active shooter response, and the use of force.

Mr. Watts has developed and conducted training courses in workplace safety for more than 15 years. During these courses, he puts a legal lens on active shooter training and presents both the employment law, as well as the employee relations points of view.

Mr. Watts is also a Lt. Col. in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he serves as the deputy commander of a legal unit and formerly served as the chief prosecutor for the second largest unit in the United States Army Reserve.

During his years as a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service, Mr. Watts participated in numerous bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering investigations, and developed significant expertise in asset forfeiture and money laundering investigations. As a protective agent, he participated in protective operations for the President, the Vice President, presidential candidates, and foreign dignitaries.

While an active duty supervisory attorney in the U.S. Army, Mr. Watts oversaw all legal operations for a large unit at the 101st Airborne Division.

Mr. Watts began his legal career as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army where he investigated and prosecuted violent and white collar crimes, including a high-profile attempted murder case. He also taught hundreds of classes on the law of armed conflict, rules of engagement, and the use of force.

While attending law school, Mr. Watts received the Constitutional Law Award and participated in the Public Defender’s Externship and the Mediation Clinic.

Representative Matters

  • Recently represented a government agency in a 37-year wrongful imprisonment case, negotiating a settlement for a fraction of the amount demanded where plaintiffs were seeking between $1-2 million per year of incarceration when other government agencies settled for millions, even before they were sued.
  • Obtained summary judgment in publicized case where plaintiff sought $27 million in damages for unlawful search and seizure allegations.
  • Assisted numerous military personnel with various issues, including successfully defending personnel during security clearance revocation proceedings and appearing before the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA).
  • Facilitated extremely favorable settlement terms for a large health care company in proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Protected clients from baseless claims of racial discrimination by conducting thorough investigations, resulting in favorable release agreements.

Practice Areas

News & Publications

Events & Speaking Engagements

Mr. Watts conducts riveting workshops and training seminars on such topics as workplace violence, active shooter preparation, police use of force, and testimonial preparation. Some of the many sessions he has led include:

"Workplace Security Essentials," Desert Communities Employer Advisory Council, May 2022

"Security Issues for the Construction Industry," AALRR Construction Legal Forum, November 2021

"Identifying and Responding to Workplace Violence in Health Care," AALRR Health Services Industry Monthly Webinar, October 2021

"Workplace Safety Issues Causing Employers Heartburn," AALRR Morning Fix, October 2021

"The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)," AALRR Morning Fix, September 2021

"COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements," Southern California Contractors’ Association, August 2021

"Use of Force, Preparing to Testify and Report Writing," U.S. Secret Service Emergency Response Team, June 2021

"Use of Force Legal Issues for Supervisors," Orange County Sheriff’s Department Supervisors Course, 2016-2021

"Critical Legal Issues for Law Enforcement," Oxnard Police Department, September 2020

"Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response," U.S. Army, June 2020

"Critical Legal Issues for Law Enforcement," California State Sheriff’s Association, 2017

"Rules of Engagement / Rules for the Use of Force," U.S. Army, 2007-Present

Publications

Mr. Watts has contributed to several publications regarding workplace violence and civil rights issues.

"Employers Must Remain Vigilant About Workplace Violence Amidst Return to Work," Southern California Contractors’ Association Magazine, Sep./Oct. 2021

"Legal Briefing – 4th Amendment," FBI National Executive Institute, November 2018

Certifications and Trainings

Certifications and Trainings

Mr. Watts has completed a variety of courses and received certifications focusing on security and investigative issues, including courses specifically regarding workplace violence and active shooter prevention, investigation, and mitigation. Some examples include:

Certifications
Active Shooter Response Instructor, California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission Certified, Northern California Regional Public Safety Training Authority, December 2021
U.S. Secret Service Special Agent, Special Agent Training Course, 2010
U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Criminal Investigator Training Program, 2010

Training
Preventing Violence in the Workplace, Department of Defense, 2021
Workplace Violence Prevention for Nurses, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021
Force Encounters Analysis: Human Performance in Critical Incidents, California POST Certified, California Training Institute, 2018
Active Shooter – What You Can Do, Federal Emergency Management Institute, 2016

Education

J.D., University of Tennessee
B.A., with Honors, Washington University in St. Louis

Admissions

  • 2016, California
    2005, Tennessee

Languages

  • German
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