Bruce W. Nickerson


Bruce William Nickerson (born June 21, 1941) is a civil rights and gay rights attorney in California. He is the leading authority on police lewd conduct sting operations in the United States. He currently operates a solo legal practice in San Carlos, California. He has argued in front of the California Supreme Court and U.S. Federal Circuit courts regarding civil rights issues affecting gay people.

Nickerson attended Modesto High School in Modesto, California. He holds an A.B. in Economics, with honors, from Stanford University and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence from Golden Gate University. Nickerson was a champion debater while at Modesto High School.

[2] His focus on lewd conduct emerged after pursuing several cases addressing such conduct and freedom of speech issues at adult bookstores in the early 1980s in and around the Bay Area of California.

Nickerson successfully argued Baluyut v. Superior Court, (1996) 12 Cal.4th 826, an adult bookstore case which established discriminatory prosecution as a defense in police sting operations which target gay public conduct (and ignore identical straight public conduct.

Bruce was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly on Fox News regarding a series of cases which he has been arguing on behalf of several hundred defendants related to a sting operation targeting gay men in Fresno, California.


Additional interests

Nickerson is an accomplished musican. His home contains a pipe organ and a Steinway grand piano.

Here's Bruce and his nephew Rex Nickerson (age 13) playing Bach's Gigue Fugue in 1977, a 4 handed arrangement for 2 pianos.


He is regular organist for the Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal) in Belmont, CA....

...and produces "Home Concerts" complete with chamber orchestra, choir and special solists at his home in San Carlos. Around his 3 story livingroom/concert hall (complete with box seats)

pix of home concerts...


The "Manor House" Choir


Featuring reknown artists such as pianist Jerry Kuderna


Custom Rogers Electronic and Pipe Organ with Steinway in foreground


Grandson Braedon watches Bruce's "footwork" being projected ala Carmeron Carpenter!



...and there's always a feast before the home concerts (note arch bridge with crossing train).

O-gauge tracks run throught the house...complete with tunnels...

and bridges!

iPad, iPod, iPhone (non Flash version)

Nickerson is an avid world-traveler and photographer, having traveled throughout six continents and dozens of countries. He has particularly keen interests in hiking, bridges, and waterfalls. He completed the entire John Muir and Inca Trails in the mid-90s, as well as the Grand Canyon rim-to-river-to-rim hike in 2002. He has just returned from central Guyana to explore Kaiteur Falls in January, 2010...


He has expressed interest in visiting Indonesia (Borobodur), Easter Island and Myanmar (Burma) if the polictal situation improves.

Bruce, performed the American Classic short story by James Thurber: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". Bruce gave his first performance of this classic when he was a Freshman at Modesto High School. This performance was recorded 2/5/2011 at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Belmont, California.

This selection has been a lifetime favorite of Bruce's. (Candidly admiting to be a Walter Midy himself)

Bruce would add this caveat "he who never builds castles in the air shall surely never build them on the ground"

Part 1

Part 2


Recorded via Apple© iPhone4


Bruce sits at the Murray-Harrris pipe organ in Stanford University's chapel.

Adam Detzner demonstrates the last pipe organ built by Fisk. The organ was designed for Stanford University and sits up behind the Murray-Harris instrument.

iPad, iPod, iPhone (non Flash version)

Recorded via Apple© iPhone4S™



Bruce Nickerson has been serving the gay community for over 30 years. He has made new law 5 times:

• The first was in 1990 when he persuaded the California Jury Instruction Committee to modify an element on lewd conduct requiring the defendant to know or should know of the presence of persons who are likely to be offended.

• The second was a California Supreme Court ruling in People v. Superior Court (CasweIl), (1988) 48 Cal.3rd. 381 which established that traditional interpretations of California's loitering around a toilet statute were unconstitutional.

• The third, was a unanimous decision by the California Supreme court in Baluyut v. Superior Court (1996) 12 Cal.4th 826, which established discriminatory prosecution as a defense to police sting operations in tearooms and other public places.

The fourth was a unanimous, published opinion by the Appellate Division of the Fresno Superior Court, (see People v. Lake (2007) 156 Cal. App. 4th, Supp.1) which established that a violation of soliciting lewd conduct must involve an intent to perform the act in a public place where it is likely there will be third persons present to view the proposed conduct.

The fifth was a subsequent modification of the Cal Crim Jury Instructions based on the Lake case.

In addition Mr. Nickerson has available computer experts for computer crimes and pediatricians available to properly interpret the Tanner Study which is the standard for determining ages of persons where there is an accusation that a particular photo or film depicts a minor.

See Bruce's "News" page for updates, downloadable published cases, etc.


Mr. Nickerson has obtained reversal of registration orders based on consensual sex with minors and indecent exposure. The last one being his most recent published opinion.


Your Right to Privacy
Double Standards, Falsehoods and Ignorance of the Law Make Lewd Conduct Arrests Questionable
(article by Conlin Wagner, Reprinted from the March 2003 issue of Orange County & Long Beach BLADE Magazine)


High Court Backs Gays Against Police Sting
by Mary ann Swissler