LONG BEACH — Bruce Nickerson has been nicknamed “the toilet lawyer” because he has spent more than two decades as a civil rights attorney defending gay and bisexual men in California who have been falsely accused of lewd conduct and indecent exposure during undercover stings at, among other places, public restrooms, a police tactic activists condemn as antiquated and discriminatory because it targets gay men.
Nickerson’s legal victories for his clients, however, have flushed potential criminal records or listings on the state registry for convicted sex offenders down the drain.
For example, in April, Nickerson, 75, successfully defended Rory Moroney, 51, who was falsely arrested by Long Beach police and accused of lewd conduct. Moroney’s case was dismissed by Long Beach Superior Court JudgeHalim Dhanidina, whose ruling sharply criticized the department and its tactics against the gay community.
Nickerson’s extensive career is discussed today in a Los Angeles Times profile. The article also investigates legal problems Nickerson faced early in his practice. His law license was suspended twice, and he served jail time for helping an accused child molester flee the country in 1988.
Nickerson, who identifies as gay, tells the Times that it was a mistake that haunts him to this day.
Earlier this month, Nickerson rode in the Long Beach gay pride parade alongside Moroney, his former client.