Moxila ("Moxi") Upadhyaya is an experienced trial attorney who has represented businesses and individuals in numerous bench and jury trials and depositions.
Moxi began her career as a trial attorney early, having served as lead counsel in two jury trials and one bench trial during her third year of law school through her participation in American University's Criminal Justice Clinic. As an associate during her first five years at Venable, she first-chaired a multi-day bench trial, second-chaired a federal bench trial on behalf of a major law firm, and was a key member of two jury trial teams. Additionally, she worked as an integral part of a team involved in a billion-dollar bankruptcy adversary proceeding in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of Enron as debtor-in-bankruptcy, during which she was involved in dozens of depositions. Her current trial practice includes numerous matters in the federal and local courts in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and elsewhere, as well as challenges to federal agency action in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the DC Circuit. She recently concluded a five-week jury trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Moxi is uniquely familiar with practice in the DC federal and state courts. In 2011, she left Venable to serve as an inaugural law clerk to the Honorable Robert L. Wilkins of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. In this capacity, Moxi advised Judge Wilkins on pending complex civil, administrative, and criminal matters involving high-profile issues of first impression. She regularly confronted questions of constitutional law, contract interpretation, statutory interpretation, federal civil procedure, and DC law. Prior to joining Venable, Moxi served a two-year term as law clerk to the Honorable Eric T. Washington, former Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. At the DC Court of Appeals, Moxi was involved in numerous complex civil, criminal, and administrative cases which presented issues of first impression affecting the District of Columbia.
Moxi focuses her pro bono practice on representing criminal defendants in post-conviction proceedings. In 2009, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project awarded her its "Defender of Innocence" award for her representation of a client who had been wrongly imprisoned for 19 years for a murder he did not commit. Venable's client challenged his conviction under the DC Innocence Protection Act and, after an intense factual reinvestigation of the 1987 murder, Venable's client was ultimately released from prison. She has also participated in the representation of an Alabama death row inmate in a state habeas proceeding.
- Successfully defended a multinational hospitality company in a dispute that presented complicated international jurisdictional issues related to plaintiffs' claims to land in Eastern Europe. Ms. Upadhyaya argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Judge Posner presiding), which affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case.
- Obtained a partial jury verdict in favor of Venable's client after a 5-week trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The jury found the existence of partnership arising from partners' conduct in associating with each other to carry on summer camps business as co-owners.
- Represented debtor in billion-dollar bankruptcy adversary proceeding involving commercial paper in the U.S. Bankruptcy and District Courts for the Southern District of New York.
- Served as second-chair trial counsel and won favorable judgment, after federal court trial, for former partners whose law firm improperly reduced their liquidating capital account balances by more than $1 million.
- First-chair trial counsel for commercial landlord in multi-day bench trial in DC Superior Court.
- Successfully defended a major private university in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against employment discrimination allegations. Obtained an order granting summary judgment in our client's favor, holding the plaintiff in contempt, and award of attorney's fees.
- Successfully defended the same university in Superior Court of the District of Columbia against allegations of age and gender discrimination brought by a tenured, endowed professor.
- Represented DC man wrongly imprisoned for 19 years for murder he did not commit and secured his release from prison, for which Moxi won the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project's 2009 Defender of Innocence Award.
- Successfully defended general partners in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland in a case involving limited partner's claims of breach of fiduciary duty and improper squeeze-out, resulting in jury verdict rejecting limited partner's claim to damages and attempt to dissolve limited partnership, and a jury verdict finding that limited partner had breached its agreement and was liable to general partners for more than $3.1 million in legal fees and costs.
- Won dismissal with prejudice of nuisance suit against solid waste processing facility in the District of Columbia and helped secure comprehensive settlement agreement allowing facility to remain in operation.
Moxi is a native of the Kansas City, Missouri area. She is active in the District of Columbia legal community. As a member of the DC Access to Justice Foundation's Board of Directors, Moxi helps raise funds for the DC Access to Justice Commission, which works toward increasing underserved DC residents' access to civil legal services and reducing and eliminating barriers to equal justice in the District. During her time as DC Bar Litigation Section Steering Committee Co-Chair, she served in leadership of the largest DC Bar section and helped to create programming and policy for the Litigation Section. Moxi also enjoys spending time as a mentor for the Abramson Scholarship Foundation.
Within the firm, she has served on Venable's Hiring, Diversity, and Marketing committees.