CASES AND CLIENTS
These are very brief summaries of a very small sampling of my work and resulting opinions. If you would like to see actual opinions or work product please click on the links.
NOTE: If you are looking for information about our current challenge to the DMV's APS system please go to http://www.apslitigation.com.
1. A great deal of my time and attention from 2005-2011 was devoted to Cinquegrani v. Department of Motor Vehicles(2008) 163 CA4th 741, a civil rights class action that I conceived, developed and then prosecuted with a team of colleagues. By June 2008 we had a published opinion affirming my thesis that the DMV was suspending the driving privileges of people convicted of “Boating Under the Influence” without any legal authority, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. In the end the Court permanently enjoined the DMV from continuing this illegal practice and ordered them to set aside all existing suspensions and, in 2012, we received final approval of a $5,600,000 settlement from which each class member received a minimum of $4,000 plus an amount based on the number of days their license was illegally suspended. Forcing the most arrogant and abusive government agency in California to obey the law, clean our clients records by "setting aside" all of their illegal suspensions and pay each of our class members for the harm they caused is both unprecedented and, I freely admit, immensely gratifying.
2. Lozado v. Superior Court (unpublished opinion) was a particularly challenging situation. Mr. Lozado had been convicted of a felony, placed on probation and immediately deported. Because he did not report to the Probation Department the Orange County Superior Court “violated” his probation and issued a warrant for his arrest. Years later he was being prevented from immigrating to Canada and sought my help, so I filed a Motion to Reinstate Probation, Recall and Quash the Warrant, and Terminate Probation. While the violation and warrant were clearly improper and an abuse of the Court’s power, and "but for" the erroneous court actions the probation would have terminated as a matter of law, Mr. Lozado could not legally enter the United States to personally appear in court to challenge it, and there was no precedent telling the Court that it had to even consider our motion -- so it didn’t. I filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandate in the Court of Appeal and we prevailed, winning all of the relief we sought: The “violation” was reversed, the warrant was recalled, and his probation was terminated as a matter of law. I have made my 2009 briefing available to other lawyers and all that I know of have gotten equally favorable results, but unfortunately there are still no published – i.e., precedential – decision supporting the right of individuals to challenge such improper court actions from outside the country.
3. US v Simpson I (9th Cir. 1987) 813 F.2d 1462; US v. Simpson II (9th Cir. 1991) 927 F.2d 1088; US v. Eccles (9th Cir. 1988) 850 F.2d 1357 are a series of related cases, all focused on “outrageous government conduct” in violation of the Fifth Amendment Due Process clause and the Court’s “Inherent Supervisory Power” to sanction such misconduct.
Simpson was, beginning in 1984, a five-year, multi-pronged battle that truly ignited my fear and loathing of abusive government power. Mr. Simpson and his co-defendants told their legal team, of which I was a part, an unbelievable saga about how the US government set him up by getting a prostitute to enter his life as a girlfriend, talk him into smuggling heroin from overseas and how she got to keep the profits while he got indicted. Our investigation revealed that, sadly, it was true. This 1987 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal opinion only hints at the sordid tale of how Mr. Simpson and his friends were ensnared in the governments trap. Though the Court reversed the dismissal we had obtained on a theory of “Outrageous Government Conduct,” we returned to the District Court and obtained another dismissal under the Court’s “Supervisory Powers” that was again reversed by the appellate court, and when we got back to the District Court for the third time we obtained probationary “no time” pleas for all of the defendants. This experience taught me, among other things, that there is no substitute for thoughtful, creative and aggressive lawyering, no matter how long it takes, when an individual’s life and liberty is on the line.
4. Shepherd v. Greene (1986) 185 CA3d 989, never should have happened, but it did. When a family friend suffered a debilitating stroke and it appeared that Kaiser was at least partially responsible, I referred the family to a Big Shot medical malpractice lawyer and his firm. When the case settled it was brought to my attention that the lawyer was charging far more than allowed under a fee-limiting statute for medical malpractice cases - more than an extra $120,000. I naively brought this to his attention assuming it was a mistake, at which time he essentially told me and my friends to, um, bug off. I initiated a State Bar fee arbitration and won, but he contested it in Superior Court. I challenged his Complaint and got the case dismissed on the grounds that he was seeking to enforce a contract that violated public policy as set forth in the statute. He appealed, and I won again. He had to finally pay up what finally totaled somewhere around $140,000. My friends sued him again for “breach of fiduciary duties” and settled for another bundle of money! The coup de grace: The State Bar publicly sanctioned this bully for his misconduct against my friends!
5. Raff v. California is a case I took on after his 2008 conviction and pursued all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 2010. Though the Court did not include Raff in the tiny percentage of cases that they agree to review each year, I believe that the Certiorari Petition is a good sample of my work. I also include this here to make another important point that all potential clients must understand from the outset: No matter the effort expended or the quality of the work, there are no guarantees in the practice of law.
6. People v. Barilo is a 2011 appellate decision in which I won the reversal my client's conviction for a variety of sex offenses. This was a case that for fairly obvious reasons I avoided the facts and fact-related issues and focused squarely on one good, purely legal argument. Using their experience and judgment to decide which issues to raise and which to waive is one of the most important functions of an appellate attorney, and if you read the unpublished opinion I think you'll see why I made the decisions I did in this case.