contact

Appellate Defenders, Inc.
555 West Beech Street, Ste. 300
San Diego, CA 92101
Telephone: (619) 696-0282  |  Fax: (619) 696-7789

 

SUPPORT STAFF

Freida Aguilar
Legal Administrative Assistant
fxa@adi-sandiego.com

Sinai Bardales
Legal Administrative Assistant
sdb@adi-sandiego.com

Leilani Cruz
IT Systems Administrator
lcc@adi-sandiego.com

John Diaz
Paralegal
jjd@adi-sandiego.com

Eric Fager
Paralegal
edf@adi-sandiego.com

Kathy Hall
Legal Administrator
klh@adi-sandiego.com

Aliyah Harrison
Legal Administrative Assistant
alh@adi-sandiego.com

Tierra Johnson
Legal Administrative Assistant
tlj@adi-sandiego.com

Lori Olthoff
Data Management Coordinator
lmo@adi-sandiego.com

Aida Orio
Accountant
ano@adi-sandiego.com

Omar Palacio
Panel Management Coordinator
oap@adi-sandiego.com

Kristine Ritchie
Paralegal
khr@adi-sandiego.com

Amy Spintman
Director of Office Administration
als@adi-sandiego.com

Din Villa
Legal Support Specialist
ddv@adi-sandiego.com

CASE QUESTIONS:

If you have a question concerning an appeal pending in the Fourth Appellate District, please contact the assigned staff attorney. If no staff attorney has yet been assigned to the case, please email your questions to: casequestions@adi-sandiego.com. Under our contract with the State, ADI can only assist indigent persons on appeal within the Fourth Appellate District - San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties. If you need a lawyer or legal advice you should contact the bar association or a lawyer referral service for the State and County in which you live, or where your case is being heard.

 

APPLYING TO THE PANEL:

If you are an attorney interested in applying to receive appointments in cases in the Fourth District, click here (PDF).

Panel Attorney Ombudspersons/Liaisons: Linda Fabian and Art Martin

 

Contact Webmaster: Webmaster

ADI Staff Login

 

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ADI BIOS:

Aguilar, Freida
Legal Administrative Assistant

Freida graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2019 and joined ADI that same year. Her duties at ADI include routing telephone calls, filing case related documents, and handling administrative tasks that come up throughout the day. She will be attending California Western School of Law in the fall of 2022. Her hobbies include taking her dog, Peppa, on walks and cuddling with her.

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Cella, Michele
Staff Attorney

Michele Cella graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of San Diego School of Law. After graduation, she accepted a judicial clerkship in her home state of Minnesota. She returned to San Diego several years later, and became an adjunct professor of legal writing at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Shorty therafter, she joined the appointed counsel panel, working on dependency and civil commitment cases. Ms. Cella joined ADI in 2016. She is a member of the Appellate Inns of Court and the San Diego County Bar Association.

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Cohen, Howard
Staff Attorney

Howard C. Cohen joined ADI in June 1984. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his J.D. from U.C.L.A. (Order of the Coif; Law Review). After law school, he first worked as a research attorney for the Honorable William B. Enright (So. Dist. Cal.). He then practiced nearly five years in criminal trial practice with then-Defenders, Inc. and another nearly five years in civil litigation, both plaintiff and defense representation. He is a Captain, U.S. Naval Reserve, Judge Advocate General's Corps (Retired).

In his naval reserve capacity, Mr. Cohen was awarded, among other awards, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his service with the United States Pacific Command and the Navy Meritorious Service Medal for his service as an appellate judge on the Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals. In his civilian practice, he was honored as the Public Lawyer of the Year (1996) by the San Diego County Bar Association, the Paul Bell Award (2011), and was one of the first certified appellate law specialists. He has argued before the California Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell. In addition to California, he is a member of the bars of the United States Supreme Court, the District of Columbia (inactive), the Ninth Circuit, the Southern and Central Districts of California, and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. He is a Master of both the Enright and San Diego Appellate Inns of Court (and was on the inaugural Executive Committee of the latter).

Mr. Cohen is a devoted fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and has interests in traveling and philately, if his grandchildren leave him any time.

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Fabian, Linda
Staff Attorney

Before joining ADI as a staff attorney in 2007, Linda Fabian was an attorney on the appointed counsel panel and worked in that capacity with ADI for 19 years, handling juvenile dependency and mental health appeals. She obtained her undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara and her law degree from California Western School of Law, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Before joining the panel, she practiced in firms handling real estate litigation and family law matters. Her hobbies include traveling, cooking, gardening, and painting.

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Furness, Laura
Staff Attorney

Laura Furness joined ADI in September 2005 after a brief time on the appointed counsel panel. A native of Los Angeles, she received her degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. After spending a few years reporting local news on the radio in Eureka, California, she relocated to San Diego. She graduated from University of San Diego School of Law with a J.D. and, a year later, with an LL.M. in International Law. After law school, she was a litigation defense attorney in general liability, business law, and medical malpractice. She also did a short stint as a plaintiff’s attorney in employment law. Away from ADI, she enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, and movies.

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Hall, Kathy
Legal Administrator, Paralegal

Kathy joined ADI in January of 1995. She earned her paralegal certificate from the University of San Diego, Legal Assistant Program and her bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley. GO BEARS! As a paralegal with ADI, she is responsible for administering appeals and processing claims. She also serves as ADI's law librarian. Lastly, Kathy is responsible for all the non-case related correspondence ADI receives on a daily basis. She is the proud mother of two. Although her family is Kathy's main focal point in her life right now, she still enjoys going for a jog, or walk, cooking, baking and reading.

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Harrison, Aliyah
Legal Administrative Assistant

Aliyah joined ADI in 2022. Her duties include providing daily front desk and administrative support. She graduated cum laude from U.C. Santa Cruz in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. Outside of ADI, Aliyah enjoys traveling, visiting museums, knitting, and cooking.

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Hee, Lynelle
Acting Executive Director

Lynelle Hee obtained her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and was admitted to the California Bar in 1993. Following graduation, she worked at the San Diego Public Defender’s Office. She joined ADI in September of 2002.

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Irza, Helen
Staff Attorney

Q: Why does California have all the lawyers and New Jersey have all the toxic waste dumps?
A: New Jersey got first choice.

Helen was born and grew up in a small, woodsy, town in New Jersey. Twenty-two years later, she moved to California and earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University. Before attending law school at the University of San Diego, School of Law, she worked as an information systems consultant for Accenture in New Orleans and Seville, Spain. She joined ADI in 2014 after ten years as an intellectual property litigator and seven years as a panel attorney.

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Jauregui-Law, Anna M.
Staff Attorney

Anna M. Jauregui-Law received her undergraduate degree from USC and juris doctorate from UCLA School of Law. While attending USC, she interned in Washington D.C. under the public policy administration program. While in law school, she studied abroad in Paris, France, and worked as an extern law clerk for the Honorable David V. Kenyon, U.S. District Court Judge, in Los Angeles. She began her legal career as a deputy district attorney with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office. When she moved to San Diego, she worked for a civil litigation firm and became a member of the Appointed Counsel Panel. In 1991, she joined ADI.

She has served as a California State Bar Commissioner for the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission, as a San Diego County Judge Pro Tempore, and as an adjunct professor for Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She has been a Vice President and Board Director of Lawyers Club of San Diego, an Affiliate Governor for the California Women’s Lawyers Board of Governors and its assistant newsletter editor, and a Board Director of San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association. She is a member of the San Diego County Bar Association and its Children at Risk Committee, Women of Color in the Law, and the La Raza Lawyers Association. She is a founder and leader of Latinas in the Law of San Diego. She has also served on non-profit community boards such as the Chicano Federation of San Diego, a social service agency, and La Cuna, a foster family agency and on the school board for Stella Maris Academy in La Jolla. She has been recognized for her community service contributions, having received awards from La Cuna for Most Valuable Board Member, the San Diego Magazine for Latinos Making a Difference, and the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association for Special Service to the Association and to the Latino Legal Community.

At ADI, she represents clients, provides supervision and guidance to appointed counsel, and assists in the administration of indigent appeals. She is ADI’s website committee chairperson.

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Jog, Anita
Staff Attorney

Anita joined ADI as a law clerk in 2000. After she graduated from the University of San Diego, School of Law in 2001, ADI was honored to welcome Anita on board as a full-time staff attorney. Additionally, upon graduation from USD, Anita was awarded the prestigious Joseph P. Busch, Jr. Criminal Justice Award.

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Johnson, Tierra
Legal Administrative Assistant

Tierra Johnson is a student at San Diego State University. Her goal is to attend law school in 2024. Tierra enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, and learning new hobbies.

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Kent, Jill
Staff Attorney

Jill Kent joined ADI in 2019 after working as a panel attorney for many years. She also spent over a decade teaching post-conviction legal remedies to students at the California Innocence Project and Northern California Innocence Project. Her law degree is from Santa Clara University School of Law. Before finding a home in criminal law, Jill worked in the graphic design, space exploration, night club, and video game industries.

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Martin, Art
Staff Attorney

Art Martin was born in Balboa Park (the Naval Hospital, not the Zoo) and graduated from Crawford High School in East San Diego. He has a B.A. in philosophy from Columbia, a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of New Mexico, and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law, Order of the Coif, where he was an Executive Editor of the Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. Art clerked at ADI during law school, was a junior staff attorney for two years, and then on the panel for 12 years before returning to ADI in 2017.

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Min, Elena
Staff Attorney

Elena received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1999 and her law degree from the University of Southern California in 2004. Before law school, she worked as a publicist for technology and content creation companies. After law school, she practiced commercial litigation and employment law for nine years at several major law firms in Los Angeles and also worked as a staff attorney at the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles. After returning to her hometown of San Diego, she continued to practice employment law and also joined the dependency panel before joining ADI in February 2022. Her hobbies include running half marathons, hiking, traveling, restaurants, and cooking.

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Mishkin, Cindi
Staff Attorney

Cindi Mishkin earned her bachelor's degree from Columbia University. After graduation, Cindi returned to the West Coast where she attended the University of San Francisco School of Law. While in law school, she volunteered at the San Francisco Public Defender's Office and at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. She also externed for a semester at the California Supreme Court. There, she worked in the criminal central staff helping to process numerous petitions for review for the court's weekly Wednesday calendar. After graduating from law school, she worked in San Francisco with several attorneys on the appointed counsel panel, practicing both criminal appellate and criminal trial law, and she became a member of the SDAP panel. Ultimately, she was hired by ADI and began working in San Diego in January 1995. She is an avid practitioner of Iyengar Yoga and the proud parent of two very busy girls and one cat, Spot.

Montanez, Savannah
Staff Attorney

Savannah Montanez grew up in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. She earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Northern Arizona University and her law degree from the University of San Diego. During law school, Savannah was an extern for Associate Justice William Dato at the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One, a law clerk for ADI, and an articles editor for the San Diego Law Review of the University of San Diego. After graduating Magna Cum Laude, Savannah spent two years working as an Annual Attorney for the Criminal Central Staff of the California Supreme Court. She returned to ADI as a staff attorney in 2022.

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Olthoff, Lori
Data Management Coordinator

After attending Southern Oregon State and Pepperdine University, Lori decided to travel the West and eventually wound up joining ADI in early 1992. She maintains and troubleshoots all aspects of ADI's case management system; analyzes data and produces statistical reports; manages all archived records; coordinates staff attorney compensations claims and produces ADI's monthly invoices.  

When not at ADI, she can be found on one of the Olthoff motorcycles; hiking, or in her kitchen creating a new recipe.

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Palacio, Omar
Panel Management Coordinator

Born and raised in San Diego, Omar joined ADI in 1990 as an office assistant. He is a panel and staff compensation claims processor. Omar also is responsible for managing ADI’s panel attorney database, as well as processing new panel applications. He assists our Spanish speaking callers. Omar is an auto racing fanatic, likes drawing, and just spending time outside enjoying the San Diego weather.

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Rogers, Michelle
Panel Manager/Staff Attorney

Michelle Rogers graduated from UCSD in 1993, including a year studying at the University of Barcelona, Spain. She graduated from the California Western School of Law in 1998, cum laude. Ms. Rogers started as a law clerk at ADI in 1997, and was welcomed aboard as a staff attorney upon her admission to the bar. Her hobbies include spending time with her dog and husband (in that order LOL), rooting for the Chargers and traveling.

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Rose, Leslie
Staff Attorney

Leslie joined ADI in 1986. She received a B.A. in Government from Pomona College in 1979 and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1982. In her "off time," Leslie enjoys participating in The Thursday Club (since 1996). She has a son who graduated from Cal Berkeley, started a tech recruiting business, but is now in U.C. Hastings Law School; a daughter who graduated from UCLA and USD School of Law, passed the Bar, and is now in a civil firm; a husband who is a veterinarian; three cats, and one golden retriever. She looks forward to their annual “Griswold Family Vacations” either in Montana or cruising the waterways on the Princess Line. Leslie enjoys reading all sorts of novels, exercising with friends, and taking the dog for long walks around Point Loma.

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Sanchez, Cristina
Staff Attorney

Cristina Sanchez earned her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University. Upon moving to San Diego, she worked for a non-profit organization focused on affordable housing and community economic development. She graduated cum laude from California Western School of Law. After spending six years with the San Diego Public Defender’s Office, she worked another six years supervising a division of the Dependency Legal Group of San Diego, in both positions representing children and parents in juvenile dependency cases. After a short time on the appointed appellate counsel panel, Ms. Sanchez joined ADI in 2018. She is a Child Welfare Law Specialist, certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children.

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Shetty, Siri
Staff Attorney

Siri joined ADI in November 2016, after 10 years as a panel attorney. Before joining the ADI panel, she also practiced in federal court as part of the Criminal Justice Act panel. She began her career in indigent defense in 2000, as a trial attorney with Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.

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Spintman, Amy
Office Administrator

Amy joined ADI in 1989. She earned her bachelor's degree from Hofstra University and her master's degree from the University of West Florida. Her duties at ADI include human resources, accounting, network administration, and managing the day-to-day administrative needs of the office. Outside of the office, Amy is on the board of directors of the San Diego House Rabbit Society and shares her home with her cat and rescued house rabbits.

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Villa, Din
Paralegal

Din Villa joined ADI as a paralegal in 2000. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and received a post-graduate paralegal certificate from UC San Diego. Before joining ADI, he worked as a paralegal intern with the San Diego District Attorney's Office in the "Lifer Hearing Unit" and as a paralegal for a debt collection firm.

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Villanueva, Pauline
Staff Attorney

Pauline Villanueva is a California native, having grown up in northern California before moving to San Diego in 2002 to attend UC San Diego. She then returned to the Bay Area for law school and attended Santa Clara University School of Law, where she interned with the Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office. Following her graduation from law school in 2009, she returned to San Diego, where she has (mostly) stayed since then. Pauline previously worked as a trial attorney at the Fresno County and Ventura County Public Defender’s Offices before going into appellate work. She was a panel attorney for ADI for six years before joining as a staff attorney in 2022.

Pauline is actively involved in the local legal community as the vice-president of Filipino-American Lawyers for San Diego and a member of multiple San Diego County Bar committees and sections. In her spare time, Pauline enjoys working out (but not running), yoga, cooking, and trying to keep her cats from destroying each other.

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*The material found on this Web site is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered to be legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete or up to date. Use of this Web site is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the user and Appellate Defenders, Inc. (ADI) or any of the firm's attorneys. Readers should not rely upon or act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. See full disclaimer.