Appellate Defenders, Inc.
555 West Beech Street, Ste. 300
San Diego, CA 92101
Telephone: (619) 696-0282 | Fax: (619) 696-7789
Support Staff Workload Supervisor
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 contact Michelle Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org . 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).
Web Master: Amy Spintman
Elaine A. Alexander, executive director, has been with ADI since 1973 and has held the position of executive director since 1979. In those years she developed the concept of the district appellate project, pioneered the first such program (ADI), and helped create the statewide system that serves all of the California appellate courts.
A 1968 graduate of Yale Law School, Order of the Coif, Ms. Alexander is a member of the California and United States Supreme Court Bars. She has long been active in the San Diego and California appellate communities. She is currently serving on the California Judicial Council's Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee. She recently served on the Appellate Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions. She coauthors the ADI Criminal Appellate Practice Manual. She also has taught appellate advocacy as an adjunct professor.
Ms. Alexander has received numerous awards for her leadership in bringing quality legal services to the indigent. Among them are the Loren Miller Award from the State Bar, the Kathleen McCree Lewis Award from the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, the Fay Stender Award from California Women Lawyers, the Belva Lockwood Award from the Lawyers Club of San Diego, the awards for outstanding service to the profession (2008) and public attorney of the year (1990) from the San Diego County Bar Association, the E. Stanley Conant and Paul Bell Awards from the Defender Organizations of San Diego, the "War Horse" award from the San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association, and the Defender Services Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
She is married to USD law professor Larry Alexander and has three children, four grandchildren, and a long history of adopting pets.
A native Midwesterner, Neil joined ADI in 1989. Neil attended Eastern Illinois University (B.S. 1980, Economics and Political Science) and Stanford Law School (J.D. 1983). Before joining ADI, Neil spent four years in civil practice, followed by three years on the faculty of California Western Law School, where he taught Contracts, Professional Responsibility and Legal Writing. Neil is a former chair of the County Bar's Criminal Rules Committee.
In 2000, Neil served as faculty for the Appellate Advocacy College in San Francisco, co-sponsored by the appellate courts and appellate projects. Neil authored the criminal law essay question for the Bar's 2000 Appellate Specialization Exam. Away from work, Neil enjoys photography, tennis and snowboarding.
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.
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.
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.
Carl Dershem joined ADI in December of 1997 as the office file clerk. Before joining ADI, he clerked for 13 years at the San Diego County Superior Court and served 10 years in the Navy. He previously attended San Diego State University, studying history, anthropology, and music. As a clerk at ADI, he maintains the busy file room, breaks down transcripts, and is occasionally called upon to provide some computer support. Outside of ADI, he plays with several bands and is working on his third book.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Patricia Ihara was an attorney on the appointed counsel panel for over 15 years before joining ADI in 2012. She graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with an anthropology major. After college, she lived in Japan and worked for a year in a pottery village. Returning to the States, she was a potter for 13 years before deciding to go to law school.
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.
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. Before joining ADI, 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. She has served as an adjunct professor for Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a California State Bar Commissioner for the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission, and as a San Diego County Judge Pro Tempore.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Born and raised in San Diego, Omar joined ADI in 1990. He started working at ADI fresh out of high school as an office assistant. Omar is responsible for all the non-case related correspondence ADI receives on a daily basis. He also processes staff attorney compensations claims and assists with producing ADI’s monthly invoices. Omar is an avid auto racing afficionado and is certifiably car crazy.
A lifelong resident of San Diego, Dave first worked as a law clerk for ADI in 1990 during his final year of law school at the University of San Diego, where he previously had earned B.A.'s in English and Religious Studies. He returned to ADI as an attorney in 1994 after working for a local law firm doing bankruptcy law and occasional panel cases from ADI. Dave has argued before the California Supreme Court.
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.
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 and has started his own business (Leafhoppr), a daughter who graduated from UCLA and is now in law school, a husband who is a veterinarian, three cats, and two golden retrievers. 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 dogs for long walks to Cabrillo Monument.
Siri joined ADI in November 2016, after 10 years as a panel attorney. Before joining the ADI panel (and continuing until 2012), 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, Inc.
Before joining ADI as a staff attorney in May 2005, Alice C. Shotton was an appellate panel attorney for 12 years, representing parents and children in dependency appeals, and minors in delinquency appeals. In 2001, she received the Paul Bell Memorial Award.
Formerly a staff attorney with the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, she has been a legislative consultant and a presenter at state and national conferences on laws impacting youth. In addition, she was on the SB 243 Task Force to revise California's dependency law, and the Judicial Council's Juvenile Law Committee. She has authored numerous publications on legal issues involving children, including Making Reasonable Efforts in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Ten Years Later, 26 Cal.Western L.Rev. 223 (1989-1990). She received her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.
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.
Suzanne attended the University of San Diego (B.A. International Relations, Minor in German). After graduation she spent more than 4 years living abroad in Freiburg, Germany where she worked for a Telecommunications firm. A midwest transplant, Suzanne is happy to be in San Diego enjoying the beautiful weather with her family. Suzanne is a claims processor with ADI and is now a Paralegal. Outside of the office, Suzanne likes traveling, swimming, and wine tasting.
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.