John Balazs is an attorney in Sacramento, California, specializing in criminal defense, including appeals, habeas corpus, pardons, expungements, and civil forfeiture actions. After graduating from UCLA Law School in 1989, he clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. John was an Assistant Federal Defender in Fresno and Sacramento from 1992-2001. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in clinical trial advocacy at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Please email EDCA items of interest to Balazslaw@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @balazslaw.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated. Do your own research or consult with an attorney.
Congratulations to McGeorge Law School students Amanda Seely and Matt Wang, who obtained a not guilty verdict Monday on 4 of 5 misdemeanor charges in connection with the Federal Defender clinic. United States v. Jones, No. 2:14-mj-0172-CKD. After a bench trial before magistrate judge Carolyn K. Delaney, their client was found guilty of only a single class C misdemeanor of failing to comply with the lawful order of a federal officer at a SSA office and was sentenced to one year probation and a $5 special assessment.
Better hurry to say good bye to Fresno AFD Jeremy Kroger as his last day at the Federal Defender's Office is Friday before he starts his new stint at the Santa Clara Public Defender in San Jose on Monday.
And through the magic of modern technology, you can listen live to his first Ninth Circuit oral argument tomorrow morning here. With three cases ahead of him, his argument probably won't start until shortly after 10 a.m. Good luck at your argument and new job!
In this unpublished decision, United States v. Guido, No. 12-10030, a tough panel of the Ninth Circuit (O'Scannlain, Graber, and Nguyen) reversed the defendant's convictions for theft of government property and aggravated identity theft, holding the evidence insufficient to sustain the verdict. Congratulations to Assistant Federal Defenders Peggy Sasso and Jeremy Kroger who represented Mr. Guido at trial and on appeal.
Today's Sacramento Bee has an article on the Federal Defender budget cuts in our district that emphasizes that the cuts will cost taxpayers more money overall through increased use of CJA panel attorneys.
Congratulations to Assistant Federal Defender Francine Zepeda, who Governor Brown appointed today to the Fresno County Superior Court bench. Francine has been the chief of the Fresno Branch of the Office of the Federal Defender since 2010, where she has served as an assistant federal defender since 1991. Before that, she was an assistant public defender at the Fresno County Office of the Public Defender from 1989 to 1990 and served in multiple positions at California Rural Legal Assistance from 1986 to
1990 and 1979 to 1980, including directing attorney and staff attorney.
She earned a J.D. degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
I worked with Francine on a number of cases during my time at the Federal Defender's Office in Fresno, including an acquittal in a double bank robbery case. Since leaving the office, I've been fortunate to have served as co-counsel with her on a few capital cases. The office and I will miss her!
After more than 25 years of public service as an Assistant Federal Defender in Philadelphia and Sacramento, Jeff Staniels will retire Friday from the Federal Defender's Office. At Jeff's going-away party yesterday, I learned that Jeff played basketball in college at Amherst against EDCA defense attorney Bruce Locke who played for Bowdoin. Wish Jeff well on his future endeavors!
Federal courts officials have asked the White House for emergency funding, saying the judiciary does not have the budget flexibility to absorb the large mandatory budget cuts that have caused furloughs in the nation's federal public defender and court offices.
In a letter sent Tuesday to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Judicial Conference said the courts need an emergency appropriation of $73 million—$41 million for federal public defenders and $32 million for court operations. The money would save 550 jobs in public defender and clerk offices, and prevent 24,000 furlough days for 5,000 employees, the letter states.