My Legal Background
My earliest legal experience, while still a law student, was as a legal intern in the Public Defenders’ offices in Alameda and San Francisco counties. In those offices, I saw the promise of justice, in which every accused person can have their day in court, but also the obstacles to justice in our system, in which skin color and financial resources can influence the justice you receive.
That experience served me well in Alameda County Bar Association’s Court Appointed Attorneys Program (“CAAP”), where I represented indigent criminal defendants when the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office was unable to take the case. Through CAAP, I gained my first experience with California Drug Courts, which focus on treating addiction rather than solely imposing punishment. I worked with a Superior Court Judge who treated drug court defendants with dignity by coming down from the bench and interacting with them on a more personal level. It was inspiring to see and to this day serves as a role model for me on how both judges and attorneys can make society a better place.
In my first full-time job after graduating from UC Hastings School of Law, I served as a Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara County. While there, my portfolio focused on helping the survivors and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse seek justice and accountability. My job could be heartbreaking, in particular when working with young children who had been abused, but seeing survivors leave the courtroom having received justice was life-affirming work.
After several years in private practice, I became an attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission, where I rooted out corporate corruption and fraud. While there, I successfully led the trial team in the first ever stock option backdating case to go to a jury. I also obtained a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in a $400 million fraud case, the largest case brought by the San Francisco Regional Office at that time. I’m proud of the work I did to protect consumers and taxpayers while stopping white-collar crime.
As a partner in my current firm, my portfolio has included civil rights, complex fraud, and whistleblower cases. I am perhaps proudest of our case protecting a whistleblower who was wrongfully terminated for exposing allegedly fraudulent activity in her city department in a scheme that swindled taxpayers out of more than $10 million.
In my career, I have been an advocate in hundreds of cases. Despite the diversity of cases I have handled, I remain humbled in the realization that there is always a new area of law to master and always a novel problem that requires curiosity, compassion, and critical thinking to solve. I have the experience and the judgment to hit the ground running.
I want to serve as a judge in order to be a force for positive change, by entering into each interaction with an open mind and with the single purpose of adjudicating cases in a fair, expeditious, and even-handed manner.
I graduated with a BA from UC Berkeley (1987), MA from John Hopkins University (1990), and ad JD from UC Hastings School of Law (1995).
Remembering Where I Come From
I was born in the Bay Area, and I am proud to have lived in Alameda County for a total of 30 years.
I was raised to believe that working for justice was a personal and moral imperative. My grandparents narrowly avoided falling victim to the Holocaust, so we knew quite well what it means to see justice denied. I was taught to work hard, take nothing for granted, and stand up for those who have no voice, even if their causes were unpopular. My family also emphasized the need to support the community in which we lived and worked. I carry those values with me to this day.
When I was still a child, my father passed away and my mother suffered a stroke which limited her speech and mobility. I attended UC Berkeley to remain close to her. Our family was sustained by the support of labor unions. Because my family did not have much money, I worked to put myself through college and graduate school. I’ve had a rewarding career, but I remember where I came from.
My view of justice is also informed by my experience as a gay man. When our twins were born with the help of a surrogate mother, there was no legal way for my partner and I to both adopt the same child. Years later, our children are teenagers attending public high school in Oakland, we are both their legal fathers, and our marriage is recognized throughout the United States.
I’ve been a Parent Teacher Association board member and served as the president of my synagogue, Temple Beth Abraham. In that role, I organized one of the largest and most successful religious contingents at AIDS Walk SF, and also helped organize our participation in the Walk Against Genocide and food drive for the Alameda County Food Bank. I’m also a sixth-grade religious studies teacher at my synagogue.
While a judge must be fair and impartial, I come to the bench with a background hungry for justice, equality, and fairness. I hope to earn your support.
Partner, Cannata O’Toole Fickes & Olson, 2014-Present
Partner, BraunHagey & Borden LLP, 2011-2014
Trial Counsel & Staff Attorney, San Francisco Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2004-2011
Associate Attorney, Glynn & Finley LLP, 2001-2004
Associate Attorney, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, 2000-2001
Deputy District Attorney, Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, 1996-2000
Awards and Experience
Named California Super Lawyer for the past 6 years.
Three-time Recipient of the Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Enforcement Director’s Award for Outstanding Contribution.
Board Member of Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (“BALIF”), the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ bar association.
Faculty Member, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (“NITA”).
Member of the Alameda County Bar Association
Former Member of the Alameda County Bar Association’s Court Appointed Attorney’s Program (“CAAP”) to represent indigent criminal defendants in situations where the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office conflicted out.