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About me

Ezekiel E. Cortez is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization after passing the federal specialist examination.


For over a decade, Mr. Cortez has been continuously listed in The Best Lawyers In America- a national standard of excellence for the legal profession. Mr. Cortez has been listed in San Diego Magazine's "Best Lawyers In San Diego" in 2001 and 2005-2009 as one of only a handful of elite criminal defense lawyers described by the magazine as the type of lawyer that other "attorneys would go to if they needed a [federal criminal defense] lawyer." Mr. Cortez was also listed in Super Lawyers for the 2009, 2008 and 2007 edition of California: San Diego, Criminal Defense: White Collar category as one of the "Seriously Outstanding Top 5%" in his field.

As an ambassador for his profession, Mr. Cortez was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in October 2003 by the State Department to teach trial techniques to defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges at the University of Concepción, in Chile. Mr. Cortez has taught Criminal Justice Administration at San Diego State University and at MGU (Moscow University) in Moscow, Russia and has also taught trial techniques at the University of San Diego School of Law and at California Western School of Law and has taught advanced trial techniques for CACJ, NACDL and various trial institutes.


Languages spoken: Spanish, French

Photos and videos

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Practice areas


  1. Federal Crime: 60%
    33 years
  2. White Collar Crime: 25%
  3. Investment Fraud: 15%



Free consultation (60 minutes)

Payment types:

Cash, Check

Attorney endorsements

6 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Domenic John Lombardo

    Ezekiel “Zeke” Cortez is widely regarded as one of the most capable and intelligent criminal defense lawyers in Southern California. He has a towering reputation in the Federal Courts. He has a deep understanding of the personalities of all of the Federal players, including the bench, so he is able to gain traction using nuanced and creative arguments where others have failed. He has been an indispensable resource to me and other criminal defense practitioners. I have sought his advice in several complex matters involving, for example, extradition from foreign counties, the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act, and complicated Federal Sentencing Guideline calculations. I endorse this lawyer.


    Domenic Lombardo Criminal Defense Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • Victor Manuel Torres

    Mr. Cortez is one of the most knowledgeable, professional and experienced criminal defense attorneys in the country. His understanding of his client's legal issues is balanced by a highly nuanced approach to the human being he is representing. I wholeheartedly endorse him.


    Victor Torres Criminal Defense Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact info

Ezekiel E. Cortez

550 West C Street
Suite 790
San Diego, CA, 92101


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Best Lawyers in AmericaBest Lawyers2015
AV RatedMartindale-Hubbell2015
AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2015
San Diego Super LawyersSuper Lawyers2015
Best Law Firms/Best LawyersU S News & World Report2015
San Diego Top AttorneysSan Diego Daily Transcript2014
Fulbright ScholarshipCalifornia State Department2004
AV RatingMartindale-Hubbell1987
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
InstructorMoscow University2005 - 2006
Adjunct ProfessorSan Diego State University2004 - 2005
Senior Trial AttorneyFederal Defenders of San Diego, Inc1983 - 1987
Association namePosition nameDuration
Lawyers Club of San DiegoMember1997 - Present
Sentencing Guidelines CommitteeMember1990 - 1991
Criminal Defense Lawyers Club of San DiegoMember1988 - Present
San Diego La Raza Lawyers AssociationMember1988 - Present
National Association of Criminal Defense AttorneysMember1984 - Present
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
U.S. v. Castro-Carbajal, 439 F.3d 1149 (9th Cir. 2006)Conviction reversed on appeal.
U S v. Bagdasarian, 652 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2011)Client's victory.
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
Encyclopedia of American Civil LibertiesVarious Articles2009
Federal Defenders of San Diego,Federal Defense Manual,"1985
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of San Diego School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1983
California State University, San DiegoPolitical ScienceBA - Bachelor of Arts1980
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Institute of Criminal Defense AdvocacyTrial Techniques2010
Constitution WeekThe U S Constitution - A Live Demonstration2009