Kevin celebrated 30 years of military trial work with the successful conclusion of the United States District Court trial United States v. Jose Luis Nazario on August 29, 2008. This trial concluded the first attempt ever by US prosecutors to use a federal statute, Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act or MEJA, to prosecute service members for conduct in a battle space. This landmark case is another in a series of cases handled by Kevin that has had an impact far beyond his clients.
After graduation from college, Kevin accepted a commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. After officer boot camp, Kevin entered law school and graduated in 1980, serving on active during summer breaks of law school as a military prosecutor. Upon completion of Naval Justice School in Newport Rhode Island in 1981 he was transferred to El Toro Marine Corp Air Base in Orange County and began serving as a Judge Advocate, starting with a stint as a prosecutor. Within the first 18 months, he tried in excess of 100 contested cases to include murder, espionage and drug trafficking. In 1983 he transferred to the defense section and took over the billet of senior defense counsel and defended Marines for a wide variety of offenses. While as a defense counsel and in concert with three other defense counsel, Kevin initiated an upheaval of the Marine Corps defense structure. To that point, Marine Corps defense did not have an independent defense structure. Until Kevin and his fellow counsel came along, the performance evaluations and the budgets of the defense were controlled by senior prosecutors and that caused significant tactical and ethical problems for defense counsel. With the assistance of Congressional hearings and intense media scrutiny, the Marine Corps now has an independent defense command and has had one since 1984.
Kevin left active duty in 1985 and has been in private practice in Orange County ever since. Shortly after leaving active duty, Kevin undertook a series of cases that would alter the environment within the Orange County Jail. From the early to late 1980s, the Orange County Jail was experiencing a mortality rate of one inmate death per month due to abuse. In 1988 and 1989, Kevin represented three clients and their families who had been killed or seriously injured in the jail. Kevin exposed the circumstances surrounding their deaths and injuries, to include forcing the jail to release security tapes that captured the assaults. Through lawsuits and settlements that stood as the largest against the County of Orange until 2004, deaths in the Orange County Jail all but ceased and from 1990 to 2004, not a single inmate died in the Orange County Jail by abuse.
While in private practice, Kevin has continued to take on military cases, particularly those of significance to the military and, as with Jose Nazario, on a pro bono basis. Of particular recent note, Kevin represented the company commander whose men were accused by Time magazine in its March 2006 edition of the massacre of civilians and subsequent cover up in the Iraqi town of Hadithah. Kevin’s client was exonerated and evidence uncovered during his investigation revealed that the allegations were both overblown and false. The tide in that case turned with the publication by Vanity Fair of its September 2006 article entitled “Rules of Engagement.” That article, prompted and supported by Kevin, questioned not only the facts of the case as presented by Time but the fairness of the government’s investigation.
In the Nazario case, Kevin dealt with a myriad of issues, perhaps most importantly, the application of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, a statute enacted into law in 2000. It purports to extend federal jurisdiction over service members and defense contractors for acts occurring anywhere in the world. It is the statute being applied to several Blackwater employees currently in the news. Sgt. Jose Nazario was a squad leader of Marines during the battle of Fallujah in 2005 accused of killing prisoners. At the time of his arrest, Nazario was working as a police officer for the Riverside PD.
As lead counsel, Kevin enlisted the services of fellow counsel, to include Joseph Preis, whose national law firm agreed to provide support. While the defense team was unsuccessful in convincing the Court that the statute was unconstitutional, the defense did prevail on the merits of the case after a two week trial and six hours of jury deliberation. To date, no other current or former service member has been prosecuted under MEJA for conduct occurring in the battle space.
For those who have worked with Kevin, they have come to understand that his most significant trait is doggedness. Once he determines to take on a matter or a client, he will succeed no matter how long it may take. There is no such thing as “quit” in his vernacular.
Not only has Kevin represented Marines, he has handled a myriad of state and Federal criminal and civil cases with equal success over the past 30 years. Among others, his portfolio of cases includes the successful defense of a city planner for perjury charges relating to Form 700 responses, contractors accused of fraud in government contracting, engineers criminally accused of attempting to avoid EPA requirements, executives accused of fraud and trade secret violations, physicians accused of Medicare billing fraud, police officers accused of drug money theft and laundering and he was engaged in the longest running criminal trial in Los Angeles County involving alleged organized crime.
Kevin’s peers have recognized and honored his accomplishments. Kevin was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal for his work while on active duty and as a reservist. He has been rated by Martindale Hubbell since 1989 and has been their highest rating since 1999, AV. And with the overwhelming success of the Nazario trial, Kevin was honored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and named “Lawyer of the Year” by the oldest and most respected criminal bar association in Southern California, the Criminal Court Bar Association, an award previously bestowed on some of the most notable attorneys in this era.
Licensed since 1980
|FL||Member in Good Standing||1980||08/12/2015|
|Award Name||Grantor||Date Granted|
|Special Award - Oustanding Performance||Criminal Courts Bar Association||2009|
|Commendation Award||Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors||2009|
|Meritorious Service Medal||US Marine Corps||1999|
|Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal||US Marine Corps||1985|
|Owner||Private practice||1985 - Present|
|Retired Major USMCR||USMC and USMCR||1980 - 2000|
|Association Name||Position Name||Duration|
|Newport Harbor Bar Association||Member||2004 - Present|
|National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers||Member||2000 - Present|
|Marine Corps Retired Officers Association||Member||1999 - Present|
|United States v. Jose Luis Nazario||Not guilty verdict|
|United States v. Capt. Lucas McConnell||Dismissal of charges|
|United States v. Marion Francis Ely||Dismissal of case|
|Univ of Miami SOL||N/A||law||N/A|
|Univ of Wisconsin||N/A||undergraduate||N/A|
|The Center for Int'l & Comparative Law||Marine Dream Team - In Defense of Jose Nazario||2008|
|Newport Harbor Bar Association||Marine Dream Team - In Defense of Jose Nazario||2008|