Skip to main content

About me

Originally from Boston, I did not take the traditional path to the law.  Before law school, I worked as a hired hand on a dairy farm in Vermont, drove a moving van in New York City, ran a poster distribution business in New Haven, CT, and ran a diamond saw cutting large blocks of granite in Barre, Vermont.  In 1980, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where I worked for rock empressario Bill Graham, and held several restaurant-related jobs.  I also continued to work for moving companies.


In 1983, I was hired to move the law libraries of California Rural Legal Assistance's headquarters in San Francisco.  One thing led to another and I soon found myself as the head Law Librarian for CRLA's 16 offices.  This was my introduction to the practice of law and I attended law school at night while working for CRLA during the day.


After law school, I was fortunate to work for two of the country's pre-eminent criminal defense attorneys of their time, Charles Garry (the lawyer Black Panther Bobby Seale cried out for before his shackling at the Chicago 8 trial) and Susan Jordan, who is credited with inventing the battered woman's syndrome defense.  My association with these two was invaluable in steering me toward a meaningful law practice.


In 1991, Susan Jordan became ill and closed her law practice.  In the meantime, I had fallen in love with the beauty of Mendocino County and took a job with the County Public Defender's Office.  Long a theatre-lover, I moved to the Mendocino Coast in 1995 to perform and direct in a semi-professional theatre company, while heading the Public Defender's Fort Bragg office.


In 2001, I opened a solo law practice with an emphasis on family law and criminal defense.  Coming from broken homes, I understand the experiences of parents and children of divorce and sought to do what I could to alleviate their suffering during a very difficult time.   


I have been admitted to practice in all Courts of the State of California, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals.


Contact info

Law Offices of Carter Sears

Po Box 2508
45066 Ukiah St 2fl
Mendocino, CA, 95460

Practice areas

  1. Criminal Defense: 50%
    27 years
  2. Family: 50%
    15 years



Fixed (sometimes), Retainer (sometimes)

Payment types:

Cash, Check

Attorney endorsements

1 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Andrew Scott Mansfield

    Carter is incredibly bright and dedicated to his work. He believes in representing those most in need when faced with state power. He also is a kind, compassionate, and strong advocate in family law. I've known Carter for many years and he has both integrity and capability. Highest endorsement.


    Andrew Mansfield Chapter 7 bankruptcy Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
AttorneyLaw Offices of Carter Sears2002 - Present
Deputy Public DefenderMendocino County Public Defender1992 - 2001
Associate AttorneyLaw Offices of Susan B. Jordan1990 - 1991
AssociateLaw Offices of Charles R. Garry1989 - 1990
Association namePosition nameDuration
Mendocino County Teen Peer CourtMentor Attorney2008 - Present
Northern California Legal ServicesPro Bono Panel2007 - Present
Los Angeles County Bar Association, Family Law SectionMember2005 - Present
California Public Defenders AssociationMember1992 - Present
Mendocino County Bar AssociationMember1991 - Present
Publication nameTitleDate
Fort Bragg Advocate News5-Part Interview with Public Defender Carter Sears2000
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Center for Understanding in Conflict/Center for Mediation in LawN/AMediation Intensive Training2009
Northern California Mediation CenterN/AEssentials of Mediation and Divorce Mediation2003
National Criminal Defense CollegeN/ATrial Practice Institute1990
New College of California School of LawN/AJD - Juris Doctor1989
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Town Hall MeetingCourt Services for the Mendocino Coast2012