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About me

I grew up in South Texas in a migrant farm worker family. My family didn't have much. In fact, we were often at hunger's door. However, my auntie, who was the first in my family to graduate from high school and college, stressed the importance of education and pushed, cajoled, kept me on track. I graduated from high school and was fortunate to attend Yale and later the University of California Boalt Hall School of Law.   


My career has been devoted to fighting for the underdog, from migrant farm workers, to the dispossessed, to the criminally accused, to those abused as children by priests, nuns, and those in power.  I believe in the equalizing power of the jury. I believe that justice is a moral imperative in modern society. I also believe that those that violate the safety rules must be held accountable. I have been fortunate to rise above the confines of poverty and devote my career to helping others.






Languages spoken: Spanish, Portuguese, English

Photos and videos

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Practice areas


  1. Personal Injury: 45%
    31 years
  2. Civil Rights: 45%
    31 years
  3. Criminal Defense: 10%
    31 years



Contingent (33-45%)

Attorney endorsements

8 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Michael S. Waddington

    I endorse Vito. He is a highly skilled attorney that is well respected in the legal community.


    Michael Waddington Military law Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • Jeffrey Martin Kreutz

    I endorse this lawyer. Vito is an outstanding advocate for his clients.


    Jeffrey Kreutz Personal injury Attorney
    Relationship: Co-worker

Contact info

Tamaki Law

2200 112th Avenue, NE
Suite 200
Bellevue, WA, 98004


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Outstanding DefenderFederal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho1993
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
AttorneyTamaki Law Offices2011 - Present
Assistant Federal DefenderFederal Public Defender District of Nevada1998 - 2011
OwnerLaw Office of Vito De la Cruz1995 - 1998
Assistant Federal Public DefenderFederal Public Defender1991 - 1995
Assistant Federal Public DefenderFederal Public Defender District of Nevada1989 - 1991
Assistant Public DefenderMonterrey County Public Defender1987 - 1989
Staff AttorneyCalifornia Rural Legal Assistance1985 - 1987
Association namePosition nameDuration
Montana State BarN/A2012 - Present
Oregon State BarN/A2012 - Present
Washington State Association for JusticeN/A2011 - Present
Hispanic National Bar AssociationN/A2008 - Present
National Institute for Trial AdvocacyInstructor2003 - Present
National Judicial CollegeAdjunct Professor1999 - Present
National Criminal Defense CollegeInstructor1993 - Present
Washington State Bar AssociationN/A1991 - Present
Washington State Bar Association, Indian Law SectionN/A1991 - Present
State Bar of CaliforniaN/A1985 - Present
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
United States v. Washington, 387 F.3d 1060, 1070 (9th Cir. 2004)Won on appeal.
United States v. Davis, 332 F.3d 1163, 1167 (9th Cir. 2003)Won on appeal.
United States v. McKee, Dist. NevadaNot guilty jury verdict.
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
Washington State Association for JusticeDavid Ball on Damages; Book Review2011
Huffington PostThe Right to Jury Trial2011
Reno Gazette JournalGuest Columnist2010
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1985
Yale UniversitySociologyBA - Bachelor of Arts1981
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, Panel TrainingAggressive Motions in Limine2012
Tribal Court Trial AdvocacyTribal Court Trial Advocacy2011
Trial Advocacy, Pachuca, Hidalgo, MexicoTrial Advocacy2011
Tribal Judges: Running the GauntletEvidence: Practice and Procedure2010
Tribal Trial AdvocatesEffective Cross-Examination2009
Trial Advocacy, Quito, EcuadorTrial Advocacy2009
Association of Teacher Educators, Summer ConferenceThe Cost of Education Failure, Keynote Speaker2009
Tribal Court Trial AdvocacyTrial Advocacy2008
Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Annual ConferenceKeynote Speaker2008
Trial Advocacy, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, MexicoTrial Advocacy2007
Native American Leadership SummmitNative American Educational Achievement2007
Latino Convocation, 2007Keynote Speaker2007
Federal Public Defender, National ConferenceIndian Country Cases2007
National Institute for Trial Advocacy: Tribal AdvocacyTrial Advocacy2005
Tribal Court AdvocatesTrial Advocacy2004
Federal Public Defender, National ConferencceDefenses That Work2004
Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Annual ConferenceThe Patriot Act2003
Federal Public Defender, National ConferenceIndian Country Jurisdiction2003
Trial Advocacy, VenezuelaTrial Advocacy2000
NDIA/REgional Conference/Las VegasInvestigating Illegal Reentry Cases2000
Federal Public Defender, National ConferenceCreative Sentencing Solutions2000
Advanced Trial Skills CollegeTrial Advocacy2000
Tribal Judges SkillsConstitutional and Procedural Issues in Tribal Court1999
NDIA National Conference/New OrleansEffective Investigation in Indian Country Cases1999
Advanced Trial SkillsTrial Advocacy1999
Advanced Trial SkillsTrial Advocacy1998
Advanced Trial SkillsAdvocacy1997
Advanced Trial SkillsTrial Advocacy1996
Advanced Trial SkillsTrial Advocacy1995