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Ridley-Thomas Announces New Legal Team To Handle Appeal

Today, Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging his convictions and sentence.  In addition to initiating the appeal process, Ridley-Thomas also announced his appellate team – a group of experienced federal appellate and constitutional litigators with decades of experience before the Ninth Circuit.  Morrison & Foerster, who represented Ridley-Thomas at trial, will pass the baton to the appellate team after proceedings in the district court conclude.

“Immediately after the jury’s verdict and again following his August 28, 2023 sentencing hearing, Dr. Ridley-Thomas’s defense counsel made clear that he intended to appeal both the jury’s verdict and the sentence imposed,” said Alyssa Bell, a Partner with Cohen Williams LLP.  “The lawyers at Morrison & Foerster have laid the groundwork for what we believe to be an exceptionally strong appeal.  We are already examining and analyzing several potential grounds that could result in reversal of Dr. Ridley-Thomas’s convictions.”

Dr. Ridley-Thomas’s appellate team members include:

Alyssa Bell, Partner, Cohen Williams LLP: Alyssa Bell is a partner at Cohen Williams LLP and a noted appellate practitioner, frequently engaged by individuals and companies to pursue justice in state and federal courts of appeal.  After clerking on the Ninth Circuit, Alyssa served as a Federal Public Defender in both the Trial and Appellate Units.  Over the past decade, she has appeared regularly before the Ninth Circuit in criminal appellate matters and achieved success for her clients in published opinions addressing a broad range of trial and sentencing errors.

Michael Schafler, Partner, Cohen Williams LLP: Michael Schafler is a partner at Cohen Williams LLP where he represents clients in high-risk matters involving criminal charges, government enforcement actions, and complex civil litigation.  Following his clerkships in the United States District Court for the Central District of California and the Ninth Circuit, Michael has represented criminal defendants in trials and appeals for the last twenty years, including while serving as a Trial Deputy at the Federal Defenders Office and in private practice at some of Los Angeles’s top firms.  

Paul J. Watford, Partner, Wilson Sonsini: Paul Watford is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he is a member of the firm’s litigation department and its national Supreme Court and appellate practice.  Prior to joining the firm, Paul served as a judge on the Ninth Circuit for 11 years.  

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, University of California School of Law: Chemerinsky, who teaches and writes about constitutional law and criminal procedure, is the author of 17 books and over 200 law review articles.  He regularly argues appellate cases, including in the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.  

Dean Chemerinsky explained that, “this entire appellate team is honored and privileged to represent Dr. Ridley-Thomas in this important appeal, and we look forward to presenting our case to the Ninth Circuit.  There are several grounds that we believe could warrant a reversal of his convictions or, at a minimum, a new trial.”  

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