The Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California (FPD-CDCA) strives to provide high quality, effective, and client centered representation for all our clients. We’re excited to share some of the wonderful and kind words from our clients and their family, friends and loved ones, and former interns and employees of the FPD-CDCA.

Please note these messages, stories, or endorsements found on our website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of any legal matter.


Wonderful mix of learning opportunities

I really enjoyed my summer. I would describe the experience as a wonderful mix of learning opportunities, an opportunity to meet some passionate and inspiring lawyers who do incredible client-centered work, and an occasionally humbling look into the federal criminal system. I thought the Summer Law...READ MORE

I really enjoyed my summer. I would describe the experience as a wonderful mix of learning opportunities, an opportunity to meet some passionate and inspiring lawyers who do incredible client-centered work, and an occasionally humbling look into the federal criminal system.

I thought the Summer Law Clerk program was a really good mix of learning opportunities. I appreciated the mock oral advocacy assignments, and thought they supplemented our researching and writing work well. I also enjoyed the trainings, especially because they gave us an opportunity to meet more of the FDO staff. I think the mentorship style is also very effective, and after watching some of my law school friends who didn’t have that, I was really grateful to have one attorney to go to for questions and assignments. And finally, I think having two dedicated attorneys who were overseeing the law clerk program was also incredibly helpful for providing additional support and guidance. Overall, I really think this a well-crafted, thoughtful summer program that gives law students a valuable work experience.

- Law Clerk, UCLA Law School, Summer 2020.

Realness that upends the lawyer stereotype

In spite of the extreme circumstances that made us unable to meet for a traditional, in-office summer experience, I feel that the Federal Public Defender’s Office managed to provide a comprehensive internship for us law clerks. From individual mentorships to larger group meetings and trainings, I...READ MORE

In spite of the extreme circumstances that made us unable to meet for a traditional, in-office summer experience, I feel that the Federal Public Defender’s Office managed to provide a comprehensive internship for us law clerks. From individual mentorships to larger group meetings and trainings, I got the sense that the office was eager to immerse us in the world of public defense and provided various avenues to do so. I was able to work on small-scale research assignments, bigger, more long-term research assignments, learn more about the structure of the federal system, and contemplate the various inadequacies that plague these systems at their root. I also especially appreciate the openness and sense of community that the attorneys showed us over the past few months. There is a certain realness to this office that upends (wonderfully) the hard-lined lawyer stereotype, and I’m sure that realness is essential when working in the world of public defense.  I am incredibly thankful that this office accommodated us during these unprecedented times and made the most out of an unexpected situation.

- Law Clerk, University of Michigan Law School, Summer 2020.

Reached goals I did not think I could

I am so grateful for my experience this summer with the Federal Public Defender’s Office. I reached goals I did not think I could, I put myself outside of my comfort zone in oral advocacy and met seemingly intimidating writing deadlines. I learned so much from office trainings, fellow law clerks,...READ MORE

I am so grateful for my experience this summer with the Federal Public Defender’s Office. I reached goals I did not think I could, I put myself outside of my comfort zone in oral advocacy and met seemingly intimidating writing deadlines.

I learned so much from office trainings, fellow law clerks, . . . and above all else I had the privilege to see why all the hard work in law school is worth it so that I get opportunities like this to be able to help the individuals who need it most.

- Law Clerk, Loyola Law School, Summer 2020.

More than I could have asked for, despite pandemic

I really enjoyed my work with the FPD this summer. I would characterize it as “everyone did the very best they could in light of a pandemic,” which I think is more than I could have asked for. The greatest strength of the program for me this summer was just how everyone did their very best to...READ MORE

I really enjoyed my work with the FPD this summer. I would characterize it as “everyone did the very best they could in light of a pandemic,” which I think is more than I could have asked for.

The greatest strength of the program for me this summer was just how everyone did their very best to make the experience worthwhile this summer during a pandemic. Everyone was very friendly and empathetic, which for me at least was the most important thing. There was a lot of work to help out on, and I felt very supported by the IT department as well in making sure that I was always connected to the office even when I didn’t leave my apartment.

- Law Clerk, UCLA Law School, Summer 2020.

A transformative experience

I thoroughly enjoyed the work and appreciated the ability to reach out to my mentor on a daily basis with questions about defense work, legal research and writing, and how to do meaningful work you enjoy as an attorney more generally. I am very appreciative of the opportunity to spend my summer at...READ MORE

I thoroughly enjoyed the work and appreciated the ability to reach out to my mentor on a daily basis with questions about defense work, legal research and writing, and how to do meaningful work you enjoy as an attorney more generally. I am very appreciative of the opportunity to spend my summer at FPD, as it was my first “taste” of actual legal work – and I’m SO GLAD that it was in defense. The hearts of my colleagues, the mentors, and the nature of the legal work involved has convinced me that defense is the route for me. I’m honestly sad to return to school when I’d so much rather just keep working on these cases! I was expecting to enjoy the experience – but I was not expecting it to be so positively challenging, orienting, and affirming in terms of what kind of legal work I want to be doing.

Coming into FPD I knew my interest lay in criminal law, but my presumption was that I “should” spend a summer in defense and then head for the US Attorney’s office. This summer at the FPD, in perhaps *pitch perfect* synchronicity with the groundswell of activism against systemic racism, has really changed what I thought it was to work in criminal law. As the good book says, “the scales have fallen from my eyes,” and I now better see the challenge, the privilege, and the immense source of pride that it is to defend the defenseless. To humanize those that our criminal “justice” systems seeks to dehumanize, to fight for the same rights that protect all of us and try to reform a system that is so obviously is broken in so many different ways. This is especially true given my experience as a Latinx/Indigenous person – and the way our “justice” system is built on the oppression of BIPOC bodies. I no longer want to work for the US Attorney’s office – and to be honest – I’m not sure that I could from a personal ethical standpoint.

I was also thrilled to be a part of the office while Cuauhtémoc was appointed the first Mexican American and openly gay FPD. As a Mexican American with a similar experience (based on his office-wide meeting where he shared his background), it was great to see a fellow POC with a shared cultural heritage take charge of the office and hear his awesome vision to make it the *best* Defense office in the nation. Very exciting and wonderful to be a witness too – and inspiring in my hopes to one day work with you all again in the not too distant future.

- Law Clerk, Columbia Law School, Summer 2020.

Internship was a holistic experience

I enjoyed my experience here. I learned a lot about substantive material and it was interesting how the things I learned in class played out in real life. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional heaviness of seeing people in cuffs and being so scared, but I think my experience was made better by the...READ MORE

I enjoyed my experience here. I learned a lot about substantive material and it was interesting how the things I learned in class played out in real life. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional heaviness of seeing people in cuffs and being so scared, but I think my experience was made better by the support of my mentor and fellow interns. This internship was holistic because in addition to learning substantive things, I was able to observe and ask people how they go about managing large caseloads and organizing/prioritizing tasks so that things don’t fall through the cracks. I’ve met really interesting people who have such different ways of thinking, so this allowed me to (a) feel more confident in trusting my method of thinking/working, and (b) delve deeper into whether I want to pursue this as a career. Thankfully, this experience reaffirmed my wish to do this when I graduate.

- Law Clerk, U.C. Hastings Law School, Summer 2019.

Great opportunity for growth & learning

The office is very welcoming and the program provided many opportunities for growth, being challenged, learning, and having fun while doing it. The program made me feel welcome and needed as a law clerk. The attorneys I worked for provided me with substantive assignments and had high expectations,...READ MORE

The office is very welcoming and the program provided many opportunities for growth, being challenged, learning, and having fun while doing it.

The program made me feel welcome and needed as a law clerk. The attorneys I worked for provided me with substantive assignments and had high expectations, which I was excited to try to achieve. A huge strength of the program this year was connecting the law clerk training with the new attorney trainings (including the judge lunches and panels) was invaluable. The trainings provided the necessary context for the work we do at our desks. They also provided environments to get to know other attorneys and professionals in and beyond the office and hear about the work they do.

The mentorship program was also very helpful. It made sure that everyone had a go-to person . . . . This enabled us to develop a closer professional relationship with a particular attorney, while also giving us the flexibility to volunteer for other assignments with other attorneys when the opportunities arose. It is helpful to see how different people work and what they see in their cases.

The program was well-organized and geared towards the law clerk’s experience. We were given opportunities to go to court, to build oral advocacy skills, develop relationships with attorneys, research/write, meet clients. Everything I could have asked for from an internship. I also really liked the regular check-ins with the group. It was a great way to see what else people are working on and gauge my own work load, trouble shoot issues together, and hear how brilliant my fellow interns are! More group activities (in addition to/other than happy hour) would be great!

I had friends who externed for judges, interned at firms, interned with non-profits, and interned at the county PD office and this internship was more substantive, more demanding, more rewarding, more fun, and more familial than my friends’/peers’ experiences. I am so grateful to have been able to spend my 1L summer with the FPD CDCA.

- Law Clerk, Loyola Law School, Summer 2019.

Great mentor support & structured program

I have had a wonderful experience this summer at the FPD office. I felt very supported by my mentors . . . . I always had interesting projects to work on and I’ve had the opportunity to interact with clients, observe a variety of court proceedings, and improve my public speaking skills. I...READ MORE

I have had a wonderful experience this summer at the FPD office. I felt very supported by my mentors . . . . I always had interesting projects to work on and I’ve had the opportunity to interact with clients, observe a variety of court proceedings, and improve my public speaking skills. I especially appreciate how structured the internship program was, including the calendar of trainings and social events. I would definitely recommend this internship to other law students.

- Law Clerk, Yale Law School, Summer 2019.

Great camaraderie and diversity of experiences

The diversity of experiences . . . was a huge strength of the program. The fact that you put a lot of time and effort into our betterment as students and lawyers-in-training was really special. Also, the mentor relationship was very helpful. . . . There is also a great camaraderie in the office that...READ MORE

The diversity of experiences . . . was a huge strength of the program. The fact that you put a lot of time and effort into our betterment as students and lawyers-in-training was really special. Also, the mentor relationship was very helpful. . . . There is also a great camaraderie in the office that makes the program even more special.

- Law Clerk, NYU Law School, Summer 2019.

Working at the FPD is a unique experience

Working at FPD this summer has exposed me to so many different aspects of the work that is done here. I would highly recommend it to anyone, even those who are not interested in public interest because the experience is so unique! The breadth of exposure the law clerks receive, the trust the law...READ MORE

Working at FPD this summer has exposed me to so many different aspects of the work that is done here. I would highly recommend it to anyone, even those who are not interested in public interest because the experience is so unique!

The breadth of exposure the law clerks receive, the trust the law clerks are given, the community here in the office and the willingness to help everyone in the office has are all strengths of the program.

- Law Clerk, Pace Law School, Summer 2019.

Best representation for population often mistreated

The Federal Public Defender’s Office is a welcoming community, full of brilliant and determined attorneys, as well as dedicated and experienced investigators, administrators, etc. Though each attorney enjoys a significant degree of independence, it is clear that everyone in the office is...READ MORE

The Federal Public Defender’s Office is a welcoming community, full of brilliant and determined attorneys, as well as dedicated and experienced investigators, administrators, etc. Though each attorney enjoys a significant degree of independence, it is clear that everyone in the office is ultimately working toward the same goal: providing the best possible legal representation for a population that is often mistreated by our legal system and forgotten by the general public.

This summer, I was given the opportunity to observe how this community functions, as well as to make some contributions to its work. I had an overwhelmingly positive experience, as I learned more about how the federal system works, honed my research and writing skills, and considered what it would be like to work as a federal defender.

- Law Clerk, Harvard Law School, Summer 2019.

Thank you for participating in Courtroom to Classroom

Thank you for your help with “Courtroom to Classroom” earlier this month. The program is a collaboration between the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the United States District Court, Central District of California and would not be possible without the dedication of outstanding volunteers...READ MORE

Thank you for your help with “Courtroom to Classroom” earlier this month. The program is a collaboration between the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the United States District Court, Central District of California and would not be possible without the dedication of outstanding volunteers like you! We want to especially thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to work with our students. If you couldn’t tell by the expressions on their faces, the students were thrilled to be in a real courthouse and interact with real lawyers and judges. Thank you again for your gift of time and expertise and we hope you will volunteer again in the future!

- Laura Wesley and David De La Torre, June 18, 2019.

Support during LWOP sentence commutation

I want to thank you both, and your staff, for all the hard work and support you all provided me before, during, and after my case went through the courts. You all have played a very big part in all of this, and I just wanted to share this good news with you all. Myself, and my family thank you all...READ MORE

I want to thank you both, and your staff, for all the hard work and support you all provided me before, during, and after my case went through the courts. You all have played a very big part in all of this, and I just wanted to share this good news with you all. Myself, and my family thank you all so very much.

- Client, Dec. 26, 2018.

Externship Surpassed Expectations

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for welcoming me in the Public Defender network over the past months. My time here was brief yet so fulfilling. I have met so many inspiring individuals throughout my placement and I will carry this experience with me wherever...READ MORE

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for welcoming me in the Public Defender network over the past months. My time here was brief yet so fulfilling. I have met so many inspiring individuals throughout my placement and I will carry this experience with me wherever I go next. . . .This externship surpassed my expectations, and that is thanks to all of you individually. I am truly grateful.

- Law Clerk, April 10, 2018.

Appreciate character, diligence & effectiveness

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again for you effort and work. Our family understands the many hours required to do your job and can only assume the caseload you carry. We appreciate your stand up character, diligence, and effectiveness. [Client] wants you to know that he is filled with...READ MORE

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again for you effort and work. Our family understands the many hours required to do your job and can only assume the caseload you carry. We appreciate your stand up character, diligence, and effectiveness.

[Client] wants you to know that he is filled with gratitude and appreciation. He said that he admires
your character and that his initial instincts about you were right. Also, [your legal assistant] was very helpful and professional. She is an asset to your team.

- Client, Nov. 13, 2017.

Truly thankful for your hard work

Hello. I want to say thank you for all your hard work for fighting for my release after 25 years. I’m truly thankful to you  . . . No matter my outcome, I’m still thankful to you and I appreciate you.

- Client, Sept. 6, 2017.

Wonderful environment to learn and thrive

This internship provides great insight into the work environment of an IT Department. The people here really care about their interns, and it was a wonderful environment to learn and thrive.

- IT Intern, Aug. 29, 2017.

Thank you for everything

I don’t know where to start. Thank you for everything. Your meticulous notes, your bottomless packets, multi-tasking abilities, and belief in this program. Continue to have faith.

- CASA Graduate, May 2017.

Appreciation for hard work in a tough death penalty case

I am writing to express my thanks about the work my attorneys and their staff/team do for me. I receive complete and understandable answers to my questions regarding my case and want you to know I appreciate the hard work [the] staff have done for me over this hectic period of new laws and unknown...READ MORE

I am writing to express my thanks about the work my attorneys and their staff/team do for me. I receive complete and understandable answers to my questions regarding my case and want you to know I appreciate the hard work [the] staff have done for me over this hectic period of new laws and unknown death penalty future.

- Client, Jan. 8, 2017.

Going in and getting out

Here’s the funny thing about the clemency: I did not apply for it. When Obama did this Clemency Project in 2014, they wanted people who were at least ten years in so they wouldn’t get flooded with every inmate in America. I saw it and knew I was only an eight-year, so I didn’t even apply for...READ MORE

Here’s the funny thing about the clemency: I did not apply for it. When Obama did this Clemency Project in 2014, they wanted people who were at least ten years in so they wouldn’t get flooded with every inmate in America. I saw it and knew I was only an eight-year, so I didn’t even apply for it. The following year, I get this letter that says, “You’re a perfect candidate for clemency, would you like to be involved?” Then this wonderful man, who I still talk to today, Andre Townsend, gets a hold of my stuff and he was an esquire for the federal public defender’s office. He calls me up and asks me some questions like, “Tell me about yourself.” He just put this hella-tight package together, stuff that I didn’t even remember that I did. I’m reading this thing like, “Who is this guy he’s talking about?” Then he sent it. That was it. I didn’t hear nothing back. All of a sudden you start seeing the first wave of people go, the second wave of people go, third wave. I’m counting. It’s 2016, and I’m counting as these people are leaving. I’m getting eager. I’m like, Damn, Obama’s going to be leaving soon. He’s probably got about two or three more times he can even do this. At no point in time did I actually think I was going to get it. But why shouldn’t I?

Then one day they close the whole yard and call me. I went upstairs, and my case manager is sitting there and she’s crying. I’m like, “What’s wrong? Did something happen to my mother? Did something happen to my grandmother?” She said, “No, you better have a seat. Mr. Joshua, you’re going home. The president has just released you. You’re getting your ass home.” The craziest thing was, it was on my mother’s birthday. So it was just like it was supposed to happen. That was the moment that the waterworks came down. The first thing in my mind is that I needed to call my mother. My case manager goes, “No, you have to call the United States office-of-something. Act like you don’t know.” So she called, and I said hello. “Hey, Mr. Joshua. You know that the president has just released you and you’ve made our list for the commutation. What can we do for you? Do you need a ride? Do you need help? Do you need anything? Because this is from the president, so whatever you want, it’s on us.” So I say, “Can you bring me Air Force One?” She just starts cracking up. She’s rolling. Then she says, “No, we can’t bring you Air Force One.” I say, “Oh, wait a minute, can you do me one favor? Well, since me and the president are on a first-name basis now, can you tell Barry I said, ‘Thank you very much’?

- Client, Oct. 2016.

Caring attitude by support staff

I just want to let you know that you display a caring attitude, and that has been such a pleasant surprise in such an ugly event in our lives. Thank you for that. Just thought I would let you know, as you are a gem, who has has gone far beyond the scope of your duties in helping. You are an example...READ MORE

I just want to let you know that you display a caring attitude, and that has been such a pleasant surprise in such an ugly event in our lives. Thank you for that. Just thought I would let you know, as you are a gem, who has has gone far beyond the scope of your duties in helping. You are an example of a heroic person.

- Client, Sept. 2016.

Home for the holidays

I don’t know if I made it clear just how grateful I am to [my attorneys] for all the hard work and legal expertise they put forth to allow me to see my family for Christmas. It was nothing short of a Miracle. I hadn’t seen them for 3 years and they are very grateful to you both also....READ MORE

I don’t know if I made it clear just how grateful I am to [my attorneys] for all the hard work and legal expertise they put forth to allow me to see my family for Christmas. It was nothing short of a Miracle. I hadn’t seen them for 3 years and they are very grateful to you both also. Now, tomorrow I am going to be able to visit my little girls that I haven’t seen since they were 3 and 5, they are going to be 7 and 9 in the next couple of months. I know it’s not over but at least I’ll have a chance to get a different result from another trial.

- Client, Dec. 28, 2015.

Law Clerk unparalleled experience

Thank you for this unparalleled experience. I’ve been fortunate to represent these clients, hone my skills and meet amazing people. You . . . are warriors in every sense of the word and your colleagues’ camaraderie is unmatched and contagious. Thank you.

- Law Clerk, Summer 2015.

Amazing law clerk experience

What an experience, I have to say the program [is] amazing! I have a much better understanding of how unjust our system is and I have a newfound drive to jump into the fight and I have awesome new friends. The value that you instilled in me will stay with me for life, and words can express how lucky...READ MORE

What an experience, I have to say the program [is] amazing! I have a much better understanding of how unjust our system is and I have a newfound drive to jump into the fight and I have awesome new friends. The value that you instilled in me will stay with me for life, and words can express how lucky and humbled I am to have had the chance to learn from you. Thank you.

- Law Clerk, Summer 2015.

Law Clerk transformation

You have effected a transformation in each and every one of us and you have enriched my understanding of the criminal justice system, of myself and of those around me. Thank you so much.

- Law Clerk, Summer 2015.

CASA Graduate on the right path

I quickly learned that [CASA] was going to be very supportive of me and that they [are] dedicated to my success. They believed in me, and they believed that my life could return back onto the right path.”

- CASA Graduate, Feb. 2014.

STAR Graduate is closer to family

I had to change EVERYTHING. This change has made me healthier, helped me build relationships with my family and given me a chance to be a mother again. It helped me get a job . . . To give that up would be insane. I want to live a productive, happy life.”

- STAR Graduate, Jan. 2014.