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The California Appellate Project ("CAP") is a non-profit law firm established in 1983 by the State Bar of California at the request of the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. Its Board of Directors is made up of former State Bar officials. Its original mandate was to recruit and assist private attorneys who would be appointed to represent indigent persons in death penalty appeals and other criminal appeals and writs before the California Supreme Court. A San Francisco office was created for that purpose ("CAP/SF").

In 1986, the State of California entered into a second contract with CAP to perform similar services in criminal, juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency cases pending before the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal. That resulted in the creation of CAP's Los Angeles office ("CAP/LA").

The work done by CAP has a constitutional basis. In a 1963 decision, Douglas v. California (1963) 372 U.S. 353, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Equal Protection) guarantees an indigent defendant convicted of a felony the right to a court-appointed attorney for the appeal. Twenty-two years later, in Evitts v. Lucy (1985) 469 U.S. 387, the Supreme Court clarified that the guarantee of court-appointed counsel envisions "effective assistance" of counsel. Under its contract with the State of California, CAP/LA manages the court-appointed counsel program in the Second Appellate District, the state's largest district.

After a decade and a half of operations, CAP/LA continues to provide three essential services to all the divisions of the Second District Court of Appeal. First, CAP/LA oversees the Second District's appointed-counsel panel of over 400 private attorneys. Specifically, it recruits new attorneys whenever necessary and continually evaluates appointed counsel's performance in order to match attorney skill and experience with the complexity level of each particular case. Second, CAP/LA reviews appointed counsel's actual work in light of counsel's claims for compensation, making recommendations to the state for approval of an appropriate number of hours for payment. Finally, CAP/LA provides a quality control function, helping to ensure that panel attorneys have available the resources necessary to provide effective representation to indigent clients. This is accomplished through CAP/LA's training programs and close supervision and assistance on selected individual cases.

In addition to those services, CAP/LA works with and provides technical assistance to the Courts and to the individual justices of the Courts of Appeal; to the state judiciary's Administrative Office of the Courts ("AOC"); to the California Judicial Counsel's Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee ("AIDOAC"), the policy-making body for the State's appellate court-appointed counsel system; and to CAP/LA's sister offices in other parts of the state.


Executive Director:
Jonathan B. Steiner
Assistant Director:
Jay M. Kohorn
Kathleen C. Caverly
Elizabeth A. Courtenay
Paul DeQuattro
Ronnie Duberstein
Lisa Ferreira
Nancy Gaynor
Dee Hayashi
Suzan E. Hier
Jill Ishida
Ann Krausz
Richard B. Lennon
Cheryl Lutz
Gary M. Mandinach
Stephanie G. Miller
Maria Morrison
Larry Pizarro
Florence R. H. Popper
William C. Spater
James A. Uyeda
Office Administrator:
Amy Griffin
Systems Administrator:
George A. Vergara
Superior Court Liaison:
Sylvia Y. Hoffman
Debbie Anaya
Monica Bobadilla
Paula D. Dilworth
Jackie Gomez
Katrina Hinojosa
Elizabeth Rios
Maxine Verdugo
Denise Verduzco

Contact Info

California Appellate Project
Los Angeles Office
520 S. Grand Avenue, 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90071

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