The Fast Facts
Where I grew up
I grew up in San Antonio, then Las Vegas, and then Los Angeles (Santa Monica/Venice Beach area). I came to Arizona about 25 years ago and decided to hang out for a while.
My favorite part of the job
Whether it’s in criminal court or family court, my favorite part of my job still is going to court. Getting in front of a judge and/or jury and changing lives for the better. I’m privileged to make an honorable difference in the world every day and always stand behind the truth.
Feedback I get from my clients
I’ve been told what makes me unique from other attorneys is the fact that I answer my phone 24/7 and that I consider all of my clients to be my friends. I tell all of my people, “out of every client that I currently represent, the most important case to you is yours!” I consider every one of my client’s circumstances and situations equally important.
What I want my clients to know about me
I’m kind yet fierce. I will never take a case to trial that I know we will lose. However, I will never plea out a case that we can win at trial. I put it all on the line every day for my clients, speaking for those who cannot represent themselves. I learned in the military, “never leave a fallen soldier behind.” The same applies in court.
My Educational Background
I graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) in 1998 with two bachelor's degrees — one in aerospace engineering, and the other a dual major in business administration and aeronautical engineering and technology. While attending ASU, I was admitted to, and enrolled in, the “Ab initio” Airline Pilot Training Program, where I earned my Fixed-Wing Aircraft, Multi-Engine, and Commercial Pilot’s wings. And despite experiencing severe third-degree burns, undergoing multiple skin graft operations, and spending the majority of my junior and senior years of college in the VA hospital burn ward after an aircraft accident that occurred while I was flying as a cargo pilot, I still managed to graduate on time (I’m pretty hard to kill). I was even awarded multiple scholarships along the way, including the Frank Hedrick Scholarship for personal achievement.
Immediately upon graduating from ASU, I began both of my master's degrees at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I was still in graduate school when I was accepted to begin law school at the University of Nevada. Thus, I resolved to complete two master's degrees and my doctoral degree at the same time (I’m too stupid to quit).
In 2003, I graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida with a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering (with a specialization in aviation and aerospace management), as well as a Master of Science in Aeronautical Science (with a specialization in aviation and aerospace safety systems). I earned both degrees with honors (“with distinction,” summa cum laude, a perfect 4.0 GPA). While attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, I was also awarded several scholarships for my academic achievements and featured in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. Later, I returned to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University for several years as an Associate Professor teaching the boring-as-hell, required course of Aviation Law to F-16 pilots serving in the U.S. Air Force, who were attending graduate school and working on earning their master's degrees. As it transpired, the final exam in Aviation Law was held every year at my house, instead of being held on campus. As fate would have it, my final exam ironically paralleled with my Annual Summer Pool Party and Beer BBQ. Coincidentally, not a single one of my students ever failed the final exam. God Bless America!
Also in 2003, I earned my Juris Doctor degree from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada. While in law school, I earned a general academic scholarship for exceptional commitment to community service, as well as several Boyd School of Law and community service scholarships. During this time, I practiced juvenile criminal defense with the Clark County Public Defender’s Office as a student attorney for three years. I also organized and taught legal classes to the public for the Thomas and Mack Legal Clinic, where I taught Pro Se litigants how to represent themselves in court regarding matters of divorce, paternity, child support, child custody and visitation, small claims actions, and landlord-tenant disputes. My graduate thesis "Defending and Representing Juvenile Prostitutes in Nevada Courts" was also published by the Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic at the Boyd School of Law for future student attorneys to utilize.
My Professional Background
While in the U.S. Army, I served in some very elite units, beginning as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, then with the 101st Airborne Pathfinders, and later I was attached to TF 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) (SOAR (A)). I participated in the Grenada invasion and was recalled to active duty for Desert Storm. I logged 136 airborne jumps while in the U.S. Army.
I’ve also served as Police Officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD. After moving back home to Los Angeles, I was accepted into the police academy, this time with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as a volunteer Reserve Police Officer. I’ve also worked as commercial pilot, logging over 6,000 hours in multi-engine fixed wing and helicopter aircraft. I’ve also worked at McDonnell Douglas and then Boeing on the AH-64 Apache Helicopter program as an Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer.
Where I'm Admitted to Practice
I passed the Arizona State Bar in 2004, and I have been admitted to practice in all Arizona state and city courts since that time. I’m also admitted to practice in all federal district courts of Arizona in the areas of criminal, civil, bankruptcy, and immigration. Though I have experience in all of these areas, my favorites are criminal defense and family law.
I’m also admitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, where I have experience practicing in aviation law. Additionally, in 2013, I passed the California Bar Exam, which is known to be the hardest bar exam to pass in the country. I then contemplated moving back to Los Angeles, where I’m originally from. However, I decided to stay in Arizona to see my daughter finish high school and go on to attend Arizona State University, just like her old man.
How I Give Back
There’s another side of me that I haven’t mentioned, and that’s my history of teaching. During law school, I taught free legal courses to Nevada residents, and today I teach both in high schools and at Embry Riddle's extended campus as an adjunct aviation law professor. The college courses I teach are for F-16 pilots who are earning their master’s degrees, and I have a lot of fun mentoring other pilots.
Similarly, I do my best to stay connected to my military roots and happily offer pro bono legal counsel to veterans on a case-by-case basis. I'm also a proud member of many veterans organizations, which you can read more about below. My involvement is simply a small way for me to pay respect to the brave men and women who have fought for our country.
What Sparked My Interest in Law
This is a story I don’t tell very often or to very many people but here goes. Circa 1994, I was married to a very pretty girl whom I’d met in college. We were married for almost four months when she and her secret boyfriend ran off together … but not before taking both cars with them, cleaning out all of the furniture, the appliances, the bank accounts, all of the dishes, the photos, all of my clothes, etc.
After flying overnight one day, I came home to a gutted and empty home. I literally had to step outside to look at my address to make sure I was in the right house. All of the utilities were turned off (of course she kept the deposits) and I found myself served with papers to vacate the residence because my house was sold and in closing. It was like something out of Twilight zone. Just four months earlier, I sold my Harley to put up the down payment — yet now found myself homeless.
Long story short, I knew nothing about the law or about filing papers in court. However, I did understand the difference between truth and lies, legal conduct and illegal conduct, and right over wrong. In time, I educated myself about court procedures and prevailed by keeping the house. Along the way during this dark episode, I met an attorney who was also a judge and we became friends. Many years later he called me at work when I was at Boeing and said, “You’d be a good litigator. You should go to law school.” I didn’t even know what a “litigator” was but right then and there, I decided to take his advice. Soon after, I quit my job to begin law school. Eighteen years later, I couldn’t be happier. To this day, I’ve never spoken to her since the day she left, but if I ever do run into my ex, I’m going to thank her and buy her a drink!
What I Do for Fun
In my free time, I enjoy flying my plane, and I'm known for taking my clients and their family members flying. To put them at ease, I always say, “Don’t worry...I know almost exactly what I’m doing. Besides, I crash better than anyone I know.” Check out my flying videos on the page linked below if you’d like to see me in action.
When I'm not working, I'm either flying one of my three airplanes, traveling across the country to cool places, riding Harleys, going to rat-rod car shows, spending time with my daughter, hanging out with my girlfriend (she's crazier than I am), or hanging out at Happy Hour, where I tend to bore anyone who will listen to me ramble on about flying and/or the law. In addition, I'm an avid car collector and a lifelong Beatles fan. When things get tough, I remind my clients that, just as John Lennon said, we all shine on.
Awards I've Earned
I am a Commercial Instrument Pilot with over 6,000 hours in both multi-engine fixed wing and helicopter aircraft. I am currently finishing my Airline Transport Pilot rating (ATP) and I have recently been accepted into a training program as a First Officer with a Major Airline. Once I complete the 6-week First Officer program, I will continue to practice law. However, I will also be working as an airline pilot when I’m not in court or preparing for trial.
In 1994 while recovering in the hospital burn ward after being involved in a very serious plane crash, I was presented the Courageous Community Member Award by a Captain and several Lieutenants of the LAPD, West Los Angeles Bureau for attempting to save the life of my copilot and fellow LAPD Reserve Officer. Eyewitness reports of the incident stated that I had escaped the aircraft wreckage, yet despite being injured and suffering from third degree burns, I immediately returned to the burning aircraft and pulled my copilot out of the fire. This award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves as outstanding and courageous members of the community because of their decision to get involved despite any great personal risk. Unfortunately, I was not able to save his life, which still haunts me to this day.
One of My Most Memorable Experiences as an Attorney
One of my most memorable criminal cases was about eight years ago when a young black kid accidentally hit a police detective with his car as he was getting a lemonade from the Circle K Store on a Tuesday morning. This story was so bizarre that I had trouble believing the facts surrounding this case. It simply did not make sense.
My client was merging into traffic after buying a lemonade and his vehicle was barely even moving. He inadvertently crossed into a police crime scene (there was an unrelated drive-by shooting and the police were on scene investigating). My client didn’t see the detective and accidentally knocked him down with his car. About 19 cops immediately arrested him and he was charged with some very serious felony counts, requiring mandatory prison is if he was convicted. The prosecutor presented the case to a secret Grand Jury and indicted my client with among other counts, a Class 4 Dangerous Felony, alleging that my client “knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly,” used his vehicle as a deadly weapon to run over a cop, causing the officer to suffer from a broken leg.
I worked on this case for about two years before going to trial. About six months prior to the trial during an interview with the treating physician, I learned that the detective never had a broken leg at all. In fact, he never went to the hospital to be treated for his “injuries” until two months after the incident happened! The treating doctor stated that the officer “was treated for an existing condition of mild arthritis and given two ibuprofen tablets.” Incredibly over my objections for six months, the prosecutor refused to dismiss the count involving the fabricated “broken leg” even though she heard it herself straight from the doctor during my interview.
I filed a motion requesting the court to dismiss the charge. My motion was heard by the Trial Judge the day before picking the jury. That count of the indictment was immediately dismissed and the prosecutor was admonished by the court. In trial, I was able to establish to the jury that the “injured” detective was two months away from mandatory retirement when the incident occurred. As it turns out, if the detective was “injured on the job and retired for medical reasons,” he would forever receive his full pay and benefits. Meanwhile, an innocent man was facing a mandatory seven and a half years in prison, just so that this lying cop could receive a full retirement pension. The jury acquitted my client of all charges involving the “vehicle being intentionally used as a weapon.” To this day, I’m still friends with my former client and his family.
- U.S. District Court, District of Arizona
- U.S. Supreme Court of Arizona
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
- All Federal Criminal, Civil, Bankruptcy, and Immigration Courts
- Juris Doctor - University of Nevada’s William S. Boyd School of Law
- Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, with a specialization in Aviation & Aerospace Management, summa cum laude - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Master of Science in Aeronautical Science, with a specialization in Aviation & Aerospace Safety Sytems, summa cum laude - Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering - Arizona State University
- Dual Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Aeronautical Engineering & Technology - Arizona State University
Professional Associations & Memberships
- Arizona Bar Association, 2004 - Present
- American Bar Association
- Association of Trial Lawyers of America
- The Arizona Modest Means Project
- Maricopa County Veterans StandDown
- Phoenix Municipal Veterans Court
- Maricopa County Veterans Count
- Arizona Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
- Wounded Warrior Project
- Veterans Airlift Command
- American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS)
- Canyon State Air
- Night Stalker Association
- Debbie Lee Foundation
- Phoenix VA Hospital
- Wings for Warriors
- Dr. Phil
- 48 Hours
- Good Morning America
- Inside Edition
- Greta Van Susteren