Charles is a former Board Member of the respected human rights group California Prison Focus which has defended and advanced the rights of prisoners in California for nearly 20 years. CPF can be found at www.prisons.org
Charles also appears as co-host and co-producer on 89.5FM KPOO every week in the longest running radio program in the nation dedicated to prisoner issues. Listen every Thursday from 11AM to Noon at 89.5FM in San Francico or at www.kpoo.com.
Charles also is a founding member of PASS (Prisoner Assistance Scholastic Service) which is the only nationwide school of rehabilitation for prisoners. PASS can be found at www.passprogram.org.
BACKGROUND AND RESUME
I am a public interest attorney who fights for the rights of prisoners in California. My greatest joy as an attorney and in life is having freed hundreds of prisoners.
Let me offer some background about my journey as a prisoner rights attorney.
Throughout law school, I taught and directed a legal research and writing program to prisoners in maximum and medium-security prisons in New York State, including Attica, Clinton, and Wyoming prisons. Inside these institutions, I saw, first-hand how the criminal justice system applies to disregards the rights of the accused and the convicted. Seeing these abuses, while a law student, I researched a published law review article with Professor George Kannar titled "Federalizing Death" that examined the impact of the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994 and the reintroduction of the federal death penalty.
After law school where I graduated cum laude, I brought the first successful lawsuit then in the U.S. against MCI/Worldcom for the outrageous cost of prison collect calls. The case settled for half a million dollars, and drew the attention of California's legislature resulting in passage of a bill vetoed by the Governor Gray Davis that would have fundamentally changed the rate structure for collect calls from prisons.
Early in my legal career, I was Special Assistant to Professor Robert Fellmeth of the University of San Diego School of Law and the Economic Fraud Unit of the District Attorney of San Diego in the areas of antitrust enforcement and medical fraud. And I worked closely and directly with Ralph Nader as his Research Analyst on antitrust and white-collar crime in the Summer of 1995. For three months, I assisted Mr. Nader at his focal public policy institute, and was required to quickly research, comprehend and communicate to Mr. Nader on topics ranging from government agriculture programs to sentencing guidelines for business crimes.
In the early 2000s, I was an associate attorney with Girard & Green, LLP. At this respected plaintiff's firm, I litigated primarily in federal court, and was responsible for the "heavy-lifting" of research and writing briefs to the federal bench on topics ranging from arbitration to reconsideration. The work was labor intensive and required an extraordinary commitment to the integrity of the brief writing process. My contributions included successful outcomes in some of the largest consumer class actions in the nation against Fortune 500 companies.
Prior to Girard & Green, LLP, I was Associate Director for the non-profit consumer advocacy organization UCAN in San Diego where I litigated on behalf of 40,000 residential consumers on matters involving public utilities, broadband technologies, consumer rights, and telecommunications. My responsibilities included all stages of litigation, legislative drafting and testifying, media relations, and consumer education. I won some of the largest judgments against utility companies ever awarded before the California Public Utilities Commission.
In the 2000's, I was the Director of the Litigation In Prison (LIP) Project for California Prison Focus, and I regularly supervised legal investigative visits to the security housing unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison, Corcoran State Prison, and Tehachapi. I visited numerous prisons throughout the state including San Quentin, New and Old Folsom, Avenal, CMF-Vacaville, CSP-Solano, SCC, CTF, Donovan, and too many others to mention. In fact, to my knowledge, I visited more prisons than any other attorney in California. Through this work, I am an often featured prisoner rights expert on radio, television, and in newsprint. Moreover, I have litigated numerous state and federal prisoner rights law suits in the area of excessive force, parole, medical neglect, and policies regarding SHUs or prisoners forced to live in solitary confinement in super-maximum security prisons. I was the lead attorney on two pivotal cases which ultimately abolished long-term solitary confinement in California, And I am proud to say that I have won the release of countless "lifer" inmates in California who have returned to their families and who have never returned to prison. Recently, I founded the only nationwide school of rehabilitation for prisoners.
From these experiences and others, I've learned that abuses of power and inequality threaten the advancement of human rights. Whether economic or criminal justice, I've seen that abuses of power and inequality are the seeds of violence; and I've learned that violence is an iterative process that is cured only through a commitment to fairness, justice, and equality.
In my legal pursuits, I have gone against the largest and arguably best private law firms in California, thereby requiring the highest standards of effective advocacy. I have superior oral advocacy skills as I remain a frequent authority on law and policy in the media having appeared repeatedly in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, The NY Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and National Public Radio, as well as countless television news reports.
In sum, my legal experience is driven by my commitment to the highest standards of the practice of law and the public interest.
My legal philosophy is to understand and serve the needs of my clients - pure and simple. I fight and love for prisoners without compromise.