Federal Criminal Defense and Other Federal Matters
A National, Client-Focused, Boutique Practice Devoted To Complex Federal Criminal Defense, Federal Habeas Litigation, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Select Federal Civil Litigation And Other Federal Matters.
Ezekiel E. Cortez is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization after passing the federal specialist examination.
As a devoted career federal criminal defense attorney and trial attorney, Mr. Cortez has unwaveringly devoted his practice to the defense of federal criminal cases and other federal matters since 1984, when he began his practice as a federal community defender at Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.
Since 1988, Mr. Cortez has also handled post conviction Habeas Corpus Litigation of unique cases, involving ineffective assistance of counsel and other issues. Mr. Cortez also handles selected federal civil matters.
Mr. Cortez's legal ability and ethical conduct have earned the highest peer-review rating available from Martindale-Hubbell - an AV rating. ("A" rates Mr. Cortez's legal ability as "Very High to Preeminent"; "V" rates his ethical conduct as the highest ethical standard possible).
For over fifteen years, Mr. Cortez has been continuously listed in The Best Lawyers In America - a national standard of excellence for the legal profession. Mr. Cortez has been listed in San Diego Magazine's "Best Lawyers In San Diego" in 2001 and 2005-2012, as one of only a handful of elite criminal defense lawyers once described by the magazine as the type of lawyer that other "attorneys would go to if they needed a [federal criminal defense] lawyer." Mr. Cortez has also been listed in Super Lawyers continuously since 2007 in the edition of California: San Diego, Criminal Defense: White Collar and Corporate Counsel categories as one of the "Seriously Outstanding Top 5%" in his field. Mr. Cortez has also been selected by the prestigious U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers/Best Law Firms, since 2010.
As an ambassador for his profession, Mr. Cortez was twice awarded Fulbright Scholarships in October 2003 and in 2004 by the State Department to teach the American system of adversarial jury trial techniques to Chilean defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges at the University of Concepción, and in Temuco, Chile. Mr. Cortez has taught Criminal Justice Administration at San Diego State University and at MGU (Moscow University) in Moscow, Russia. He has also taught trial skills and techniques as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego and at California Western Schools of Law and has frequently taught advanced trial techniques to experienced trial lawyers for CACJ, NACDL and various trial institutes.
Cordialmente invitamos a clientes de habla hispana.
The following unique cases generally illustrate Mr. Cortez's federal practice:
Brian Glen Brewer v. Anthony Hedgpeth, CV 08-2027-PSG(RNB) a post conviction habeas corpus petition in a case where Mr. Brewer was sentenced pursuant to California's Three Strikes law to four consecutive terms of 40 years to life after a jury convicted him at trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court for the alleged robbery of a credit union. Mr. Brewer protested his innocence from the very outset to his court-appointed Public Defenders. After years of investigation, litigation and an evidentiary hearing in the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, The Hon. Magistrate Judge Robert N. Block issued an order recommending that Mr. Brewer's Petition be granted. Judge Block found, after an evidentiary hearing where witness testimony and evidence were presented, that Mr. Brewer's Sixth Amendment right was violated by his trial counsel's failure to diligently and effectively investigate his alibi defense. The district Court affirmed Magistrate Judge Block's well-written and incisively thought out 50-page Opinion filed on 23 November 2009. The Government is now appealing.
U.S. v. Castro-Carbajal, 439 F.3d 1149 (9th Cir. 2006), a case involving alleged violations of Title 46 USC 1903 (Maritime Drug Enforcement Act - MDEA) and 2,000 kilograms of cocaine in a speed boat seized off the cost of Colombia by U.S. authorities and which involved a very long and difficult multi-defendant and complex jurisdictional and other legal issues jury trial which resulted in convictions. The convictions were reversed on March 14, 2006 by the 9th Circuit Court of appeals and Mr. Cortez's client, a simple fisherman, returned to his home in Colombia after a favorable plea agreement.
U.S. v. Fanghella, 01CR2559-H U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. A high-profile case described in the media as one of the largest investment-fraud cases in Southern California history; the case involved over 300 million dollars in alleged fraud. Mr. Cortez's client was the Chief Executive Officer of PinnFund, USA. This was one of the most complex of white-collar fraud cases in Southern California and involved thousands of documents and exhibits. The case was widely covered by the television, radio and newspaper media nationally and internationally.
U.S. v. Jackson, 00CR2300-IEG U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. A high-profile case involving allegations of police corruption against other San Diego Police Officers. Mr. Cortez's client was a 12-year veteran Detective of the San Diego Police Department.
U.S. v. Mason, et al:Memorandum Opinion, 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 19198 (9th Cir., June 17, 1994)- Dubbed "The Alliance" case by the national media and described as the largest prosecution of lawyers in American history. Mr. Cortez's client was a highly experienced civil litigation attorney.
U.S. v. Scharringhausen: Case 96 CR 415-H A very complex case involving alleged multi-million dollar investment fraud. After a lengthy and difficult jury trial, Mr. Cortez's client was acquitted of all the investment fraud charges. Mr. Cortez's client is a highly successful real-estate developer and engineer.
United States v. Frega,et al, 179 F.3d 793 (9th Cir. 1999). Involved the rare prosecution by the federal government of three long-time Superior Court Judges and a prominent and very successful Plaintiff's lawyer for allegedly having conspired to violate federal RICO, mail fraud and state bribery statutes. The alleged RICO conspiracy conviction was thrown out on appeal. Mr. Cortez's client was a former Superior Court Judge.
U.S. v. Corona: A case involving a hand-to-hand sale of approx. 5 pounds of methamphetamine to undercover DEA agents. The first trial resulted in a hung jury; on retrial, Mr. Cortez's client was acquitted without his testimony - an extremely rare defense tactic in an entrapment case. Mr. Cortez's client was a medical doctor.
In addition to these types of varied cases, Mr. Cortez routinely handles basic federal felony cases. His practice also includes a substantial volume of appellate cases and post-conviction litigation involving ineffective assistance of counsel and related issues.
These are unique cases and no warranty of a similar result is intended or implied. All helpful suggestions on how this web site can be improved to better assist you, are invited.