I began working with Joel H. Siegal more than 10 years ago. Since that time, we have worked on cases dealing with civil rights, wrongful death, medical malpractice, breach of contract, employment discrimination, consumer protection and serious personal injuries. Common among all our cases is our abiding dedication to public service, fighting on behalf of victims who have suffered from serious injuries due to the negligent and reckless acts of large institutions. Together, Joel and I have used our 40 years of litigation experience to aggressively represent victims who would otherwise have no voice in our legal system.
I am the second of three children born and raised near Greenwood, a historic black neighborhood within Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greenwood, once known as “Black Wall Street,” gained national recognition for producing a number of black businesses during the first half of the twentieth century. Motivated by this tradition of African-American accomplishment, both of my grandfathers served as ambulance drivers in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean War. After returning to Tulsa, my grandfathers ran their own small black- owned businesses for several decades while my grandmothers raised the family and worked as maids.
As a young boy, I accompanied my grandmothers to the establishments and homes of prominent white and Jewish families of Tulsa. It was in places such as Tulsa’s historic Boston Avenue Church that I learned two invaluable lessons which motivate me to this day. First, relationships built upon character, and not race, last a lifetime. Second, regardless of their socioeconomic condition, my family took pride in helping others. These realizations motivated me to become an attorney representing victims who do not have the resources to adequately represent themselves.
In 2002, I graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in political science. Following graduation, I volunteered for the National Urban League, San Francisco Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, and the Oakland NAACP branch office. I then began working for the J. Paul Getty Museum, a large nonprofit art institution located in Los Angeles.
At the end of 2003, I began working as a law clerk for Joel Siegal and Jerry Garchik. With Joel and Jerry, I researched and drafted memorandums concerning civil rights claims. This experience solidified my intent to enroll in Golden Gate University School of Law.
After graduating from Golden Gate University, I was admitted as an attorney into the California Bar on September 25, 2007. I immediately went to work for Kamala Harris as an assistant district attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Here, I worked for four years as a state-level prosecutor specializing in litigating domestic violence, sexual assault, complex fraud and DUI cases. During my time as a prosecutor, I took interest in litigating serious and violent felony cases, including attempted murders and vehicular manslaughters. In all, I prosecuted more than 350 probable cause hearings and 15 jury trials. I also negotiated settlements and/or plea agreements in thousands of cases. In addition, I experienced some of my proudest moments while giving public speeches as a neighborhood liaison for the Bayview-Hunter’s Point neighborhood.
The People v. Graves was one of the most meaningful cases I worked on as a prosecutor. The case involved a defendant who was charged with misdemeanor molestation of 10 minor female victims. After a three-week jury trial in which I introduced 17 witnesses, the defendant was convicted of 17 criminal counts of assault and/or molestation and was sentenced to serve four years in state prison.
In 2010, I married Tashinda Richardson, a lawyer for the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corp. Due to my wife’s reassignment to Washington, D.C., I left the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office to work as an administrator within a Department of Defense agency in the nation’s capital. My assignment allowed me to work on national security-related issues. Further, in my spare time I was a board member of the historic Eastland Gardens Civic Association. I was admitted as an attorney into the District of Columbia Bar on February 6, 2012.
Appreciating that life often comes full circle, I returned to San Francisco in 2013 to rejoin Joel in the fight on behalf of victims. The above-cited experiences have helped me to better understand victims and help them navigate an intimidating legal system in order to get the results they seek.