2015 Staffing
Staff Development Personnel3
Support Staff6

The Appellate & Training Division provides support to the District Attorney’s Office in the areas of motion practice, appellate practice, legal research, policy, ethics, legislation, training, and public records. Deputy District Attorney James E. Atkins is the Division Chief and Deputy District Attorney Mark Amador is the Assistant Chief. In 2015, Deputy District Attorney Bryn Kirvin served as training director and as the office ethics coordinator, providing advice, assistance, and training to attorneys in matters relating to ethics and professionalism in and out of the courtroom. The division is also responsible for publishing helpful resources for this office and prosecutors’ offices across the state, notably Autobrief, which is edited by veteran Deputy District Attorney Craig Fisher.

Appellate prosecutors handle motions, appeals, and writ petitions. In addition, they serve as the legal advisor to the District Attorney’s Office, providing legal assistance to trial attorneys. Last year, appellate attorneys assisted with numerous motions, briefs, and oral arguments in the Superior Court, the Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court. In addition, they responded to hundreds of inquiries from prosecutors seeking legal advice. Attorneys in the division provided support for many high-profile cases and actively participated in the development of internal policies and procedures related to areas such as post-conviction discovery, public records requests, body-worn cameras, and the implementation of new laws and legal precedents.

Examples of significant cases and proceedings that were handled by the division include:

In re Keigwin
The defendant killed the victim and stole $7.5 million from the victim’s bank account by pretending to be the victim. A jury found the defendant guilty of first degree murder with multiple special circumstances. The defendant was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. After his conviction was affirmed on appeal, the defendant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, claiming numerous instances of ineffective assistance by his trial attorney. After Deputy DA Katy Gayle filed an extensive brief in opposition the superior court denied the habeas corpus petition.

In re Sirypangno
The defendant and other gang members crashed a birthday party. The defendant threatened several people at the party with a gun. The defendant later got into a fight with the victim. During the fight, a co-defendant shot and killed the victim. A jury convicted the defendant of first-degree murder and other felony offenses. He was sentenced to prison terms of 75 years-to-life plus seven years. After his convictions were affirmed on appeal, the defendant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, contending he could not be convicted of first-degree murder under the natural and probable consequences theory of aider and abettor liability where murder was not the target offense. After opposition briefing by Deputy DA Craig Fisher, the Superior Court denied the habeas corpus petition.

People v. Arevalos
A jury convicted the defendant, a law enforcement officer, of numerous crimes in connection with his traffic stops of female drivers, in which he offered to forego arresting them for driving under the influence of alcohol in exchange for sexual favors. The defendant was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison. Thereafter, the superior court granted the defendant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus and ordered a new trial. Deputy DA Martin Doyle appealed the grating of the new trial and the Appellate Court agreed with our position, thereby preserving the hard-fought conviction and full prison sentence.

Attorneys in the Appellate & Training Division also participated in the California District Attorneys Association, serving on the appellate, legislation, legal issues, and ethics committees. In 2015, the division responded to 79 California Public Records Act requests and 133 inter-agency requests for records and information.

On the training side, the division continues to dedicate itself to the development and coordination of high-quality, in-house training programs as a State Bar recognized MCLE provider. Deputy DA Kirvin, Assistant Training Director, Jim Kelly, and members of the Legal Training Advisory Committee devoted countless hours to successfully offer numerous in-house programs that provided attorneys and paralegals with continuing legal education requirements, allowing attorneys to maintain their license to practice law in California. Examples of these programs are two annual all-day training sessions, a one-day sex crimes and human trafficking seminar, a two-day discovery seminar, a four-day felony trial advocacy seminar, a two-day appellate seminar, and numerous office-wide live-stream lectures that targeted current legal issues.