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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 2:07 am | Fair 50º


The Honorable Frank Ochoa to Serve ‘Of Counsel’ for Sanger Swysen & Dunkle

Frank Ochoa Click to view larger
Frank Ochoa (Courtesy photo)

The law firm of Sanger Swysen & Dunkle is pleased to announce the association of Judge Frank J. Ochoa (Ret.) with the firm.

Ochoa retired after 32 years on the Santa Barbara trial court bench in 2015. He has an active arbitration and mediation practice and will be taking selective civil and criminal cases in his return to practice as a lawyer.

Senior Partner Robert Sanger said, “Frank Ochoa and I have been friends since his days before taking the bench. He has served with distinction on the bench and made many courageous decisions. Now that he has chosen to return to the practice of law, we are really enjoying working together on both civil and criminal cases.” 

Ochoa will be “Of Counsel” to the firm. The term “Of Counsel” applies to a lawyer who has a close, regular and personal relationship with the members of the firm without being a member of the law firm itself. It is a status that former judges or government officials have available to them in changing career circumstances upon the return to the active practice of law.

Ochoa was the executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County prior to his appointment to the bench in 1983. He practiced extensively in state and federal trial and appellate courts in that capacity.

As a bench officer, Ochoa handled all assignments in the court and dealt with criminal, civil, family law, probate and juvenile calendars.

He served on the court’s appellate department and was temporarily assigned by the chief justice of the California Supreme Court to serve on the California Court of Appeal. 

He served as presiding judge of the Santa Barbara Municipal Court and the Santa Barbara Superior Court and managed the merger of the county’s multiple court systems into a countywide Superior Court in 1998.

He designed and implemented Santa Barbara’s first adult and juvenile drug courts as well as the Superior Court’s “Court Administered Dispute Resolution Program” (CADRe program), which has been touted as a model for court-connected ADR programs around California.

Ochoa also served as a member of numerous statewide boards and commissions related to the California Judicial Council and the California Judges Association during his tenure on the bench.

Ochoa is a panelist on the American Arbitration Association’s roster of arbitrators and mediators. He also is a panelist for Resolute Systems, LLC.

He is an approved member of the Santa Barbara Superior Court’s panels for arbitrators, mediators and neutral case evaluators. He is a panelist for the Ventura County Superior Court’s mediation programs.

He also continues to teach law-related courses at UC Santa Barbara and has taught such courses at the Santa Barbara College of Law.

The firm of Sanger Swysen & Dunkle specializes in criminal defense, including complex felony cases and white collar crime defense, business litigation, general civil litigation, including civil rights representation, professional licensing disputes, school discipline proceedings and writs and appeals.

Robert M. Sanger, senior partner in the firm, is an experienced trial lawyer who has practiced in Santa Barbara since 1973. He is a certified criminal law specialist through the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Sanger has tried a number of high-profile cases and has handled complex criminal and civil cases in the state and federal courts throughout California as well as in other jurisdictions, including the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) and the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.).

He is also a published professor at the Santa Barbara College of Law.

Catherine J. Swysen, managing partner in the firm, is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer. She has handled major criminal and civil cases in the state and federal courts.

Swysen represents people accused of felony and misdemeanor offenses, including murder, death penalty, vehicular manslaughter, embezzlement, theft, drunk driving (DUI, DWI, driving under the influence), domestic violence, assaults, batteries, sex offenses and regulatory offenses.

Swysen handles civil litigation for the firm, including selected personal injury, civil rights and business cases. She defends individuals and companies in civil litigation.

Stephen K. Dunkle, a partner with the firm, handles criminal trials and appeals. He also handles criminal law and motion matters and writs.

Dunkle has been instrumental in a number of the firm’s successful cases, including constitutional challenges in the appellate courts, and he was primarily responsible for the extensive law and motion and appellate representation of Michael Jackson by the firm.

Dunkle is an appellate law specialist certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. He has extensive experience in appellate work, including pre-trial writs and appeals before the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court.

He is also involved in death penalty defense litigation in matters before the Supreme Court.

Jake Swanson represents Sanger Swysen & Dunkle.

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