A Commitment To Excellence

A Passion For Justice





Tyre Nichols, 1993-2023.  Federal Defenders of San Diego is outraged by the unnecessary and tragic death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of law enforcement.  We offer our condolences to his family and community for their loss. We reiterate our support for both the Black Lives Matter movement and measures to end the excessive use of force by law enforcement.  Acts of police violence not only affect those involved, but entire communities.  Incidents like the death of Tyre Nichols and so many others cause profound grief, loss, trauma, and anger. Excessive force aggravates racial disparities, breeds mistrust, and causes disproportionate physical and mental stress to people of color.  

FDSDI joins our community of public defenders in voicing our demand to combat the injustices ingrained in the criminal legal system. As public defenders we witness the devastating effects that racism can have on those affected by criminal legal system.  However, we appreciate that words are not enough. 

FDSDI pledges our commitment to listening to our affected communities and exploring ways we can offer our support. In the meantime, we remain proudly dedicated to representing our indigent community and fighting to protect the dignity and Constitutional rights of the accused.  This includes giving voice to those who have suffered from the inexcusable use of excessive force by law enforcement. 

Kasha Castillo

Executive Director

Federal Defenders of San Diego



Federal Public and Community Defenders applaud the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Judge Jackson is an exceptionally well-qualified nominee whose appointment will advance our country towards a fairer and more equitable system. Of the 115 justices who have served on the Supreme Court, she will not only be the first Black woman, but also the first to bring experience as a public defender.

Federal Public and Community Defenders represent the overwhelming majority of those charged with crimes in federal court. It is our privilege to fight each day to protect the rights of people who cannot afford a lawyer. With the highest rate of incarceration in the world, our nation’s deeply flawed criminal legal system harms all Americans—and impacts communities of color the hardest. As defenders, we bear witness to the struggles of each of the unique individuals we represent, and to the fact that rehabilitation and redemption are real, and even common.

Our work provides us a perspective on the criminal legal system distinct from other actors that should be well represented on the federal bench, including on our nation’s highest court. But for too long, we have not been given the opportunity to bring that expertise to bear as jurists or policymakers. We are grateful that, during President Biden’s first year in office, he has worked to correct this imbalance by nominating a record number of individuals with backgrounds in public and criminal defense to federal judgeships.

With his first nomination to the Supreme Court, President Biden has broken yet another barrier for public defenders, and for Black women. This nomination affirms the importance of elevating lawyers who have represented the poor and the powerless to roles where they can improve the administration of justice.


The Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., has long fought for juries that reflect the racial diversity of our community. Despite our decades of work, federal juries in San Diego still underrepresent people of color, especially Black community members.

Last month, FDSDI joined community groups, academics, law firms, solo practitioners, and individuals across San Diego and Imperial Counties once more to fight for more diverse juries. FDSDI submitted comments to the Southern District of California describing the steps the Court should take to increase the racial diversity of our juries. These steps are simple and pragmatic. They would bring the Southern District of California in line with the jury practices of every other federal district in California.

For more information, please click here to see the linked letters from FDSDI and Criminal Justice Act panel members, academics, and other members of our San Diego and Imperial County communities. For questions and information for the press, please contact Vince Brunkow at vince_brunkow@fd.org


Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. stands in solidarity with protesters in San Diego and across the United States. The police in this country routinely brutalize Black people with impunity. For too long, society has looked the other way. The dehumanization must end now.

The American legal system continues to inflict and sustain racial oppression. As public defenders, we witness daily how the legal system imposes immense and unjustifiable harm on communities of color. The physical violence, caging, and forced family separation that state, federal, and immigration authorities inflict upon our clients is part of the same government-sanctioned violence that killed George Floyd.

We stand with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and all those killed by anti-Black police and vigilantes. We stand with the families of Earl McNeil, Aleah Jenkins, Alfred Olango, James Lacy, and all those before them who died because of anti-Black racism in San Diego.

We stand with the protesters in the streets who are fighting for a better country. We stand with those fighting to breathe.

To view the Joint Statement from Federal Defenders on the Killing of George Floyd, click here.



Members of the Federal Defenders team share a commitment to excellence and a passion for justice in representing indigent people accused of myriad federal criminal offenses. We combine hard work, constant training and intense dedication in the defense of each of our clients.