Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, March 24, 2006


Page 1


Sean Kennedy Appointed Federal Public Defender for Central District of California by Ninth Circuit Judges


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday named Sean K. Kennedy federal public defender for the Central District of California yesterday for a four-year term.

Kennedy succeeds Maria E. Stratton, who resigned in January to accept appointment as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Stratton had been the district’s federal public defender since 1993.

Kennedy has worked in the Central District’s Office of the Federal Public Defender since January 1992.

He was in the Trial Unit for eight years, handling a variety of narcotics, violent crime and fraud cases. He later focused on capital trial and habeas corpus representation.

In 2001, he joined the Appeals and Non-capital Writs Unit where he litigated direct appeals arising from federal trials and post-conviction state court cases. In 2004, he became the supervising deputy of the Capital Habeas Unit, overseeing the litigation of all capital habeas cases from pre-petition representation through the duration of the proceedings.

In a release, the Ninth Circuit Executive’s Office noted that Kennedy handles all administrative responsibilities for the unit, which currently has 13 attorneys and 35 support staff. He has continued to carry a full capital caseload, trying a limited number of non-capital cases as well.

His clients have included Tauno Waidla, a Soviet Army deserter sentenced to death for the murder of a fellow Estonian in Los Angeles. Waidla and co-defendant Peter Sakarias claimed that they were denied due process when Deputy District Attorney Steven Ipsen argued inconsistent theories at their separate trials.

The California Supreme Court overturned Sakarias’ death sentence, saying the most likely scenario was that the victim was already dead from a blow struck by Waidla before Sakarias hit her three times with a hatchet. But the court denied relief to Kennedy’s client, saying there was no reasonable doubt he would have drawn the death penalty under any theory supported by the evidence.

Kennedy completed undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University, graduating cum laude in 1986. He received his law degree in 1989 from Loyola Law School.

He later was with a Los Angeles criminal defense law firm for almost three years, assisting partners in state and federal criminal cases.

He is currently involved with the moot court program at Loyola Law School as an adjunct professor, organizing and running Moot Court competitions and also teaches courses in Appellate Advocacy and Capital Punishment. As federal public defender, Kennedy will supervise a staff of 160, including 60 attorneys, working in offices in Los Angeles, Santa Ana and Riverside.


Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company