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Biographies
  • Brian K. Williams, Executive Director
  • Patti Giggans, Commission Chair
  • Priscilla Ocen, Vice Chair
  • Robert C. Bonner
  • JP Harris
  • Sean Kennedy
  • Lael Rubin
  • Pastor Xavier Thompson
  • Casimiro U. Tolentino
  • Hernán Vera

Brian K. Williams, Esq., Executive Director

Brian K. Williams, Esq. is the principal owner of the Brian K. Williams Law Group (BKWLG), a criminal defense and civil litigation law firm. Williams has handled matters in both State and Federal court and has tried over 100 cases. Williams also served as President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southern California, one of the nation’s preeminent educational programs for youth. Prior to joining Junior Achievement, Williams served as the Executive Director of the Southern California Leadership Network (SCLN). The SCLN is one of the nation’s premiere leadership development programs. Prior to joining the SCLN, Williams served as the Director of Government Affairs for the Southern California Association of Governments.

Williams served for 11 years as an Assistant City Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office where he handled thousands of criminal and civil matters and more than 100 cases. After several years in the Criminal Division handling general criminal matters and assisting in the establishment of the Domestic Violence Unit, Williams moved to the Special Operations Division where he conducted specialized prosecution of high-profile cases such as police officer involved crimes, hate crimes, child molestation, industrial accidents, manslaughter, and environmental crimes. Williams was also charged with serving as co-chair of the City Attorney’s team reviewing the LAPD Rampart Corruption probe. When Los Angeles City Attorney James K. Hahn was elected Mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor Hahn appointed Williams as his Deputy Mayor.

Williams served for four years as the Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles for Transportation, Environment, and Infrastructure. Upon leaving the Mayor’s Office, Williams was appointed as the Assistant City Manager for the City of Pasadena, where he oversaw the police, fire, planning, water and power, and human resources departments. Williams, a two-time UCLA Chancellor’s Marshall, earned a B.A. in Political Science at UCLA and received a Juris Doctorate from the UCLA School of Law. Williams has lectured at the UCLA School of Law, USC School of Law, Loyola University, and has provided commentary in national, regional and local media outlets. Williams is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Boule’, the Pacific Council and numerous other organizations. A native of Southern California, Williams is married and has two outstanding sons.

 

Patti GiggansPatti Giggans

Commission Chair

Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, appointed by Supervisor Kuehl

Giggans was appointed to the Commission in December 2016 and has served on the Family Assistance and Communication and the Mental Evaluation Team Program Ad Hoc Committees. She has been the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence since 1985. She achieved a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Non-profit Management. A black belt in Karate and master self-defense trainer, she founded Karate Women, the first martial arts school in Southern California in 1976. Giggans also founded Denim Day, an international sexual violence prevention education campaign.

Giggans has held numerous statewide and national leadership and advisory positions in the sexual assault and domestic violence arena, including the California Domestic Violence Advisory Council, 1in6, The Trauma Resource Institute, the Center for Council and The Joyful Heart Foundation. She is the former President of The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault and founding Board member of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

Giggans has received the California Peace Prize, and she is a Durfee Foundation Stanton Fellow, among numerous additional awards. She has co-authored What Parents Need to Know About Teen Dating Violence, 50 Ways to A Safer World, and When Dating Becomes Dangerous: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Relationship Abuse.

Priscilla Ocen

Commission Vice Chair

Loyola Law School Associate Professor, appointed by the Board of Supervisors

Priscilla Ocen elected as vice chair. She was appointed to the Commission in December 2016 and has served on Ad Hoc Committees for Bail Reform, Cannabis and the Unmanned Aircraft System Program. She is a Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, where she teaches criminal law, family law and a seminar on race, gender and the law. Her work examines the relationship between race, gender and systems of punishment. Her work also explores the ways in which race, gender and class interact to render women of color vulnerable to various forms of violence and criminalization. In particular, Ocen’s work draws attention to the ways in which criminalization and incarceration are used to police the reproductive choices of poor women of color. Her work has appeared in academic journals such as the California Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the George Washington Law Review, the UC Davis Law Review and the Du Bois Review as well as popular media outlets such as the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Ebony and Al Jazeera.

Ocen is the co-author of the influential policy report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected.  The report was part a larger effort co-organized by Ocen and others to highlight the various forms of discipline and punishment experienced by Black girls, which are often overlooked in mainstream advocacy efforts and policy initiatives. As part of this effort, Ocen co-hosted a community hearing on the status of Black women and girls in Los Angeles.

Ocen has applied her work to broader advocacy efforts, as she has served as a trainer for federal public defenders, assisted with the development of new programs in domestic violence centers in South Los Angeles, and strategized with community groups regarding efforts to monitor conditions of confinement in the Los Angeles County women’s jail. Most recently, Ocen was appointed to serve as a member of the newly established Los Angeles Sheriff’s Oversight Commission.

Prior to joining the faculty at Loyola Law School, Ocen was a Critical Race Studies fellow at UCLA School of Law, where she taught a course on Critical Race Theory and a seminar on Race, Gender and Incarceration. Additionally, Ocen served as a law clerk to the Honorable Eric L. Clay of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Following her clerkship, she was the Thurgood Marshall Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she worked on various racial justice issues including voting rights, police misconduct, and conditions of confinement in women’s prisons. Additionally, Ocen spearheaded the creation of a Black Women’s Reentry Project.

Ocen is also active in the community as she serves as a member of the board of directors for the Equal Justice Society, an organization dedicated to transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science and the arts.

Hon. Robert C. Bonner

Commissioner

Attorney and former U.S. Attorney and DEA Administrator, appointed by Supervisor Antonovich

Robert C. Bonner is a former United States District Judge and a former United States Attorney for the Central District of California. He served on the seven-member Citizens Commission on Jail Violence (CCJV) that examined the use of unnecessary and excessive force within the Los Angeles County Jail System, and he is the former Chair of the California Commission on Judicial Performance.  Aside from his public service, Bonner was a practicing lawyer in Los Angeles, engaged in both civil litigation and criminal defense.

Judge Bonner is currently engaged in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and serves as both a neutral mediator and arbitrator of disputes. Judge Bonner is affiliated with Phillips ADR‘s distinguished panel of neutrals, is a member of the American Arbitration Association’s Master Mediation Panel, and is a member of FedArb, a panel of former federal judges who function as arbitrators and mediators. Judge Bonner is a retired former partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.   

Besides serving as a federal judge, Bonner’s government service includes heading several federal agencies, including his service as the Commissioner of U.S. Customs Service and, following the homeland security reorganization, as the first Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier in his career, Bonner was the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  

Judge Bonner is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.  He is also a member of Caltech’s Board of Trustees and Chair of its Audit and Compliance Committee. He has served on several committees of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, including the CBP Integrity Advisory Panel that evaluated use of force, transparency and other issues.  

Judge Bonner received his B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Maryland and his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

JP Harris

Commissioner

Former Sheriff’s lieutenant, appointed by Supervisor Knabe

Bio coming soon.

Sean Kennedy

Commissioner

Executive Director of Center for Juvenile Law & Policy at Loyola Law School and former federal public defender, appointed by the Board of Supervisors

In fall 2014, Sean Kennedy joined Loyola Law School as the Kaplan and Feldman Executive Director of its Center for Juvenile Law and Policy (CJLP). 

Prior to this appointment, Kennedy was the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California from 2006 to 2014 and has also served as Chief of the Federal Public Defender Capital Habeas Unit. 

As an adjunct professor for more than 15 years, Kennedy has taught Appellate Advocacy and the Death Penalty Law Seminar at the Law School. He has coached the Byrne Trial Advocacy Team – himself a member of the Scott Moot Court Honors Board as a student. Additionally, he serves on the board of Loyola’s Advocacy Institute. 

In 2013, Kennedy was named Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year by the Los Angeles County Bar Association and received the Fidler Institute Award for Defense Lawyer of the Year from Loyola. He is a recipient of the Public Interest Award by Loyola’s Public Interest Law Foundation. Prior to working in public defense, Kennedy was an associate at Talcott, Lightfoot, Vandevelde, Woehrle & Sadowsky, LLP, where he handled white collar criminal defense cases.

Education

  • BA, cum laude, Loyola Marymount University

  • JD, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Lael Rubin

Commissioner

  • Former Deputy District Attorney, appointed by the Board of Supervisors

Lael R. Rubin, a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney for 34 years, tried complex cases and, as a manager for 12 years, she worked with community and law enforcement groups to develop policies which improved the criminal justice system. In addition to drafting and implementing the District Attorney’s Three Strikes policy, Lael worked with Stanford Law School and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to change the Three Strikes law statewide. She worked collaboratively to create the voter initiative, Proposition 36, in 2012, which was enacted as law. This law required that the third offense, in most instances, be serious or violent, thereby eliminating the onerous result of sentencing someone to 25 years to life for a minor offense.

Lael is also an expert on discovery and Brady matters. She led a task force of prosecutors, defense counsel and attorneys representing law enforcement to draft and implement methods of obtaining material in the possession of law enforcement. This material, complying with state and federal law, would then be provided to defense counsel in criminal cases in order for a defendant to have a fair trial. She developed policy and training on a number of issues, including forensic sciences and DNA. From 2005 until 2009, Lael supervised the Appellate Division which included oversight of habeas corpus litigation and claims of wrongful conviction. She also argued cases in the Appellate and California Supreme Courts. Lael is a skilled consensus builder and continues to work to improve the criminal justice system.

Following her retirement from the District Attorney’s Office in 2013, Lael volunteered with Public Counsel to assist veterans with criminal justice issues and served as a resource on immigration and domestic violence issues. Lael is currently vice chair of the Santa Monica Airport Commission. The Airport Commission acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council on matters relating to the Airport and aviation matters generally as they affect the City. The Commission also considers and recommends rules and regulations for the management and operation of the Airport. Lael received her B.A. degree with honors from the University of Michigan and her J.D. degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. She is admitted to practice in California State Courts, U.S. District Court for the Central District and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Xavier Thompson

Commissioner

President of Baptist Ministers’ Conference and Senior Pastor of the Southern Saint Paul Church, appointed by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas

An anointed man with a servant’s heart, Xavier L. Thompson flows in all five gifts of the five-fold ministry. He is a visionary and charismatic leader, as well as a provocative thinker. Highly regarded for his influence, innovation and inspiration, he is a pastor well-respected for his approachable authority and ability to articulate the Word of God with clarity, conviction, and courage.

Xavier serves as the Senior Pastor of the Southern Saint Paul Church – One Church in Two Locations and the Calvary Baptist Church of Pacoima. In March 2018, Xavier was appointed as Southern California Overseer for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, International Presiding Bishop. Pastor Thompson is a longtime community leader who has committed his life to serving others whose work has helped to uplift people. He has gained the love and admiration of his members, the local community and religious communities across the country with relevant and inspirational messages that transcend church, social and political boundaries. He serves on various commissions, advisory boards and supports community engagement initiatives.

Pastor Thompson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California. Driven by a passionate commitment to see people succeed in every area of their life, Thompson desires to see people live a life of purpose and influence in right relationship with God. His unfailing dedication and steadfast commitment to strengthening families and enriching lives through the Word of God and fervent prayer emanates through all facets of ministry.

Xavier L. Thompson resides in the Southern California area with his wife, Rinnita, and their three children – Jor’Dynn Simone, Emani Noel and Xavier II.

Casimiro U. Tolentino

Commissioner

Former Administrative Law Judge for the State of California, appointed by the Board of Supervisors

Bio coming soon.

Hernán Vera

Commissioner

Attorney and former president and CEO of Public Counsel, appointed by Supervisor Solis

Hernán is a widely-recognized civil litigator with over twenty years of broad experience in class actions, product liability, financial services and intellectual property.

Hernán’s specific expertise is in the area of consumer law and class actions, with a particular emphasis on consumer lending and foreclosure-related litigation. Unlike many other practitioners, Hernán’s unique class action expertise is informed by his substantial experience representing both plaintiffs and institutional defendants. He has spent many years at an international law firm successfully defending state and federal class actions on behalf of insurers, auto manufacturers, hotels, and pharmaceutical companies, but has also worked for over a decade on the plaintiffs’ side filing and settling dozens of class and representative actions on behalf of consumers, homeowners, tenants, foster children, students, workers, and community residents.

Prior to joining Bird Marella, Hernán served as the President & CEO of Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. After a nationwide search, he was selected and served as the first Latino chief executive in the 45-year history of the organization. During his tenure, Hernán more than doubled the size of Public Counsel’s staff, opened offices in the Bay Area and New York, and launched an innovative national impact litigation project.

Hernán is well known in the broader Latino community for his work on civil rights, consumer, housing, and financial services issues. He speaks regularly at national conferences and makes frequent media appearances. Hernán also gained national prominence for his work filing and litigating the first series of cases highlighting the issue of “homeless patient dumping” by hospitals.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Hernán to the Board of Directors of the State Justice Institute. In 2013, the California Supreme Court appointed Hernan to the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California.

Education

  • University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, J.D., 1994
  • Stanford University, A.B., with distinction, 1991