Criminal Law Symposium Panelists
June 30, 2021
Judge Laurel Beeler
United States Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler was appointed to the Northern District of California in 2010. She presides over a full trial docket, including civil rights, intellectual property, employment, and other civil and commercial disputes. Judge Beeler has been an active proponent of criminal justice reform in the District: founding and co-chairing the Northern District’s Criminal Practice Committee, co-founding and implementing the Court’s reentry and diversion programs, and, in 2020, with United States District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., establishing and facilitating the Court’s Racial Justice Working Group. She is a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s (BASF) Criminal Justice Task Force.
Before joining the court, Judge Beeler was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, investigating and prosecuting complex white-collar, gang violence, and public corruption cases. She also was the Office’s Professional Responsibility Officer and served as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
Judge Beeler was a law clerk to the Honorable Cecil F. Poole, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Civil Appeals Division Chief at the Ninth Circuit’s Office of Staff Attorneys. She graduated with honors from the University of Washington School of Law, where she was Order of the Coif and an Articles Editor on the Washington Law Review. She received her A.B. with honors from Bowdoin College.
Judge Edward Chen
Judge Chen is a 1979 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. After clerking for U.S. District Judge Charles B. Renfrew and U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge James R. Browning, he practiced as a litigation associate with the law firm of Coblentz, Cahen, McCabe & Breyer. He joined the legal staff of the ACLU Foundation of Northern California in 1985.
From 2001 to 2011, Judge Chen served as a federal Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California. Judge Chen was first nominated by President Obama to the U.S. District Court on August 6, 2009 and was confirmed in May 2011. In addition to his judicial duties, Judge Chen has participated and led judicial seminars on mediation, employment, intellectual property, civil rights, access to justice, case management, and conduct of virtual jury trial. He currently chairs the Northern District’s jury committee, co-chairs the Circuit’s Fairness Committee, and recently finished his term as a member on the Judicial Conference Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System as well as the FJC Educational Advisory Committee for District Judges. Judge Chen recently testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee on the importance of diversity on the bench.
Judge Edward J. Davila
Judge Edward J. Davila began his legal career with the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender following his graduation from Hastings College of the Law.
In 1989 he established the criminal defense firm of Davila & Polverino.
Judge Davila has been actively involved with the Santa Clara Bar Association, and has served as President, Trustee, Barristers Club, Diversity Committee, Judiciary Committee, and others.
He is a recipient of the Beryl Salsman Award and Unsung Heros Award from the Bar Association, and the Social Justice and Human Rights Award from Santa Clara University Law School.
Judge Davila is a past President of the Santa Clara County La Raza Lawyers Association and has been recognized by the Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States.
Judge Davila was appointed by Governor Gray Davis in 2001 to the Santa Clara County Superior Court where he sat as a trial judge.
In 2010 Senator Barbara Boxer recommended Judge Davila to the White House and President Barack Obama nominated him for a seat on the Federal District Court.
He was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the United States Senate on February 14, 2011.
He is the second Latino to sit in the Northern District of California, and the first for over twenty years. Judge Davila sits in the San Jose Courthouse.
In addition to his judicial duties, Judge Davila is Chair of the Ninth Circuit Space and Security Committee, he also sits on the Ninth Circuit State and Federal Judicial Council, was the Program Chair for the 2017 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, and was the Ninth Circuit Conference Chair for 2018.
Judge Davila is married to the Hon. Mary J. Greenwood, Presiding Justice for the California Court of Appeal, Sixth District.
Chief United States District Judge Richard Seeborg
Richard Seeborg was nominated on August 6, 2009 by President Obama to serve as a United States District Judge for the Northern District of California. The United States Senate confirmed Judge Seeborg’s nomination on December 24, 2009 and he received his commission on January 24, 2010. Judge Seeborg maintains his chambers and courtroom in San Francisco, California. Judge Seeborg served as a Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division from February 2001 until his appointment as a District Judge.
Judge Seeborg graduated from Yale College in 1978 and from Columbia Law School in 1981. From 1981 to 1982 he served a law clerk to the Honorable John H. Pratt in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Following his clerkship, Judge Seeborg joined the law offices of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, becoming a partner in the firm in 1987. From 1991 to 1998, Judge Seeborg served as an Assistant United States Attorney in San Jose, California, handling federal criminal prosecutions. In 1998, he rejoined Morrison & Foerster as a partner in the firm’s Palo Alto, California office and served in that capacity until his appointment as a Magistrate Judge in 2001.
Judge Seeborg has participated in numerous rule of law projects around the world and for several years served on the adjunct faculty at Santa Clara University School of Law. He served as the chair of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Magistrate Judge System from 2015 to 2018 and for six years was a member of the Ninth Circuit Jury Instruction Committee. Concurrent with his duties as a federal district judge, since January, 2018 Judge Seeborg has served as Acting Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. On February 1, 2021, Judge Seeborg succeeded to the position of Chief Judge of the Northern District of California.
Christopher Perras is a federal prosecutor with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice who specializes in prosecuting hate crimes and police misconduct. As Special Litigation Counsel and Acting Deputy Chief, Mr. Perras is responsible for supervising federal civil rights prosecutions in ten states, including California. He received his law degree from the University of Michigan.
Will Rountree is a Senior Consultant with Bonora Rountree, Trial Consulting & Research in San Francisco, California. He has consulted with trial attorneys in hundreds of cases including unfair competition, breach of contract, insurance bad-faith, product liability, intellectual property, as well as civil rights and criminal defense cases.
Dr. Rountree has written extensively on jury composition challenges, the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges, and voir dire questioning techniques in restricted time conditions. Combining consulting experience and research, Dr. Rountree has developed specific voir dire questioning methods to assist attorneys in revealing jurors’ biases. In addition to his consulting practice, Dr. Rountree has also been retained as an expert, providing declarations on the prejudicial impact of pretrial publicity, and has testified in court on a successful change of venue motion. Dr. Rountree received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Mr. Sabelli served as a federal public defender in the Northern District of California, as the Director of Training for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, and as a law clerk to the late Honorable Robert F. Peckham. He will soon be President the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and serves on the faculty and Board of Regents of the National Criminal Defense College. Mr. Sabelli teaches trial advocacy, particularly race-conscious jury selection and cross examination, to trial lawyers around the country. He graduated from Harvard College and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and received his law degree from Yale Law School.