Professional Experience

I began my career in 1970 as a paralegal and then as a lawyer in legal aid programs in California and Hawaii where I handled a wide variety of difficult cases, often at the vanguard of developing legal and social issues.

  • Representing pineapple workers and residents, I intervened in an administrative proceeding before the Environmental Protection Agency resulting in the pineapple industry’s decision to discontinue the use of the toxic pesticide DBCP. » Click here to learn more about the case.
  • While working for the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, I brought suit to increase payment levels for General Assistance recipients.
  • In Hawaii, I obtained a decision from the State Supreme Court requiring all state agencies to publicize a summary of rule changes they were proposing under the Administrative Procedure Act. (link to: Costa v. Sunn 642 P.2d 530.)
  • Utilizing what was then a new principle that sexual harassment is discrimination on the basis of sex, I reversed a decision denying unemployment benefits to a woman who quit rather than continue to work in a hostile environment. (Link to findings of fact and conclusions of law in Gushiken case)

Since 1985, I have worked for private law firms and public agencies in California. I assumed lead and trial counsel responsibility for civil litigation in state and federal courts obtaining successful outcomes by jury verdict, summary judgment and favorable settlement. This work covered the gamut of subject matter areas:

  • While working for the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, I obtained summary judgment in hundreds of claims arising out of the Oakland Firestorm.
  • In private practice and as public agency counsel, I developed an expertise in police misconduct matters.
  • I represented the University of Nevada at Las Vegas basketball team in an action to enjoin their suspension from post-season play.
  • As a senior attorney in the Office of the County Counsel in Santa Clara County, I negotiated favorable settlements including class actions involving ADA accessibility and the jail telephone system.
  • As outside counsel for the California Department of Developmental Services, I defended a $2 billion system of services against constitutional and statutory challenges in statewide class action lawsuits.
  • I have written articles and given presentations on civil procedure, police liability, the ADA, sexual harassment and legal strategy.
  • Personal Interest

    Personal Interest

    Click here to learn more