By: Elgin Nelson, Staff
On Monday, September 11, Mark Ridley-Thomas filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging his convictions and sentenced. In March, Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of seven of 19 counts—including bribery, conspiracy, honest services mail fraud, and wire fraud—and was sentenced on August 28 to 42 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer.
“Immediately after the jury’s verdict and again following his August 28, 2023 sentencing hearing, Dr. Ridley-Thomas’ defense counsel made clear that he intended to appeal both the jury’s verdict and the sentence imposed,” said Alyssa Bell, a partner with Cohen Williams LLP. “The lawyers at Morrison & Foerster have laid the groundwork for what we believe to be an exceptionally strong appeal. We are already examining and analyzing several potential grounds that could result in reversal of Dr. Ridley-Thomas’ convictions.”
Bell, a noted appellate practitioner, is one of four high power attorneys retained by Ridley-Thomas for the appeal. Aside from Bell, the former L.A. City Councilmember and County Supervisor, will be represented by Paul J. Watford, Michael Schafler and noted Dean of Berkeley Law, Erwin Chemerinsky, all of whom are experienced in the workings of the Ninth Circuit.
Paul Watford served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for 11 years, supervising approximately 2,000 appeals.
Following his clerkships in the United States District Court for the Central District of California and the Ninth Circuit, Michael Schafler went on to specialize in representing clients in high-risk matters involving criminal charges and government enforcement actions.
Chemerinsky, a Dean at the University of California Berkeley Law School and author of 17 books and over 200 law review articles, regularly argues appellate cases, including in the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Said Chemerinsky, “This entire appellate team is honored and privileged to represent Dr. Ridley-Thomas in this important appeal, and we look forward to presenting our case to the Ninth Circuit. There are several grounds that we believe could warrant a reversal of his convictions or, at a minimum, a new trial.”
The eight-page appeal notice included the court-ordered financial obligation Ridley-Thomas is responsible for, which is a hefty $30,700 special fee.