- John Karas attended and graduated Law School in 1984. He attended the California Western School of Law (a fully accredited law school in California). Passing the Bar exam on his first try he also graduated in the top 10% of his class. John worked 2 jobs to support himself while going to law school full-time. During that time, he earned honors on a Trial Advocacy Team that competed with other law schools statewide.
- During law school he served internships at Defenders’, Inc (a private company providing Public Defender services), Federal Defenders’, Inc. (same but for federal crimes) and the San Diego County District Attorney’s office.
- During his internship, he prepared motions and oppositions to motions in court of law. As well as, the only intern allowed to defend real cases.
Certified Lawyer Days
- As a result, Attorney John was hired by Mike Pancer (one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Southern California). Soon afterwards was given the opportunity to help defend Roger Hedgecock (Mayor of San Diego) who was charged for failing to disclose financial contributions (perjury). John had the arduous task to prepare and plan pre-trial motions to exclude evidence. He contacted and interviewed potential witnesses (as well as researching the law regarding political campaign disclosure requirements).
- One of the motions John prepared was not filed, although it was based on an Appellate Court case (People vs.French). The Court ruled an omission of information and did not mean that the tax filer committed perjury. It was legally insufficient to support a perjury charge.
- The significance of the above was important to file the pre-trial motion (based on the People v.French case). The case could have been dismissed if the indictment was omitted. (Case over).
- The 14 or 15 pre-trial motions which were were all denied by the trial court judge. That result was not uncommon since most Judges go along with whatever the DA/Federal prosecutor wants.
- After the trial court rulings, Attorney John Karas assisted Mr. Pancer in the preparation of a Writ Petition seeking review by the Court of Appeals in San Diego. The fact that the 4th DCA accepted the Writ Petition was a major victory for the Hedgecock defense team.
- More importantly, one of the Justices at the 4th DCA, requested briefs from both sides regarding whether the perjury charges against Mayor Hedgecock based on the decision in People v.French case. The Writ review regarding a motion was unprecedented.
- It was not surprising that the 4th DCA denied the Writ relief sought because an inadequate showing of “irreparable harm”. After all of the alleged wrongdoings, Hedgecock was still re-elected Mayor. The headlines splashed on the 1st page of the San Diego Union newspaper to give the DA’s Office their “day in court”.
The Ponzi Scheme
- Another aspect of the Hedgecock case was how John handled the representation of a former secretary of J. David Dominelli. Dominelli ran a “Ponzi scheme” and was being investigated for federal perjury, violation of bankruptcy laws and more. The total amount regarding these allegations ran over $80 million dollars.
- After his “Ponzi scheme” began falling apart he fled the country to evade prosecution. The U.S. Attorney General’s Office learned that one of Dominelli’s former secretaries was living in the UK (Great Britain) and extradited to the U.S. as a “material witness” in the ongoing grand jury investigation pertaining to Dominelli.
- Mr. Pancer realized that the interview very well could have an impact on the defense of Mayor Hedgecock, so he “lawyered her up” by offering to represent her free of charge. However, since he was in trial on the Hedgecock case on a daily basis he couldn’t be in two places at once. Rather than ask one of several criminal defense attorney’s he knew to defend the secretary, he sent John. At the time, John had only been practicing law for 3 weeks.
- The senior most Deputy Attorney General handling the criminal investigation of Dominelli was present along with the # 2 man in charge of the U.S. AG’s Office to conduct the interview. The money allegedly funneled to Hedgecock’s campaign through an independent campaign manager, etc. John objected to such questioning and also at times instructed the secretary not to answer certain questions based on her 5th Amendment Rights.
Public Defender Days
- While employed by a Public Defender’s Office, John was the only attorney in the division handling misdemeanors who filed motions (1538.5 Motion to Suppress Evidence, among others) and took 6-7 cases to trial (over a 6 month period of time). The rest of the deputy PD’s collectively (8-10 others) took a grand total of 1 case to trial in 12 months.
- Also, John filed a Writ on behalf of a gentleman who came to the Public Defender’s Office asking for help even though he had not requested a PD and already pled “straight up” to a Commissioner who gave him 90 days sentences on the 4 criminal cases he had pending. He had been to the PD’s Office on multiple prior occasions but no one “stepped up” until John was permitted to work on the case.
- At that time, jail time imposed on more than 1 cases ran consecutively. It was presumed that the jail time imposed is to run concurrently (meaning at the same time), NOT back to back. After the Writ has filed, he only ended up having to serve 90 days (actually Half), rather than 1 year on all 4 cases.
- Once John represented a 17 year old charged with assault and battery on her mother’s “significant other” in Juvenile Court. Both the mother and “significant lover” were gay as was the head of the Public Defender Juvenile Court Division. John was able to persuade the DA to dismiss the charges (taking multiple court hearings). Soon afterwards, the PD office was pressuring the client into pleading guilty. John immediately ended that, including the head of the Juvie Department. As a result, the charges were dismissed.
- Attorney John Karas later entered the field of civil litigation handling multi-million dollar personal injury cases. In one case he battled with Don Ruston and Richard Heafey (head partners of the largest law firms in California). They were representing other parties in a multi-billion toxic tort case filed on behalf of hundreds of homeowners.
- Mr. Ruston and Mr. Heafey had more trial experience than all of the attorneys he was working for at the time. He was the only “associate attorney” who took a case to trial and won during his tenure with the firm.
Experience trumps everything…
There are dozens of other “war stories”, but we hope you get the point. Attorney John Karas does’t back down from anyone! Unlike other attorney ads, which makes them sound tough and aggressive, yet most don’t really care about your case. John is truly wise, aggressive, and resourceful in exploiting weaknesses in the prosecution. John will go the extra mile to get all his clients the best possible results. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS, and he has the track record to prove it. Now the question is, WHO do you want to represent you when you’re facing serious charges and your freedom is at stake? A “negotiator” who will twist your arm to accept the DA’s offer or a highly skilled Trial Attorney? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.