Seeking justice, inspiring hope, sharing stories for 2020 ‘Crime Victims’ Rights Week’

April 22, 2020 | 10:39 am


This week — April 19-25 — is Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which promotes victims’ rights and services available to crime victims.

Locally, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office each year hosts a march, speeches, and vigils to mark the occasion. That, of course, is not possible in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic taking place. But MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board wanted to continue to commemorate this occasion by asking victims, advocates, law enforcement partners, community members, and other impacted to record short videos or send pictures that highlight how each person has been impacted, why we should always remember/help crime victims locally, and a call-to-action to support victims this week and beyond. These stories are posted on the MADD Kern County Facebook page throughout the week, and a selection of which can be viewed below. 

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to partner with MADD Kern County throughout the year, including for Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Attorney Matt Clark shared a short video on the impact of DUI crashes on victims.

Clark is the recent recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice” award by MADD California. He is also a founding board member and organizer for MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board and event planning committees, regularly speaks at local Victim Impact Panels intended to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and has done pro-bono legal work for victims of DUI crashes. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has also been awarded a “Community Champion” award for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, attorneys continue day in and day out to fight civil lawsuits for victims of crimes and other injustices.

As examples:

  • A Tehachapi teenager was walking home from a friend’s house when she was suddenly struck by a pickup truck on the dirt right shoulder of State Route 202.  She eventually succumbed to her injuries, just 15 days shy of her 15th birthday. The occupants of the truck fled the scene of the crash without calling the police or summoning medical help.  Both were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
  • Our lawyers also filed claims on behalf of several students who were victims of sexual misconduct at North High School. Kern County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Edwin Rodriguez on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with minors 14 to 15 years old, exhibiting harmful matter to a minor, annoying a child under 18 and false imprisonment.
  • We represented a woman who was sexually assaulted by Kern County deputy Gabriel Lopez in her home in Tehachapi. Lopez sexually assaulted at least two other people as well. He pleaded no contest to two counts of assault by a public officer, two counts of false imprisonment, and two counts of sexual battery, and was sentenced to two years in prison. Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys also represented a 79-year-old woman who called the sheriff’s office during a dispute with her husband, who was diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s. She, too, was sexually assaulted by Lopez in a similar fashion to his other victims. The third victim was quietly paid $5,000 by the department, and was unable to bring a civil claim.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was established by Ronald Reagan in 1981. Here are some of the powerful stories shared throughout the 2020 Crime Victims’ Rights Week …

 

Crime Victims’ Rights Week, 2020: The Kvasnicka Family …

We are John and Mary Jo Kvasnicka, with our beautiful daughter Jaclyn Ann.

Jackie, Pavinder Claire and Jessica Magee were three best friends who all worked for Kern Schools Federal Credit Union. The night of August 30, 2014 they spent the evening enjoying Bakersfield together at a Blaze baseball game. It was the last time Pavinder’s parents, and John and I, would see our daughters. Not just see our daughters alive, but see them at all.

That night a man decided he was able to drive his car, despite being high on drugs and alcohol. He decided to drive at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. He decided to not use his brakes when he came up behind our daughter’s car, carrying the three young women home. He decided to slam into the back of Jackie’s car with absolutely no intention of stopping. And he killed Pavinder on impact. He caused major burns to over 40 percent of Jessica’s body, where she carries scars to this day. And he pinned Jackie behind the wheel, desperately screaming for help to escape the fiery inferno. No one was able to help her. Our daughter burned to death, as did Pavinder. Jessica miraculously escaped with the help of her angels in the form of first responders. But she remains forever scarred, physically and emotionally.

None of this had to happen! Every single part of this scenario could have been prevented! Our daughters could still be alive and with us! Jackie’s daughter, yes she was a Mommy, would have her Mommy here with her, and not just pictures!

We no longer ask God “Why?” Instead we use our time and resources to work to make sure no other parent, child, sibling has to suffer what we suffered. Despite the passing of time, our missing Jackie has not and never will lessen. The pain subsides, memories flood our minds, and God provides peace. But our daughter is forever gone.

Do your part!!!! NEVER, EVER drive while impaired! There is ABSOLUTELY no reason for this scenario to ever happen! Have a plan, and make the right choice, always. Keep our streets safe always. Do your part!!!

God bless

 

Crime Victims’ Rights Week, 2020: The Embree Family …

Taylor Embree (2/28/84 – 10/17/13) was killed by a repeat drunk driver while on his way to work. He was hit head on at 90 mph. The impact was so great that it sheared off the bolts that held the cab onto the chassis causing the cab to become airborne and land on its rear windshield, where Taylor was killed on impact. He left behind his wife Britney, and son, Clayton.

 

Crime Victims’ Rights Week, 2020: The Soto Family …

This is Ireli Soto-Jalving, holding a picture of her sister Alba Elliott. Ireli was 2 years old when her mom Gabriela Soto was killed on June 6, 2017. Gabby was 7-months pregnant at the time of her death. Gabby and Baby Alba were victims of a head-on collision that was caused by someone who was determined to be under the influence of marijuana.

Gabby was captivated by all things Irish which is why she named her first daughter, Ireli Gabriela. Gabby had a passion and love for many things, but nothing compared like the love she had for her daughter Ireli. Her love for her daughter really pushed Gabby to be the best version of herself, which she presented to everyone and was truly reflected in her work and life.
Gabby was loved by many. Her beautiful smile and infectious laughter lit up any place she entered. And that smile and sincere soul reeled you in and never let you go.

Take care and stay safe,

Blanca Soto

 

Crime Victims’ Rights Week, 2020: The Balderrama Family …

My name is Tina. My sister is Leslie Balderrama, and she was hit and killed by an underage drunk driver.

No matter how much time passes by, the pain of not having her here with us every day is heartbreaking. Some days you wake up OK, and by the time you’re done getting ready for work, you are having a meltdown because you think of what mornings used to be like when she was there. Holidays are never as happy or exciting as they once used to be. I try to keep a smile on my face for my kids. My son is 6 years old and every day he tells me he misses his Tia, and every time we pass the cemetery he always asks to go see her. Knowing my daughter will never get to meet her is something I will always struggle with. The hardest part for me is always wondering what she would be doing today, what college she would be attending, how far would she have gotten in her basketball career, where would she be working. Little things like that definitely hurt the most.

This is our last family picture together …

 

Crime Victims’ Rights Week, 2020: The Morales Family …

Sunday, March 25, 2018 was the worst day of my life! My three older children Kaleb, Ethan, and Madysyn were with their father Adam for part of Spring Break. They were headed to their dad’s home in Wasco along with their 11-year-old sister, Jordan, after being at their cousin’s quinceañera practice. They picked up Kaleb from work and then made their last stop at Best Buy, where they purchased a birthday gift for my son, Ethan.

As they were driving Highway 43 (less than 5 minutes from home) a selfish, thoughtless woman decided that she was going to get behind the wheel intoxicated 3 times above the legal limit. She hit the soft shoulder and over-corrected, losing control of her vehicle and crossing over into oncoming traffic, causing Adam to hit her head on from her passenger side of her vehicle with not even a second to react. She was driving her son’s illegal chop shop vehicle. She had no insurance and no license to drive.

According to the CHP report, no brakes were activated and no skid marks were on the road because there was no time for him to react. He was not on his phone. He was not texting. He was not doing anything wrong. He was just driving his children home.

She stole part of my world and forever changed our lives and the lives of many people. My first-born child, Kaleb Adam Garza, was 19 years old. My first-born daughter and sweet baby girl, Madysyn Rose Garza, was 14 years old and a freshman at Ridgeview High School. Jordan Nicole Garza, the kids’ sister & Adam Garza, the kids Father were all were taken away.
Ethan, who was 17 at the time (now 19), was the only survivor. Given the injuries he sustained (2 broken femurs, right ankle, left wrist, right forearm, broken ribs, collapsed lung, a serious injury to his intestines, broken ribs, lacerated liver, and losing his spleen), he is so very, very lucky to be alive. He lost his father and three siblings that night. His scars and physical and mental pain is a constant reminder of his traumatic loss.

This was 100% preventable! It is always 100% preventable! Look what it did to us! It is a never ending healing process and we will never be the same. Please remember to not drink and drive or drive impaired. Please don’t get in the car with anyone who had been drinking or is impaired. Please don’t encourage or underage drink and please, please please, don’t allow anyone to end up like us! It’s forever life changing, an unexplainable loss, and horrible experience no one wants to have!

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

BTuff Magazine Interview: Attorney Matt Clark and the importance of Kern County’s oil industry

February 12, 2020 | 6:00 am


To say the gas and petroleum industries are important for Kern County is an understatement.

In fact, California produces more oil than all but three other states (Texas, North Dakota and Alaska), and Kern County is responsible for more than 80 percent of California’s oil production, according to a Duke University study.

So as proposed new state regulations threaten to wind down petroleum production — and in turn threaten Kern County’s economy and tax base — local oil industry representatives, elected officials, community leaders, advocates, and workers are standing up. And that includes Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Senior partner and veteran personal injury attorney Matt Clark recently sat down with Bakersfield Tuff (BTuff) Magazine to discuss the importance of the industries locally, and share how Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the local oil industry have worked together over the years. For example, the law firm has represented workers in these industries for much of its 85-year history, and cases have resulted in safer workplaces for oilfield workers.

You can watch the full interview below or on YouTube here.

A recent Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting, where the state’s oil-unfriendly policies were a focus — drew an audience of more than 1,000 industry supporters — the largest crowd convened in recent years for a government proceeding in Bakersfield, according to media reports.

Since the early 20th century, when oil was discovered in western Kern County, the area’s economy has largely centered on oil and gas production. Today, the local oil industry employs about 14,000 people directly, and 30,000 work in associated jobs, according to The Bakersfield Californian. And these industries account for over 30% of Kern County’s assessed property values, according to reports. Those funds pay for public services, including road maintenance, schools, police departments, fire departments, and much more. An industry-funded study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. found that Kern oil production generates $925 million in state and local oil revenues per year and $1.6 billion in labor income.

California officials recently invited Kern County representatives to participate in preparing for an inevitable economic transition they said would take into account the county’s dependence on oil production. In November last year, the stated cited a goal of achieving “carbon neutrality” by 2045 when it imposed extra layers of permitting scrutiny for the well-stimulation technique known as fracking and placed a temporary ban on high-pressure steam injections, according to reports.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches unique scholarship to support a new generation of young drivers in Kern County

January 22, 2020 | 6:00 am


The application period for the scholarship has ended. Please tune in to chainlaw.com in January 2021 for more scholarship opportunities.

El período para aplicar para la beca ha terminado. Visite abogadosenbakersfield.com en Enero 2021 para más oportunidades de becas.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches unique scholarship to support a new generation of young drivers in Kern County

One-of-a-kind “GPS scholarship” aims to curb the financial burden of driver’s education, with a focus on safety

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. – The Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which focuses on helping accident and injury victims in the Central Valley, has launched a new scholarship called the “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship,” which is aimed to financially support local high school students through their driver’s education training while keeping safety at the forefront.

Auto accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teenagers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Association. In fact, six teenagers aged 16 to 19 die every day in the United States from motor vehicle crash injuries. Distracted driving, excessive speed, and lack of seatbelt use are major dangers and causes of teen driver crashes.

In addition, budget cuts have caused schools to eliminate driver’s education programs, leading students to seek third-party instruction. As a result, teens from lower-income households may not be able to fully enjoy this rite of passage. In fact, the number of teen drivers nationally is on the decline, with the cost associated to driving as one key factor, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Today, nearly half as many 16-year-olds are getting a driver’s license than 30 years ago, according to a study by the University of Michigan.

The GPS Scholarship aims to support a new generation of teen drivers, build guided partners in safety, and help pay for student driver’s education.

“The safety of our youth is a top concern,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Our goal is to help those in need, and at the same time reinforce the importance of talking to teen drivers about the responsibilities, rules, and consequences that come with getting behind the steering wheel.”

Among the qualifications, applicants must:

  • Have at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Be enrolled in a Kern County high school
  • Write a 200-word (max) creative essay answering: “Why do you want to drive?”
  • Apply by clicking here. Questions can be emailed to gpsscholarship2020@gmail.com.

The deadline to apply is March 31. Other state qualifications for driving apply. Scholarship recipients must attend and observe a Victim Impact Panel hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

You can view the GPS Scholarship flier by clicking here.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles lanza una beca única para apoyar a una nueva generación de conductores jóvenes en el condado de Kern

“Beca GPS” tiene como objetivo frenar la carga financiera de la educación del conductor, con un enfoque en la seguridad

El despacho de abogados Chain | Cohn | Stiles, que se enfoca en ayudar a las víctimas de accidentes y lesiones en el Valle Central, ha lanzado una nueva beca llamada “Beca de Socios Guiados en Seguridad,” que tiene como objetivo apoyar financieramente a los estudiantes locales de secundaria a través de la capacitación educativa para conductores mientras se mantiene seguridad a la vanguardia.

Los accidentes automovilísticos son el asesino número uno de los adolescentes estadounidenses, según la Asociación Nacional de Seguridad del Tráfico en Carreteras. De hecho, seis adolescentes de 16 a 19 años mueren todos los días en los Estados Unidos a causa de accidentes automovilísticos. La conducción distraída, la velocidad excesiva y la falta de uso del cinturón de seguridad son los principales peligros y causas de los choques de los conductores adolescentes.

Además, recortes de presupuesto han provocado que las escuelas eliminen los programas de clases de manejo, lo que lleva a los estudiantes a buscar instrucción de terceros. Como resultado, es posible que los adolescentes de hogares de bajos ingresos no puedan disfrutar plenamente de este rito de iniciación. De hecho, el número de conductores adolescentes a nivel nacional está disminuyendo, con el costo asociado a la conducción como un factor clave, según la Fundación AAA para la Seguridad del Tráfico. Hoy, casi la mitad de los jóvenes de 16 años obtienen una licencia de conducir que los de hace 30 años, según un estudio de la Universidad de Michigan.

La beca GPS tiene como objetivo apoyar a una nueva generación de conductores adolescentes, crear socios guiados en seguridad y ayudar a pagar la educación de los estudiantes.

“La seguridad de nuestra juventud es una preocupación principal”, dijo David Cohn, socio gerente de Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Nuestro objetivo es ayudar a los necesitados y, al mismo tiempo, reforzar la importancia de hablar con los conductores adolescentes sobre las responsabilidades, las reglas y las consecuencias que conlleva ponerse al volante”.

Entre las calificaciones, los solicitantes deben:

  • Tener un promedio de calificaciones de 2.5
  • Estar inscrito en una escuela secundaria del condado de Kern
  • Escribir un ensayo creativo de 200 palabras (máximo) respondiendo: “¿Por qué quieres conducir?”
  • Aplica aquí. Preguntas se pueden mandar a gpsscholarship2020@gmail.com.

La fecha límite para presentar la solicitud es el 31 de marzo. Se aplican otras calificaciones estatales para conducir. Los beneficiarios de la beca deben observar un Panel de Impacto de Víctimas organizado por Madres Contra Conducir Ebrio, Conado de Kern.

Puede ver el folleto de la beca GPS haciendo clic aquí.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Si usted o alguien que conoce se lastima en un accidente, llame a los abogados de Chain | Cohn | Stiles al (661) 323-4000, o visita la página chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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* Notice: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.⁣

* Aviso: Hacer un reclamo falso o fraudulento de compensación para trabajadores es un crimen grave sujeto a un máximo de 5 años de prisión o una multa de hasta $150,000 o el doble del valor del fraude, el que sea mayor, o tanto por el encarcelamiento y multa.

Holiday season a time for giving (and some local organizations you can support, too)

December 18, 2019 | 6:00 am


♫ “It’s the most charitable time of the year” ♫

The holidays are a time for giving. In fact, about 34 percent of all charitable giving is done in the last three months of the year, and of those donations, about 18 percent are given in December alone. Nonprofits that benefit the most from the holiday spirit are medical research organizations such as the American Cancer Society. Such organizations receive an average of 20 percent of their donations in December alone.

For Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the holiday season is not the only time of year for giving. In 2019, the law firm, and its attorneys and staff, supported dozens of worthy causes, nonprofits and charitable organizations throughout Kern County during the previous 11 months as well.

“Kern County is the home of our law firm, but it is also the home of our clients, friends, and families,” said managing partner David Cohn. “It’s important we all come together to help our neighbors.”

As we enter the holidays and New Year’s, Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to recommend local causes and nonprofits you can consider to support, as well as provide some giving tips (below). For a full list of causes supported by the law firm, visit our “Community” page at chainlaw.com.

  • The Hub of Bakersfield: A new local nonprofit, The Hub of Bakersfield, is committed to redefining and revitalizing Bakersfield’s urban core through various programs, events, and projects. As part of the nonprofit, the new Bakersfield Innovation Lab is a 10-month program where a select group of participants, who are passionate about the place they call home, come together to develop an impactful project to make the greater downtown Bakersfield area a more desirable place to live, work and be for all. Why is this relevant for Chain | Cohn | Stiles? Well, associate attorney Tanya Alsheikh is part of the inaugural Innovation Lab class, and marketing director Jorge Barrientos is a program facilitator and a member of the board of directors for The Hub! Not to mention, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has called downtown Bakersfield home for 85 years, so this is an important program. Learn more about Hub of Bakersfield and the Innovation Lab at thehubofbakersfield.org.
  • BMoA: The Bakersfield Museum of Art strives to enhance the quality of life through art appreciation and educational opportunities in the visual arts for Bakersfield and Kern County residents and visitors.
  • Bike Bakersfield: This nonprofit is a local bicycle advocacy coalition providing family friendly bike rides, bicycle safety education, and bike repair. In particular, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with Bike Bakersfield as part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, giving away hundreds of free bicycle lights and safety helmets throughout Kern County through “Project Light Up The Night” and “Kidical Mass” events, the latter of which also features bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.
  • Bakersfield Homeless Center: A recent Kern County Homeless Collaborative report that found a 50 percent increase in the local homeless population over last year’s count. Efforts by City of Bakersfield and Kern County to tackle the issue are underway. To help, Chain | Cohn | Stiles earlier this year donated $10,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center’s job skills training program and street cleaning team. The program helps homeless center residents move forward with their lives while making a difference in our community. The program is designed to be a transitional program, where participants gain real-world skills, build confidence, and develop experience to find long-term employment.
  • MADD Kern County: Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with nearly 4,400 DUI arrests in 2018, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s 12 DUI arrests per day. For the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation. Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. We can all play a part to help make sure our streets are safe. Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board, regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and is the recent recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice” Award by MADD Southern California. Law firm marketing director Jorge Barrientos is the planning committee chairman for the annual “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash“, in which the firm is presenting sponsor.
  • Valley Fever: Last year, California experienced 2,200 new cases of Valley Fever, and most were reported in the southern Central Valley regions of Kern, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. In fact, Kern County residents were affected the most with 890 cases. Chain | Cohn | Stiles along with California health officials warn people about Valley Fever year-round, and the firm recently joined the Valley Fever Institute at the annual Valley Fever Walk aimed at raising awareness of Valley Fever.

Giving Tips

  • Before you give to any charity, examine the charity’s finances. Make sure the group is a financially healthy organization, sustainable, accountable and transparent. Look for signs of effectiveness. The charity’s ability to bring about meaningful change is the key reason for their existence and for your donation. These websites will help you check on your charity:
  • Give to an organization that matches your beliefs and goals. There is a charity out there that matches your intentions. Take the time to find it and confirm it offers the programs and services that match your charitable interests.
  • Take the time to research your charity so that you can trust them, and then give an unrestricted gift so the charity has the flexibility to respond to changing demands for its services and to spend the money where it is most needed to continue their day-to-day good work. Don’t put strings on your gift.
  • If you gave earlier in the year to an organization helping in a disaster, go back to that organization and give more. Much of the need from any disaster comes later, during the recovery period.
  • Giving before the year’s end can get you a tax break. Check with your tax planner to see if you’ll benefit.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney awarded MADD Southern California ‘Pursuit of Justice Award’

November 27, 2019 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles senior partner and attorney Matt Clark was the recent recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice Award” by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Southern California. Below is the press release announcing the award. 

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Two Bakersfield-based institutions received awards during Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s 2019 “Tie One On for Safety” Gala Awards Nov. 21 in Long Beach.

The “Pursuit of Justice Award” was given to attorney Matthew C. Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, and the Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit (SJVBU) received the “Corporate Champion Award.” The event annually recognizes supporters of MADD Southern California – the regional area for MADD Kern County – which also includes Los Angeles and San Diego chapters.

The awards gala also kicks off the “Tie One On for Safety” campaign during the holiday season, which is MADD’s longest running and most visible public awareness project combating impaired driving. MADD’s mission is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking.

“These two award recipients are community heroes who are dedicated to combating our area’s DUI epidemic,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Simply, they are saving lives.”

Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States.

MADD Kern County hosts two local events, which are primarily volunteer-led. They include the Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognitions Awards luncheon and the “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash.” The Kern County chapter also hosts Victim Impact Panels to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and presents educational program at local schools, and more.

The award winners are helping combat Kern County’s DUI problem, raising awareness, and helping victims locally in a variety of ways.

  • Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles: Clark is a founding board member and organizer for MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board and event planning committees, regularly speaks at local Victim Impact Panels intended to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and has done pro-bono legal work for victims of DUI crashes. He is a senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which annually serves as the presenting sponsor for the annual “Walk Like MADD” fundraising event. In addition, Jorge Barrientos, marketing director at the law firm, is also a past recipient of the “Volunteer of the Year” award for MADD California.
  • Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit (SJVBU): Chevron’s SJVBU, whose main office is in Bakersfield, has been an annual sponsor, and its employees are key organizers, in the local “Walk Like MADD” event, as well as MADD Kern County’s Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognitions Awards luncheon, which honors locals for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes. The company communicates to its employees – who log thousands of miles each year on Kern County roads – through safety campaigns, including DUI-education efforts.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of an impaired driver, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

MADD Kern County’s sixth ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’ – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raises $60,000 to fight against DUI crimes

October 2, 2019 | 6:00 am


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $60,000 in the process.

The sixth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Bringing out more than 800 walkers and runners for this cause, the event featured a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K in what has become one of the largest fundraising walking and running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, outgoing Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, and Assemblyman Vince Fong, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“On this day, our community together to fight a serious in Kern County, and remember the victims of these crimes,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “If we all keep our passion for change for another 364 days, we will see a future in Kern County with no more victims.  Let’s make sure we all drive safe and sober, always.”

Making the event possible were sponsors Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Kern High School District, STEPS, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., UBS Financial, Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Strata Credit Union, Wells Fargo, Vince Fong for Assembly and more. A kid’s fun run was presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Madysyn & Kalebs Keepers ($3,113)
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Laura Melton ($1,595)
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. This year alone (as of Sept. 10), CHP-Bakersfield officers have reported 288 DUI traffic collisions, with 11 resulting in fatalities.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised more than $350,000, including this year. It’s not too late to donate – donations are being accepted through October at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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EVENT MEDIA COVERAGE

PREVIEW MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles sponsors scholarships during annual ‘El Grito’ ceremony in downtown Bakersfield

September 25, 2019 | 6:00 am


Hundreds came together on Sept. 15 at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court to celebrate the annual “El Grito de Dolores,” a major celebration in Mexico that marks the country’s fight for independence against Spanish rule.

The evening included folkloric dancers, mariachi and banda music groups, and a scholarship recognition ceremony led by a representative from Chain | Cohn | Stiles honoring 16 Kern County students and scholarship recipients. Learn more about the scholarship program below.

The featured entertainment included Sonora Explosiva, Banda Orgullosa, Mariachi Toro’s de Mexico, Brian Anaya (La Vox Kids), Ballet Folklorico Huaztecalli, Floreo de Soga and more. Other attractions included face painting by Fabulous Faces by Nallely! and a street fair with food vendors and informational booths.

The celebration also included a live feed from the Mexican city of Dolores where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led a reenactment of El Grito. Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16. The Grito, which occurred in the small Mexican town of Dolores, was the rallying call made by a Roman Catholic priest in front of his church to the battle against Spain.

The was the seventh year of El Grito celebration in Bakersfield, organized by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, which includes foundation chairman and Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos.

 

SCHOLARSHIPS

The Bakersfield accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles each year sponsors student scholarships presented during El Grito celebration. This year, joining Chain | Cohn | Stiles in funding scholarships was Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Rabobank, Valley Republic Bank, Beautiful You Medical Aesthetics, and XM Garcia Law.

The sponsors, in partnership with the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, awarded 16-$250 scholarships to local students in pursuit of higher education, and who are giving back in various ways to our community. This year, the foundation received more than 250 applications from students throughout Kern County.

“We were thoroughly impressed by the students’ dedication to education, community service, and promising future outlook,” said KCHCC Business Education Foundation chairman Jorge Barrientos. “Many of them are first-generation U.S. students, and the first to attend a university in their families. Some of them are even DREAMers, pursuing their dreams regardless of obstacles in their way. We award scholarships to help them pursue their educational goals.”

Here are this year’s student scholarship recipients:

  • Carlos Alberto Aguilar
  • Christopher Aldaco
  • Monica Ascencio
  • Rafael Castellanos
  • Jazmin Jimenez Castro
  • Serina Ishida
  • Destiny Jimenez
  • Alondra Macario
  • Nancy Maldonado
  • Karen Martinez
  • Angel Daniel Mendoza
  • Audrie Michael
  • Andres Ramirez
  • Guadalupe Sanchez
  • Nimsy Soto
  • Omar Vences Vergara

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Sixth Bakersfield ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’ presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 18, 2019 | 6:00 am


Each year, too many innocent people die in Kern County from crashes caused by people who choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Those local lives lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families – are affected from this 100 percent preventable crime.

In fact, Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. In addition, Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. This year alone (as of Sept. 10), CHP-Bakersfield officers have reported 288 DUI traffic collisions, with 11 resulting in fatalities.

MADD Kern County – together with victims, local businesses and community supporters – are coming together to say, “Enough is enough!” and “No More Victims!”

The sixth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – will be held Saturday, Sept. 28, at Park at River Walk. It’s aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds for local MADD Kern County educational programs, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

Since the first Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash in 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising more than $300,000 for MADD Kern County. In what has become one of the largest fundraising walks and runs in town, the event brings together people from our community – surviving victims of crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, law enforcement and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

It’s also supported this year by Chevron, Kern High School District, STEPS, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., UBS Financial, Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Strata Credit Union, Wells Fargo, and more. A kid’s fun run is presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club.

“Kern County has a serious DUI problem, and it’s going to take every single one of us to make an impact,” said Carla Pearson, MADD Kern County’s Victim Service Specialist. “We can come together to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ prevent future DUI arrests and crashes, and see a day with no more victims.”

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles featured in Bakersfield Life Magazine as ‘Hall of Fame’ inductee

July 31, 2019 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles was recently one of three organizations inducted into the inaugural “Best of Kern County” Hall of Fame, awarded to men, women, businesses, and organizations with a long history of excellence in their respective fields, and who also give back to our community. As part of the honor, Bakersfield Life Magazine featured the three recipients in its August issue, which also included Urner’s, a local furniture store celebrating 100 years this year, and Jim Burke Ford, a local Ford dealership and one of the largest such dealerships in the country. 

You can read the magazine article below, or view the feature in the magazine version by clicking here

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85 years later, local ‘Hall of Fame’ law firm stays community-focused

The year is 1934. The great Dust Bowl storm is sweeping across the Great Plains, Donald Duck premieres on television, and the FBI kills Bonnie and Clyde in a shootout.

It’s also the year Morris B. Chain first set up shop in the Haberfelde Building in downtown Bakersfield. The Russian immigrant who grew up in Bakersfield had earned his law degree from University of Southern California and struggled to find a law firm that would hire a fresh-faced attorney. It was, after all, during the Great Depression era when “help wanted” signs were nowhere to be found. So, he opened his own law practice, and began laying the foundation for what would become one of Central Valley’s most prominent and longstanding law firms, one whose mission became to fight for the everyday working man and woman during their time of greatest need.

The firm’s name changed through the years, but several things remained constant, most obvious is the Chain namesake. Today the firm is known as Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Another constant? For 85 years, the firm has been firmly cemented in downtown Bakersfield, dedicated to helping Kern County’s residents, not only through accident and injury legal work, but also through community service.

“We do what we do because we care about our community, and the people in it,” said David Cohn, managing partner of the firm that today focuses on accident and injury law. “This is our hometown. We want to make sure we help our local residents in and out of our office.”

Out of the office, attorneys and employees at the firm serve as members of committee and boards of directors for numerous local nonprofit and goodwill groups.

The law firm is the presenting sponsor for the annual MADD Kern County “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash,” which since 2014 has raised more than $300,000 to fund MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, raise awareness of our area’s DUI epidemic, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

Partnering with local bicycle advocacy group Bike Bakersfield, they have given out thousands of free bicycle lights, helmets, and safety lessons to promote bike safety throughout Kern County.

Several years ago, Chain | Cohn | Stiles donated $200,000 to establish Adventist Health’s Burn Center, and earlier this year donated $10,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center in an effort to combat our community’s homeless epidemic, benefiting the job skills training program and street cleaning team concentrated in downtown Bakersfield.

Kern County appreciates the work. The firm has been selected into the “Best Law Firm” category in The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers’ Choice Poll each year since the category was introduced.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has earned honors for its legal work, too. The law firm was selected into the 2019 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, attorneys David Cohn and James Yoro were recognized in the “Best Lawyers in America” program, the oldest and among the most respected attorney ranking services in the world.

The firm is commemorating its 85-year anniversary in part by looking back at its local history of serving Kern County. In a series of videos, the current law firm partners David Cohn, Jim Yoro, and Matt Clark share stories of the law firm’s origins, and its values that remain true today. To watch them all, and learn more about the law firm’s anniversary, visit bit.ly/chainlaw85.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Beatriz Trejo honored by ‘Latinas Leading the Way’

July 24, 2019 | 6:00 am


Beatriz Trejo, associate attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has been honored by the Latina Leaders of Kern County organization as one of the “Latinas Leading the Way.”

Trejo received the award July 20 at the 20th annual Latinas Leading the Way Awards event, honoring professional women who are making a mark in our community.

This year’s slate of honorees represent “the true essence of our organization’s mission,” and are “selected for their exceptional professionalism, achievements and commitment to our community,” according to Latina Leaders of Kern County. They are:

  • Claudia Catota: Chief Diversity Officer and Special Assistant to the President, California State University, Bakersfield
  • Teresa Romero: President, United Farm Workers
  • Beatriz Trejo: Attorney, Chain | Cohn | Stiles

The awards banquet is the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser supporting youth programs, specifically the Youth Leadership Program, where participants learn from key community leaders and experts in local government, education, economic empowerment, politics, and civic engagement.

Latina Leaders of Kern County, itself, was founded by Linda Quioñones-Vaughn in 1998, focusing on the development and empowerment of one of the fastest growing segments of in Kern County — Latinas. It is the mission of the nonprofit “to foster leadership, identify and develop opportunities for Latinas, and to influence key issues affecting our community,” according to the organization.

“We are passionate about continuously looking for opportunities that develop and support Latina Leadership. It is our philosophy to be committed, open minded, and inclusive. Latina Leaders of Kern County is ‘building a stronger community, one leader at a time’.”

Trejo’s biography was included in the event program, and a video of her accomplishments were highlighted as well. You can read her biography below, and you can watch the video by clicking here.

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Beatriz A. Trejo has been dedicated in her adult life to giving back through her career as an attorney, and in our community.

Beatriz attended Highland High School in Bakersfield before earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Bakersfield and her master’s degree in political science from Cal State Northridge. After completing her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law in Ohio, Beatriz returned to her hometown.

Since 2015, she has been representing injured workers through her work as an associate attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, advocating for those who get hurt on the job to receive their rightful benefits and heal. She is a Certified Legal Specialist in Workers’ Compensation and is co-chair of California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) Latino Caucus, which seeks to improve workplace conditions for injured Latino workers, educating Latino workers about legal rights, and advocating for public policy in the best interest of Latino workers. She is also the past president of CAAA’s Bakersfield Chapter.

Relatedly, out in our community Beatriz has served on the panels of the Immigration Justice Collaborative, which aims to educate immigrants on their constitutional rights, is a frequent speaker for Kern County Small Business Academies, educating new business owners on work injury laws, and serves on the CSU Bakersfield Pre-Law Advisory Committee, helping aspiring lawyers. You can also find her on local Spanish radio stations discussing important legal issues, and assisting local residents with their legal questions.

For her tireless work, Beatriz has been honored: Awards include:

  • Workers’ Compensation Young Lawyer of the Year” award by the California State Bar.
  • Selectee in the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine, awarded to just 2.5% of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region. As part of the program, she was also selected to the “The Top Women Attorneys in Southern California — Rising Stars” list.
  • Top Attorneys” selectee as voted on by local lawyers, highlighting the best lawyers in their areas.
  • 2018 “20 Under 40 People to Watch” by Bakersfield Life Magazine.

Outside of the office, Beatriz has engulfed herself in our community serving on board of directors for charities, speaking to students, and paving the way for Latina girls in Kern County. She served as the keynote speaker for the 2017 CSU Bakersfield “Chicano Commencement Celebration.” She is a member of Latina Leaders of Kern County, and planning committee for the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center Foundation for Community Wellness’ Cancer Run – a cause that’s near and dear to her heart since her father passed away of cancer in 2016, and mom diagnosed with breast cancer.

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If you or someone you know is hurt on the job, or hurt in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com for more information.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.