Annual march focuses on rights of victims of crimes, injustices in Kern County

April 13, 2016 | 9:23 am


One victim is a woman who was sexually assaulted by the very person in charge of protecting her and other citizens in our community, a Kern County Sheriff’s deputy. Another woman was struck and killed by a drunk driver as she walked home. Any yet another victim was beaten to death by several law enforcement officers.

They are victims whose civil cases are represented by attorney from the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, but they all have one thing in common. Those directly involved in these cases, and their families, are all considered victims of crimes and injustices, and were represented at the fourth annual Victims’ Rights March.

“It’s important to honor the memories of these victims, and it’s equally important to speak out against the injustices these victims have faced,” said David Cohn, managing partner of the injury, accident and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

The march, organized by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, began at 5 p.m. Tuesday (April 12) at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court and continued toward Mill Creek Park in downtown Bakersfield. The theme for this year’s march was “Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope.” The march was followed by a candlelight vigil.

The march is also part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, established by Ronald Reagan in 1981.

“I think a lot of the criminal justice system is focused on the rights of the accused, as it should be, but sometimes victims’ rights get lost in all of that, and I think victims feel like they’re overlooked or ignored,” said Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green on KBAK-29. “So this is just an event where people can come together with other people who have suffered similar losses.”

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, attorneys continue day in and day out to fight civil cases for victims of crimes and other injustices. The law firm is also deeply involved in causes that assist victims of crimes including through Mothers Against Drunk Driving and through the National Crime Victim Bar Association.

Recently, a five-part series by The Guardian examined the use of deadly force, rough justice, sexual misconduct and questionable practices among local law enforcement agencies, which garnered attention nationwide. And among the cases highlighted were those of local victims involved  wrongful death, police misconduct, sexual misconduct and civil rights cases handled by the Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

They included David Sal Silva, who was killed on the night of May 7, 2013. Silva was asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center when several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing. Shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a civil rights lawsuit in connection with the wrongful death of David Silva.

In another highlighted case, Jane Doe 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.

If you or someone you know is the victim of a crime, contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the law firm’s website at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Families of crime victims aim to ‘restore the balance of justice’

April 11, 2014 | 9:35 am


Some were killed by drunk drivers, and others at the hands of other human beings. But all of them are victims of crimes, and their families are fighting for justice.

About 400 people gathered this week outside of Kern County Superior Court to honor loved ones who had been killed, and in some cases pray for justice to be served. They waved signs and marched through downtown Bakersfield streets as part of the second annual Victims’ Rights March, and National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which is held each year in April. This year’s theme is “Restoring the Balance of Justice.” They also celebrated the Victims of Crime Act, which recognizes the rights of victims.

Some of the participants are being represented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, and others are partners of the firm who are striving for the same goal — justice.

Among them was the family was David Silva, who was beaten to death by several law enforcement officers. CCS has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Silva’s family.

Another participant was Carla Pearson, program coordinator and victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. Since her stepson was killed by a repeat DUI offender in 2002, she has been campaigning for victim’s rights in and out of the courtroom, and to take DUI offenders off of the streets.

Pearson has partnered with our law firm, local law enforcement, Kern County District Attorney’s Office, and other community groups in the first-ever “Walk/Run Like MADD” 5K, to be held on Sept. 20 at Park at River Walk. The event aims to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving accidents.

Others at the march, too, had family members killed in auto accidents, including a mother of a 20-year-old who held a sign against texting and driving, The Bakersfield Californian reported. The mother believed texting was a factor in the crash that killed her daughter.

Another mother held a photo of her son, who died in a hit-and-run accident last year, The Californian reported.

“I think (the victims’ march) is important for us to support each other in this,” the mother told The Californian. “We have not forgotten our loved ones.”

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week ends this week, but at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we believe it’s important to keep crime victims’ rights in mind always.