Beginning of Butte County Criminal Defense Lawyers
Dennis Latimer and Jerry Kenkel met each other in 1964 at Santa Clara University and became fast friends. Dennis graduated from McGeorge Law School in 1970 and began practicing law in 1971. After learning the ropes of civil litigation in Sacramento, he worked in Chico for Goldstein Barslow & Goldstein doing criminal law. Meanwhile, Jerry graduated from University of San Francisco Law School in 1972 and worked for five years as a public defender in Stockton, California.
Dedication to Criminal Defense in Chico, California
In 1977, Latimer and Kenkel was born when Dennis and Jerry decided to dedicate their lives to the practice of top notch legal representation in Chico, California.
Skilled and Relentless Criminal Defense Lawyers
Consummate lawyers, their careers spanned nearly every aspect of the legal profession, but their true genius and passion was always in the practice of criminal defense. Over two decades they have represented thousands of people in a wide variety of cases, and created a reputation for Latimer and Kenkel as a Northern California institution, a true place to seek refuge in times of crisis. They were relentless, intelligent and skilled in front of a jury and their unparalleled experience and reputation made them known as the best that money could buy.
In 1988, Denny and Jerry hired Sandra “Sandi” Wilshusen as their secretary. Sandi was born and raised in San Francisco and always aspired to be a great legal secretary, as her childhood hero was Della Street, Perry Mason’s fictional secretary on television. After graduating from business school where she took classes in typing, shorthand, legal terminology and pleadings, she has always worked in the legal field. For thirty years, Sandi has been a resource of information, insight, and comfort for our clients, who consistently rave about her caring, consideration, integrity and honesty.
In 1985, Jerry Kenkel became the first rural defense attorney to be elected president of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, an honor he accepted and occupied with the same integrity with which he fought for his clients. From 1977-2000, their reputation continued to grow as Denny and Jerry fought and won high profile murder, drug cultivation, child abuse and sexual assault cases in and around the Northern California region. They established a reputation for their fearless willingness to take cases to trial.
In 1999, Jerry Kenkel tragically succumbed to pancreatic cancer. The decision by the Butte County Superior Court to fly the American flag at half mast, as well as the huge number of people who came to bid him a final farewell, testify to his reputation.
The firm associated with the Law Office of Kevin A. Sears in 2000. A tireless advocate for the underdog, Kevin believes that a client's life should be better after he represents them than it was before they met. In the courthouse, Kevin’s intelligence and passion combine to secure acquittal after acquittal. Kevin is a longtime Chico resident and graduated from Cal Northern Law School in 1996 and California State University Chico in 1992.
Chico Criminal Defense Law Firm Expands
In 2010, Denver Latimer, Denny’s son, joined the firm. After founding the Blue Room Theater in Chico, CA, Denver earned a degree at the Yale School of Drama (2000). While living in New York City, his awareness of the plight of the disenfranchised was heightened, and he decided to go to law school, earning his J.D. from the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School in 2010. During his tenure at law school he volunteered to work at the Innocence Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. A consummate Chico devotee, he brings his wealth of training and experience in theater and law to improve the quality of life for all Butte County community members.
Distinguished Recognition in Criminal Defense
Elizabeth Latimer joined the firm in 2015. After assisting her father Dennis in 2002 with a complicated case involving the now highly suspect diagnosis of "shaken baby syndrome," she was hooked on criminal defense, and in 2003, went to law school at CUNY Law. At CUNY she developed her commitment to criminal justice reform and direct representation of those accused. In 2005-2006, she participated in CUNY School of Law’s preeminent criminal defense clinic, where she got her feet wet providing direct representation to indigent clients in Queens, and providing post-conviction relief under the Rockefeller Drug Law Reform to free clients incarcerated under the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. Upon graduating in 2006, she was chosen to be one of ten attorneys hired that year at Brooklyn Defender Services in Brooklyn, New York, a nonprofit public defense firm. She worked in the trenches of the New York City criminal justice system from 2006-2015, representing thousands of individuals accused of every level of crime, from domestic violence to DUI, sexual assault to murder. In 2015, she felt called to practice law with her father, bringing home to Butte County a wealth of experience and energy, and a true blue commitment to fighting for the rights of the accused at every opportunity. Recently, Elizabeth was elected as President of the Butte County Bar Association. She is also a proud member of the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.