E-mail MeGeorge J. Cotsirilos Jr.
George J Cotsirilos, Jr. has been a criminal defense lawyer for over thirty years. Mr. Cotsirilos is a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, where he teaches criminal trial practice. He also has lectured on criminal defense related subjects in a variety of other forums, including serving as a lecturer on federal and state jurisdiction and venue for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Annual Federal Practice Seminar. From 2000-2006 he was the chairperson of the Federal Criminal Justice Act Panel for the Northern District of California and he is a member of the Criminal Justice Committee of the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.
Mr. Cotsirilos began his career in 1978 as a deputy public defender in Contra Costa County, California, where he tried a variety of criminal cases, from misdemeanors to murder. Thereafter, Mr. Cotsirilos entered private practice in San Francisco, handling a broad range of state and federal matters. During the 1990's he was involved in litigation surrounding Charles Keating and the American Continental Corporation, during which he successfully defended an attorney in charge of the bond program at the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. He has since continued to handle a variety of criminal matters, including, insurance fraud, bank fraud, embezzlement, regulatory violations, civil rights violations, murder, robbery, kidnapping, terrorist threats, sex offenses, and serious drug offenses, at the trial and appellate levels. Mr. Cotsirilos has tried virtually every type of criminal case from murder, to complex white collar fraud. He successfully defended the first death eligible homicide case to be qualified by the United States Attorney General for federal capital prosecution in the Northern District of California and successfully tried what was quantitatively the largest cocaine importation conspiracy case in the history of the Northern District of California. Additionally, included among the scores of cases Mr. Cotsirilos has successfully litigated and tried are: in a high profile fraud prosecution, he achieved acquittal on all of the many charges lodged against a college professor accused of defrauding the United States Government; he successfully defended at trial a young mortgage broker accused of a Northern California wide fraudulent mortgage scheme; he obtained exoneration at trial of a woman charged with possession of cocaine for sale after a search of her residence revealed 350 kilograms of cocaine; and he successfully defended a former vice president of a major energy company in the first known prosecution under the Federal Commodities Exchange Act.
At the appellate level, Mr. Cotsirilos has briefed and argued numerous cases before the state and federal appellate courts, including several which are cited as precedent for important principles of criminal law. Among these cases are:
United States v. Castaneda, 16 F.3d 1504 (9th Cir. 1994), a money laundering prosecution where the client's conviction was reversed and which sets forth the standard for admission of co-conspirator statements at trial;
United States v. Jerome, 942 F.2d 1328 (9th Cir. 1991), where the client's conviction for operating a continuing criminal enterprise was reversed and which states the standard for when, without request from the defense, a trial court is required to instruct a jury that it must unanimously agree on the specific act which forms the basis for a continuing criminal enterprise charge;
United States v. Gomez-Rodriquez, 96 F.3d 1262 (9th Cir. 1996) (en banc), where dismissal of the charges was affirmed and where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals redefined the meaning of the term aggravated felony as a basis for a criminal immigration violation;
People v. Roberts, 2 Cal.4th 271 (1992), a murder prosecution where, on appeal, the California Supreme Court invalidated the standard jury instruction for proximate cause in criminal cases and established the standards for the current correct instructions.
Mr. Cotsirilos has repeatedly been listed in The Best Lawyers In America and Chambers USA, as well as in Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine.
Year Joined Firm
Areas of Practice
- Criminal Law
- White Collar Crimes
- 100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
- California, 1978
- U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1987
- U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1978
- U.S. District Court Central District of California, 1989
- U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 1989
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of California, 1989
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Oklahoma, 1989
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Oklahoma, 1989
- U.S. District Court Western District of Oklahoma, 1989
- U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 1978
- U.S. Federal Courts, 1978
- Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, California
- J.D. - 1978
- University of California, Berkeley, CA
- B.A. - 1973
- Adjunct Lecturer/Instructor, Criminal Trial Practice, University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Criminal Justice Panel, Northern District of California, Regional Representative
- State Bar of California, Member
- American Bar Association, Member, Criminal Justice Section
- California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Member
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member
Past Employment Positions
- Contra Costa County, Deputy Public Defender, 1978 - 1982