San Francisco, California
Phone: (415) 397-2373
Fax: (415) 397-8680
George J Cotsirilos, Jr. has been a criminal defense lawyer for over thirty-five years. Mr. Cotsirilos is a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, where he has taught criminal trial practice for fifteen years. 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.
Mr. Cotsirilos began his career in 1978 as a deputy public defender in Contra Costa County, California, where he tried a wide 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 full range 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 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 been listed repeatedly in The Best Lawyers In America and Chambers USA, as well as in Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine. Best Lawyers in America named Mr. Cotsirilos San Francisco Non-white Collar Criminal Lawyer of the Year for 2015.
Year Joined Firm
Areas of Practice
White Collar Crimes
100% of Practice Devoted to Litigation
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 East