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Recognition of Pro Bono Volunteers 2019

seal of the chief judge

Maureen A. Tighe 
Chief Bankruptcy Judge

United States Bankruptcy Court
Central District of California
21041 Burbank Boulevard, Suite 324
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Ph:   (818) 587-2806
Fax: (818) 587-2949


In honor of National Pro Bono Celebration week, the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, recognizes the extraordinary efforts of the attorneys serving self-represented filers.    The Central District of California has the largest population of self-represented parties of any bankruptcy court in the nation.  Attorneys that volunteer are helping those facing substantial economic hardship (and often language barriers) to navigate through the bankruptcy process.  These attorneys serve an area of extreme need, providing vital services, advice, and in some cases legal representation for qualifying individuals.  The service provided by these attorney volunteers greatly benefits the Court and all of its litigants, regardless of income level.

The volunteer efforts recognized include pro bono service in one or more of the following areas: self-help desks, Reaffirmation Agreement clinics, chapter 7 clinics, consumer debt clinics, bankruptcy seminars concerning filing requirements and the different chapters of bankruptcy, and legal representation for qualifying cases.  A brief description of the varied programs forming this network of assistance for self-represented parties within the Central District of California follows the honor roll listing.

The Court thanks each of the following Honor Roll of Pro Bono Volunteers for their current and continued support in serving the self-represented parties in our district.1

Maureen A. Tighe,  Chief Bankruptcy Judge

1 The attached Honor Roll lists the names of the volunteers from the previous 12 months provided by each organization. The list will be updated quarterly to add any new volunteers emailed to The volunteer organizations are to review the list each September and email the Honor Roll address with any names that are to be removed for the annual update.

Previous Honor Rolls | Printable Version


United States Bankruptcy Court
Central District of California

2019 Honor Roll of Pro Bono Volunteers

Public Counsel's Debtors Assistance Project
Chapter 7, Adversary Proceeding  & Reaffirmation Hearing Volunteers


Alisa Admiral
Keith Banner
Jim Beirne
Nan Blitman
Edwin Burgos 
Eileen Cahill
Christopher D. Cantore
Corey Carter
Suh Choi
Atyria S. Clark
Joseph Collier
Christie Cronenweth
Daniel Denny
Dana Douglas
Douglas M. Flahaut
Kathy Ford
Heather Freelin
Ruben Fuentes
Daniel Gardner
Jennifer Gassen
Robert Gerlack 
Casey Giles
Margaret Giles
David Hagen


Jeff Hagen
Stella Havkin
M. Jonathan Hayes
Carmel Hehr
David Hernandez
Keith Higginbotham
Steve Hoffman
Soo Im
William Johanneson
Ilyse Klavir
Melissa Lamanna
Hugh Linstrom
Peter Lively 
Manolo Maddela
Eva Malhotra
John Mellisinos
Roksana Moradi 
Adam Morris 
Linda Muchamel 
Jason Murai 
Sandra Nutt
Philomena Nzegge
Leonard Pena
Nicole Pryor 


Selena Rojhani
Lauren Ross
Allan Sarver
Zev Schechtman
Leonard Schwigen
Parul Sehgal
Michelle Sherman
David Shevitz
Lysa Simon
Peter Sindhuphak
Alison Stevens
Leora Swerdlow
Alla Tenina
Tamar Terzian
Thomas Ure
Amelia Valenzuela
Jeff Wishman 
Anne Wright
Sloan Youkstetter

Other Legal Professionals

Gary Robinson
Barbara Sanchez


Los Angeles Bankruptcy Self Help Desk & Pro Se Clinic Volunteers


Wilfred Aka
Aarona Alexander
Denise Ballesteros
Julie Choi
Omatshola Dafeta
Marseil Elias
Sheila Esmati
Doug Flahaut
Ara Galstyan
Marc Goldbach
Will Ha
Teddy Kapur
Barry Lapes
Bisou Le
Barry Lipsky
Lan Nguyen
Sana Onayeva
 Shane Popp


Robert Reganyan
David Riley
Mark Rivera
Selena Rohjani
Emma Samyan
Clifton Sheng
Chris Shin
Ahree Song
Alexander Spellman
Claudia Suarez
Cameron Totten
Shawn White

Other Legal Professionals

Samantha Burns
Gary Robinson
Kayoko Shishido

Law Students

Sean Drake
Domenica Esposito
Samuel Gallman
Bryan Garcia
Diana Karapetyan
Alexandra Maher
Michael Mellgren
Syrita Morgan
Jacob Nielsen
Fernanda Sanchez Jara
Iolanda Severino
Christine Strother



Public Service Law Corporation (Riverside Legal Aid) Riverside & Coachella Valley Volunteers


Manfred Schroer
Jennifer F. Tanios
Daniel S. Roberts


Alex Knaub
Raychele Sterling

Law Students

Sarah Shahatto
Erica Zhao



Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County Self-Help Desk Volunteers


Pardis Akhavan
J Geoffrey Beirne
Anil Bhartia
Nan Blitman
Ted Boxer
Mark Brenner
Michael Davis 


M. Jonathan Hayes 
Jorge Gaitan
Sevan Gorginian
Yi Sun Kim
Ilyse Klavir
Jonathan Leventhal 


E. Richard McGuire
Roksana D. Moradi
Alan Nahmias
Michael Rice
Jeremy H. Rothstein
Patricia Said


Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County Consumer Debt Clinic Volunteers


Will Beall
Patricia Fox
Chris Gautschi
Greg Mazza
Reed Olmstead
John Rounds


Susan Salehi
Randall Sutter
Felicita Torres
Karen Ware
William Winfield
Christian Younger

Law Students

Ross Garcia
Christina Gonzales
Elke Kane
Esmeralda Murillo
Gosha Styczniewska
Stephanie Troup


Jean Linn



Orange County Bar and Public Law Center Volunteers


Anerio Altman
Brad Calvin
Steve Cardoza
Andrew Cho
Dennis Connelly
Michael David
Ian Deady
Doug Ecks
Michael Franco
Will Ha
Benjamin Heston
Halli Heston
Richard Heston
Marshall Hogan
Michael Jones
Yves Joseph
Archana Joshi


Mark Karpe
Leah Kaufman
Leslie Keith Kaufman
Bridget Kelly
Christine Kingston
Mark Klein
Christopher Langley
Brent Liljestrom
Jacqueline Luther
Kerri Lyman
Aaron Malo
Lindsy Martin
Michael McKimon
Carol Merrifield
Phil Metzinger 
Pamela Milan
Harlene Miller


Bruce Moore
Misty Perry-Isaacson
Sidney Sadeghi
Kevin Samson
Randolph Scott
S. Alfonso Smith
Ryan Thomason
Lydia Tse
Jonathan Wasylenko

Law Students

Emily Osgood
Kevin Shane
Sunny Zhu


Programs for Self-Represented Parties at the
Central District of California Bankruptcy Court

Los Angeles Division:
The Debtor Assistance Project (DAP) began as the Court’s first effort to make pro bono programs available to the public within its geographic area.  In the Los Angeles Division alone, the DAP places between 45-50 chapter 7 cases and adversary proceedings with pro bono counsel each year.  It has become the umbrella committee and resource for projects throughout the district for all self-represented parties.  The DAP is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section and the Public Counsel Law Center.  It works closely with a number of other legal clinics throughout the district to provide free legal services to qualifying debtors and self-help support to all parties in the bankruptcy court.  The DAP holds bi-monthly meetings at the Court, bringing together representatives from public interest law firms, volunteer attorneys, chapter 7 and 13 trustee representatives, bankruptcy judges, Clerk’s Office, and members of the office of the U.S. trustee.  The DAP raises funds and awareness for its programs, provides training for pro bono attorneys, and exchanges information on trends and issues related to providing pro bono and self-help assistance as well as best practices.

          Non-Dischargeability Representation
Public Counsel locates pro bono attorneys for self-represented debtors in non-dischargeability adversary proceedings.  A notice is sent by the court advising the debtor to contact Public Counsel if they need assistance.  Income screening is then done by Public Counsel before a volunteer attorney is assigned.  The attorneys then represent pro se debtors in non-dischargeability proceedings.

          Reaffirmation Agreement Clinic
This program provides pro bono assistance at Reaffirmation Agreement hearings.  Reaffirmation Agreement hearings for participating judges at a particular division are bundled together, usually twice each month.  This enables pro bono attorneys, coordinated by Public Counsel, to offer debtors information about their rights in a consultation that takes place outside the courtroom before the hearing. 

           Self Help Desk
The Los Angeles Division launched an onsite self-help desk in 2009 that serves the public two days each week.  The self-help desk provides self-represented debtors and creditors with chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy information, forms, access to reference material, and provides referrals for additional legal assistance.  Income eligible individuals can also attend a chapter 7 self-help clinic.  The Los Angeles Division self-help desk is sponsored by Public Counsel, the Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Association (CDCBAA), and the Los Angeles County Bar Association - Commercial Law & Bankruptcy Subcommittee’s Debtor Assistance Project.

          Chapter 7 Representation
Income qualified debtors may receive pro bono representation from Public Counsel where volunteer attorneys can be found.  As the demand for representation is greater than the availability of volunteers, the self help programs are designed to assist those debtors with simple cases and the ability to represent themselves more effectively.  Public Counsel locates attorney volunteers through the CDCBAA, the Los Angeles and San Fernando County Bar Associations, and the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Forum.

Riverside Division:

The Public Service Law Corporation of the Riverside County Bar Association (Riverside Legal Aid) offers limited free legal services and bankruptcy seminars for pro se debtors located in the area served by the Riverside Division.  The Court made space available at the Riverside Division for the Public Service Law Corporation to provide pro bono and self-help services.   In a joint effort, the District Court and the Bankruptcy Court opened a self-help desk in December of 2011.  As a result of a grant from the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation, in January 2014 Public Service Law Corporation began a clinic in the Coachella Valley.  The clinic is open for four hours on every fourth Monday of each month at the Cathedral City Library.

          Non-Dischargeabilty Defense
The Inland Empire Bankruptcy Forum has provided non-dischargeability defense on a limited ad hoc basis when it can locate volunteer attorneys.

Santa Ana Division:

         Legal Clinic
The Santa Ana Division has a weekly onsite legal clinic operated by Public Law Center that provides free legal advice for self-represented parties in chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.  Public Law Center also provides pro bono representation in chapter 7 cases with attorneys from the local bar, when available.  The legal clinic is co-sponsored by the Orange County Bar Association, Orange County Bar Association – Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section, and the Orange County Bankruptcy Forum. Orange County Legal Aid also holds a weekly chapter 7 clinic and assists debtors in filing on their own if it is a no-asset case.

         Reaffirmation Agreement Clinic
The Santa Ana Division has a Reaffirmation Agreement clinic similar to the one in Los Angeles.  The clinic is operated by the Public Law Center with volunteers from the local bar.

         Non-Dischargeabilty Defense
The Public Law Center has provided non-dischargeability defense on an ad hoc basis when it can locate volunteer attorneys.

Northern Division:

         Consumer Debt Clinic
Serving Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties, the Consumer Debt and Bankruptcy Clinic was formed and began operation in 2009 in Northern Santa Barbara County before moving to the Northern Division in 2010.  The clinic is sponsored by the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County (LAFSBC) and is held once a week in the Northern Division Clerk’s office.  Volunteer attorneys are available during the clinic to answer questions about individual consumer debt issues.  A Bankruptcy Resource Center is also open during clinic hours to provide bankruptcy reference materials and forms.

The clinic began a Video Conference Counseling pilot program in November 2016.  The program provides free legal services offered by volunteer attorneys in Santa Barbara to self-represented individuals in San Luis Obispo County via video conference.  After completing an online intake form, a volunteer in a Paso Robles Superior Court location establishes a video connection via Skype with an attorney volunteer in the Northern Division.  The video option alleviates the need for individuals to make the 2 to 3 hour drive to Santa Barbara to access the weekly Consumer Debt & Bankruptcy Clinics.

         Reaffirmation Agreement Clinic
The Santa Barbara County Bar Association arranges for volunteer attorneys to meet with self-represented debtors before each Reaffirmation Agreement hearing. 

San Fernando Valley Division:

         Self Help Desk
The San Fernando Valley Division opened the Court’s first onsite self-help desk in 2007.  The self-help desk is operated by Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles, the Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Association, and the San Fernando Valley Bar Association.  Self-represented debtors and creditors are assisted one day a week.  Pro bono attorneys from the two bar associations hold weekly seminars and provide free legal information on bankruptcy.  Topics commonly covered include bankruptcy filing requirements, the difference between chapter 7 and chapter 13, and where to find a bankruptcy attorney.  The self-help desk also provides computers for debtors to view “Bankruptcy Basics” videos in addition to other videos regarding key principles of bankruptcy. 

         Reaffirmation Agreement Clinic
The San Fernando Valley Division judges also participate in the Reaffirmation Agreement program operated by Public Counsel (see Los Angeles Division for more details). 

         Non-Dischargeability Representation
Public Counsel locates pro bono attorneys for self-represented debtors in non-dischargeability adversary proceedings in the same manner as that done in Los Angeles.

         Chapter 7 Representation
Income qualified debtors may receive pro bono representation from Public Counsel where volunteer attorneys can be found as part of the same program serving the Los Angeles Division.