Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins MADD to honor local officers, prosecutors fighting to end DUI crimes

June 15, 2017 | 8:27 am


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County recognized and honored local law enforcement officers and prosecutors on Wednesday, June 14, for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes.

Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles was proud to be a sponsor, supporter and organizer of the event.

In all, more than 70 officers from throughout Kern County agencies were awarded at the 2017 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition ceremony, held at Hodel’s Country Dining in Bakersfield. Prosecutors from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office were also honored, with the highest awards going to the top prosecutor, top probation officer, and the top law enforcement officer.

“These local heroes are potentially helping save lives by removing DUI offenders from our streets,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “They deserve recognition for making our communities throughout Kern County safer.”

To view the names of all of the officers awarded, click here. Among the top award winners were:

  • Probation Department Award, Deputy Luis Gomez: While Deputy Probation Officer Luis Gomez does not conduct traffic stops to arrest DUI offenders, he does work hard at keeping the community safe by supervising felony probationers to ensure they are not consuming alcohol. He also works tirelessly to ensure these offenders remain in compliance with the orders of the court. Through funding provided by the Office of Transportation and Safety, Officer Gomez supervises 75 high-risk, felony and repeat DUI offenders. In 2016 alone, Officer Gomez conducted 947 home calls and 855 office conferences with these dangerous offenders. In 2016, he conducted 522 urinalysis tests by ETG device and 1,125 Breathalyzer tests. Officer Gomez has been swift in his responses to those who violate Court orders by arresting them or placing them on monitoring programs in an effort to reduce their alcohol consumption. Officer Gomez’ diligence in supervising these high-risk worst of the worst DUI offenders is commendable and has gone a long way to help keep our streets safer for the citizens of Kern County.
  • Top Prosecutor 187 Award, Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn: Michael Yraceburn prosecuted the nation’s first successful murder conviction for driving while impaired by marijuana. That March 2014 crash, in which the suspect was driving close to 80 miles per hour before losing control, killed David Aggio on impact. The suspect was sentenced to 20 years to life.
  • Top Law Enforcement, Bakersfield Police Officer Louis James: Officer James was reassigned to the Bakersfield Police Department’s Traffic Section in July 2015. Since then, he has primarily worked the graveyard shift. As a result, he has been one of the most, if not the most, productive traffic officer in regards to DUI enforcement. Though he was assigned to the traffic section for only a year and a half, he maintained his aggressive DUI enforcement to make the citizens of Bakersfield safer. In 2015, He received an award from MADD California for his efforts, and in 2016 he arrested 247 DUI drivers. This was the most of all traffic units within the department and one of the highest in California.

Prosecutor’s Awards were also handed out by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, and were awarded to Kim Richardson, Garrett Rice and Brad Taconi.

The awards ceremony returned to Bakersfield for 2017 after the loss of federal grant funding and budget cuts prevented the 2016 awards luncheon from being hosted in Kern County. This year, several community sponsors, working with MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board, stepped up to make sure officers from all Kern County agencies were being honored for their work in fighting against DUI crimes.

The MADD Kern County Advisory Board includes Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat and marketing director Jorge Barrientos.

Sponsors for the awards luncheon included anonymous donors, Chevron, Kern Federal Credit Union, Bakersfield Police Officers Association, Greenlawn Mortuary, Raymond’s Trophy, Clifford & Bradford Insurance Agency, Sally Herald CPA, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,056 DUI arrests in 2016, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives.

The awards luncheon is one of two MADD Kern County signature events aimed to bring awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and fight toward ending DUI crimes here. Bakersfield’s 2017 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Park at River Walk.

You, too, can be involved in the fight to end drunk and drugged driving locally. You can help by signing up as a walker, runner (5K or 10K), team captain, or volunteer. Parents: The event also features a kid’s “fun run,” where each child of walk and race participants gets a free superhero cape. You can even get involved if you aren’t able to attend by signing up as a “virtual walker,” or by asking a donation toward a participant or team who has been affected.

For more information on that event, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

— Alyssa Wood of Chain | Cohn | Stiles contributed to this report. 

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles Newsletter: Remembering 2016, looking ahead to 2017

January 11, 2017 | 9:28 am


Editor’s Note: The following was published in an e-newsletter sent out to those signed up to receive the Chain | Cohn | Stiles newsletter. View it in your browser here. To keep up with the latest news, contests and updates from Chain | Cohn | Stiles, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to input your email address into the “newsletter sign-up” section.

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A Happy New Year to you from all of us at Chain | Cohn | Stiles! As Albert Einstein once said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Along those lines, we wanted to make you aware of some of the activities we’ve been involved with since the last time we checked in with you: 

  • We were the presenting sponsor for annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K, which raised more than $62,000 to fight against drinking and driving locally.

Today, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is continuing its work in serving our community, and representing injury and accident victims. For example … 

  • We joined local Spanish media to help answer legal questions from our Hispanic residents of Kern County.

And lastly, keep an eye out for Chain | Cohn | Stiles in 2017 in the following:  

  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been nominated as “Best Law Firm” in the Best of Kern County poll, and partners David Cohn and Matt Clark in the “Best Lawyer” category. We would be honored to have your vote! Go to bestofkern.com to vote.
  • We’ll be the presenting sponsor once again for the Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K, scheduled for Sept. 23, 2017, at Park at River Walk. Join us in the fight against drunk driving in Kern County.
  • Keep an eye out for new videos on our website, chainlaw.com, and your television.

We wish you a healthy and happy 2017. Keep up with Chain | Cohn | Stiles activities throughout the year by following our various social media pages listed below, which are updated daily, as well as our blog, Blogging for Justice.

Warm Regards,

All of us at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles for help by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com for more information.

New Year, new laws in California for safer streets

December 28, 2016 | 11:51 am


In California, the New Year also means new laws.

And for 2017, several new transportation-related laws, and changes to existing laws, are taking effect starting Jan. 1. Many of them are aimed to keep drivers safer on our streets, including addressing the use cell phones in cars, child safety seats, and motorcycle lane splitting.

The accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles wanted to share some of these changes ahead of the New Year. Learn a little more about them below here, courtesy of the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785): Driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a cellphone will be prohibited, unless the device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield or is affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console where it does not block the driver’s view of the road. According to the Sacramento Bee, “the law is designed to stop people from holding their phones for a variety of uses that have become popular in recent years, including checking and posting on Facebook, using Snapchat, scrolling through Spotify or Pandora playlists, typing addresses into the phone’s mapping system, or making videos and taking photos.”

A recent California Office of Traffic Safety study found that one out of eight drivers pays as much attention to his or her smartphone as on the road. Distracted driving accounts for some 80 percent of crashes.

Child Safety Seats (AB 53): This law requires a parent, legal guardian, or the driver of a motor vehicle to properly secure a child who is younger than 2 years of age in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches in height.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51): This law defines “lane splitting” as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law authorizes the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting to help ensure the safety of all motorists. CHP would have to consult with safety agencies and organizations to craft the guidelines for motorcycle lane splitting.

DUI ‘Ignition’ Interlock Devices (SB 1046): This bill extends a pilot program that requires most convicted DUI drivers to install ignition interlock devices, which prevent them from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. Under the law, the DUI offender is able to obtain a restricted driver’s license, have their license reissued, or get their motor vehicle privileges reinstated on the condition that they install a device in their vehicle for a prescribed amount of time. The bill extends the pilot program in four California counties — Kern County not being one of them — before it expands to the entire state on Jan. 1, 2019.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is actively involved with Mother Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

Accident Reporting (SB 491): This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to be reported to the DMV from $750 to $1,000 when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287): This law, called the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety (CARS) Act, requires the DMV to include a general advisory regarding vehicle recalls and needed repairs on each vehicle registration renewal notice. This law also bans a dealer or a rental car company from renting or loaning a vehicle with a manufacturer’s recall until the vehicle has been repaired.

Installing Counterfeit or Nonfunctional Air Bags (AB 2387): This law prohibits knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, importing, installing, reinstalling, distributing, or selling any device intended to replace an air bag system in any motor vehicle if the device is a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag system, or does not meet federal safety requirements. This violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or up to a one year in county jail.

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If you or someone you know is involved in a motor vehicle accident at the fault of another, please call the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins Bakersfield Police in fight to end DUIs, distracted driving

November 23, 2016 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has been fighting to end drunk driving in Kern County, while also raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and advocating for bicycle and pedestrian safety locally.

And with news that the Bakersfield Police Department was awarded a $415,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program, in part, for these same causes, the streets of Bakersfield may be getting safer.

Recently, local media highlighted the new grant that will fund educational presentations, DUI checkpoints, bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement, distracted driving enforcement and seat belt child safety seat enforcement, and more.

“The Bakersfield Police Department is committed to ensuring traffic safety on city roadways,” said Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson in a news release.

So, too, is the Bakersfield-based accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles Director of Marketing and Public Relations Jorge Barrientos spoke with media about grant, and what it means for MADD Kern County. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a strong and active supporter of MADD Kern County, and deeply involved in the fight against drunk driving in our community. Barrientos serves as the planning committee chairman for MADD Kern County’s annual fundraising and awareness event. And attorneys Matt Clark and Neil Gehlawat are members of the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

“Currently we are seeing about 12 DUI arrests per day,” Barrientos told Eyewitness News. “That’s more than 4,000 a year. And, that’s just the people that are getting caught … We do know for a fact that a lot of people that are getting caught have been caught before … It’s a 100 percent preventable crime. You don’t have to get behind the wheel after you have a drink.”

In all, the grant will help fund the following efforts:
  • Educational presentations
  • DUI checkpoints
  • DUI saturation patrols
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement
  • Motorcycle safety enforcement
  • Distracted driving enforcement
  • Seat belt and child safety seat enforcement
  • Speed, red light, and stop sign enforcement
  • Warrant service operations targeting multiple DUI offenders
  • Compilation of DUI “Hot Sheets,” identifying worst-of-the-worst DUI offenders
  • Specialized DUI and drugged driving training such as Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, and Drug Recognition Evaluator
  • Court “sting” operations to cite individuals driving from DUI court after ignoring their license suspension or revocation
  • Stakeout operations to observe the “worst-of-the-worst” repeat DUI offender probationers with suspended or revoked driver licenses

In September this year, Kern County came together for the third Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K at the Park at River Walk, called for an end of drunk driving, and raised more than $62,000 in the process to fight against drinking and driving locally.

The 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K has raised more than $160,000.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently has also partnered with Bike Bakersfield, a local nonprofit bicycle advocacy group, to give out free safety helmets and bike safety lights.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a car accident, bicycle accident or pedestrian accident at the fault of someone else, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins first-ever Bakersfield Marathon

November 2, 2016 | 9:02 am


For the first time in the history of Kern County, Bakersfield will be host to its first-ever 26-mile marathon that will run its course throughout the Greater Bakersfield area.

The Bakersfield Marathon — scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 13 — will take participants throughout iconic areas of Bakersfield including Stockdale Financial District, Kern County MuseumBakersfield College, and near Chain | Cohn | Stiles in downtown Bakersfield, among other locations. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to support the Bakersfield Marathon by sponsoring a water station in downtown Bakersfield.

The marathon will also feature tons of amenities for participants, onlookers and attendees alike. Learn more about the marathon and its features below.

 

MARATHON MUST-KNOW

The marathon will begin at the California State University, Bakersfield campus, with the finish at Kern River Parkway. This USATF-certified full marathon will begin at 7 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.

The marathon will give local runners participate in a Boston-qualifying marathon in their hometown, earning an official USA Track & Field certification. Cash and other prizes will be given to marathon, half-marathon and 5K winners, including overall and age category winners.

The full event includes:

  • Full marathon (26.2 miles), beginning at 7 a.m.
  • Half marathon (13.1 miles), beginning at 7:15 a.m.
  • 2-person half-marathon relay (13.1 miles)
  • 5K fun run (3.1 miles), beginning at 7:30 a.m.
  • Children’s quarter-mile and half-mile marathons, beginning at 10 a.m., for children ages 5 to 12 years old, and sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County. All participants will receive a medal.
  • Walker friendly course (around CSUB campus)

A festival area at CSU Bakersfield for the general public will open at 8 a.m. on Sunday, with food and beer area open shortly after. A health and fitness expo and packet pick-up event will also take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace.

Nearly 1,000 runners from 55 cities, nine states and Canada have pre-registered for the marathon, according to a report from The Bakersfield Californian. Organizers David Milazzo and Charles Brown said they expected between 1,500 and 2,000 registrants by race day. Portions of the proceeds will benefit the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunner Scholarship Fund.

  • For street closures starting at 5 a.m. on race day in the Bakersfield area, click here. And to see a map of the marathon route, with street closures, click here.
  • To sign up to volunteer for the event, click here.
  • And to donate toward the cause, click here.

 

SPONSOR CHAIN | COHN | STILES

Having been in Bakersfield for more than 80 years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is one with its community. The law firm year after year donates thousands to local causes, including several races, such as the annual Fog Run and Kern County Cancer Run. For the past three years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been a key organizer and sponsor of the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

This year, we’re proud to sponsor and be a part of the inaugural Bakersfield Marathon, and helping keep runner hydrated during the race through a sponsored water station. Also, Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ own marketing director Jorge Barrientos, with wife Carla, were featured on the marathon promotional video, “I’ll Be Running,” which you can see here.

We hope you can join in, too, to make the first Bakersfield Marathon a huge success.

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Kern County calls for end of drunk driving in 2016 ‘Walk Like MADD’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 28, 2016 | 10:26 am


Kern County came together for the third year Sept. 24 at the Park at River Walk, called for an end of drunk driving, and raised more than $62,000 in the process to fight against drinking and driving locally.

The 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by the Bakersfield accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. It has become one of the largest running events in the area, according to Bakersfield Track Club, with more than 800 registered timed participants.

The morning featured a touching ceremony with speeches from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, victims of DUI crashes, District Attorney Lisa Green, and Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall, among others. Following was a kid’s fun run, a 5K run with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“We want to thank our advocates, partners, teams, participants and volunteers for making Kern County’s 2016 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K a huge success,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will commit to continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and end drunk driving here.”

Joining in the event as sponsors were Chain | Cohn | Stiles (as the presenting sponsor), Wells Fargo, State Farm, Chevron, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Kern County Bar Association Foundation, FedEx, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Clinica Sierra Vista, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., KGET-17 and Telemundo, KERO ABC 23, Bakersfield Life Magazine, and Eyewitness News (KBAK-29, KBFX-58), and KUZZ, among others.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runner in their respective age categories, with results posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: MADD Dogs
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Mike and Sally Yraceburn
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Last year, Kern County saw more than 4,000 DUI arrests, averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. And 10 people were killed because of a decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. The somber statistics continue this year.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K has raised more than $160,000. It’s not too late to join the fight – you can donate until Oct. 24 at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

And stay tuned for information on the 2017 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K held Sept. 23, 2017.

 

Supporting Chain | Cohn | Stiles, DUI victims

Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to thank the following individuals and companies for supporting the law firm’s team at the 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles presenting sponsor for third ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K’

August 17, 2016 | 9:42 am


Last year, there were 4,223 DUI arrests in Kern County, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. And since 2009, there have been at least 4,000 DUIs every year in the county, with a high of nearly 5,000 in 2011.

Since 2000, the deadliest year for DUI-related crashes countywide was 2006, when 15 people were killed. Last year, 10 were killed.

Unfortunately, the grim totals continue this year. Drinking and driving, and crashes as a result, have become an epidemic in Bakersfield and throughout Kern County.

It’s a problem, unfortunately, that the injury lawyers and staff at the Law Offices of Chain | Cohn | Stiles see all too often. The Bakersfield-based law firm represents many innocent victims of crashes who have seen their lives and their family’s ripped apart because of someone’s decision to drink and drive.

But like thousands throughout Kern County, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has subscribed to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving slogan, “Drunk driving ends here!” We’re fighting back.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the third annual Bakersfield “Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash 5K.” The event — which will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, at Park at River Walk — is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes.

 

Stepping Up

In the last two years, local residents have stepped up to take part in the annual Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash 5K, raising more than $100,000 total in the process. Those funds have been used to help victims of DUI crashes in emergencies, guide those victims through the court process, teach local high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving, and much more to raise awareness locally.

Through it all, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been a key organizer of the annual event. Marketing director Jorge Barrientos is the event planning committee chairman, and was named the 2015 Volunteer of the Year for MADD California. Lawyer Matt Clark also serves as a committee member, bringing in sponsors to support the cause. And Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat is a member on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board, which guides MADD Kern County on how best to implement programs and services, increase awareness of drunken driving in Kern County and raise money to accomplish its goals.

The Bakersfield California recently highlighted the newly established MADD Kern County Advisory Board. To read that article, click here.

 

‘Spirit of Fight’

For innocent victims of DUI crashes and their families, the MADD event – for at least one day – provides a venue to share stories, let them know they’re not alone, have their voices heard, remember lives lost, heal and hope together.

“Even for that one day we are heard,” said Alicia Smith in Bakersfield Life Magazine, who two years ago was hit by a drunken driver and is still recovering from a broken hip and knee, and emotional scars. “To see the community come together for this cause is wonderful in so many ways.”

The first year, Alicia took part in the event while in a wheelchair; the second year, she walked, although through pain; and this year, she’ll keep on marching, she said.

“Every year, this event is bigger and accomplishes more and more, and that spirit of fight motivates me to press on,” Smith said.

The event also brings together people from throughout the community: surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

 

In This Together

“We’re all in this together,” said Matt Clark, attorney and partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We’re all tired of seeing our neighbors, friends and family’s lives affected by such a preventable crime.”

Joining Chain | Cohn | Stiles to fight to end drunk driving as a business sponsor are:

  • Wells Fargo
  • State Farm
  • Chevron
  • Kern County Prosecutors Association
  • Kern County Bar Association Foundation
  • FedEx
  • Clinica Sierra Vista
  • Kern Schools Federal Credit Union
  • STEPS: Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services, Inc.

Local media is assisting in raising awareness throughout Kern County. They include:

  • KGET-17, Telemundo and Bakersfield CW
  • Eyewitness News: KBAK-29 and KBFX-58
  • Bakersfield Life Magazine (B Well Magazine)

 

3rd Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K

When: Saturday, Sept. 24 (check in starts at 6:30 a.m.; ceremony at 7:30 a.m.; walk/5K starts at 8 a.m.)

Where: Park at River Walk, 11298 Stockdale Highway

What: Victim 5K walk, chip-timed 5K run with medals awarded, kid’s Superhero-themed fun run, vendors, information booths, games, much more.

Register / Donate / Join the Fight: walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

Connect: Facebook at “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 2016

 

— Marisol Earnest, for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, contributed to this article 

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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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Make the season of giving a year-round endeavor

December 16, 2015 | 10:32 am


For many, December is a time of giving. But for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, giving isn’t limited to the one month.

In fact, the law firm has donated, supported and participated in dozens of Bakersfield and Kern County causes throughout 2015. As we approach the end of 2015 and look ahead to the New Year, please consider donating and supporting the following law firm-sponsored causes and nonprofit organizations:

  • Fog Run: The 27th Fog Run by the Probation Auxiliary County of Kern will take place on Jan. 9, 2016, and benefits local victims of violent crimes, and to help at-risk youth turn their lives around.
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County: Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a major sponsors and organizer of the group’s annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K, aimed to raise awareness in our community of the effect of drinking and driving, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes.
  • Bakersfield Crush: A 10 and under competitive club baseball team in Kern County.
  • Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: The law firm sponsors several KCHCC events per year that support local business and raise funds for scholarships.
  • Brain Injury Association of California: The annual Walk for Brain Injury aims to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries throughout Bakersfield and Kern County.
  • Kern County Corporate Challenge / League of Dreams: Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes part in the annual Olympic-style, business-versus-business competition that benefits League of Dreams, a free Kern County sports league for children with disabilities.
  • Walk for Justice: The walk aims to speak out against local cases of police misconduct, wrongful death and civil rights violations.
  • Bakersfield West Rotary Cioppino Feed: The annual fundraiser benefits the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the Bakersfield West Rotary Breast Cancer Fund at San Joaquin Community Hospital, the Bakersfield West Rotary Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County.
  • Philippine Weekend: The annual celebration in Delano highlights cultural history and the heritage of the Philippines, and raises funds for goodwill in Delano. Attorney James Yoro is an active participant.
  • Bakersfield Museum of Art: Year-round, Chain | Cohn | Stiles supports the local art museum and its educational programs.
  • Bike Bakersfield: The law firm partners with this bicycle advocacy group to give safety helmets to children in need.
  • U.S. Army All-Star Bowl: The Kern County all-star football game helps support local athletics.
  • Kern County Bar Association: Law firm attorneys are members of this group. The foundation provides an outlet for charitable giving which will recognize, promote, and encourage professionalism, equal access to justice and public awareness of the role of judges and lawyers in our community.
  • North of the River Chamber of Commerce: The law firm supports several NOR Chamber events that support local businesses and supports local charities.
  • Downtown Business Association: The group provides support to downtown Bakersfield businesses, and in a new Downtown Clean Team project — supported by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — provides jobs to homeless center residents while keeping our town clean.
  • San Joaquin Community Hospital, Grossman Burn Center: For years, the firm has supported the center that provides care to local burn victims. You can find attorney Matt Clark manning a grill during the annual 5 Alarm BBQ fundraiser.
  • Bakersfield Firefighters Burn Foundation: This nonprofit service is dedicated to assisting burn survivors and assuring the best possible burn care is provided to our community.
  • Optimal Hospice Care, Golf in the Sun and Under the Stars: The group’s annual tournament raises money for the Optimal Hospice Foundation, a nonprofit that organizes activities aimed to ensure that hospice care and other compassionate programs are available for families facing a life-limiting illness, with particular emphasis on the under-insured or uninsured population.
  • New Advances for People with Disabilities: The local nonprofit provides critical services to some of the most vulnerable residents in Kern County.
  • California Applicants Attorneys Association: The group strives to help attorneys fighting to help those with work-related injuries.
  • Nathan’s Army 5K: The annual race aims to raise awareness and fight against Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma — DIPG for short.
  • California Highway Patrol CHiPs for Tips: The fundraiser supports the California Association of Highway Patrolmen Widows and Orphans Trust Fund, which goes toward to families when a loved one is killed in or off the line of duty.
  • CSU Bakersfield Alumni Association Party in the Park: The association’s annual event raises funds for alumni scholarships, membership outreach, and mentoring opportunities for current CSUB students. Attorneys Beatriz Trejo and Chad Boyles are alumni of CSUB.
  • Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club: The local group of young philanthropists puts on several annual events that support local children’s charities, including Christmas Experience and Childspree.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County: This well-known group enables all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
  • Latina Leaders of Kern County: Our attorneys our members of this group that fosters leadership, identifies and develops opportunities for Latinas, and influences key issues affecting our community.
  • National Center for Victims of Crime: This group aims to empower crime victims, and helps them fight against these crimes in civil court.
  • India Association of San Joaquin Valley: The group helps support the local Indian community, and attorney Neil Gehlawat is an active member.

This list does not include all nonprofits, organizations and fundraising events supported by Chain | Cohn | Stiles. For more on the law firm’s community work, click here.

Join Chain | Cohn | Stiles to support MADD Kern County’s efforts to end drunk driving

November 4, 2015 | 9:49 am


For the third year in a row, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is supporting the flagship fundraising event for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County chapter aimed to end drunk driving in our community.

The personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm will be one of the presenting sponsors for the third annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K , aimed to raise awareness in our community of the effect of drinking and driving, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes.

Recently, more than 500 Kern County community members joined together in the second Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K to help put an end to drunken driving locally, and in the process raised more than $50,000 to support victims of DUI crashes. The annual event also brings together surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

Medals are given to the fastest runners in their age categories, and awards are also given to the top fundraisers. Last year’s sponsors and supporters included ChevronKern Schools Federal Credit Union and FedEx to name a few. For a full list of last year’s sponsors, click here.

The third annual event will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at Park at River Walk. To join the fight with MADD, click here to sign up and register for the upcoming Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K.

If you’d like to join as a sponsor of this event, click here to review the sponsorship levels.

BARBECUE FUNDAISER FOR MADD

All day Wednesday (Nov. 4, 2015) you can help with MADD Kern County’s efforts to end drunk driving in our community while enjoying a delicious barbecue meal at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.

Dickey’s — at 3505 Coffee Road in Rosedale — is donating 15 percent from all orders to MADD Kern County all day, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Simply present this flier below, or mention MADD when you order in the restaurant, or for carry-out and phone orders. For more information, call Dickey’s at 661-589-4227.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.