Holiday season a time for giving (and some local organizations you can support, too)

December 18, 2019 | 6:00 am


♫ “It’s the most charitable time of the year” ♫

The holidays are a time for giving. In fact, about 34 percent of all charitable giving is done in the last three months of the year, and of those donations, about 18 percent are given in December alone. Nonprofits that benefit the most from the holiday spirit are medical research organizations such as the American Cancer Society. Such organizations receive an average of 20 percent of their donations in December alone.

For Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the holiday season is not the only time of year for giving. In 2019, the law firm, and its attorneys and staff, supported dozens of worthy causes, nonprofits and charitable organizations throughout Kern County during the previous 11 months as well.

“Kern County is the home of our law firm, but it is also the home of our clients, friends, and families,” said managing partner David Cohn. “It’s important we all come together to help our neighbors.”

As we enter the holidays and New Year’s, Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to recommend local causes and nonprofits you can consider to support, as well as provide some giving tips (below). For a full list of causes supported by the law firm, visit our “Community” page at chainlaw.com.

  • The Hub of Bakersfield: A new local nonprofit, The Hub of Bakersfield, is committed to redefining and revitalizing Bakersfield’s urban core through various programs, events, and projects. As part of the nonprofit, the new Bakersfield Innovation Lab is a 10-month program where a select group of participants, who are passionate about the place they call home, come together to develop an impactful project to make the greater downtown Bakersfield area a more desirable place to live, work and be for all. Why is this relevant for Chain | Cohn | Stiles? Well, associate attorney Tanya Alsheikh is part of the inaugural Innovation Lab class, and marketing director Jorge Barrientos is a program facilitator and a member of the board of directors for The Hub! Not to mention, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has called downtown Bakersfield home for 85 years, so this is an important program. Learn more about Hub of Bakersfield and the Innovation Lab at thehubofbakersfield.org.
  • BMoA: The Bakersfield Museum of Art strives to enhance the quality of life through art appreciation and educational opportunities in the visual arts for Bakersfield and Kern County residents and visitors.
  • Bike Bakersfield: This nonprofit is a local bicycle advocacy coalition providing family friendly bike rides, bicycle safety education, and bike repair. In particular, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with Bike Bakersfield as part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, giving away hundreds of free bicycle lights and safety helmets throughout Kern County through “Project Light Up The Night” and “Kidical Mass” events, the latter of which also features bike repairs, safety demonstrations, and a group bike ride.
  • Bakersfield Homeless Center: A recent Kern County Homeless Collaborative report that found a 50 percent increase in the local homeless population over last year’s count. Efforts by City of Bakersfield and Kern County to tackle the issue are underway. To help, Chain | Cohn | Stiles earlier this year donated $10,000 to the Bakersfield Homeless Center’s job skills training program and street cleaning team. The program helps homeless center residents move forward with their lives while making a difference in our community. The program is designed to be a transitional program, where participants gain real-world skills, build confidence, and develop experience to find long-term employment.
  • MADD Kern County: Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with nearly 4,400 DUI arrests in 2018, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s 12 DUI arrests per day. For the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation. Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. We can all play a part to help make sure our streets are safe. Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board, regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and is the recent recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice” Award by MADD Southern California. Law firm marketing director Jorge Barrientos is the planning committee chairman for the annual “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash“, in which the firm is presenting sponsor.
  • Valley Fever: Last year, California experienced 2,200 new cases of Valley Fever, and most were reported in the southern Central Valley regions of Kern, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Madera, and Merced counties. In fact, Kern County residents were affected the most with 890 cases. Chain | Cohn | Stiles along with California health officials warn people about Valley Fever year-round, and the firm recently joined the Valley Fever Institute at the annual Valley Fever Walk aimed at raising awareness of Valley Fever.

Giving Tips

  • Before you give to any charity, examine the charity’s finances. Make sure the group is a financially healthy organization, sustainable, accountable and transparent. Look for signs of effectiveness. The charity’s ability to bring about meaningful change is the key reason for their existence and for your donation. These websites will help you check on your charity:
  • Give to an organization that matches your beliefs and goals. There is a charity out there that matches your intentions. Take the time to find it and confirm it offers the programs and services that match your charitable interests.
  • Take the time to research your charity so that you can trust them, and then give an unrestricted gift so the charity has the flexibility to respond to changing demands for its services and to spend the money where it is most needed to continue their day-to-day good work. Don’t put strings on your gift.
  • If you gave earlier in the year to an organization helping in a disaster, go back to that organization and give more. Much of the need from any disaster comes later, during the recovery period.
  • Giving before the year’s end can get you a tax break. Check with your tax planner to see if you’ll benefit.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney awarded MADD Southern California ‘Pursuit of Justice Award’

November 27, 2019 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles senior partner and attorney Matt Clark was the recent recipient of the “Pursuit of Justice Award” by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Southern California. Below is the press release announcing the award. 

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Two Bakersfield-based institutions received awards during Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s 2019 “Tie One On for Safety” Gala Awards Nov. 21 in Long Beach.

The “Pursuit of Justice Award” was given to attorney Matthew C. Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, and the Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit (SJVBU) received the “Corporate Champion Award.” The event annually recognizes supporters of MADD Southern California – the regional area for MADD Kern County – which also includes Los Angeles and San Diego chapters.

The awards gala also kicks off the “Tie One On for Safety” campaign during the holiday season, which is MADD’s longest running and most visible public awareness project combating impaired driving. MADD’s mission is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking.

“These two award recipients are community heroes who are dedicated to combating our area’s DUI epidemic,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Simply, they are saving lives.”

Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States.

MADD Kern County hosts two local events, which are primarily volunteer-led. They include the Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognitions Awards luncheon and the “Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash.” The Kern County chapter also hosts Victim Impact Panels to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and presents educational program at local schools, and more.

The award winners are helping combat Kern County’s DUI problem, raising awareness, and helping victims locally in a variety of ways.

  • Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles: Clark is a founding board member and organizer for MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board and event planning committees, regularly speaks at local Victim Impact Panels intended to prevent repeat DUI offenses, and has done pro-bono legal work for victims of DUI crashes. He is a senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which annually serves as the presenting sponsor for the annual “Walk Like MADD” fundraising event. In addition, Jorge Barrientos, marketing director at the law firm, is also a past recipient of the “Volunteer of the Year” award for MADD California.
  • Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit (SJVBU): Chevron’s SJVBU, whose main office is in Bakersfield, has been an annual sponsor, and its employees are key organizers, in the local “Walk Like MADD” event, as well as MADD Kern County’s Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognitions Awards luncheon, which honors locals for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes. The company communicates to its employees – who log thousands of miles each year on Kern County roads – through safety campaigns, including DUI-education efforts.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of an impaired driver, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MADD Kern County’s sixth ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’ – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raises $60,000 to fight against DUI crimes

October 2, 2019 | 6:00 am


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $60,000 in the process.

The sixth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Bringing out more than 800 walkers and runners for this cause, the event featured a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K in what has become one of the largest fundraising walking and running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, outgoing Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, and Assemblyman Vince Fong, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“On this day, our community together to fight a serious in Kern County, and remember the victims of these crimes,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “If we all keep our passion for change for another 364 days, we will see a future in Kern County with no more victims.  Let’s make sure we all drive safe and sober, always.”

Making the event possible were sponsors Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Kern High School District, STEPS, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., UBS Financial, Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Strata Credit Union, Wells Fargo, Vince Fong for Assembly and more. A kid’s fun run was presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club.

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

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Madysyn & Kalebs Keepers ($3,113)
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Laura Melton ($1,595)
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. This year alone (as of Sept. 10), CHP-Bakersfield officers have reported 288 DUI traffic collisions, with 11 resulting in fatalities.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised more than $350,000, including this year. It’s not too late to donate – donations are being accepted through October at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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Sixth Bakersfield ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’ presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 18, 2019 | 6:00 am


Each year, too many innocent people die in Kern County from crashes caused by people who choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Those local lives lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families – are affected from this 100 percent preventable crime.

In fact, Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. In addition, Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. This year alone (as of Sept. 10), CHP-Bakersfield officers have reported 288 DUI traffic collisions, with 11 resulting in fatalities.

MADD Kern County – together with victims, local businesses and community supporters – are coming together to say, “Enough is enough!” and “No More Victims!”

The sixth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – will be held Saturday, Sept. 28, at Park at River Walk. It’s aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds for local MADD Kern County educational programs, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

Since the first Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash in 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising more than $300,000 for MADD Kern County. In what has become one of the largest fundraising walks and runs in town, the event brings together people from our community – surviving victims of crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, law enforcement and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

It’s also supported this year by Chevron, Kern High School District, STEPS, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., UBS Financial, Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Strata Credit Union, Wells Fargo, and more. A kid’s fun run is presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club.

“Kern County has a serious DUI problem, and it’s going to take every single one of us to make an impact,” said Carla Pearson, MADD Kern County’s Victim Service Specialist. “We can come together to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ prevent future DUI arrests and crashes, and see a day with no more victims.”

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins MADD Kern County in honoring locals fighting against DUI crimes

June 12, 2019 | 2:48 pm


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County recognized and honored our local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other community members on Wednesday at Hodel’s Country Dining for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes.

In all, 67 officers from throughout Kern County agencies were awarded during the 2019 MADD Kern County Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon, as well as a prosecutor from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.  Awards were handed out to the top prosecutor, top probation officer, and the top law enforcement officer, among others.

“There are numerous ways we as a community can come together to fight against DUI crimes, whether it’s through law enforcement and prosecution, serving as a designated driver, or helping raise awareness of the DUI epidemic in Kern County,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “It’s important we acknowledge and award the special efforts made here. Simply, these people are saving lives.”

The award recipients were as follows (for a full awards list, scroll to the bottom of this post):

  • Top DUI Arresting Officer: Officer Robert Tyo, Bakersfield Police Department, 223 DUI arrests
  • Prosecutor of the Year: Kim Richardson, Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Probation Department Award: Brian Mara, DUI Program Supervisor
  • Community Champion Award: Jeff Platt, Eyewitness News
  • Top CHP Officer: Officer Rodney Black (Bakersfield), 117 DUI arrests

The awards ceremony was organized by MADD Kern County volunteers, and made possible by the financial support of local sponsors: Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Chevron, Ira and Carole Cohen with UBS Financial, Kern County Prosecutors Association, and Michael Yraceburn and Sally Herald CPA.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with nearly 4,400 DUI arrests in 2018, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s 12 DUI arrests per day. For the rate of DUI-related fatal collisions per 100,000 people, Kern County ranks highest in the state and second highest in the nation.

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. The second event, Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, will take place this year on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Park at River Walk.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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2019 MADD KERN COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT & PROSECUTOR

RECOGNITION AWARDS LUNCHEON

 

TOP DUI ARRESTING OFFICER OF KERN COUNTY

Officer Robert Tyo – 223 DUI Arrests: Bakersfield Police Department                       

 

PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD

Kim Richardson: Prosecutor, Kern County District Attorney’s Office     

 

PROBATION DEPARTMENT AWARD

Brian Mara: DUI Program Supervisor, Kern County Probation Department                     

 

COMMUNITY CHAMPION AWARD

Jeffrey Platt: Eyewitness News

 

TOP ARRESTING OFFICER PER DEPARTMENT

Taft Police Department                                                Officer Andrew Avila              8

Shafter Police Department                               Officer Janet Fernandez                       9

Kern County Sheriff (Wasco)                          Deputy Brandon Routh                        9

Ridgecrest Police Department                          Officer Laura Kenney              13

California Highway Patrol (Fort Tejon)                        Officer Jason Lachaussee        10

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Bryan Lombardi          29

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Rodney Black              117

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Robert Tyo                  223

 

CENTURY AWARDS

More than 100 DUI arrests in 2018

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Adrian Tait                  103

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Dallas Plotner              114

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Rodney Black              117

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Robert Tyo                  223

 

DEUCE AWARDS

Between 1 and 49 DUI arrests in 2018

Taft Police Department                                                Sargent Corey Beilby               5

Taft Police Department                                                Officer Moises Martinez          5

California Highway Patrol (Fort Tejon)                        Officer Pablo Hinojosa                        6

Kern County Sheriff (Wasco)                          Senior Deputy Steve Davis      6

Shafter Police Department                               Officer William Draucker        7

Shafter Police Department                               Officer Eric Diaz                      7

Taft Police Department                                                Officer Andrew Avila              8

Shafter Police Department                               Officer Janet Fernandez                       9

Kern County Sheriff (Wasco)                          Deputy Brandon Routh                        9

Ridgecrest Police Department                          Officer Corey Rinaldi              10

California Highway Patrol (Fort Tejon)                        Officer Jason Lachaussee        10

Ridgecrest Police Department                          Officer Laura Kenney              13

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Victor Swall                 20

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Thomas Wahl              20

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Christopher Denman    23

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jacqueline Smith          23

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Adam Clayton             24

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Tyler Olson                  25

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Michael Galvez                        26

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Michael Livesay          26

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Luis Ballesteros                       26

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Donald Mulligan          26

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Alejandro Zuniga         26

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Jason Carroll                27

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Richard Robles                        27

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jeremiah Holt              29

California Highway Patrol (Mojave)                Officer Bryan Lombardi          29

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Johnny Moreno                       35

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Kurtis Caid                  37

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jordaon Hokit              38

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Bernabe Mejia             38

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Francisco Chavez        41

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jose Bravo                   41

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Kasey Knott                 42

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Hector Organista          43

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Ryan Grant                  44

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jason Wood                 45

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Brett Otto                     45

 

 

MADD AWARDS

Between 50 and 99 DUI arrests in 2018

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Freddie Garcia             52

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Chad Smithson                        53

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Brandon Carey                        59

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Michael Reynolds        59

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Andrew Marquez         61

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Brianna Pace                66

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Eric Medrano               67

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Ahearn Luca                70

Bakersfield Police Department                                    Officer Jose M. Diaz                72

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Daniel Dinsing             73

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jessie Velasquez          74

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Michael Ramos                        77

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Matthew Iturriria          80

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Julio Villalobos                        80

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jaime Cervantes           81

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jarrod Bone                 82

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Jeff Geer                     83

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Victor Valadez             84

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Arturo Aldrete             92

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Tomas Martinez           92

California Highway Patrol (Bakersfield)                      Officer Gregory Jorgensen       96

‘100 Deadliest Days’: Summer period especially dangerous time for young drivers

May 29, 2019 | 5:04 pm


Did you know that the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” in the United States?

During this time span, which largely includes the summertime, our country’s roadways see a sharp increase in automobile fatalities, many involving teen drivers, according to AAA.

For example, in 2016 during this time period more than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver. That’s an average of 10 people per day – a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to the AAA.

What are the reasons for the sharp increase?

It’s not that more teens are driving for longer periods in the summer with school out. In fact, driving behavior greatly increases the risk of a crash, AAA states. Distracted driving, inexperience, driving under the influence, not using safety belts, and driving in adverse conditions are the primary reasons.

Bakersfield’s 23ABC News reporter Lezly Gooden examined this annual issue, and discussed what we can do to decrease the numbers. The report also featured Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury Matt Clark, representing MADD Kern County as a board member regarding the alarming DUI-rates in Kern County, which sees more than 4,000 DUI arrests per year. Additionally, Kern County’s rate of DUI-related fatal crashes is the second highest in the country, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

“The statistics are frankly embarrassing for our county,” said Matt Clark in the 23ABC News report. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is deeply involved with MADD Kern County efforts to raise awareness of the local DUI epidemic, and ways to combat the crimes. “It’s embarrassing that we live in a county in California where you are likely to die in a drunk driving accident than almost any other county in the country.”

Additionally, research shows that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people increased 51 percent. Speed and nighttime driving are also factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

Here are a few tips for parents of teens and young adult drivers:

  • Evaluate your teen’s readiness. Talk with your teen about personal responsibility, ability to follow rules and any other concerns before beginning the learning-to-drive process.
  • Get informed. Graduated driver licensing, driver education, license restrictions and supervised practice driving are all part of today’s licensing process. And the state of California sets parameters throughout a multi-stage licensing process for young drivers, such as times of day they can drive and how many passengers they can carry.
  • Start talking now. Share any insight that could save your child from having to learn things the hard way. Talk about what it takes to be a safe driver, the rules and responsibilities once they start driving.
  • Focus on passenger safety. Talk to your teen about always buckling up, not riding with a teen driver without your advance permission, and being a safe passenger with teen and adult drivers.
  • Be involved. When you’re behind the wheel, talk about what you see (road signs, pedestrians, other vehicles) that could result in the need to change speed, direction or both. Maintain an ongoing dialogue about your teen’s driving, appropriately restrict driving privileges and conduct plenty of supervised practice driving. California requires that parents and their teens conduct 50 hours of supervised practice driving, including 10 hours at night.
  • Be a good role model. Make changes in your driving to prevent any poor driving habits from being passed on. Show you take driving seriously by always wearing your seat belt, obeying traffic laws, not using a cell phone while driving, watching your speed, not tailgating, using your turn signals, and not driving when angry or tired.
  • Responsible drivers never drive under the influence. As a parent, you can reinforce that message and help steer clear of dangers, including being a passenger of friends who have been drinking. Preventing underage drinking also helps avoid exposure to violence, risky sexual behavior, alcoholism and other serious concerns.

And, as always, share the road with pedestrian, scooter riders, bicyclists and motorcyclists. For more driving safety tips, go to bloggingforjustice.com.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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‘Kern Under the Influence’: Series highlights local DUI epidemic

February 20, 2019 | 6:00 am


UPDATE: Eyewitness News recently presented a special half-hour program focused on the series highlighted below titled “Under the Influence & On the Road,” sponsored by Chain | Cohn | Stiles. To watch the entire program, click here

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You are more likely to die of a DUI related crime in Kern County than any other county in the state of California.

It’s with that startling fact that Eyewitness News (KBAK-KBFX) recently presented a five-part, in-depth investigation into Kern County’s DUI epidemic titled “Kern Under the Influence.” The series, by reporter Jeff Platt, highlights how deadly Kern County’s roads truly are, how difficult it is to keep repeat DUI drivers off our roadways, how officers try to keep our streets safe, how crash victims are affected, and how we can prevent future DUI crimes.

The series also features Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury lawyer Matt Clark, who shares his experience in representing DUI crash victims, and the suffering that they incur. Clark is a board member on MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board, and his law firm serves annually as the presenting sponsor for the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, which raises funds to help innocent victims of DUI crashes, helps raise awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and helps fund MADD Kern County programs.

Clark also serves as a speaker for the MADD Victim Impact Panel, a program that has victims and other DUI crime experts speak to first-time DUI offenders in an effort to prevent future and repeat DUI offenders. Clark also took part in a special Eyewitness News Victim Impact Panel segment that followed the five-part series.

To view each of the five parts in the Eyewitness News series and the special Victim Impact Panel segment, scroll down to “Media Coverage” section at the bottom of this post. Here is a breakdown of each of the parts:

 

Part I: Drunk Drivers in Kern County

Every day, drivers in Kern County are sharing the roads with drunk drivers. In fact, local officers arrested nearly 4,300 DUI drivers last year. And that’s just “a drop in the bucket” in terms of how many DUI drivers are actually driving on local streets, local officials say.

According to Eyewitness News, there are 15 DUI drivers on the road at any given moment, with a peak between midnight and 3 a.m., where are nearly 80 DUI drivers in Kern County. And each one of them is a tragedy waiting to happen.

 

Part II: Repeat offenders hardly punished

One of biggest problems involving DUI drivers is that state laws force our county to let them drive drunk over and over again.

In California, drunk drivers get a second chance, a third chance, and in many cases a fourth chance after they are caught before getting any real jail time. As Eyewitness News shows, in between those chances, they’re driving on Kern County’s roadways, and sometimes they claim lives.

Victims are left with little trust in the system, but want lawmakers to address and fix this problem.

 

Part III: Busting drunk drivers

For police, catching DUI drivers sometimes is like finding a needle in a haystack, and other times it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. The worry always is how many they are not able to catch.

The fact is, drunk drivers outnumber the police and officers can’t be everywhere at once. But local police use such strategies as check points, saturation patrols, and having every officer DUI-trained to catch DUI drivers. They also hope other motorists look out for DUI drivers and report them to police to keep other drivers safe. A 9-1-1 call with a location and partial plate could be the difference between a fatal crash, or a driver under the influence ending up behind bars.

After all, DUI is a community issue, which will take a community effort to stop it.

 

Part VI: The insurance myth

There is a myth that many victims of DUI crashes get rich in court. In fact, the opposite is true.

A combination of old insurance laws, minimal enforcement of those laws, and rising costs of medical care has created a new normal where DUI crash victims who live end up smothered in debt. In cases of death, victims’ families are sometimes left with nothing.

“Defendants in drunk driving cases often times have no insurance or far too little insurance to cover an injury or God forbid a death,” attorney Matt Clark explained.

Two major issues are at play. One, insurance companies and the DMV don’t communicate, making it too easy to drive without insurance. The second issue is the minimum coverage rates in California barely cover an ambulance ride to the hospital.

Clark suggests increasing your uninsured/under-insured-driver coverage on your policy.

 

Part V: Your choice

Many of the solutions to end DUI driving would take huge government action, including stiffer penalties. But one solution is in our hands: every single one of us deciding to make the right choice and help others make the right choice, too. Impaired driving, after all, is 100-percent preventable.

 

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MEDIA COVERAGE: KERN COUNTY UNDER THE INFLUENCE

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash due to the fault of a DUI driver, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Bakersfield’s 2018 ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’ – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raises over $65,000, brings together 1,000-plus in fight against DUI crimes

October 4, 2018 | 7:42 pm


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $65,000 in the process.

The fifth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by the Bakersfield-based accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Bringing out nearly 900 walkers and runners for this cause, plus hundreds more in attendance, the event featured a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K in what has become one of the largest fundraising walking and running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, outgoing Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green, and Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“This is one day our community can come together to remember those affected by DUI crimes, and advocate for a day with no more victims,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Our aim is to no longer have a day dedicated for this purpose. In the meantime, we hope everyone will dedicate the other 364 days of the year toward making sure they and their loves ones drive safe and sober always.”

Making the event possible were sponsors Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., Clinica Sierra Vista, Vince Fong for Assembly, Kern County Prosecutors Association, and Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, among many others.

From Chain | Cohn | Stiles, marketing director Jorge Barrientos serves as the event planning committee chairman, and also sits on the Board of Directors for the MADD Kern County Advisory Board. Attorney Matt Clark is also a board member, and for the event served as the awards ceremony emcee.

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

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Prayers for Jourdan
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Jourdan Bacot / Farnsworth
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Through August this year, CHP has investigated 260 crashes in Bakersfield where DUI was a primary factor, 9 of which resulted in fatalities. That’s at least one DUI crash per day. Additionally, Kern County is averaging more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised more than $300,000, including this year. It’s not too late to donate – donations are being accepted through October at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com to complete a contact form. 

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps local family affected by crash caused by alleged DUI driver

September 19, 2018 | 9:29 am


On Aug. 18, Bakersfield attorney Henry Noto allegedly got behind the wheel of his vehicle while under the influence, despite previously receiving two misdemeanors — in 2014 and 2016 — for DUI, according to news reports.

On this occasion, however, this decision caused severe injuries to several people when he failed to stop at a stop sign at on Highway 43 and struck another vehicle head on. He had a blood alcohol content of .16 percent at the time of the crash, according to CHP reports.

Noto, 62, was charged on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury in connection with the collision. According to news reports, Noto faces a felony with years of prison time.

Recently, The Bakersfield Californian spoke with Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark regarding the DUI crash that injured 26-year-old David Perez, who suffered substantial physical injuries, including a brain injury, when Noto crashed into his vehicle. Clark is assisting the Perez family in the civil case with charge, or pro bono.

The crash and case comes before the fifth Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash on Sept. 29, in which Chain | Cohn | Stiles is the presenting sponsor. The event aims to raise awareness of the DUI problem in Kern County, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

You can read more about Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ involvement in the civil case against Noto below. You can also listen to an interview with Clark on the Richard Beene Show by clicking here.

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By Jason Kotowski

A Bakersfield DUI attorney waived his preliminary hearing Monday and will stand trial in connection with an alleged drunken driving crash last month that injured four.

Also, new details have been released regarding the injuries suffered by one of the victims, a correctional officer whose vehicle was struck by attorney Henry Noto.

David Perez, 26, suffered “substantial” physical injuries including a brain injury, attorney Matthew C. Clark of civil law firm Chain Cohn Stiles said Monday.

“It’s going to be a long road for this young man,” he said.

The correctional officer is undergoing therapy at a local rehabilitation center. He can talk and carry on conversations, but Clark said it’s been his experience from representing others with head trauma that it takes time before the full extent of the injuries is known.

Perez had about 30 staples in his head after the crash, he said.

The firm is representing Perez pro bono and expects to soon file a lawsuit against Noto, Clark said. It’s likely they’ll be limited in what they can do for Perez, he said, because whatever money Noto has won’t be enough to pay for the officer’s treatment.

Noto, 62, failed to stop at a stop sign while exiting Interstate 5 at Highway 43 on Aug. 18, according to the California Highway Patrol. He hit Perez’s vehicle and pushed it into opposing lanes, where a third vehicle struck it.

The attorney and a female passenger, Heather Rush, 31, were also injured and taken to a local hospital. The driver of the third vehicle, 32-year-old Lucus Cotter, suffered moderate injuries but declined treatment, according to the CHP.

Noto’s blood-alcohol content was 0.16 percent, twice the legal driving limit, officers said. He’s charged with two felony DUI charges.

Court records show Noto has two prior DUI convictions, both for misdemeanors.

“It’s the same story over and over again,” Clark said. “A guy with multiple DUIs gets into another DUI accident and causes substantial life-changing injuries. It’s getting to be an old story.”

It’s especially troubling, Clark said, because Noto specializes in DUI cases.

“He practices an area of law where he’s fully aware of the risks of driving while intoxicated,” the attorney said. “And he did. He did it multiple times.

“There’s just no excuse for it.”

Noto’s next court hearing is Sept. 27. He remains in custody.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash caused by a DUI driver, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Kern County calls for ‘No More Victims’ with 2018 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 12, 2018 | 7:59 am


Kern County will come together on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield to proclaim “No More Victims.”

The fifth annual Bakersfield “Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash” – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds for local MADD Kern County educational programs, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

Each year, several innocent people die from crashes caused by people who choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Those local lives lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families – are affected from this 100 percent preventable crime. In addition, Kern County is averaging a shocking 11 DUI arrests per day. MADD Kern County – together with victims, local businesses and community supporters – join hands to do something about drunk driving in our community.

“We pray for a day when no one else is hurt in a crash caused by someone driving under the influence,” said David Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “To accomplish this, we need to have our roadways free of DUI drivers, and it’s up to all of us to make sure our friends and family members always drive sober. It’s time we proclaim, ‘No more victims’.”

Since 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising more than $250,000 through annual MADD Kern County events. The walk and runs bring together the entire community – surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

Victims of DUI crashes and their families, law enforcement, advocates and community leaders/members marching and running for the cause in a family-friendly event, with kid’s activities, fun run and costumed superheroes.

You can help by signing up for the 5K or 10K (walk or run), as a team captain, or volunteer. Parents: The event also features a free kid’s “fun run.” 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 its work with MADD Kern County, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions, including in 2018.

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.

To join Chain | Cohn | Stiles at the 2018 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, visit walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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MEDIA COVERAGE