While no two cases are exactly alike and outcomes can never be guaranteed, our firm prides itself in its strong track record of winning major cases.
Spolin & Dukes P.C.’s founder, Aaron Spolin, is a former prosecutor and award-winning criminal appeals attorney. He is an author on various criminal law topics and has achieved successful outcomes on hundreds of criminal cases (which includes his time as a prosecutor), including numerous dismissals of major felony cases; non-criminal resolutions to complex fraud and insurance fraud defense cases; successful appellate outcomes from the Court of Appeal and the state Supreme Court; and multiple not-guilty jury verdicts at trial. Innocent Spolin & Dukes clients wrongfully accused of murder and other serious crimes are now free because of his work.
Before becoming a criminal appeals attorney, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, Bronx County. At the District Attorney’s Office, Aaron was assigned to the economic crimes bureau, where he managed some of the office’s more complex cases. He also served as trial counsel on a high-profile murder case, which he won, that was prosecuted in conjunction with the office’s Gangs and Major Cases bureau. Throughout his career, Aaron has also filed hundreds of legal motions regarding suppression of evidence and Constitutional rights.
Aaron received his B.A. from Princeton University and his J.D. from U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). He is a former member of California Law Review. Aaron is also the author of the book Witness Misidentification in Criminal Trials and co-author of the Harvard Law School Public Interest Office’s advocacy guide Serving Immigrants and Refugees. Prior to serving as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, Aaron worked for the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley, California, and for federal judge Shira Scheindlin in the Southern District of New York. He is admitted to practice law throughout the states of California, Texas, New York, and Michigan, as well as various federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.
Attorney Caitlin Dukes is a former prosecutor who handles criminal appeals, writs, and other post-conviction relief for the firm’s clients. She has a wide array of experience in state and federal courts. Besides having served as a Deputy District Attorney, her background includes work for multiple judges and government entities (including Federal District Court Judge James Knoll Gardner and the United States Department of Homeland Security) as well as private sector experience defending clients wrongfully accused of crimes.
Ms. Dukes’s primary goal on any given case is to identify the strongest arguments, clearly and succinctly present these arguments to the judge or fact-finder, keep the clients informed of the progress, and fight to win in court. One of her recent wins for Spolin & Dukes involved overturning a murder conviction for an innocent client. She received her J.D. degree from Widener Law School and her bachelor degree from the University of Buffalo. She is admitted to practice law in California and New York.
Read the media coverage of Ms. Dukes’ promotion to partner and her track record in criminal appeals.
Attorney Jeremy Cutcher is an experienced criminal law attorney with a record of successful outcomes. He handles criminal appeals, writs of habeas corpus, commutation applications, and other forms of post-conviction relief for the firm’s clients. Prior to joining Spolin & Dukes P.C., he worked for the San Luis Obispo Defender’s Office and for Justice Marvin Baxter on the California Supreme Court.
Mr. Cutcher’s clients at the firm notice how personally involved he gets into each case he handles. He understands that behind each case is an individual with a personal story and loved ones. His goal is to humanize every client and give them a voice that so often goes unheard. Having been a criminal defense trial attorney, he understands the intricacies of the trial process, and that insight fuels his passion for appellate work. Mr. Cutcher received his BA from California Polytechnic State University and his law degree from UC Davis School of Law where he was a senior editor on Law Review.
Attorney Don Nguyen has nearly thirty years of experience in criminal law. He started his career in the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office in the early 1990s and has been fighting for the wrongfully-accused ever since. Mr. Nguyen strives to make sure the firm’s clients know that they are listened to and heard. He goes out of his way to explain to clients—and their families—what is occurring in court and what Spolin & Dukes’s strategies are to get a successful outcome. Indeed, Mr. Nguyen often has some of the best insights into how difficult cases can be fought and won.
Mr. Nguyen has J.D. and bachelor degrees from Southern California Institute of Law and Iowa State University respectively. Mr. Nguyen originally came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam. He knows what it feels like to be the underdog and to struggle. This past experience helps him to understand the firm’s clients, many of whom have faced serious difficulties in their pasts. Mr. Nguyen’s strong ability to relate to other people is part of why he is so successful in communicating with fact-finders, like judges. He is admitted to practice law in California and Iowa courts.
Annette Gifford serves as an attorney at Spolin & Dukes P.C. She has represented clients in a variety of contexts for over 15 years. She has obtained successful outcomes for clients in both state and federal courts, including in connection with reversing or vacating convictions before multiple circuits of the United States Circuit Courts of Appeal. Ms. Gifford’s primary work for Spolin & Dukes clients includes post-trial direct appeals and writs of habeas corpus. She received her B.S. degree from Cornell University and her J.D. from Cornell Law School and is licensed to practice law in California and New York.
Attorney Matthew Delgado serves as Of Counsel at Spolin & Dukes P.C. He has a reputation as one of the top in-court advocates in Southern California. Mr. Delgado is a master of courtroom criminal procedure and has a strong record of winning hearings and other court proceedings for Spolin & Dukes P.C. clients. He also has an impressive track record of negotiating case dismissals, winning legal motions, and achieving other favorable outcomes on a wide array of cases, including post-conviction matters. Mr. Delgado has a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, criminal law concentration, and a B.A. in Criminal Justice from California State University, Fullerton. He is the author of numerous articles on California criminal law topics.
The legal research team advises and assists the Spolin & Dukes P.C. attorneys in order for the firm to provide the highest quality arguments in the course of its representation. While each member of the legal research team is an attorney admitted in a non-California jurisdiction, the team members do not provide legal advice to clients; their role is to assist the firm’s attorneys.
Dan DeMaria serves as the head of the Legal Research Team at Spolin & Dukes P.C. He is an award-winning advocate who has handled over a hundred criminal cases in state and federal court prior to joining the firm, including numerous state and federal criminal appeals. Throughout his legal career Mr. DeMaria has served as a criminal law attorney on a wide range of cases including: racketeering, theft of trade secrets, mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, conspiracy, computer fraud, credit card fraud, firearms, assault, kidnapping, larceny, robbery, burglary, immigration offenses, and money laundering. He is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 2015, Mr. DeMaria was recognized as one of the attorneys among the “Top 40 Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers Association.
Spolin & Dukes P.C. has a team of dedicated staff and third-party contractors who help deliver high-quality service to the firm’s clients. We are committed to achieving the highest possible success rate for each client while also treating all clients with respect and dignity.
Danie Martin, the firm’s Law Office Manager, has over ten years of experience working as a trial assistant and office manager in a criminal defense law firm. She is extremely capable, organized, and committed to Spolin & Dukes’s goals of client service and maximizing positive outcomes. Gina Faris serves as the primary paralegal for Spolin & Dukes P.C., assisting the legal research team in drafting and preparing legal documents and providing other support as needed. Marti Wise is the firm’s senior case manager, assisting with evaluating and determining which cases and clients are an appropriate fit for the firm and providing client support and communication to ensure matters are handled promptly. Michelle Runge, the firm’s case manager, also provides the same level of services and assistance with cases and clients.
Spolin & Dukes P.C.’s preferred investigators are Lisa DeBenedittis and Frank Mackey, who are independent contractors retained by Spolin & Dukes on a case-by-case basis. Mr. Mackey has testified in court for Spolin & Dukes P.C. clients on multiple occasions. He has over 30 years of experience investigating criminal cases and is a member of the Superior Court Panel of Licensed Investigators. Ms. DeBenedittis handles private investigation matters on various post-conviction cases throughout the country and is particularly skilled at locating and interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, and drafting reports that can be helpful for writs of habeas corpus.
The criminal appeals lawyers at Spolin & Dukes P.C. contract with other outside investigators and experts when such help will strengthen a client’s case. Private investigators and analysts can examine crime scenes, interview witnesses, and analyze physical evidence to find material that the prosecution may have potentially withheld or material that can support an actual-innocence claim. Moreover, subject-matter experts (including, for example, psychiatrists or forensic accountants) can testify at hearings to counter the prosecution’s experts and provide a more balanced opinion of the issues at stake.