“We have one focus, one responsibility, one loyalty: our client.”
Cristina C. Arguedas, Retired
Former partner Cris Arguedas is recognized as one of the finest criminal defense lawyers in the United States. In her 20-plus years in private practice, she represented high-profile clients in some of the most visible cases around the country, as well as many little-known clients on relatively routine matters that never make the nightly news.
A New Jersey native, Cris graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers Law School in 1979. She came West to work on landmark battered-women’s cases, helped defend one of Patty Hearst’s kidnappers, and then landed a plum job as an assistant federal public defender in San Francisco—almost unheard-of in an office that had its pick of far more experienced lawyers. At 26, she stunned the federal court by filing suit, in conjunction with the Larry Layton-Jonestown massacre murder trial, to have the local grand jury selection process declared unconstitutional on racial grounds. While still a public defender, Cris met Penny Cooper, a Berkeley attorney who was a legend in the Bay Area criminal defense community, when they were trying cases in adjacent courtrooms. Both won, and in 1982, they decided to team up.
Across four decades, Cris represented dozens of high-profile clients—many of whom prefer to remain anonymous—charged with public corruption, securities fraud, intellectual-property theft, environmental offenses, sex crimes, drug manufacturing and trafficking, and murder, as well as hundreds of lesser-known individuals accused of far less serious crimes. In many instances, she persuaded prosecutors not to bring charges against a client or to drop the charges before—or even during—trial.
In recent years, Cris made a specialty of defending corporate officials at such companies as FedEx, Wells Fargo, Apple, Genentech, Enron, Tosco, British Petroleum, Avant!, and Critical Path. In 1995 she was invited to join the “Dream Team” defending O.J. Simpson on double-murder charges. Her job was to put Simpson through a grueling mock cross-examination to help the defense team determine whether he should testify in court. (He didn’t.)