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   2017 Clay Awards

“Our job is to help people in trouble. We think everyone deserves a chance. We hate the power of an abusive government to unfairly deprive people of their liberty. We fight back.”

Ted Cassman

Ted W. Cassman

Winner of the 2017 California Lawyer of the Year award for “extraordinary achievement in white collar criminal defense,” and named one of the Best Lawyers in America every year since 2003 and a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2004, Ted Cassman enjoys a statewide reputation as a dedicated and zealous criminal defender.  A seasoned trial lawyer with decades of experience in both the federal and state courts, Ted is one of those rare trial attorneys who is as comfortable with the pen as he is in the courtroom.  He is a constitutional law and appellate expert whose prodigious memory and keen eye for detail make him as formidable behind the scenes as he is in front of a jury.

Together with Raphael Goldman, Ted served as co-lead counsel and successfully represented Liang Chen in the trial of United States v. Liang Chen, et al., N.D. Cal. No. 17-cr-603 (BLF).  In late 2017, Dr. Chen and three other men were charged federal court with conspiring to steal trade secrets from a large Silicon Valley corporation.  After a month-long jury trial in the summer of 2021, the court entered a judgment of acquittal on all counts against Dr. Chen.

Ted was co-counsel in the law firm’s successful five year defense of FedEx which culminated in the prosecution’s dismissal of the 18 count indictment after one week of trial.  United States v. FedEx Corp., No. 14-cr-380 (CRB).  The government’s surrender resulted from the meticulous development of defense evidence as well as the pre-trial motions which dismissed counts and limited prosecution evidence.  Ted played a leading role in every aspect of the case.

Recently, Ted led an internal investigation of a Silicon Valley company and has routinely represented high-level executives, including Rule 16 officers, in such investigations.  Ted’s other recent cases include allegations of federal money laundering, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, mail and wire fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, off-label marketing, environmental and antitrust offenses, and trade secrets theft. His practice also spans a broad spectrum in the state courts, including drug trafficking, sexual assault, juvenile matters, arson, manslaughter and murder.  Whenever possible, Ted’s focus is to use his legal skills to help his clients successfully avoid prosecution altogether.

Together with Raphael Goldman, Ted is responsible for the firm’s appellate practice.  Over the years, he has had remarkable success persuading both the state and federal courts to overturn numerous unfair rulings and verdicts against his clients.  Many of the cases in which Ted served as lead appellate attorney have resulted in published appellate opinions, setting important precedent for other state and federal courts.  Ted has appeared before the California Supreme Court, and he wrote the briefs in U.S. v. Merchant, a case in which the firm prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court on important Fourth Amendment issues.

Ted writes or participates in virtually all of the legal motions that help the ACHG team shape their defense strategy in every case.  If there is a flaw in the charges or a hole in the prosecution’s case that will bring victory before the case goes to trial, Ted will find it.  “In pretty much every case I’ve ever won,” says Cris Arguedas, who has worked with him since the mid-1980s, “it’s because Ted has gotten some evidence excluded, or a favorable jury instruction, or won a set of evidentiary points.”

Over the years, Ted has also been extremely active in the California criminal defense bar, notably as a member of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.  In 2009, he served as President of CACJ. In 2010 and 2011, Ted was a member of CACJ’s Executive Committee and was President of the CACJ Foundation. Ted is also co-author of CACJ’s weekly email update of important developments in criminal defense law.

See notable cases.


A Los Angeles native, Ted graduated from Stanford University in 1977 with honors and Phi Beta Kappa.  He earned his law degree from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, graduating Order of the Coif in 1981.  After law school, Ted clerked for the Honorable Edward J. Schwartz, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in San Diego.  He then spent two years as an associate of Ephraim Margolin, a nationally renowned criminal defense and appellate attorney based in San Francisco.

Ted joined the firm in 1984 and became a partner in 1987.  His clients have included the former prime minister of Ukraine (international money laundering charges), the financial manager for a former U.S. Attorney General (racketeering charges), FedEx Corp., CEOs and other Officers or Directors of publicly traded corporations, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, numerous celebrities and professional athletes, and hundreds of other people accused of every kind of crime in state or federal court.  In addition to representing clients throughout California, he has handled cases in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Tennessee, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, South Dakota, Ohio, New Mexico, Delaware and Washington D.C.

Honors and Awards

  • 2017 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (“CLAY”) award
  • Named one of the Best Lawyers in America since 2003
  • Named a Northern California Super Lawyer since 2004

His Philosophy


At every stage of a criminal case, motions are often the key to winning—a fact that many defense attorneys overlook or simply lack the skill to use to their advantage.  Ted, on the other hand, has decades of experience winning important, often decisive motions based on constitutional, procedural, and evidentiary law, which he employs in every case he handles.

Time after time, Ted has won cases outright or dramatically improved the prospects for a client’s victory at trial by prevailing on pretrial motions to dismiss for insufficiencies in the indictment, to suppress evidence following an illegal search or wiretap, or to exclude evidence from the trial.  He has also had extraordinary success persuading judges to give jury instructions favorable to his clients.


Like every other member of the firm, Ted believes that the client is the most important aspect of every case and that preparation, commitment, and hard work are the keys to success.  Ted believes that getting to know the client and understanding the context of the charge are essential to the effective defense of every case.

His clients, in turn, praise his dedication and compassion.


Ted is a true rarity—a big-picture thinker and strategist who pays close attention to every single tree in the forest.

Often he finds the key that breaks a case wide open by intensively interviewing clients, visiting crime scenes, or conducting a personal investigation of crucial witnesses.  By scrutinizing statutes and case law, examining evidence and court documents, and reinvestigating prosecution claims, he frequently shows that an ACHG client is not guilty.


Many defense attorneys lack the expertise or vision to see beyond the here and now.  In contrast, because of his extensive appellate experience, Ted is always planning for the possibility that a case will be reviewed by a higher court—and always taking steps to protect his clients’ future interests.

“He has an amazing ability to see how something he does or argues now is going to play out in a couple of years on appeal—to actually create a strategy around that,” a fellow ACH attorney says.  “He’s like a chess player who can see an entire match in his head before he makes a single move.”


While ACHG attorneys have a reputation for being especially persistent, Ted—perhaps because of his appellate experience—is in a league of his own.  Dogged, committed, and ever optimistic, he never gives up on a case, even when the odds seem insurmountable.

Bar Admissions

  • U.S. District Courts: Northern District of California, Southern District of California, Central District of California, Eastern District of California, Western District of Washington, and Southern District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals: Second Circuit, Ninth Circuit and Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1986
  • California State Bar, December 1981

Professional Activities

  • Co-Chair, Judiciary Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco, 2020
  • Member, Judiciary Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco, 2019 to present
  • Lawyer Representative for the Northern District of California (2014 – 2017)
  • President, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (2009)
  • Executive Committee, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (2010-2011)
  • National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member
  • California Public Defenders’ Association, Member
  • Criminal Justice Executive Committee for the Bar Association of San Francisco (2011 – present)
  • Northern District Historical Society, Member

Publications and Lectures

  • Panelist, Operation Varsity Blues, Bar Association of San Francisco, September 15, 2020
  • Co-author, CACJ Flash, a weekly update for California defense lawyers concerning important developments in criminal law.
    Co-author, “Constitutionalizing Objections in the Post-Crawford and Davis World”
  • The Forum magazine, October, 2007
    “The Road to Stogner v. Calfornia: An Interview with Roberto Najera”
    The Forum magazine, December 2003
  • “The Supreme Test: Roberto Najera’s Remarkable Journey to Victory in the Stogner Case” (editor)
    The Forum magazine, December 2003
  • “Federal Motions That Do It All: Get What You Need, Educate the Judge, Keep the Government on the Sidelines and Even Pay Your Bills”
    Speaker, National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Spring Meeting and Seminar, “Advocacy Techniques— Masters’ Course”
    San Francisco, March 1999
  • “An Unwarranted Extension of the ‘Good Faith’ Exception”
    The Recorder, March 22, 1995
  • “New Developments in California Forfeiture Law”
    Speaker, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice—Spring Seminar
    San Diego, May 1994
  • “When Government Requests in Mid-trial that Defense Witnesses Be ‘Mirandized’ and Apprised of Their Rights”
    Prosecutorial Discretion, California Criminal Law Practice Series Jan./Feb. 1984 at 32, Supplement, December 1983
  • “Deconsolidating the Work Preservation Doctrine: Dolphin-Associated Transport”
    Industrial Relations Law Journal, 1981