Whitney Z. Bernstein
Whitney is an experienced criminal defense attorney who brings her competence, compassion, and tenacity to every case and client.
Whitney has spent her career representing clients charged with felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses. She is an aggressive litigator with a track record for achieving success for her clients when the odds are against them. Whitney earned her reputation as a credible, tireless, and respected advocate during her years as a trial attorney with the Federal Defenders of San Diego and with Brooklyn Defender Services. She has tried numerous felony and misdemeanor federal and state jury trials.
In addition to Whitney’s considerable courtroom and trial experience, she has drafted and argued countless suppression and discovery violation motions, negotiated favorable dispositions for her clients, and obtained numerous dismissals of charges. Whitney takes a very hands-on approach by involving herself in all aspects of case management, investigation, interviews, negotiations, and trial preparation. She has also successfully argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding interpretation and application of federal immigration laws.
Prior to her decision to specialize in criminal defense, she honed her research and writing skills by developing arguments in the seminal Supreme Court case on the unconstitutionality of warrantless GPS monitoring, assisting in lawsuits against the City of Philadelphia challenging the constitutionality of prison conditions, and drafting Reports and Recommendations on habeas petitions and employment discrimination claims for a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of New York.
In addition to her actual practice, while at the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., Whitney helped expand the office’s renowned training curriculum and supervised new trial attorneys. She also continues to train federal criminal defense practitioners at the local and national level. At her most recent training, she spoke on the emerging body of law on cell phones and the Fourth Amendment. Currently, Whitney proudly serves on the inaugural Advisory Board to the San Diego County Probation Department Chief, as a Lawyer Representative for the Southern District of California, and as a member of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association.
Prior to joining Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP, Whitney was a trial attorney for the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. Before that, she was a trial attorney for Brooklyn Defender Services in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School earning her J.D. and simultaneously earning her Master of Science in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Criminology. Whitney was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Law and Social Change and was awarded a Pro Bono Recognition of Outstanding Distinction for her service. As an undergraduate at Cornell University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government and Sociology with a concentration in Law and Society, she graduated with Distinction in All Subjects, Dean’s List, and was an active volunteer in the local community as a firefighter and teacher.
In 2020, Whitney was selected by Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” and recognized by Best Lawyers for her work in Criminal Defense: White Collar. In 2021, The National Trial Lawyers named Whitney as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Defense Trial Lawyers for her demonstrated superior qualifications, leadership skills, and trial results as a trial lawyer.
Super Lawyers ”Rising Star”
Named to Southern California Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” (no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in any state have this distinction)