Luis Carrillo is an experienced and well-known civil rights attorney having practiced law for over 41 years. Mr. Carrillo is a partner of the Carrillo Law Firm, LLP where he practices law alongside his son. Mr. Carrillo has handled countless high-profile cases over the years and is called upon by local and national media outlets to provide legal commentary on a variety of cases. In June 2016, the Daily Journal published a section featuring the top 30 plaintiff’s attorneys and Mr. Carrillo was selected as one of the Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California for 2016. He started with humble beginnings attending East Los Angeles College and then transferring to UCLA to complete his undergraduate studies. His advocacy for the Latino community began in earnest in the 1960’s and 1970’s when he advocated on behalf of the students of East LA high schools during the Walkouts which were protests aimed against the unequal conditions of the Los Angeles Unified School District high schools.
After UCLA, he and his wife moved to South America where he taught History and English at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. It was after some time in South America that he moved to northern California where he attended UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law. After law school, he passed the California State Bar and began his career in law. His advocacy for his clients and relentless pursuit of justice has earned him recognition throughout the country as a champion for justice and tireless advocate for the under-served Latino community. He continues that fight today on behalf of the community.
Some of his recent high profile cases include:
- Rampart Scandal, Los Angeles, CA (2000) – Former Los Angeles Police Department officers from the Rampart Division confessed to fabricating evidence and framing Mr. Carrillo’s client, Javier Ovando. In that case, Mr. Ovando was framed by LAPD officers and was convicted of assaulting the two officers and was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Mr. Ovando’s case was overturned following a writ of habeas corpus filed by the District Attorney’s office. Mr. Carrillo was a part of the legal team who represented Mr. Ovando and who settled with the city for the largest police misconduct case in history at the time for $15,000,000.00. Mr. Carrillo also settled other cases against the city for the actions of these police officers who were later convicted of fabricating evidence, falsifying charges, etc.
- Macarthur Park Melee, Los Angeles, CA (2007) – On May 1, 2007, Los Angeles Police Department officers attacked peaceful protestors and news media gathered for a demonstration. Mr. Carrillo represented 40 demonstrators who sued the city of Los Angeles for the actions of the LAPD and was part a $12,850,000.00 settlement in that case which was procured through multiple rounds of settlement conferences. The LAPD changed its training regarding crowd control and baton strikes.
- In Re Francisco M., 86 Cal.App.4th 1061 (2001). The Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5 of California remanded the case in which Mr. Carrillo represented a minor by the name of Jesus G. Mr. Carrillo had filed a writ of habeas corpus to attempt to secure the release of his client. Jesus G. had been detained as a witness under Penal Code Section 1332, which granted the Court authority to detain a material witness. Mr. Carrillo successfully argued that the matter should be remanded for the Court to conduct a hearing to determine whether the continued detention of his client was warranted under Section 1332 and the Court of Appeal made specific recommendations for trial courts to follow when material witnesses are held pursuant to Penal Code Section 1332.
- Elio Carrion Shooting, San Bernardino County, CA (2009) – Mr. Carrillo was also a part of the case of Air Force service member Elio Carrion versus the County of San Bernardino. There his client, an Air Force Senior Airman who served in Iraq, was shot three times in 2006 by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ivory Webb. Video footage shot by a bystander showed that Carrion was on the ground when the deputy told him to get up. When he attempted to stand up, Webb shot him three times. Fortunately his client fully recovered. In that case, Mr. Carrillo was able to procure a $1,500,000.00 settlement on August 3, 2009 on behalf of his client.
- Miramonte Case v. LAUSD (2014) – Mr. Carrillo represented multiple child sexual abuse victims in the case entitled A.M. v. Los Angeles Unified School District, (Miramonte) wherein he represented 25 former students of Mark Berndt and 15 of their parents. Mark Berndt was arrested on January 30, 2012 and was charged with 23 counts of felony violation of Penal Code § 288(a), lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14. In November, 2013, Mark Berndt pled no contest and is currently serving a 25-year term in state prison. For more than 20-years Berndt used his influence and position as a teacher to take many students from the After School Program to his classroom where he would take photographs of the children eating cookies with a white milky substance that Sheriff’s investigators believed was semen. Mark Berndt also forced children to eat a spoon containing a liquid substance that resembled semen; and he would take photographs of the children with the spoons in their mouths. Mark Berndt would also take photographs of the children who were blind-folded and had roaches covering their faces. This was all done for his sexual gratification. After protracted litigation and after jury selection had commenced, the LAUSD agreed to settle the entire case for $139,000,000.00.
- Other recent settlements and verdicts against school districts that have included:
- Does v. LAUSD (George de la Torre Elementary – 2016) – $9.9 million settlement for the sexual abuse of three elementary school students by their teacher.
- Doe v. Centinela Valley Union High School District (2016) – $1.5 million settlement on behalf of a special needs student who was molested by her teacher’s assistant.
- Doe v. El Monte Union High School District (2019) – $5 million verdict on behalf of a Plaintiff for her sexual abuse by her teacher at Arroyo High School.
- Doe v. LAUSD (Cahuenga Elementary- 2019) – $ 11 million settlement paid by the LAUSD for the molestation of 9 minor girls by an afterschool program coach at Cahuenga Elementary School.
- Doe v. LAUSD (El Sereno Elementary – 2019) – $4 million settlement paid by the LAUSD for the molestation of 10 minor girls who were molested by a teacher at El Sereno Elementary School.
- D.Z. v. LAUSD (2019) – In D.Z. v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 210, the plaintiff’s high school teacher, James Shelburne, sexually abused our client. At trial, our office was severely limited in terms of the evidence that we could present as the trial judge excluded all escalating misconduct and non-touching evidence (grooming evidence). Additionally, the trial court limited vicarious liability to only the principal at the time of the sexual abuse and disregarded prior administrator’s negligence. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the judge committed reversible error in excluding substantial notice evidence that showed an escalation of conduct. The Court of Appeal also held that the trial court committed reversible error by limiting the verdict form to only include the administrator that was there when the abuse finally came to light.
- K.J. v. LAUSD (2019) In K.J. v. L.A. Unified Sch. Dist., S241057 (Cal. Jan. 30, 2020) the California Supreme Court ruled on Mr. Carrillo’s behalf against the Los Angeles Unified School District. In that case, the LAUSD accused Mr. Carrillo of interfering with an Independent Medical Exam of a 10 year old girl who had been sexually attacked in a school bathroom by an adult male. The LAUSD sought a jail sanction and monetary sanctions against attorney Luis Carrillo. The Court of Appeal overturned the jail sanction and the only issue remaining was the monetary sanctions. The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal who had determined that attorney Luis Carrillo didn’t have standing to seek an appeal when the trial court had ordered him to pay sanctions. The sanctions arose from his efforts to save a child from the re-traumatization of having to describe again, to a male doctor hired by the District, the specific details of her sexual abuse. The child had already been questioned by the attorney for the District in a deposition and she had painfully described the sexual abuse in detail to counsel for the LAUSD.
J.D. Boalt Hall School of Law at University of California, Berkeley
B.A. Political Science, University of California Los Angeles