Who We Are

On October 12, 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a partnership with the Los Angeles County Bar Association to create a new office, the Independent Juvenile Defender Program (IJDP). This program handles juvenile delinquency cases that present a conflict of interest for the Public Defender and the Alternate Public Defender. The IJDP administers and supports four panels of more than fifty individual attorneys who provide legal services on an hourly basis. The IJDP’s panel of attorneys were selected from a large pool of experienced and professional private lawyers who have expertise and a passion for working with juveniles. Our attorneys represent youth in all seven juvenile delinquency courts across Los Angeles County.

The IJDP’s Directing Attorney, Cyn Yamashiro, leads a staff of eight, including a writs and appeals attorney, resource attorney, forensic social worker, investigator, and four program coordinators. This team provides a variety of services, including appellate support and education and resource advocacy from the staff attorneys.  Training, curated resources and continuing legal education are all parts of our comprehensive support system. 

Staff Biographies

Directing Attorney
Cyn YamashiroCyn Yamashiro has dedicated his professional career to representing and serving individuals charged with crimes.  He studied Economics at UCLA before attending Law School at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.  He finished his career as a public defender as a long cause trial deputy and served as a trainer and supervised the juvenile office in Compton, CA. Cyn was recruited to Loyola Law School to create one of the first legal clinics on the West Coast dedicated to criminal defense.  At Loyola Law School, he taught courses in advanced criminal litigation skills, trial advocacy, criminal law and juvenile delinquency law.  He has commented on cases and trends in criminal and juvenile law for television, radio and print media and frequently lectures on criminal and juvenile delinquency law. He has published in the area of indigent defense delivery systems and how different systems affect dispositional outcomes. Cyn Yamashiro is L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas’ appointee to the Los Angeles County Probation Commission, where he served as president for two years.  He is also a member of the advisory board of the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy and was a founding member of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center and the Center for Juvenile Justice in Boulder Colorado.  He is currently a member of the board of Outward Bound Adventures. Prior to his appointment as the directing attorney of the IJDP, he was in private practice, representing clients in trial and appellate matters in state and federal court.
Appellate Attorney
Marketa Sims Marketa Sims is an experienced criminal defense attorney. She served for seventeen years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Western District of Pennsylvania, where she tried numerous cases, briefed and argued appeals, and provided training and assistance to the Criminal Justice Act panel. Most recently, Marketa served as a Deputy Public Defender for the Law Offices of the Los Angeles County Public Defender.  Marketa is a long term ACLU activist, serving as the George Slaff First Amendment Fellow for the ACLU of Southern California, as President and Program Chair of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, as a member of the Board of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and as a volunteer ACLU attorney.
Resource Attorney
Erik RodstromAs a clinical student, Erik Rodstrom participated in the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy Juvenile Justice Clinic, representing teens in juvenile delinquency and education disciplinary proceedings. Upon graduating from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, Erik represented teens and adults accused of criminal offenses for 8 years as a Deputy Los Angeles County Public Defender. Following his time with the Public Defender's office, Erik served as a Staff Attorney at the Los Angeles office of the Children's Law Center of California, representing children as minor's counsel in Juvenile Dependency proceedings. Now serving as our staff resource attorney, Erik supports LACBA Independent Juvenile Defense Attorneys with cases involving mental health, developmental disability, and other issues requiring access to supplemental resources.
Lead Investigator
Karin White Karin E. White is parlaying her twenty-two years as a police officer and her investigative experience with the Superior Court Panel of Investigators into her new role as Lead Investigator for the IJD Program. She has served as an expert for the Federal Public Defender’s Office and has been with the ICDA for fourteen years. She has extensive knowledge of the justice system as well as the landscape of investigation in Los Angeles County.
Forensic Social Worker
Danielle Tavasti-2 Danielle Tavasti earned her dual Masters in Social Work and Social Policy from Washington University in Saint Louis. As a social worker she is passionate about helping youth and families from her community in Los Angeles navigate the inequities within social services and the criminal legal system. Danielle’s experience in legislative and direct service sectors, has provided her the ability to effectively advocate for clients of all backgrounds on a variety of levels from mental health services to educational opportunities. She looks forward to continuing to make a difference with the IJDP Team.
Program Coordinator
Tracy AndradeTracy Andrade graduated from UC Irvine with a BA in Political Science and Chicano Studies. She has dedicated her post-graduate experience to working within the undocumented community. She continues to support immigration reform, while expanding her expertise into the world of criminal justice with the Independent Juvenile Defender Program at LACBA.
Program Coordinator
Shanice HawthorneShanice J. Hawthorne, Program Coordinator is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Delaware State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. She possesses an extensive background in youth development; demonstrating strong integrity and sound judgment. Shanice is committed to the efforts of the Independent Juvenile Defender Program of LACBA, its members, and the quality of representation for justice.
Program Coordinator
Zoe LoewenbergZoë Loewenberg comes to LA from New Haven, CT. She graduated from Yale with a BA in American Studies. She is excited to enter the public interest law world and is motivated to help underserved communities gain equal access to justice. Zoë’s previous experiences include paralegal work on a wrongful conviction case and tutoring incarcerated men. In the long term, she hopes to contribute to the advancement of a more humane criminal justice system. She is thrilled to join the IJDP, a team that is leading the way with innovative juvenile justice work.
Program Coordinator
Margot Parker-Elder Margot Parker-Elder recently graduated with a Master of Arts degree in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. Before pursuing a master's degree, she studied modern literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. At both institutions she's studied the relationship between politics and life. After graduating from the University of Chicago, Margot shifted her focus away from academia in favor of using her critical skills to advocate for social justice. She has experience working with detainees in Chicago as a legal assistant at a civil rights firm. Margot continues to support criminal justice reform while expanding her knowledge of juvenile justice with the Independent Juvenile Defender Program at LACBA.
View a list of our Executive Committee Members HERE