Carl Gunn is of counsel at Kaye, McLane and Bednarski, L.L.P. He specializes in criminal appellate litigation, and also makes himself available as co-counsel or assistant counsel for criminal motions and sentencing litigation in trial courts. Carl worked in Federal Public Defender offices for over 28 years, mostly in the Los Angeles office, but also in the Tacoma, Washington office for 3 years and the Alaska office as a visiting defender for 4 months. Carl was a supervising attorney for most of his years in the Los Angeles office, where he developed a training program for new attorneys and trained and mentored most of the new attorneys who came through the office while he was there.
Carl has tried over 75 cases in federal district court and argued over 100 appeals in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, including three en banc arguments. He has also argued in the United States Supreme Court and was designated to argue the constitutionality of the sentencing guidelines before the District Court for the Central District of California sitting en banc, in United States v. Ortega-Lopez, et al., 684 F. Supp. 1506 (C.D. Cal. 1988). Noteworthy Ninth Circuit cases in which he was counsel and prevailed include United States v. Blanton, 476 F.3d 767 (9th Cir. 2007); United States v. Williams, 435 F.3d 1148 (9th Cir. 2006); United States v. Wenner, 351 F.3d 969 (9th Cir. 2003); United States v. Bancalari, 110 F.3d 1425 (9th Cir. 1997); United States v. Bishop, 959 F.2d 820 (9th Cir. 1992); and United States v. Frazier, 772 F.2d 1451 (9th Cir. 1985). In another case in which the opinion was not published – United States v. Diaz-Guerrero, 132 F. App'x 739 (9th Cir. 2005) – Carl obtained the reversal of a conviction for illegal reentry by a deported alien based on a citizenship defense, and the defendant was subsequently recognized as a United States citizen.
Carl is a member of both the California and Washington state bars, multiple federal district court bars, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and District of Columbia Circuits, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a 1977 graduate of Pomona College, where he was magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and a 1982 graduate of Stanford Law School, where he also excelled academically. He clerked for Justice Robert F. Utter on the Washington State Supreme Court after graduating and went immediately into Federal Public Defender practice after that clerkship. He was included in the first group of recipients of the Association of Federal Defenders Outstanding Assistant Federal Defender Award when that award was created in 1997.
Carl has written multiple articles on various federal criminal law topics, co-authored a book chapter on firearms offenses and sentencing, and made multiple CLE presentations on various federal criminal law topics. Carl is also known as a resource and advocate in creative and cutting edge criminal defense issues. Ninth Circuit cases in which he proudly "pushed the envelope" include not only the ones listed above in which he prevailed, but also:
• United States v. Stanley, 653 F.3d 946 (9th Cir. 2011) and United States v. Hill, 459 F.3d 966 (9th Cir. 2006) in which Carl raised cutting edge issues in the new and developing area of computer searches.
• United States v. Waters, 648 F.3d 1114 (9th Cir. 2011) and United States v. Paulk, 569 F.3d 1094 (9th Cir. 2009) in which Carl attempted to obtain relief under new ameliorative crack guidelines amendments despite the view of the vast majority of attorneys and scholars that defendants of the types in those cases were ineligible for such relief.
• United States v. Howard, reported first at 429 F.3d 843 (9th Cir. 2005), reversed on rehearing at 463 F.3d 999 (9th Cir. 2006), and then amended at 480 F.3d 1005 (9th Cir. 2007), in which Carl challenged the inhumane and grossly offensive policy of keeping defendants shackled in both handcuffs and leg irons during their actual court appearances.
• United States v. Rojas-Flores, 384 F.3d 775 (9th Cir. 2004), in which Carl argued that a sharpened piece of metal possessed in prison was not a "weapon" and so required proof of a more culpable state of mind than would otherwise be required.
• United States v. Banuelos-Rodriguez, 173 F.3d 741 (9th Cir. 1999), rev'd en banc, 215 F.3d 969 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc), in which Carl argued – initially successfully – for sentencing guidelines departures based on the disparity created by offering illegal reentry defendants in other districts a "fast track" program but not offering the program in the Central District of California.
• United States v. Ballek, 170 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 1999), in which Carl argued that a conviction for failure to pay child support that was premised on the defendant choosing not to work when he was able to do so violated the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition of involuntary servitude.
• United States v. Sahhar, 917 F.2d 1197 (9th Cir. 1990) ("Sahhar I") and United States v. Sahhar, 56 F.3d 1026 (9th Cir. 1994) ("Sahhar II"), in which Carl challenged the constitutionality of a federal statute allowing the potential lifetime civil commitment of a defendant never convicted because he was found incompetent to stand trial.
In his spare time, Carl enjoys backpacking in the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Northwest, and has been lucky enough to add treks and backpack trips in Alaska, Switzerland, and Patagonia.