San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office is proud the announce the recipients of the 2007 Gideon Award: Nina Wilder, Eileen Burke and Christopher Gauger. The Gideon Award is presented annually by the Public Defender’s Office to members of the criminal defense bar, both public and private, in honor of their commitment to excellent criminal defense.

The Gideon Award is named in honor of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, decided in 1963, which first articulated the right to appointed counsel in felony cases. The award will be presented during the Public Defender’s Office Annual Holiday Party at 5:30 p.m. on December 5, 2007.

According to Public Defender Jeff Adachi, “Nina, Eileen and Chris each embody the attributes to which all criminal defense lawyers aspire – integrity, diligence, and courage. They have distinguished themselves through the consistent high quality of their work and the dedication with which they approach every case and every client.”

Nina Wilder, a partner of Weinberg & Wilder, practices mainly federal criminal defense, including trial, appellate and habeas law. She is on the federal appointment panel in all three areas of practice. Nina also practices forfeiture law at both state and federal levels, and represents taxpayers in administrative and criminal tax proceedings.

Nina recently won a federal habeas petition for a state prisoner, Crossan Hoover, who has served 25 years on a first-degree murder conviction for a crime he committed when he was 17 years old. The ground for granting the habeas petition was prosecutorial misconduct by Marin District Attorney Ed Berberian who was the trial prosecutor. She is attempting to get Crossan released pending the 9th Circuit appeal. Nina currently co-represents capital defendant, Robert Cowan, in his direct appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Nina worked with the Public Defender’s Office, the ACLU, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and other defense attorneys on the two San Francisco gang injunction lawsuits filed against members of the alleged Oakdale Mob and the Norteño gang.

Nina has been on the faculty of the Stanford Trial Advocacy program since 1999 and has taught Moot Court at Hastings since 2002. Nina is also a former board member and Chair of Women Defenders. Nina is a graduate of New College of California and has an LL.M. in Taxation from Golden Gate University.

Eileen Burke is a solo practitioner in San Francisco whose practice includes criminal defense, civil rights, plaintiff’s personal injury with the group from and employment discrimination. Eileen has tried over 40 criminal cases to jury, 39 of which resulted in not guilty verdicts, guilty verdicts on minor counts or hung juries that were later dismissed.

Most recently Eileen represented alleged gang member Sala Thorn, who was acquitted of two counts of felony drug trafficking after she exposed the details of a botched four-month investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and destroyed their key informant’s credibility on the stand. In the last three years, Eileen has also tried two murder cases, resulting in acquittals, and a rape case, resulting in acquittal and hung verdicts.

Prior to starting her practice, Eileen gained trial experience as a volunteer with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. Eileen is a graduate of California State University at Chico and the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Christopher Gauger is the Managing Attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender Research Unit. Hired in 1983, Christopher worked as a Deputy Public Defender for 12 years litigating over 60 trials, including homicide, robbery, sexual assault, and drug possession. Between 1995 and 1998 he specialized in juvenile law, providing representation to youth in criminal proceeding and helping to develop, initiate, and raise funds for SF’s first juvenile drug court.

Most recently Christopher worked with attorneys from the ACLU, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and private counsel in challenging the gang injunction lawsuit filed against members of several alleged Western Addition District gangs. At the preliminary injunction hearing, he represented a 19-year-old woman named in the lawsuit and successfully persuaded the judge not to enjoin her.

Christopher currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Northern California Service League and is a past board member of the San Francisco Juvenile Drug Court. He edited Chapter 53 in California Criminal Law Procedure and Practice, “Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings,” Continuing Education of the Bar, 5th Edition (1999). Christopher is a graduate of UC San Diego and the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Previous recipients of the Gideon Award have included Deputy Public Defender Daro Inouye, Carol Woods, Director of the San Francisco Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service, Tony Serra and Fred Smith, who was honored posthumously.

The mission of the Public Defender’s office is to provide vigorous, effective, competent and ethical legal representation to persons who are accused of crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney. Established in 1921, the San Francisco Public Defender has a long, proud history of providing top-notch representation to its clients, and championing programs that help people turn their lives around.



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