Sean Kennedy

Federal Public Defender Sean Kennedy '89 to Head Loyola’s Center for Juvenile Law & Policy

Sean Kennedy, the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California, will join Loyola Law School as the Kaplan and Feldman Executive Director of its Center for Juvenile Law and Policy (CJLP). His appointment will begin in August with the start of the 2014-15 academic year. 

Kennedy, a 1989 Loyola alumnus, becomes the second executive director of the CJLP. The center was founded in 2005 to foster systemic reform of the juvenile justice system through advocacy, research and dialogue. Since that time, its students have represented more than 300 youth clients in nearly 700 cases, contributing about 50,000 hours of pro bono service to the Los Angeles community.

At the CJLP’s Juvenile Justice Clinic, Loyola students represent youth clients in Los Angeles County criminal proceedings in conjunction with on-staff social workers and under the supervision of professors. The CJLP’s Youth Justice Education Clinic represents students to ensure they receive essential school services. The Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic represents clients sentenced as juveniles to life sentences and those with innocence claims. Additionally, the CJLP organizes symposia on reforming the juvenile justice system and makes policy recommendations. 

“With its focus on high-quality representation of children in delinquency proceedings and returning the juvenile justice system to its original purpose of rehabilitation, the CJLP is the perfect place to advocate for social change and inspire and train the next generation of public defenders and public interest lawyers,” said Kennedy. 

As an adjunct professor for more than 15 years, Kennedy has taught Appellate Advocacy and the Death Penalty Law Seminar at the Law School. He has coached the Byrne Trial Advocacy Team – himself a member of the Scott Moot Court Honors Board as a student. Additionally, he serves on the board of Loyola’s Advocacy Institute. 

Kennedy was appointed Federal Public Defender in 2006 after stints as chief of the office’s Capital Habeas Unit and as a deputy federal public defender. In that role, he supervises more than 240 employees, including 92 attorneys, and has continued to represent clients. His representation of death-row inmate Scott Lynn Pinholster in a petition for habeas corpus went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Kennedy argued for relief for his client based on ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.

In 2013, Kennedy was named Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year by the Los Angeles County Bar Association and received the Fidler Institute Award for Defense Lawyer of the Year from Loyola. He is a recipient of the Public Interest Award by Loyola’s Public Interest Law Foundation. Prior to working in public defense, Kennedy was an associate at Talcott, Lightfoot, Vandevelde, Woehrle & Sadowsky, LLP, where he handled white collar criminal defense cases. He graduated cum laude from Loyola Marymount University in 1986.