News from the SDAP Board of Directors:
Sacher Succeeds Kresser as Executive Director

Michael Kresser had notified the SDAP Board of Directors of his decision to retire on May 14, 2012, when turned 62. Mr. Kresser served as Executive Director of SDAP since the organization’s founding in 1988. A 1975 graduate of Stanford Law School, Mr. Kresser began his legal career in 1976 as a Santa Clara County Public Defender. While on leave from that job, he was a Judicial Attorney at the California Supreme Court from 1980-1982. In 1985, he left the Public Defender Office to become Chief Appellate Attorney of Conflicts Administration Program, which had been awarded the contract to provide appointed counsel administrative services to the newly created Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose. Mr. Kresser played a prominent role in the creation of the Sixth District Appellate Program as a nonprofit corporation whose mission was devoted solely to the provision of effective representation to indigent parties who received appointed counsel in criminal appeals in the Sixth District Court of Appeal. Others prominent in the creation of SDAP were Sixth District Presiding Justice Nat Agliano and Palo Alto appellate practitioner Gerald Z. Marer, who became the first Chair of the SDAP Board, serving until 1998.

Mr. Kresser has had numerous published appellate court wins in his career, including a 1982 decision in which the California Supreme Court ruled part of the death penalty law void for vagueness, and a 2004 decision by that court which threw out a juvenile court finding that a high school student’s poem constituted a criminal threat. He has been a fierce critic of prosecutorial misconduct, and was a major source for the San Jose Mercury News 2006 series on the Santa Clara County criminal justice system “Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice” and the 2008 series on child dependency courts, “Broken Families, Broken Courts.”

The SDAP Board of Directors selected Assistant Executive Director Dallas Sacher to succeed Kresser as Executive Director. Mr. Sacher is a 1981 graduate of Santa Clara Law School. He began his practice of law as a Judicial Attorney for the Fifth District Court of Appeal. After a brief period as a civil appellate practitioner in Los Angeles, Mr. Sacher joined the private counsel panel of SDAP’s predecessor agency in 1985 and its staff in 1986. He was an original member of SDAP’s attorney staff, was promoted to Senior Staff Attorney in 1994 and Assistant Director in 1998. Mr. Sacher has also been an active litigator and has argued six cases in the California Supreme Court. In addition to prevailing in several published Court of Appeal cases, Mr. Sacher has twice secured habeas corpus relief which has resulted in the reversal of life sentences imposed under the Three Strikes law. He writes and lectures frequently on numerous criminal law issues, particularly those involving errors in jury instructions.

The Board also selected William Robinson to become the new Assistant Director. Mr. Robinson is a 1980 graduate of UC Davis Law School. He began his career as a trial attorney in San Francisco, but began increasingly to concentrate on appellate criminal defense. He was an original member of the SDAP panel of private attorneys, and joined the staff in 1998. Mr. Robinson has enjoyed great success as an appellate litigator, including a 1998 California Supreme Court decision in a murder appeal concerning aider and abettor liability. In the last five years, he has concentrated on specialized training of select private counsel panel members to handle the most complex criminal appeals.

The Board wishes to thank Mr. Kresser for his distinguished service to the organization for the past 24 years. It also wishes to express its confidence that under the leadership of Mr. Sacher, the organization will continue to achieve its mission of providing effective representation to its clients.

(March 1, 2012, updated May 15, 2012)

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