Meet Kent Russell

KENT A. RUSSELL is now the premier habeas corpus lawyer in California and is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable habeas corpus practitioners in the United States.

Kent is an experienced and dedicated lawyer who has been actively representing criminal defendants, appellants, and petitioners for over 45 years in state and federal courts in California and throughout the country. He has handled hundreds of habeas corpus petitions on the state and federal level, and is an acknowledged, practicing expert in appellate and habeas corpus law both in California and nationally. Kent has been chosen for the panel from which lawyers are selected by the California Supreme Court to prepare and present appeals and habeas corpus petitions on behalf of condemned prisoners on death row, and has served on felony appointment panels administered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the San Francisco Superior Court, and the First District Appellate Project. Kent has also testified as an expert witness in habeas corpus matters, and has served on the Litigation Executive Committe of the State Bar of California.

Upon graduating from Princeton University in 1968, Kent attended U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, where he was Note and Comment Editor of the California Law Review. After graduating from law school, Kent clerked in the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District (San Francisco) for Justice Joseph Rattigan, author of the decision freeing Huey Newton on appeal. Upon completing his clerkship in 1971, Kent became a trial attorney with the famed Law Offices of Melvin M. Belli, where he litigated and tried major civil and criminal cases until 1976, when Kent started his own law practice. In 1981, with his wife and law partner Pamela Russell, Kent founded the San Francisco law firm of RUSSELL AND RUSSELL, which has received Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating for legal ability and ethical standards.

Throughout his career, Kent has represented and assisted prisoners challenging major convictions and sentences. Some of Kent's more famous clients have been Ralph “Sonny” Barger (the founder of the Hells Angels), Timothy Leary, and Anton LaVey. Kent has obtained acquittals in numerous criminal trials and appeals, including that of Sonny and his wife Sharon Barger in the celebrated, year-long Hells Angels “RICO” trial, memorialized in Sonny's book "Hells Angel".

Kent specializes in habeas corpus litigation in California and federal courts, providing services such as: comprehensive case evaluations; drafting, supporting, filing, and amending state and federal habeas corpus petitions in state and federal courts; exhaustion petitions and stays; informal and formal briefing; federal habeas litigation, including Oppositions to Motions to Dismiss, Traverses, Objections to Magistrate Judge Reports and Recommendations, and COA applications; evidentiary hearings; and appeals from denials of habeas corpus petitions in California and federal courts. (See complete list on Home Page.)

Kent is a member in good standing of the California State Bar, and has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, all U.S. District Courts in California, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits. Kent has appeared in post-conviction cases in state and federal courts throughout California, and he has also has appeared pro hac vice in numerous jurisdictions throughout the United States.

Kent’s popular column “Habeas Hints” appears periodically in Criminal Legal News, providing practical tips for prisoners throughout the country who are handling habeas corpus cases “in pro per”. The column is now co-written by Kent’s law partner Tara Allen, a superbly talented habeas corpus lawyer and certified specialist in appellate law.

The California Habeas Handbook is provided in soft-cover to allow for mailing directly to prison inmates.

The basic book is provided in 2 volumes: The main volume, and a separately bound Appendix which has forms and excerpts from useful documents. Also available for an additional cost is a CD-Rom which contains more then 75 complete documents from the Russell and Russell archives covering all aspects of habeas practice state and federal.