Seasoned Trial Attorney

Rachel is an accomplished trial attorney who successfully and aggressively defends government entities, government partners, corporations, and individual defendants in complicated and high stakes litigation.  Rachel focuses her practice on defense of America’s largest partnership corrections provider, state departments of corrections, jail systems, and law enforcement agencies and their officers in civil rights litigation, including defense of 42 U.S.C. § 1983,  Bivens and tort actions, class actions, and complex multi-party litigation matters.

Rachel is experienced in the successful defense of law enforcement agencies and officers in excessive force, K-9 use of force, false arrest, unlawful search, and in-custody suicide claims.  She has successfully obtained defense verdicts at trial in lawsuits alleging excessive force, K-9 excessive use of force, illegal search, and illegal interrogation cases.

Rachel is respected throughout Arizona and across the nation for specialized defense of corrections and jail systems, and their employees, in excessive force, inmate assault/homicide, employee/inmate sexual assault, inmate suicide, inmate disturbance response, STG/gang management, maximum custody management, classification, conditions of confinement, deliberate indifference to medical needs, retaliation, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death claims filed by inmates and inmate advocacy groups.  She also specializes in forward-thinking defense of RLUIPA and First Amendment claims filed by inmates and inmate advocacy groups that challenge the provision of religious accommodations and programming in the prison environment, as well as First Amendment claims challenging prison publication policies.

Skilled Strategist

Rachel provides her clients with an uncommon level of experience, skill, and understanding of the important operations, safety, and security needs and challenges faced by law enforcement agencies, corrections departments, and jail systems. In an era when shrinking numbers of attorneys actually try cases to a verdict, she presents complicated cases to juries with successful results.  In addition to results-oriented litigation defense, Rachel provides policy advisement, training, investigation direction, and innovative, solutions-oriented defense strategy consultation to her clients.

Rachel is committed to guiding law enforcement agencies, corrections departments, jail systems, and their officials and officers, to a successful defense against challenging claims.  She addresses complicated and emerging legal issues head on – while always upholding the principle that those whose mission it is to protect public safety deserve the highest of public respect and the best legal representation and defense.

Presentations and Publications:

  • Presenter, National Institute of Jail Operations’ 2021 JAILCON Western Regional Conference: Top Reasons for Lawsuits in Jails (Panel); Litigation Facility Inspections, Where They Cross the Line, What May or May Not Be Said; Excessive Force: Ninth Circuit Update – Outer Bounds of Allowable Force
  • Instructor, National Institute of Jail Operations’ Corrections Administrators Live Webinar, “Litigation Trends with Excessive Force Claims Involving Use of Chemical Agents,” 2020
  • Instructor, National Institute of Jail Operations’ JAILCON 20/20 Corrections Training Conference Webinar Series, “Temporary Restraining Orders – End of the Road?”; “Grievance Process Wins “; “COVID 19 – Review and Deliberate Indifference”; and “Legal Issues Panel and Q&A,” 2020
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations Corrections Administrators Webinar, “Reopening the Front Door: Administrative Stepdown Strategies,” 2020
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations Corrections Administrators Webinar, “Alabama Jail Administrators’ Council Training,” 2020
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations Corrections Administrators Webinar, “COVID-19 Proactive Legal Response and Defense”, 2020
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations JAILCON19 NIJO Southern Regional Conference, “Grievances and Appeals”; “Tiered Grievances”; “Litigation, Legal Issues, Trend – Legislature Imposing Views on Jails (Panel)”; “Preparation for Civil Litigation – Up to and Including Testimony (Panel),”2019
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations JAILCON19 NIJO Western Regional Conference,  “Inmate Religious Issues”; “Litigation, Legal Issues”, “Trend (Panel),” 2019
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations JAILCON18 NIJO Western Regional Conference, “Supervisory & Policy Liability”; “Inmate Religious Issues”; “Civil Liability, Personal Liability, Qualified Immunity: Duty to Know the Law”; and “Answering and Lowering Your Grievances,” 2018
  •  Instructor, North American Association of Wardens & Superintendents (NAAWS) Training Conference, “Legal Liability and Evidence Preservation” and “When the ACLU Comes Knocking,” 2018
  • Instructor, Utah Sheriffs’ Association 23rd Annual Law Enforcement and Training Conference, “Sanchez-Gomez and Restraints,” 2018
  • Instructor, Utah Sheriffs’ Association 22nd Annual Law Enforcement and Training Conference, “Transgender Inmate Populations” and “Answering and Lowering Your Grievances,” 2017
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations JAILCON17 NIJO Western Regional Conference, “Transgender Inmate Populations”; “Winning Unwinnable Lawsuits”; and “Answering and Lowering Your Grievances,” 2017
  • Instructor, National Institute for Jail Operations, Jail Administrators’ Corrections Law Survival Guide Conference, “Duty to Protect, Medical/Mental Health Care & Access to Religion,” 2016
  • Instructor, Twenty-first Annual Utah Sheriffs’ Association Conference, “Winning Unwinnable Lawsuits: Offers of Judgment, Negotiation, and PLRA Defenses,” 2016
  • Presenter, SWL Presents, “Depositions: Setting Yourself Up To Win at Summary Judgment or Trial,” 2016
  • Presenter, Arizona Counties Insurance Pool’s Nineteenth Annual Public Practice Legal Seminar, “Introduction to Defending Inmate Claims,” 2016

Representative Experience:

Inmate Claims

  • Phanpradith v. Griego, et al., CV-16-04094-PHX-JJT (D. Ariz. October 25, 2019) – Obtained defense verdict in case involving disciplinary segregation inmate’s allegation of an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement violation asserting denial of access to hygiene items, bedding, and exposure to excessive cold.  Prior to trial, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on the inmate’s due process violation claims related to placement in segregation and placement on property restriction.  The case is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Tunoa v. Perez, 12-CV-02359-ROS-BSB (D. Ariz. May 31, 2016) – Obtained defense verdict in case involving segregation inmate’s allegation of an Eighth Amendment excessive force violation along with state law assault & battery tort claims.  The inmate alleged that a member of the cell extraction team utilized excessive force in removing the inmate from the cell, resulting in serious facial injury requiring surgery.  At trial, Defendant established that the inmate could not connect the conduct alleged to the individual member of the cell extraction team and that for a period of more than forty minutes, the cell door window was covered, allowing opportunity for the cellmate to inflict the injuries complained of.  On appeal by Plaintiff, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the defense verdict.
  • Adkins, et al. v. Corrs. Corp. of Am., et al., CV12-1615-PHX-SMM (D. Ariz. February 26, 2015) – Obtained defense verdict in case involving 21 verified or associated gang member inmates alleging they were assaulted by officers following the quelling of a major gang disturbance.
  • Allred v. Corrs. Corp. of Am., CV-03-2343-PHX-DGC (D. Ariz. 2006) – Obtained defense verdict in case involving female inmate alleging she was sexually assaulted by male inmates.
  • Blaisdell v. Griego, 472 Fed. App. 481 (9th Cir. 2011) – Trial defense verdict was upheld on appeal to the Ninth Circuit in case involving inmate claim for deliberate indifference to medical needs regarding wheelchair assignment.
  • Blaisdell v. Corrs. Corp. of Am., 426 Fed. Appx. 550 (9th Cir. 2011) – Trial defense verdict was upheld on appeal to the Ninth Circuit in case involving First Amendment free speech claim related to applicability of prison gift publication policy.
  • Captain v. City of Phoenix, 2:02-cv-00024-SRB (D. Ariz. 2004) – Obtained defense verdict in case involving arrestee claim of excessive force.
  • Frank v. City of Phoenix, 2:00-cv-00273-ROS (D. Ariz. 2003) – Obtained defense verdict in case involving arrestee claim of excessive force in deployment of K-9 by police officer.
  • Rodenhurst v. Bauman, 509 Fed. Appx. 643 (9th Cir. 2013) – Obtained summary judgment on deliberate indifference to medical needs and rights to access courts claim filed by inmate asserting a right to access to private physician during incarceration.
  • Lonoaea v. Corrs. Corp. of Am., 665 F. Supp. 2d 677 (N.D. Miss. 2009) – Obtained summary judgment for state corrections department and private corrections provider (and employees) on Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference to inmate safety claim claims stemming from large scale inmate disturbance.

Class Actions

  • Alcantara v. LaRose, 3:20-cv-00756-DMS-AHG (S.D. Cal. 2020) – Defending private corrections provider in a class action suit alleging deliberate indifference to detainee safety/medical needs regarding facility’s COVID-19 operational and medical response protocols.
  • Fenty v. Penzone, 2:20-cv-01192-PHX-SPL (JZB) (D. Ariz. 2020) – Defending Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in a class action suit alleging deliberate indifference to detainee/inmate safety/medical needs regarding MCSO’s entire jail system’s COVID-19 operational and medical response protocols.
  • Parsons v. Ryan, CV 12-00601-PHX-NVW (D. Ariz. 2013) – Defended Arizona Department of Corrections in class action alleging systemic deficiencies in conditions of maximum custody confinement and provision of medical, dental, and mental health care.
  • Schilling v. TransCor, C 08-941 SI, 2012 WL 3257659 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 8, 2012) – Obtained summary judgment in class action arising out of conditions of confinement on inmate transports.
  • Woods v. Myers, 07-cv-01078-DMS-PCL (S.D. Cal. 2010) – Successfully defended private corrections provider in class action regarding provision of medical care to immigration detainees.
  • Kiniti v. Myers, 05-cv-1013-DMS-PCL (S.D. Cal. 2008) – Successfully defended private corrections provider in class action regarding alleged overcrowding conditions of confinement in detention facility.

Discrimination Claims

  • R.P. ex rel. C.P. v. Prescott Unified Sch. Dist., 631 F.3d 1117 (9th Cir. 2011) – Defended public school district against IDEA and Section 504 special education discrimination claim. Finding that school district provided free appropriate public education after bench trial upheld by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal (argued).
  • Alvarado v. Cajun Operating Co., 588 F.3d 1261 (9th Cir. 2009) – Obtained favorable defense ruling on motion in limine, upheld by the Ninth Circuit, barring punitive and compensatory damages claims in ADA retaliation claims.
  • Cooke v. Lake Havasu City, CV-10-8044 PCT-DCG (D. Ariz. July 2, 2010) – Obtained summary judgment in § 1983 due process Arizona Employment Action violation claim filed by employee alleging wrongful termination.
  • Kelley v. City of Lake Havasu, CV-07-8135-PCT-GMS (D. Ariz. Dec. 1, 2009) – Obtained summary judgment in ADEA claim filed by employee alleging employer discriminatorily hired younger candidate.

Personal:

Rachel fancies herself an adequate longboard surfer, loves snorkeling and stand-up paddleboard adventures, and enjoys a good boot camp workout.