Search
Back to Team

Whitney Z. Bernstein

Associate

Whitney is an experienced criminal defense attorney who brings her competence, compassion, and determination to every case and client. 

Overview

Whitney has spent the past six years representing clients charged with felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses.  She is an aggressive litigator with a track record for achieving success for her clients when the odds are against them.  In addition to Whitney’s considerable courtroom and trial experience, she has drafted and argued countless suppression and discovery violation motions, negotiated favorable dispositions for her clients, and obtained numerous dismissals of charges.  Whitney takes a very hands-on approach by involving herself in all aspects of case management, investigation, interviews, negotiations, and trial preparation.  She has also successfully argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding interpretation and application of federal immigration laws.

Prior to her decision to specialize in criminal defense litigation, she honed her research and writing skills by developing arguments in the seminal Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of warrantless GPS monitoring, assisting in lawsuits against the City of Philadelphia challenging the constitutionality of prison conditions, and drafting Reports and Recommendations on habeas petitions and employment discrimination claims for a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of New York.

In addition to her actual practice, while at the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., Whitney helped expand the office’s renowned training curriculum and supervised new trial attorneys.  She also continues to train federal criminal defense practitioners at the local and national level.  At her most recent training at the National Seminar for Federal Defenders, she spoke on the emerging body of law on cell phones and the Fourth Amendment.  Currently, Whitney proudly serves on the inaugural Advisory Board to the San Diego County Probation Department Chief.

Prior to joining BMK, Whitney was a trial attorney for the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.  Before that, she was a trial attorney for the Brooklyn Defender Services in Brooklyn, New York.  She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School earning her J.D. and simultaneously earning her Master of Science in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Criminology.  Whitney was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Law and Social Change and was awarded a Pro Bono Recognition of Outstanding Distinction for her service.  As an undergraduate at Cornell University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government and Sociology with a concentration in Law and Society, she graduated with Distinction in All Subjects, Dean’s List, and was an active volunteer in the local community as a firefighter and teacher.

Download vCard

Representative Matters

  • Obtained reversal of client’s conviction from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the Circuit recognized the theory that an unlawful removal of a legal permanent resident in absentia infected his subsequent removal from the United States and could not serve as the basis for future criminal prosecutions.
  • Achieved jury acquittal for client facing ten-year mandatory minimum prison sentence accused of importing methamphetamine.
  • Obtained dismissals of all charges for multiple clients charged with federal drug offenses after litigating discovery, constitutional, and suppression issues.
  • Litigated discovery, constitutional, and suppression issues in a bulk cash smuggling case and obtained favorable resolution whereby client avoided incarceration.
  • Obtained dismissal of federal charges and sealing of arrest record for clients accused of importing narcotics and transporting undocumented persons.
  • Won suppression of statements and dismissal of federal drug importation charges for a client arrested at the Port of Entry in a car full of narcotics.
  • Secured pre-trial dismissal of all charges for client accused of assaulting a federal officer.
  • Secured jury acquittal for client charged with driving under the influence.
  • Secured jury acquittal for client accused of assault.
  • Litigated motions to dismiss alleging a due process violation of an administrative misapplication of criminal law and thereby negotiated favorable dispositions for clients.
  • Argued due process violations in prior proceedings for a severely mentally ill client facing federal felony charges and obtained a misdemeanor resolution.
  • Obtained probationary sentences, thereby avoiding lengthy prison terms, for multiple clients convicted of importing narcotics and violating other federal laws.
  • Identified and secured citizenship for client facing deportation.