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Cini was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. She attended Carleton University and graduated with a B.A. in Criminology. The future defense attorney earned her L.L.B. from Windsor Law School. In 1984, Cini wrote two papers submitted to Parliament discussing prostitution and domestic violence in Canada. By 1991, the attorney was admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada.
When Cini is not working, she enjoys reading, cooking, cycling and is “very active in the ocean every week in the summer.” The defense attorney believes physical exercise is good for the mind and body, and it gives her the opportunity to zone out of work. One of Cini's favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee. She loves ethnic food, especially Thai and Indian food. The attorney roots for the Canadian Olympic hockey team, which won a gold medal against the United States in 2010.
Cini's Successful Law Career
Why did Cini decide to become an attorney? She stated, “I like fighting for the underdog. I like justice.” The attorney explained she became intrigued with the law while she babysat for a criminologist when she was twelve years-old. Cini read the criminologists' books and knew she wanted to become an attorney. She added, “Everybody needs a spokesperson. Not everybody can speak for themselves.”
Cini reflected on her most memorable law school experience. She discussed how she enjoyed her mock trials, and although she wasn't certain what area of the law she was going to practice, she loved standing up and speaking in front of people.
The defense attorney also discussed her experience working with the Public Defender's Office, where she launched a twelve year legal career. How was this experience? What did she learn? Cini claimed, “As an attorney, this was the best work experience you can get.” She continued to say there were multiple courtrooms devoted to drug programs and she was blessed to be surrounded by mentors who constantly supervised her and helped her develop her litigation skills. Cini pointed out the great legal education she received as well as the host of issues she encountered while working for the Public Defender's Office. The attorney proclaimed, “There was always training. I never thought I would learn how to make a bomb.” Cini acknowledged she became as knowledgeable as an expert.
Perhaps the best part of working for the Public Defender's Office was the social aspect. Cini enjoyed getting to know district attorneys and judges. She asserted, “The biggest asset is your reputation.” For example, the Orange County defense attorney explained that she had a client that had served her sentence 20 years ago. Somehow a warrant was still active in the system and her client was arrested and sitting in a jail cell. She went to court and explained that the client had served her sentence. She persuaded the judge to order the jail to release her client. The judge releases Cini's client since she is well known in the county. Cini mentioned she probably couldn't do the same thing for a client in San Francisco because she is not well known in that jurisdiction.
So what is the best part of Cini's job? The defense attorney replied, “I love the diversity of it. I enjoy the fact that people call me with different problems.” She compared her private practice to the public defender's job. Cini noted that while working for the Public Defender's Office, you can easily be assigned 15 cases a day. As a defense attorney, Cini recognizes she will not be handling as many cases. This gives her the opportunity to get to know her clients. The attorney concluded, “I like meeting people and resolving their problems. Seeing my clients leading a productive life is the best feeling in the world. Spending time in custody is not a productive life. I am a big advocate of telling clients who have not graduated from high school to get an education because it give[s] them opportunities.”
What is Cini known professionally for? She said she is known to be a straight shooter with the district attorney and she cares about her clients. The defense attorney is also known for her ethical reputation and she tries to keep things professional. Cini acknowledges that she can't get along with every district attorney, but she can “achieve her goals in a professional setting.”
Cini revealed her strengths and weakness as an attorney. She stated, “My strength is that I am a good listener and I enjoy dealing with people.” The attorney continued to say that nobody is happy when they are charged with a crime. Cini said as an attorney she wants her clients to succeed. She mentioned that sometimes her drug clients need a “residential program” and that she has a sixth sense of knowing what is good for her clients so they can move on with their lives.
The defense attorney admitted her weakness. Cini proclaimed, “I don't look as old as I should.” Her clients don't think she has experience because of her youthful appearance, but Cini expressed that once her clients meet with her and discuss their case with the attorney, they are confident to have her by their side.
During her eighteen years of practicing law in CA, she has tried more than 100 cases to verdict. Was there anything during this time that surprised her? The attorney stated it was interesting what she thought was important in a case and what the jury thought was significant. Cini added, “The jury's emphasis is placed somewhere else.”
What does Cini think about the legal field today? Cini made it clear that attorneys used to be respected. She declared, “Being an attorney used to be an honorable profession. I would like to see the profession more honorable. I would like the attorneys to practice the oath they take.” Cini did like the fact that there are more woman attorneys in the field today.
What would she change about the legal field? The attorney answered, “One thing that is important is older attorneys being mentors to younger attorneys. The older attorneys have an obligation to mentor new attorneys so they can become better attorneys.”
Is there an area of practice Cini would like to develop further? Although the attorney admitted immigration law is not her passion, she would like to explore immigration further since a lot of her clients have immigration issues and pleading guilty to criminal charge can have serious immigration consequences.
Where does Cini see herself in five years? The straight shooting attorney stated, “I have [had] my own law firm for four years and I look forward to continue to grow and flourish, but who knows what opportunities [will] come your way. I enjoy seeing my practice grow and I will see where it take me.”
If Cini was not a lawyer, what would she be doing? She said, “I would either be running a pastry shop in France or reading books all day as a book editor. Those are my two passions.”
How does she want to be remembered? Cini claimed, “I want to be remembered as an attorney who did the best job as possible and. . .fought for my clients and got good results.”
People v. Tanya Nelson and Legalizing Prostitution
The Orange County defense attorney was second chair on a major death penalty case, People v. Tanya Nelson, managing the penalty phase. Was Cini happy with the outcome? The attorney answered, “No. My client was the second woman in Orange County to get the death penalty.” What did she learn from this case? Cini said, “This was a very emotionally charged case. As the attorney it was hard not to become emotional and accept the jury's sentence.”
In 1984, Cini wrote two papers submitted to Parliament discussing prostitution and domestic violence in Canada. What motivated Cini to do this? The attorney declared, “Initially it was an internship with the department of justice.” Cini explained she loved criminology and the two professors she worked for. She also discussed how in 1984 domestic violence was just starting to be talked about. The attorney believes prostitution should be legalized like it is in Holland. She recognized that the pimps and Jons rarely get prosecuted, it is the women who end up behind bars. The attorney added, “Prostitution is here to stay.”
Mentoring Others, Pro Bono Work and Non-Profit Organizations
Cini mentored an attorney while working at the Public Defender's Office, but lost touch with the attorney because she got married and moved out of state.
The defense attorney recalled one of her pro bono cases, where a 25 year-old woman was charged with her fourth DUI. Cini was happy that the young woman turned her life around considerably. Her client used to be an alcoholic and prostitute and is now seeking a professional degree.
The attorney supports World Vision, a Christian organization, which assists children who are battling hunger and are malnourished. She also supports the Heifer Foundation. Individuals are encouraged to donate animals to the Heifer Foundation to help a family in need. The organization devotes their resources to help end poverty and world hunger. Cini is a big fan of the Big Brother/Big Sister program because she knows that individuals in this organization are the future leaders of tomorrow.
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