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Cuauhtemoc Ortega
USC Gould School of Law

Cuauhtemoc Ortega

Lecturer in Law

699 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0074 USA

Last Updated: August 30, 2021




Cuauhtemoc Ortega was appointed Federal Public Defender (FPD) for the Central District of California in October 2020 by the judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He began working in the Office of the Federal Public Defender in 2010 as a trial attorney, after working for a brief period at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. As a trial attorney, Ortega handled numerous jury trials regarding a wide-range of offenses, including firearms, fraud and criminal threats. In 2016, he became a supervisor and chair of the Office’s Diversity Committee; he was promoted to chief deputy in 2019. In his current capacity as Federal Public Defender, he supervises over 200 trial, appellate and habeas attorneys and legal support staff across three offices in Los Angeles, Santa Ana and Riverside.

Ortega is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where he was Executive Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review and recipient of the Archie O. Dawson Prize for Oral Advocacy. Upon graduating from Columbia, he served as a law clerk to the late Hon. Alicemarie H. Stotler, United States District Judge for the Central District of California.

He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA, where he also served as editor in chief of the Daily Bruin student newspaper. He currently sits on the Executive Committee of the California Lawyers Association’s Criminal Law Section and on the Judicial Appointments Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. 

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