Member in the Spotlight

Kellee Parker Harris:

The NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Kellee Parker Harris of Huntington Beach, California. Kellee currently serves the College as the California State Delegate and the Chair of the Diversity Task Force.

Throughout her life, Kellee has experienced broad exposure to the justice system, thanks to her passion for civil liberties and civil rights. Kellee began her journey in the legislative arena, serving first in Washington D.C. as an intern for Congress member Thomas Lantos via the Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Before attending law school at Chapman University School of Law, she also worked for a year as the Constituent Services Specialist for California State Assembly member Jenny Oropeza.

It was during an externship in law school with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office that Kellee developed her passion for criminal defense work. She realized that it perfectly combined her “love for defending civil liberties with her desire to assist those in need.” After only three years of practice, Kellee opened the Parker Law Center, where her practice focuses on criminal and DUI defense. She credits her father as a driving force behind this decision. “He repeatedly encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace new challenges. My dad was a strong advocate for me to start my own law firm as he believed in my ability to meaningfully impact the legal field. … His influence has been profound in shaping my values, work ethic and outlook on life.”

Kellee sees her role as a criminal defense attorney as being a defender of the Constitution. “Criminal defense attorneys are needed to ensure that all people obtain a rigorous defense and to hold the criminal justice system accountable.” The most rewarding aspect of this job for her “is helping clients navigate the legal system and at the same time being an advocate for civil liberties and civil rights.” She points out that many clients are new to the criminal justice system and are “overwhelmed, anxious and scared.” Kellee takes pride in helping to “alleviate that anxiety by breaking down the process into a more manageable way.”

Justin Hall:

The NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Justin Hall of Rockwall, Texas. Justin has been practicing for over 20 years in north Texas. He particularly focuses on Rockwall (Texas’ wealthiest county), Dallas, and Collin counties. Justin is passionate about pursuing zealous advocacy on complex DWI cases. He emerged from NCDD’s Serious Science as a standout gifted storyteller who can guide juries comfortably through the daunting obstacles of a DWI blood test case. He brings with this his very imposing presence as a former All Conference Center for the University of New Mexico.

Justin was inspired to become a lawyer from first hand experience. He admired his father’s respect for great lawyering as a result of his dad winning custody of both he and his brother. He lists his father, brother, Coach Dan Webb, Coach Dennis Franchione, and his first law firm boss Turner Branch as the most influential people in his life. His father was a home builder and entrepreneur. So, opening up his own law practice was just in his blood. His mother was a homemaker.

Justin grew up in the small town of Heath, Texas which is located in Rockwall and Kaufman counties. It is a town settled due to its rich black soil and is listed as the tenth safest city in the United States. He refers to himself as an “OG Heathen.” He worked making, bagging, and delivering ice at the Rockwall Ice House. He remarks that other than college football, it was the toughest job he has ever had. Other jobs included working as an intern at the New Mexico Department of Corrections studying the causes of the grisly 1980 New Mexico penitentiary riots as the New Mexico Governor’s Fellow his senior year of college. He was an assistant to the University of New Mexico Ski team, setting up ski races at every New Mexico ski resort for the “Corporate Cup” race challenge. He went on to graduate from the University of New Mexico where he also was named First Team All American and awarded a post graduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. He earned his law degree form the University of Texas Law School.

Justin’s favorite thing about being a lawyer is “helping people through challenging times; helping to restore my client’s confidence and helping them understand that their self-worth should not be tied to their criminal charges.” When Justin was in grade school, he befriended a little boy who was constantly pushed around. He learned at a young age that he had a calling for protecting people from bullies. In Justin’s words, “I have come to believe that the Government can be the biggest bully in that they have the power, resources and the mindset to ruin and or severely handicap people’s lives; I believe that the government and its lawyers have a desire to break an accused’s will/spirit. It is my goal to prevent that from happening.” A big key to Justin’s approach is to genuinely and sincerely get to know his clients. He uses his compassion and legal skills to help build his clients back up with a goal of restoring their confidence in themselves. Succinctly put, he says “I like to think of the criminal defense attorney as an ambassador of the Paul Harvey approach-letting the jury know the ‘rest of the story.’ I do not trust the Government or their narratives.”

Micah Huggins:

Our January 2024 NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Micah Huggins of Greensboro, North Carolina. Licensed since 2008, Micah knew in the 5th grade he wanted to become a lawyer. As a young child, he viewed the law as a prestigious call, career, and occupation. Micah began his career in public service—working as a public defender and then with Carolina Legal Services. He opened the Huggins Law Firm in 2015. His favorite thing about being a lawyer is “helping people,” and “public speaking, going to trial, and every part of that.”

His passion and commitment to his practice and his clients has certainly contributed to the Huggins Law Firm becoming a “training ground for future litigators,” with several of his former legal assistants attending law school. His advice for new lawyers? “Stay in your lane, find your niche. Then find a mentor in your niche area of law and perfect that. If you plan to hang your own shingle, get all the mentoring and experience you can beforehand.”

Born in the country town of Brown Summit, North Carolina, Micah has spent most of his life in Guilford County where he is still friends with many of his childhood neighbors today. Micah’s father, a preacher, drove big tractor trailer trucks and delivered food. Later his parents opened a daycare in a low-income community to make a difference. His mother worked in the school system and earned her Doctorate, impressing upon her children the value of education. Other significant influences include John O’Neal, a lawyer who mentored him while at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Dr. Westervelt, who encouraged him to apply for law school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Micah describes his approach to law, “like every other aspect of my life--meticulous and with excellence. Everything I do I give 100% and approaching the law this way is no different.” His work ethic began at a young age. His first job was working with his uncle on his farm in Eastern North Carolina all summer to earn money for school clothes. He and his brother would suckle tobacco, prime and pack it for sale later in the year. Before becoming an attorney, he also worked at Pizza Hut, as a cashier and bagger at Winn Dixie, and later became certified to work as an after school care provider. For several years, Micah also worked with low-income minorities and started a BOYZ organization to mentor young African American men. The most interesting (non-legal) job sprouted from winning a back-to-school talent show in 1999. His prize was a one-year contract with a top talent agency in North Carolina, a contract which turned into 23 years of professional modeling. Micah has appeared in commercials and jobs for some of the top brands in the world e.g., Belk, Ford, Lowes, United Airlines, among others. Most recently, he published a self-help book titled The Indispensable Element: Six Keys to Lead Yourself to Success in Your Life, Work, and Relationships.

Sara Compher-Rice:

This week’s Member in the Spotlight is Sara Compher-Rice of Knoxville, Tennessee. She is our newest Regent, newly assigned to the NCDD Awards/Recognition committee. It is quite fitting she receive a long overdue spotlight, as she will soon be writing Member in the Spotlight segments. Sara has been practicing DWI/DUI defense since 2002, alongside NCDD fellow Steve Oberman, straight out the gate. She was born and raised in Chillicothe, Ohio, a very small town in southern Ohio, with few professionals. She was an only child. Her mom had her young, sacrificing everything for her. When she was young, her mom worked part time serving Meals on Wheels in order to be able to meet and greet Sara on and off the school bus. She later retired as a CVS pharmacy technician. Her father worked management at the Dupont plant. He retired from a trim/carpentry business shared with Sara’s husband. Sadly, he passed this March.

As Sara describes it, she has always held some sort of job her whole life starting with cleaning neighbors’ houses as a kid, moving up to babysitting. Other jobs include being a server, cashier for a family business, a research assistant and administrative assistant at Denison University, and one of her favorites-a white-water rafting guide. Sara is a first-generation college student. She earned her B.A. from Denison University and her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she graduated in the top ten percent of her class. She decided to become a lawyer as she describes it, “I think the combination of the leadership I was able to develop in Ohio 4-H along with the world that opened up when I read To Kill a Mockingbird really sealed my fate to become a lawyer. If I’m being honest, Claire Huxtable had a part in my dream as well.” She has had one job her entire legal career. Fellow Steve Oberman hired her right out of law school, and now more than twenty years later she is a partner at Oberman & Rice.

Sara gives meaning to the word involvement. Like a magnet, she is attracted to the service of others in leadership. She is past President of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She has served the Phil Delta Phi Legal Fraternity since law school, working with students in her region promoting a high standard of ethics. In 2011, she was appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court to serve as a hearing committee member of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. On a personal level, she can always be found volunteering with organizations related to her boys. She is very active with the middle school PTSO, serving as President for two years and most recently as Membership Director. She currently chaperones with the Bearden High School Marching Band (where her son Jake is a mellophone player) and volunteers her time with the Appalachian Ballet Company (where her son Henry is a ballet dancer).

Sneh Patel:

This week's NCDD member in the spotlight is Sneh Patel of Savannah, Georgia. Sneh has been practicing law for 17 years. Sneh is quite the international man of the world. He was born and raised in Germany until the 2nd grade. He then lived in India for four years while his grandparents raised him. He returned to Germany until immigrating to Athens, Georgia in the 10th grade. He speaks multiple languages fluently, among them German, Gujarati and Hindi. No surprise that he majored in Political Science and German at the University of Georgia at Athens, while also managing to get a minor in Biology. Sneh went on to the Southern Illinois University School of Law on a full ride scholarship.

After school, Sneh’s love of Georgia called him back. He stayed in Atlanta for a year and then took a job as an Assistant Public Defender in Hinesville, Georgia. He honed his defense skills for three years before giving back to the public as an Assistant District Attorney in Savannah, Georgia where he stayed for five years. While an Assistant District Attorney, he mentored others and served as an interim Chief District Attorney. This is no surprise as Sneh has a magic with people. Sneh has a natural charm with folks, but some of it comes from learning about people from many angles. Sneh’s other jobs along the way include being a factory worker, book binder, cashier at Winn Dixie and a liquor store, research assistant and computer clerk at the University of Georgia (Athens).

The phrase “he could sell ice to an Eskimo” could literally apply to Sneh’s father. He worked in one of the largest ice cream factories in Europe for 31 years. Sneh gleams when he discusses how his dad always “knew a guy” and was the man who could sell or negotiate anything. He learned his stellar negotiating skills from him. His mother worked as a pharmacy technician for many years in a hospital. Sneh is very much a family man. His wife is a CPA, very successfully handling the business aspects of his solo practice. They have been married for fourteen years. Her mother lives with them. Sneh refers to his mother in law as his best supporter and often manages to sell that she is actually his mom and not his wife’s. Sneh and his wife have a daughter who is ten and the light of their world. Sneh is a hands on dad, the kind of dad you’d find in a Cookie Monster costume (see attached photo).

Andy Sotiropoulos:

The NCDD member in the spotlight is Andy Sotiropoulos of Chicago, Illinois. Andy is a top DUI/DWI lawyer in Chicago. Andy’s parents immigrated to the U.S.A. in 1963 from southern Greece. His dream was to see his son become an attorney. Andy’s father passed in 2000 and remains his inspiration today. His mother was a seamstress.

Andy grew up in Illinois. He graduated from St. Joseph High School, the University of Illinois in Chicago and Touro Law Center in Huntington, New York. Prior to law school he worked as a short order cook, truck driver, fork lift operator and landscaper. In addition to the NCDD, he is a member of NACDL, the Illinois State Bar Association (Traffic Laws Committee), The Society of Kaparelioton (a philanthropic organization from his father’s hometown in Greece), the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, and is a founding member and on the Board of Directors of the Philotimo Foundation (an organization providing assistance to children afflicted with cancer and their families). Some of Andy’s honors include being an Illinois State Scholar, Illinois Merit Scholar, Dean’s list in high school, college and law school. He graduated law school cum laude while being the President of the Hellenic American Law Students Association and received the Meritorious Service Award. He served as the Chairman of the Chicago Bar Association Traffic Laws Committee.

Andy has been practicing law for 24 years. As Andy describes it “Injustice, in just about any form, doesn’t sit well with me…especially when directed against marginalized segments of our society.” His favorite wins include a .32 and a .28 accident case, and an appellate court reversal on a .14.

Jonathan P. Dichter:

The NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Jonathan P. Dichter of Lynnwood, Washington. If you have never met Jonathan, look for the smiling face in the crowd. He welcomes everyone immediately with a warmth that has earned him a reputation for being one of the kindest and most caring lawyers by the judges in his jurisdiction. When one of his clients passed away, Judge McRae called to check on him remarking “I’ve been watching you for a few years now. You care more about your clients than most attorneys will ever learn how to.” It really is that obvious he has a special gift with people. Jonathan is on his 19th year practicing law. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to Canton, Ohio when he was in the 6th Grade. His father practiced family medicine, passing in 2010. His mother is a retired registered nurse. Jonathan grew up learning how to deeply care for others by watching how his dad listened and tended to his patients. He also acquired his sense of humor and knack for storytelling.

Mid-course into a joint BS/MD program at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, Jonathan switched gears. The lure of debate and the art of storytelling was too ingrained into this high school mock trial and speech/debate champion. Before going to law school he performed stand-up comedy on weekends.

In addition to the NCDD, Jonathan is also a member of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He was recognized this year as a “Super Lawyer” for the first time after being a rising star from 2014-2018. He is also a NHTSA trained SFST instructor and has been through ARIDE. In 2011 the Washington State Bar Association recognized his work with The Pro Bono Public Service award. Before he was licensed, he was already winning recognitions. He was the recipient of the Silver Key from the ABA’s Law Student division. He was also a regional qualifier in the ABA’s international negotiation competition.

Kevin O'Grady

Kevin O'Grady

The NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Kevin O'Grady of Honolulu, Hawaii. Kevin has been practicing law for over 25 years. Kevin was born in Queens, New York, but grew up primarily on Long Island. His father was a chiropractor, and his mother was a paralegal for a small firm in New York. His mother served as one of Kevin’s primary influences in pursuing law. She wrote a book called Judicial Carousel, documenting her observations as a paralegal and challenges in the legal system. She instilled in Kevin the value of challenging unjust laws which violate the rights of the people.

Kevin earned a psychology degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson before earning a MS in Criminal Justice from Chaminade University in Honolulu. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Touro College in New York. Throughout his life, Kevin has been a reserve volunteer deputy sheriff, security guard, lifeguard, and EMT. He also served on active duty in the US Military as a Judge Advocate (and continues to do so with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel). The service brought him and his family back to Hawaii where Kevin decided to open his law practice upon completion of active duty.

Aside from the NCDD, Kevin is also a member of the Arizona State Bar (inactive), the Hawaii State Bar, Hawaii Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Council of Second Amendment Lawyers, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Additionally, Kevin has practiced in the Federal District Courts of Arizona, the Northern District of Texas, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

Kim Benjamin

Kim Benjamin

The NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Kimberly Benjamin of Belton, Missouri. Kim has been practicing criminal defense for over 25 years. On top of her practice, Kim has committed herself to teaching trial skills as a faculty member of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College (TLC). She was born in Sacramento, California and was adopted by parents who were unable to have children of their own. Her father (an artist- illustrator) was in the US Air Force, which led her family to travel to Alaska, Virginia, and Washington D.C., before he retired and they settled in her mother's(a homemaker) hometown of Harrisonville, Missouri.

Kim's enjoyment of the television drama "LA Law" attracted her to the law. She grew up, like many, in the Midwest with little insight into the American criminal justice system and the belief that the police and prosecutors were the "good guys", as portrayed on TV. When she became a public defender in Kansas City, the illusion dispelled. She found her calling in following her huge heart to help the downtrodden and forgotten.

Kim graduated from Mizzou with dual degrees in Political Science and Speech Communication. She studied law at the George Washington University School of Law, serving as the Notes Editor for the Intellectual Property Law Journal while also working at the Pentagon.

Aside from the NCDD, Kim is also a faculty member for the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, which she attended as a student in 2000, and is a member and past President of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL), where she is the chair of the Missouri Bar's annual DWI seminar. She was honored with the Women's Litigation award by Missouri Lawyers Weekly, and the Atticus Finch Award by the MACDL.


Enter your city, state, or Zip code below to locate a qualified attorney who has demonstrated a commitment to defend those accused of DUI and related crimes.



Autonomous Vehicles


By Lance Hendron A couple of months ago, I presented an NCDD webinar highlighting the current state of automatous driving. Since the webinar, there have been recent updates concerning the evolution of automatous driving. Probably the most significant update concerns Telsa's recall of two million vehicles considering serious concerns about its autonomous driving features. Per reports, "numerous reported cases reveal shortcomings in...

Discovery Requests in Drug Recognition Expert Cases


By Neil Halttunen In order to be successful in a case involving testimony by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), you must gather the same materials that were used when the government constructed their case. Use those same materials to deconstruct and destroy the prosecution. A lot of materials go into a DRE case; your mastery of those materials will go a...

Back to Top