Whitney Bernstein

Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP
Chapter Secretary
Committee Member

My Contact Information

Bienert Katzman Littrell Williams LLP
San Clemente, CA
Work: (949) 369-3700

Social Links

Chapter Location

Los Angeles


Whitney is an experienced criminal defense attorney who brings excellence, compassion, and tenacity to every case and client.

From pre-indictment through trial, Whitney has earned a reputation for aggressive litigation and has a proven track record for achieving success for her clients when the odds are against them.  She has spent her career representing individuals facing felony and misdemeanor charges, including but not limited to wire fraud, money laundering, Travel Act violations, violations of the CAN-SPAM Act, drug and firearm crimes, immigration offenses, assaults, arson, and thefts.  In addition to her criminal practice, Whitney represents whistleblowers and defendants in False Claims Act cases. 

Whitney is adept at all aspects of criminal defense, having drafted and argued a wide variety of motions, evidentiary hearings, jury and bench trials, sentencing hearings, and appeals in the Ninth Circuit.  She's a problem solver who crafts smart, creative solutions that prioritize her clients' interests and objectives.  Her client-centered approach enables people to navigate the challenges of the court system with a relentless advocate at their side.

Whitney graduated from Cornell University and then earned both her law degree and Master's in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania.  She honed her trial skills as a public defender in Brooklyn, New York and as a Federal Defender in the Southern District of California prior to entering private practice.  Whitney serves on the Chief's Advisory Board for the San Diego County Probation Office and as a Lawyer Representative for the Southern District of California.

Representative Matters

  • Represents founder of website in federal criminal prosecution for Travel Act and money laundering charges.
  • Prevented a client's statements to the FBI from being used in trial after litigating a suppression motion and when the government withdrew its opposition and conceded that it would not use the statements in its case in chief or as impeachment.
  • Obtained reversal of client’s conviction from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a published opinion 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.

Other Distinctions

  • Serves on the inaugural Advisory Board to the San Diego County Probation Department Chief
  • Serves as a Lawyer Representative for the Southern District of California


  • Panelist Presenter, "Tips and Trends: The Impact of COVID-19 on White Collar Litigation," FBA & WWCDA, April 2020
  • Faculty Presenter, “Game of Phones: Fourth Amendment Defenses Against Cell Evidence,” Federal Judicial Center National Seminar for Federal Defenders, May 2018
  • Faculty Presenter, “Close Encounters of the 1324 Kind: Demystifying Alien Smuggling Cases,” 2017 Annual Criminal Justice Agency Seminar for the Southern District of California, September 2017

Prior Experience

  • Trial Attorney; Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.; San Diego, California (2014-2018)
  • Trial Attorney; Brooklyn Defender Services; Brooklyn, New York (2012-2014)
  • Law Clerk; Public Defender Service; Washington, DC (Summer 2011)
  • Summer Associate; O’Melveny & Myers LLP; Washington, DC (Summer 2011)
  • Judicial Extern; United States District Court for the Southern District of New York; Honorable Magistrate Theodore H. Katz; New York, New York (Summer 2010)
  • Court Advocate for Alternative-to-Incarceration Program in New York Supreme Court; The Fortune Society; New York, NY (2008-2009) 
  • Paralegal; Federal Defenders of New York, Inc.; New York, New York (2006-2008)

Practice Areas

  • Appeals
  • Crisis Management
  • Government Investigations
  • Healthcare
  • Qui Tam; Whistleblower Defense
  • Trials
  • White Collar Crime