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Attorney Profile

Marlin G. Stapleton, Jr.

Mr. Stapleton graduated from Western State University College of Law in 1983. He passed the state bar exam and began his practice that same year. Mr. Stapleton has practiced criminal defense exclusively for the past 30 years, during which he has tried hundreds of cases to verdict and served as lead counsel in numerous capital murder trials.

Mr. Stapleton is universally recognized by judges, prosecutors, and fellow private attorneys in Orange County as one of our best criminal defense trial lawyers. He has gained a reputation for winning the "unwinnable" cases. As recent as 2012, Mr. Stapleton obtained a not guilty verdict in a gang-related homicide case in which the evidence was "overwhelmingly" against his client.

In 1989, Mr. Stapleton was selected by the Orange County Superior Court judges to the Homicide Panel. Since then, he has handled in excess of 50 murder cases and tried over 30 of those to verdict. His record of success is unsurpassed.

Mr. Stapleton was also appointed by the judges of Orange County to the Lead Counsel Capital Defense Panel. These select few attorneys (less than 10) not only go through a rigorous selection process but are also required to have complied with strict experience guidelines as set by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Mr. Stapleton has been awarded numerous honors, including Martindale-Hubbell's AV Preeminent Lawyer rating and Client Distinction Awards. He also holds a 10.0 "Superb" Avvo rating.

In addition, Mr. Stapleton has testified as an expert witness in both Orange County and Los Angeles County Superior Courts in the area of criminal defense trial skills and tactics. He has also successfully argued cases before the California Supreme Court and acted as a consultant to prosecutors, private defense attorneys, and the Public Defender's Office in matters of effective assistance of counsel.


  • State Bar of California
  • U.S. Federal Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. Federal Court, Southern District of California

Memberships and Associations

  • State Bar of California
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
  • California Public Defenders Association
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Newport Harbor Bar Association
  • North Orange County Bar Association
  • Orange County Criminal Defense Bar Association
  • American Bar Association

Expert Witness

  • Testified for both the prosecution and the defense regarding:
    • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
    • Criminal Court Sentencing Practices


  • Defense Legal Issues of Hostage Negotiations
    • California Association of Hostage Negotiators
  • Trial Tactics: Voir Dire/Jury Selection
    • North Orange County Criminal Defense Bar Association
  • Trial Tactics and Jury Selection
    • Orange County Criminal Defense Bar Association
Our Case Results
Learn more about the cases that we've handled over the years.


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