Updated: Jun 7, 2022
The San Diego FBA selected Ryan W. Stitt as the recipient of the Outstanding Advocate Award at its 2022 Annual Conference & Award Ceremony.
The Outstanding Advocate Award recognizes an attorney in any practice area, public or private, who has demonstrated outstanding advocacy and legal expertise while maintaining professionalism and civility over the course of his or her career. Eligibility for this award is based on legal work (including trial work, appeals, and transactional successes) and may be supplemented by the attorney’s contributions to the legal profession or the justice system.
Ryan W. Stitt is a Trial Attorney with Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., where he has worked for the past 12 years. Mr. Stitt graduated cum laude from Illinois Wesleyan University and obtained his J.D. from DePaul College of Law in 2010. Mr. Stitt is a long-time member of the FBA and previously served on the San Diego Chapter’s Board of Directors.
Mr. Stitt maintains a diverse and vigorous litigation practice with a special focus on systemic litigation. Recently, Mr. Stitt played a crucial role in two significant decisions. First, Mr. Stitt asserted that the United States Border Patrol used the Southern District’s courthouses as a place to arrest noncitizens appearing in court for the purpose of conducting removal proceedings. As a result of Mr. Stitt’s and others’ efforts, the Department of Homeland Security and its agencies were temporarily enjoined from “making a civil immigration arrest of any individual appearing in the Southern District of California while that individual is present in, or traveling to and from, court.” Velasquez-Hernandez v. ICE, 500 F. Supp. 3d 1132, 1148 (S.D. Cal. 2020).
Second, Mr. Stitt represented the defendant in United States v. Lopez, No. 19-cr-0261-L, 2019 WL 3974124 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 21, 2019). Lopez involved the statutory “safety valve” that allows a court to sentence a defendant below the mandatory minimum for certain drug offenses. The 2018 First Step Act amended the requirement for safety valve that concerns a defendant’s criminal history. See 18 U.S.C. § 3353(f)(1). Mr. Stitt argued—and the district court agreed—that a defendant is eligible for safety valve so long as he or she does not have: (1) more than four criminal history points, (2) a prior three-point offense, and (3) a prior two-point violent offense. The district court's decision was later affirmed by the Ninth Circuit in United States v. Lopez, 998 F.3d 431 (9th Cir. 2021).
Mr. Stitt also focuses his practice on cases alleging warrantless searches of cell phones at the border, delays in presenting in-custody criminal defendants for arraignment, the criminalization of speech, and the denial of medical care to pretrial defendants. Mr. Stitt regularly trains and lectures to law students and other federal criminal defense attorneys on topics related to trial practice and systemic litigation.
Ryan Stitt with Distinguished Service Award Winner Shireen Matthews (Left) and Rising Attorney Award Winner Tarina Mand (Center)
The San Diego FBA is pleased to award Mr. Stitt with the 2022 Outstanding Advocate Award.