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Hepburn, Hernandez & Jung Trial Attorneys’ Relentless Pressure Leaves Opponents Scrambling

Once a client signs the retainer agreement, the partners at HHJ Trial Attorneys pick the lead attorney best suited for the case. Partner Michael Hernandez says, “Each attorney brings a different set of skills to the table. Elliott (Jung) is great with science and doctors, Adam (Hepburn) is great with complex legal issues, and I will take on any issue in any setting. But with that said, every case is different, and we pick the lawyer that is best suited to win to be the lead on that case.” Once chosen, the lead attorney creates a game plan and delegates tasks to the other attorneys at the firm. The attorneys all work together to start building their offense and the litigation train begins.
“HHJ Trial Attorneys doesn’t give opposing counsel the opportunity to breathe; the attorneys apply a full court press in every case to make opposing counsel know off the bat that this will be the worst months of their (legal) lives,” Hernandez says.

Public Defenders to Civil Plaintiffs’ Attorneys

The three partners at HHJ Trial Attorneys started their careers at the San Diego County Public Defender’s office. Hepburn says, “the Public Defender’s Office gave us invaluable experience. We were trying cases from start to finish while we were still in law school. The PD’s office has some of the best trial attorneys around, and it is one of the greatest environments to work and to learn the practice of law.” After passing the bar exam, Hepburn, Hernandez and Jung were immediately hired out of hundreds of applicants.
In the first couple years as attorneys, the three young attorneys distinguished themselves as exceptional trial attorneys that were willing to take any case to trial. A former client said, “Michael is a machine. He told me that my case was a total loser, but the deal is not worth taking because I was going to get the same deal or better after trial if we lost. Michael said we should go to trial and give the prosecutor some gray hair and maybe pull out a win. In trial, Michael was a magician. In jury selection he memorized all 50 of the jurors’ names. It was incredible. We ended up getting a hung verdict and the judge dismissed my case.”
Within the five years that Hernandez was at the Public Defender’s office, he established a reputation for taking on the most difficult cases and winning them at trial. At one point, he won six straight jury trials. Another attorney in the community said, “Michael was winning the craziest cases. In one case, his client was charged with driving under the influence and crashed into a pack of horses with people on them. The client blew a .18 on the breathalyzer, Michael took it to trial and won. In another case, Michael’s client was charged with theft when he was exiting Target with a shopping cart full of items. Michael told the jury that his client was just pretending to steal to see if the loss prevention officer following him was racially profiling him. The jury came back with a full acquittal.”
In another case, Hernandez represented a rap artist who was charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty and Michael asked the judge to make the Sheriff’s Department give the two pounds of marijuana they seized back to his client (before marijuana was legal in California). The judge granted Michael’s motion and the Sheriff’s Department returned the marijuana. Shortly after, Michael’s client expressed his gratitude by giving Michael a shout-out in a rap song titled, “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover.” Michael was quickly elevated to felonies where he worked on serious and violent crimes. Michael specialized in high-profile drug smuggling cartel cases where he represented people charged with smuggling kilos of narcotics across the United States and Mexican border.
Hepburn’s track record of success at the Public Defender’s Office began even before he was licensed to practice law. He obtained a not guilty verdict for a wrongfully accused U.S. Navy serviceman where the prosecution wouldn’t let down. Hepburn remembers the client telling him, “Thank you so much, I’m telling everyone to call you if they ever need an attorney,” and Hepburn smiled and said, ‘Well, thanks, but I’m actually just an intern, I don’t have a bar card yet.’”
It wasn’t long until he did become an attorney and achieved trial win after trial win, gaining a reputation as a skilled litigator amongst his peers and the court. He obtained not guilty verdicts in many misdemeanor and serious felony cases. One of his favorite not guilty verdicts was a case where his client’s conduct was captured on camera and law enforcement used a confidential informant. Hepburn used the entrapment defense, when most of his peers told him it would never work.
Hepburn spends much of his time giving back to the community by serving as a trial coach to law students at his alma mater, California Western School of Law. He believes his experience and time at the Public Defender’s Office served as the best training ground to become an aggressive plaintiff’s attorney, a switch he made after nearly five years of working for the county.
Jung has also had dozens of trial wins when he was at the Public Defender’s office. Most notably, he had a client who was charged with vehicular manslaughter after he ran into a man riding a bicycle in the middle of the night. Jung found a police officer in the case that analyzed the crash scene and determined that his client was not culpable. After going to his house to track him down, he and his investigator learned that this officer walked into a meeting with the District Attorney’s Office and tried to tell them that he believed it was too dark outside for the client to see where the body was placed and he thought they should drop the charges. They asked the investigating officer to leave the room and they continued to prosecute the case. Jung subpoenaed the officer to explain his side of the story at trial, arguing that his client was a medic in the military, and would never leave a person behind. The jury quickly returned a not guilty verdict.

Attending Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College

All three partners were accepted into the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College in 2015 and 2016. The Trial Lawyers College is known as the most prestigious trial training program in the world. It is hosted only twice a year on Gerry Spence’s ranch in Dubois, Wyoming. The college only takes an average of 50 students across the nation for each session that lasts between three to four weeks. Many of the top trial attorneys in the nation, including Gerry Spence, fly in to teach presentation and delivery techniques. In fact, professional actors and psychodramatists work daily with the students with the goal of mastering the art of presentation. At one point, Harrison Ford landed his helicopter on the ranch and started teaching the lawyers acting skills.
While at the ranch, Hepburn, Hernandez and Jung worked with elite plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys on specific techniques involving opening statements and presenting damages to a jury. They were immediately drawn to this style of storytelling because it allowed them to convey a full picture of their client to the jury. They loved to be able to convey a picture that started from the beginning of the client’s story, unlike the story they were generally bound to when representing people accused of crimes, where they were limited to a narrow window with the goal of highlighting reasonable doubt.

Leap to Civil Law

After the Trial Lawyers College, Hepburn, Hernandez and Jung created a plan to build a law firm where they could hand-pick clients that needed them most. They would use their individual skills and work as a team to build each client’s case. They would tell the opposition what they are willing to settle a case for instead of asking what the other side was willing to settle for. If the case did not settle for the just amount, they would take it to trial.
In March of 2018, all three left the San Diego Public Defenders’ Office and opened up Hepburn, Hernandez & Jung Trial Attorneys. All three partners work up every case, giving each client the benefit of having their own team of attorneys. Hepburn says, “I have an intense focus on evidence. Elliott is one of the best story-tellers in the industry, and Michael is the creative force and master strategist. We use all our skills to make sure our presentation is flawless.”
Hepburn is the head of the personal injury department. Jung handles personal injury and employment law and Hernandez handles personal injury, criminal defense and civil rights cases. The firm deals with nearly every type of personal injury case, including severe spinal injuries, brain injuries, and wrongful death. They work with the best experts in the field and are aggressive in fighting for clients who have suffered any type of catastrophic injury. They employ three attorneys, two paralegals, two law clerks, and three investigators.
In their first civil trial, the defendant’s insurance company refused to pay their client her offer of $23,000 for neck and back pain she felt after a collision. The defendant’s policy was only $50,000. The insurance company said that she wasn’t hurt because the impact was minor and she over-treated. The insurance company offered only $4,000 to settle the case. HHJ Trial Attorneys stepped in on the case last minute to take this insurance company head-on at trial. During trial, the insurance company spent tens of thousands of dollars calling expert doctors that graduated from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania medical schools. These doctors testified that the x-rays and MRIs showed no sign of injury and insinuated that the client was faking the injury.
Hepburn gave the opening statement and presented every @DavidHatfieldPhotography witness to the jury. Jung cross examined the experts, pitting them against each other, and gave the closing argument. He went into detail about how the client’s life had changed. He talked about her love for running and how that was taken away from her. He described intimate details about her pain, that he only knew through spending countless hours with her. The jury started deliberating and within a couple hours they reached a verdict of $110, 217.17. This number was an extreme outlier because it was over 27 times the offer. One juror stated, “I was in awe of Adam and Elliott’s performance throughout the jury trial. At one point during closing arguments I got tears in my eyes thinking about how hard Elliott was fighting for his client and how good it must feel to be his client watching him and knowing he was doing everything in his power for her.”
After the trial the defense attorney offered to pay the full policy of $50,000. The attorneys at HHJ rejected the offer and started preparing to file a lawsuit against the insurance company for bad faith for the remaining $60,000. The insurance company backed down and paid the full value reflected in the jury’s verdict.
Hepburn says this is just one of many cases that affirms the partners’ combination of effective storytelling and willingness to litigate, based on a genuine love for the art of lawyering. “We are constantly attending legal trainings and consulting with the best attorneys in the country to sharpen our skills as trial attorneys. Our firm places obtaining justice for our clients over our own personal profit as a firm, because that’s how legal representation should be—the client always comes first. Many of our cases end up in litigation because we know we can get the client more if we keep fighting. We take on a limited number of cases where we know we can give our client the full attention and dedication that they deserve. We pride ourselves on being connected to our clients. Every client has our personal cell phone number and can contact us anytime,” he says.

About HHJ

Since the start of the firm in 2018, HHJ Trial Attorneys has recovered millions of dollars for their clients. They have taken on giant corporations, gone toe-to-toe against the biggest law firms, brought lawsuits against high-profile celebrities such as Drake and Odell Beckham Junior, sued banks in complex employment disputes, litigated cases throughout the United States, appeared in federal court, and handled many high-profile media cases.
HHJ Trial Attorneys are often consulted on serious cases by other attorneys to aid in trial strategy and presentation. Approximately 30 percent of their cases are brought in from other firms hiring them for their litigation skills. HHJ is well known for giving generous referral fees to referring attorneys and donating their time by helping new attorneys.
“With more than 100 jury trials of experience, the attorneys at Hepburn, Hernandez & Jung Trial Attorneys will continue their zealous advocacy on behalf of those who have been wronged and those who deserve a team of attorneys that won’t stop until justice is served,” Hernandez says.

HHJ Trial Attorneys
(Hepburn, Hernandez & Jung Trial Attorneys)
945 4th Avenue, Suite 201
San Diego, CA 92101
Instagram: @hhjtrialattorneys
Facebook: hhjtrialattorneys

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