Throughout his career, Mr. Sheahen has been featured on national and
local news on many occasions. He has appeared on Good Morning America,
the Today Show, Anderson Cooper and CNN. The Los Angeles Times has
reported on his work on any number of important cases. He is the senior
advisor to many young criminal defense lawyers in Southern California.
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - 2013
The courts speak of Mr. Sheahen in glowing terms. In People v. Panah,
35 Cal.4th 395, 420 (2005), the Supreme Court of California stated
Mr. Sheahen is "a veteran criminal lawyer with death penalty experience."
In People v. Park, 13 Cal.Rptr.2d 572, 574 n.1 (1992), the California Court
of Appeal described Mr. Sheahen's work as "remarkable" and stated:
"Mr. Sheahen is an experienced criminal litigator. Over the years, he has represented rock stars (Personalities, The Washington Post (Aug. 26, 1991) p. C3); successfully secured the dismissal of all charges of the man accused of starting the disastrous fire which destroyed the Los Angeles City Library (D.A. Office Won't Charge Suspect in L.A. Library Fire, Los Angeles Times (Mar. 3, 1987) Metro. p. 1, col. 5); convinced a Court of Appeal division to uphold a grant of probation to a deputy sheriff convicted of murder of a fetus which occurred during a notorious illegal drug raid (Fetus Murder Verdict Against Deputy Upheld, Los Angeles Times (July 12, 1985) part 2, p. 2, col. 1); and was quoted by Time Magazine in an article addressing the scope of California's murder law. (Belushi's Death; The charge: second degree (Mar. 28, 1983) Time, at p. 21.)"
Artist Sketch from 2018 Federal Jury Trial
The Today Show - December 2012
Born in Cleveland, Robert Sheahen attended the University of Notre Dame, the Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University. After receiving his juris doctor degree from Case Western Reserve in 1969, Mr. Sheahen went on to the study of advanced criminal law at the University of Southern California.
On the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), Mr. Sheahen placed above the 98th percentile with a legal aptitude score of 689. His writing ability score of 74 at the time was above the 99th percentile. He received a full academic scholarship to study law.
While at Case Western Reserve, Mr. Sheahen was named a Member of the Law Review and he published an analysis of current developments in the juvenile justice system. He was elected President of the Student Bar Association by a margin of 70 - 30. As SBA president, Mr. Sheahen helped to create the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law -- which now has been a thriving legal journal for more than fifty years. In 1969, a joint faculty-student vote named him the Outstanding Senior of his graduating class.
In 1970, Mr. Sheahen moved to Los Angeles and joined the Law Offices of Barry Tarlow as a federal appellate specialist. Their first case together was a Miranda victory -- United States v. Garcia, 431 F.2d 134 (9th Cir. 1970) -- and many more came after that. In 1973, Mr. Sheahen helped Mr. Tarlow publish a major work on search warrants which became the paradigm research source for practitioners for at least two decades.
In 1974, Mr. Sheahen opened his own office in Century City for the practice of criminal law and he began an extraordinary run of victories in homicide cases, most notably the Calhoun, Choi and Kefurt cases from the late 1970s. The Kefurt case was an astonishing achievement -- a complete dismissal of all charges for a young man who had faced the death penalty for the double murder of his mother and father.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Sheahen successfully represented hundreds of defendants and he established himself at the highest tier of criminal trial lawyers in Los Angeles. In 1982, he defended the woman accused of the murder of John Belushi. In 1984, he won a hung jury for a Korean murder defendant in a 92-day jury trial in Norwalk. In 1987, he managed to get all charges dropped in the arson case of the man accused of burning down the Los Angeles county library.
In 1991, Mr. Sheahen represented R&B icon Rick James -- accused of torturing a young woman with a crack pipe. In 1996, he won a dismissal of murder charges for a Korean missionary accused of the torture murder of his wife in the now-famous "exorcism" case in Malibu.
He has represented many members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, including its long-time president George Christie. In 2003, Mr. Sheahen successfully defended a transgendered sex worker, accused in Ventura of murder for the purpose of robbery.
A seminal victory came in 2012 for Lois Goodman. In a case of international scope, a professional tennis referee was arrested at the United States Open in New York and charged with the murder of her husband. Three months later, through Mr. Sheahen's relentless efforts, prosecutors were forced to drop all charges against Mrs. Goodman.
Taking the Goodman case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in 2014
Mr. Sheahen won the right for Mrs. Goodman to sue the county coroner for falsely calling her husband's
death a homicide.
Mr. Sheahen continues to win jury trials in the most difficult criminal cases, such as the Howard Williams
special circumstances murder case in Long Beach and the Eric Willis prosecution in Lancaster. A jury
acquitted Eric Willis of serious assault charges in 2017. The Williams case, involving three dead drug
dealers, led to two hung juries in 2017 and 2018.
Mr. Sheahen resolves important cases as well. In 2018, prosecutors in Ventura dropped first degree murder
charges against a young man charged with shooting two unarmed men on a city street at 1 a.m. and allowed
the young man to plead guilty to manslaughter.
ROBERT AND SCOTT SHEAHEN
FEBRUARY 16, 2019
Mr. Sheahen also wins million dollar awards in civil cases. In 2014, Mr. Sheahen won $1.8 million for a surfer
who was shot by the Torrance police in the Christopher Dorner manhunt. That same year, Mr. Sheahen was cocounsel on a $5.2 million win for a lady run down in a crosswalk.
In recent years, Mr. Sheahen has discreetly represented many persons and corporations charged with white collar crime.
Mr. Sheahen lives in Sherman Oaks. He has managed his softball team, the Indians, to seven championships. He enjoys playing hockey with his sons. He devotes many hours to helping those afflicted with drug and alcohol addictions. He continues to take on drug and homicide defendants on a selective basis and he continues to win big cases.
His favorite movie is Shane.
ROBERT SHEAHEN AND SCOTT SHEAHEN
FEBRUARY 16, 2019
George Christie says, "Robert Sheahen is the best lawyer in the State of
California. When I was president of the Hells Angels, Robert Sheahen
won many cases for us. One of our members faced the death penalty
and Robert got him out in three years. Robert knows the law, he
knows the facts and he knows the judges. When you walk in with
Robert, they treat you with respect."
George added, "For 20 years, Robert Sheahen kept the Hells Angels
from ever being adjudged a 'criminal street gang.'"
Photo from Ventura Star
Robert Sheahen and George Christie Leaving Courthouse
The Library Book
Best-selling author Susan Orlean writes:
"Robert Sheahen is a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles who has collected a stable of interesting clients, including the president of the Hells Angels; singer Rick James, who was accused of torturing a woman with a crack pipe; and the woman who was charged with giving John Belushi his fatal drug dose. Sheahen has a strong jaw, an intense stare, and a disarming way of making fun of himself."
Susan Orlean, The Library Book, page 253 (2018).
The Library Book can be found:
Rains on Me
In a song remembering his friends from the Troubadour, Tom Waits sings:
"All God's chilluns, can't you see, everywhere I go, it rains on me.
Louis Lista and Marchese, everywhere I go, it rains on me.
Robert Sheahen and Paul Body, everywhere I go it rains on me.
I went down to Argyle, I went down to Dix, everywhere I go it rains on me.
To get my powders and get my fix, everywhere I go it rains on me."
T. Waits, C. Weiss, Rains on Me (2006).
Rains on Me:
In Mother's Day (2016), Jennifer Aniston and Robert Sheahen appear together in a scene at a hospital. Mr. Sheahen plays a physician near a vending machine. Over the hospital public address system, the voice says "calling Dr. Sheahen." It is a fleeting appearance by Mr. Sheahen but it nevertheless was most special to be part of the final film directed by the late Garry Marshall. Mr. Marshall was the pitcher on the Indians, Mr. Sheahen's softball team.
Brick at Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland
Argument Before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- 2014
The Ali Harajly Case -- 1989
Press Conference with the late Jack Trimarco - - 2012
The Rick James Case -- 1991
The Rick James Case on Inside Edition -- 1991
Robert, Scott and Kyle Sheahen
Staples Center 2019
Copyright 2019 JWoody Designs
Mr. Sheahen thanks all his law professors -- especially, Ronald Coffey, Lewis Katz and Richard Robbins -- for making this career possible.
Mr. Sheahen has been pictured, quoted or featured in the Los Angeles Times on numerous occasions throughout his professional career. A complete chronological listing from 1985 to the present can be found under "Robert Sheahen" in the archives section at latimes.com.