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2018 MCBA Board of Directors


Charles Des RochesPresident

Charles Des Roches area emphasis are on Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law, Estate Tax Planning, and Business & Taxation.


Mr. Des Roches holds the highest rating "AV" from Martindale-Hubbell and is certified as a specialist in probate, estate planning and trust law by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization. His extensive experience in estate planning ranges from basic estate plans to more complex and sophisticated estate plans. He has a wealth of experience in administering both modest and large trusts/estates.


Mr. Des Roches also handles conservatorships and guardianships both as a private and court-appointed attorney. He  works with clients to find creative solutions to their problems, tailoring each estate plan to the individual needs of the client, including tax planning. He assists clients in the smooth and efficient administration of decedent’s estates and trusts.

Thomas Espinoza, President Elect


Christopher Panetta, Immediate Past President 

Christopher Panetta is an attorney and Shareholder at the law firm of Fenton & Keller. Chris’ practice focuses on civil litigation, including labor & employment law and general business litigation. Chris has been in practice since 1994 representing both employees and employers, large and small businesses in many local industries, and individuals with a variety of civil litigation needs. Chris also regularly serves as a mediator and has successfully resolved numerous employment related cases.


Robert Ward, Treasurer

Robert Ward holds a BS in Finance and Accounting from CSUN. He is a GGU graduate with a Masters in taxation. He is the owner and real estate broker with Carmel Property Management. He is also the owner and CPA with Ward Accountancy, Inc. for over 20 years.


Robert is husband to Jeannie Ward and has been married for 23 years. He is the father of 19 year old quadruplets! 

William Litt

William Litt is a Deputy County Counsel with Monterey County, where he has worked since 2006 handling general litigation, impact litigation, and employment law, and advising various County departments over the years. 


Prior to that, Bill had his own law practice in Redwood City from 2002 to 2006, practicing in the areas of civil rights, employment, and consumer law.  Bill previously has worked as a legal services attorney for indigent clients, and for the court-appointed neutral civil rights monitor for a nationwide restaurant chain. 


Bill earned his JD from UCLA School of Law in 1993 and his BA in history from Cornell University in 1990.


Hon. Vanessa Vallarta, Judge

Vanessa W. Vallarta currently serves as a Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Monterey in the Civil Division.  She was appointed to the bench in December 2013 by Governor Edmund G. Brown.  Prior to her appointment, she served as the City Attorney for the City of Salinas and in private practice in Salinas, Monterey and San Francisco.  She is a graduate of Princeton University and Stanford Law School.

Ryan Donlon

Ryan Donlon is a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Monterey.  He is happy to volunteer for the Monterey County Bar Association to advance its missions of bringing legal services to underserved communities and of promoting collegiality of the local bar. 

When not working, Ryan enjoys experiencing the natural and cultural wonders of Monterey County with his family. 

Peter Brazil

A fourth-generation Salinas resident, Brazil was raised in Salinas and attended school there, including Lincoln School, Washington Junior High School, and Salinas High School.

Peter’s father was the Chief Investigator for the Public Defenders’ Office, his mother was a Salinas school district teacher and vice principal, and his grandfather was the District Attorney for Monterey County, as well as a Superior Court Judge for Monterey County.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a legal environment of business from California State University at Fresno in 1995, Peter graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from Monterey College of Law in 2000. He was admitted to the State Bar of California and the Monterey County Bar Association in 2004.

Previously, he was employed as a law clerk from 1998-2004 and associate attorney from 2004-2016 at the Salinas law offices of Theodore H. Cominos, LLP.

In addition to business and cannabis law, Peter is experienced in real property law, landlord-tenant, land use, corporation law, contract law, wills, trusts, and probate.

His interests include playing guitar, computers, hiking, swimming, physics, and astronomy.

Laura Franklin

Laura L. Franklin is an attorney with Fenton & Keller specializing in employment law litigation and counseling.  She is currently the immediate past president of the Monterey County Women Lawyers Association (MCWLA) and has served as MCWLA’s representative to the MCBA board of directors for the past two years. 


Laura received her law degree from Monterey College of Law and her undergraduate degree from University of California, Riverside.


Lori Espinoza

Lori Espinoza is a graduate of Monterey College of Law and has been practicing law since December 2007 in the areas of Conservatorships, Probate and Trust Litigation, Unlawful Detainers, Restraining Orders.  Ms. Espinoza also serves as a Deputy City Attorney prosecuting misdemeanor municipal code violations for the City of Monterey.


Ms. Espinoza is a past president of the Monterey County Bar Association and has served on the Board since 2011.  Ms. Espinoza’s service on the Board is based upon her desire to give back to the local legal community and community in general that has enriched her life both personally and professionally.  Ms. Espinoza is also a member of the Monterey County Women Lawyers Association and has served on their Board since 2014.


Ryan O'Connell

Ryan O’Connell is a partner with Rucka, O’Boyle, Lombardo & McKenna. He handles a wide variety of personal injury cases including products liability, automobile accidents, toxic torts, wrongful death, elder abuse, and premises liability matters. In addition to personal injury law, Ryan also practices workers’ compensation.

Ryan earned his Juris Doctorate from Monterey College of Law and his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from California State University Sacramento. Outside of his practice, Ryan has  volunteered as a Neutral Hearing Officer for the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, hearing a wide variety of agricultural and pesticide disputes. He was the 2015-16 NLD Chair for the Consumer Attorneys of California, an organization dedicated to protecting the constitutional right to trial by jury for all consumers, championing the cause of those who deserve redress for injury to person or property, and resisting efforts to curtail the rights of such injured persons. He is also served on the 2017 Executive Committee and Board of Governors for Consumer Attorneys of California.


Alisa Balesteri, Monterey College of Law Representative

Alisa Balesteri was born and raised on the Monterey Peninsula. After graduating from Notre Dame in Salinas, Alisa attended MPC for two years. She then left for Madison, South Dakota on a softball scholarship. 


After her undergrad in Social Sciences at Dakota State, she came home and began coaching all ages of softball across the peninsula. Alisa is now finishing her last few classes at Monterey College of Law, and will be graduating May 2019.  Alisa is a legal assistant at Horan Lloyd in Carmel, and volunteers often as a Court Mediator at both the Monterey and Marina Court House.  


Alisa has served as the Monterey College of Law Student Representative on MCBA Board of Directors for the past two years, and was recently reelected by the Student Body to serve a third year. 

Laura Elkington

Laura grew up in Minnesota and graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors degree in Communication. 


She spent 3 years working in corporate banking, then 2 years working for Target Corporation in Minneapolis, MN.


She and her husband moved to the island of Kauai in 2014, where they lived for 3 years. They then moved back to the mainland and lived in Lake Tahoe, CA.


After moving to Monterey in July 2018, Laura pursued the position with the Monterey County Bar Association and was hired August 1, 2018. She brings her expertise in meeting and event management, an administrative background, and a positive attitude to the position. She is honored to be part of the Monterey County Bar Association.


Ramon Campos, Secretary


Jorge Vargas

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