Donald Horgan


Donald Horgan has been representing criminal defendants at the trial and appellate levels since the late 1980s. Before that, he served for a year as a deputy in the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. In 1987, he joined the San Francisco firm of Topel & Goodman, where, among other things, he successfully defended former officers of Savings and Loan institutions against federal government claims of fraud and financial mismanagement. During this period, he developed an expertise in both state and federal criminal appeals.

Don began working with Dennis Riordan as an appellate specialist in 1996. Together they founded Riordan & Horgan in 2003. Don has served as co-counsel at the trial and appellate levels on most of the firm’s major cases since that date. He played an especially important role in the post-trial briefing and evidentiary hearing in United States v. Hayat, wherein a federal magistrate recently recommended the vacation of Hamid Hayat’s 2006 conviction for providing material support to terrorists. Among his other notable achievements, Mr. Horgan obtained a reversal of his client’s state court conviction for second degree murder on federal habeas corpus in Kanda v. Larson; an appellate reversal of his client’s state “third strike” fraud conviction that had resulted in a sentence of 25 years to life in People v. Foroutan; and an appellate reversal of his client’s rape and molestation convictions in People v. Laviene.

Don was also the chief author of the briefing that led the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2010 to grant Damien Echols, convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to death in the high profile case of the West Memphis Three, a new hearing to demonstrate that new DNA and other exculpatory evidence entitled Damien and his co-defendants to a new trial. That ruling was critical to negotiating Mr. Echols’s subsequent release in August 2011. In recognition of his work, Don received the 2012 Justice Award from the Innocence Project, the 2012 Abolition Award from Death Penalty Focus, and the 2011 “President’s Award” from the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He was prominently featured in “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” the HBO documentary that examined the progress and final outcome of the West Memphis Three case.

Don received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1985. He also received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with honors in 1981.