Nicole Pifari is a partner in the Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver, PC (“RLS”) Legal Defense Group. She has successfully defended police officers from criminal prosecutions in both state and federal court, and also represents officers around the state facing administrative investigation, disciplinary appeal, or the trauma of involvement in critical incidents.
In 2022, Nicole squared off against three different San Francisco prosecutors in a highly publicized use-of-force case against a San Francisco police officer, the first of its kind in that city. Not only was her client acquitted, but throughout the trial she exposed corruption and dishonesty on the part of the elected district attorney, Chesa Boudin, that made national headlines. Months later, Chesa Boudin was dethroned by San Francisco voters in a recall election.
Another one of her clients was acquitted in 2019 following a jury trial after he faced criminal charges for excessive force on the job. The case she presented through that trial was so strong, the court exercised a rarely-used power to dismiss the charges and enter a judgment of acquittal prior to sending the jury to deliberate.
Nicole second-chaired several other trial victories including the complete acquittal of a Huntington Park police officer for three counts of child abuse and excessive force, the full acquittal of a Pomona corporal in federal court of one count of felony excessive force and two counts of felony obstruction of justice, and the successful defense of a Bay Area county assessor who faced allegations of serious misconduct. Nicole also authored the motion that led to the dismissal of all criminal charges against several San Francisco deputies, including Scott Neu, in the alleged “fight club” case. Deputy Neu had faced a total of 15 felony and misdemeanor charges related to allegations of excessive force.
Before joining the firm, she did work for the Oakland City Attorney’s Office in the Public Safety Unit as well as for the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office in the Misdemeanor Jury Trial Unit.
Nicole is a graduate of UC Hastings School of Law. Prior to law school, she was a police officer for the City of Missoula, Montana. During her time at Missoula PD, she was a canine officer and a member of the POA Board of Directors.
Nicole teaches classes across the state on video analysis, internal affairs investigations, and other legal issues.
Disclaimer: Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee.
• B.A., University of Montana. Missoula, Montana.
• J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law. San Francisco, California.