Lawsuit brought against attorney Femino

Attorney Stephana Femino

By Larry Judkins

Glenn County Observer

Client Shelly M. Keehl wasn’t getting the results she wanted from Chico attorney Stephana Femino, so she is suing her.

Femino, you may recall, is the attorney who was arrested Friday, July 29, by investigators from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office for allegedly harboring her fugitive boyfriend, who was also her client. She was taken into custody outside the Butte County Superior Court Friday morning after a warrant for her arrest was issued by a Butte County judge the previous night.

According to a press release, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said his office began investigating Femino in June after it was discovered she was allegedly assisting her boyfriend, Adam Ashford, 49, in remaining a fugitive on several felony arrest warrants. Ramsey said Ashford is a convicted felon and was on probation in several serious cases, including possession of drugs while armed with a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon, and felony evading the police.

Ramsey said Ashford had violated the terms of his probation earlier this year and failed to appear in court on May 11. At that time, a Butte County judge issued “no bail” warrants for his arrest for the probation violations.

Ramsey said Femino represented Ashford on those cases and was in court when Ashford failed to show up and the warrants were issued. In the weeks that followed, law enforcement became aware of evidence that showed Femino was assisting Ashford in remaining free and avoiding the warrants.

Ramsey said that in late June his office began a formal investigation into Femino and Ashford, and learned that Femino was allegedly allowing Ashford to stay in her law office in Chico. It also became apparent that Femino and Ashford were engaged in a romantic relationship.

Law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies participated in the investigation, and on June 24 located and arrested Ashford, who was with Femino in a car near Butte College.

Adam Ashford

Ramsey said after Ashford’s arrest, investigators seized his cell phone and obtained a specialized search warrant designed to protect the privacy of Femino’s other clients, as there was a claim that Ashford had worked as an office manager for Femino for a time. A download of Ashford’s cell phone yielded hundreds of texts between Femino and Ashford while Ashford was out to warrant.

Ramsey said those texts confirmed Femino, 47, was providing Ashford with money and shelter to assist him in remaining a fugitive. He said that after his investigative team concluded that portion of their investigation, they determined there was sufficient evidence to arrest and charge Femino for harboring a fugitive, which is a felony in California.

Investigators then obtained an arrest warrant for Femino, which resulted in her being taken into custody Friday and being taken to Butte County Jail. Ramsey said the information surrounding Femino’s arrest has been shared with the California State Bar.

He also said in recent months local judges have sanctioned Femino over $10,000 in fines for deficiencies in her practice of law in the local courts.

Two days before Femino’s arrest, Keehl submitted the following letter to a small claims court judge in Butte County. The letter is reproduced here verbatim:

Superior Court of California

County of Butte

1775 Concord Ave

Chico Ca 95928

July 27, 2022

Dear Honorable Judge,

I am filing this Small Claims in the amount of $5000.00 for Services not Rendered. I obtained the attorney Stephana Femino to represent my son in a Dui case; agreement was to attend all court dates, file 2 motions and all forms required to submit these motions (Medical Diversion Program, Assessment, Treatment Plan, Ramero Motion, 3 Strike Specialist Report). Re: CS # 20CF06237

1/4/21 I paid Femino up front as requested and in full. $4500.00

12/14/21 I paid for a ‘3 Strike Specialist” she recommended as her associate to do a report supporting the Ramero Motion. $500.00

To date … No services were rendered except an application for the Medical Diversion program. No other forms required for the application where ever filed to complete this request. Femino did not represent him in this Including never filing the forms I obtained privately from a private Clinical Social Worker (Medical Assessment, Treatment Plan, and Letter from a Clinical Social worker to the judge). The program was denied due to lack of evidence and representation because Femino didn’t do her job, thus ‘Causing harm to client’. A letter to the court from the Clinical Social Worker Stephanie Badame is attached.

To date … The Ramero Motion was never filed and the ‘3 Strike Specialist’ never produced a report. I have asked Femino several times for the name of the ‘Specialist’ and she has refused to and evaded giving me any of that information or my money back.

3/24/22 I gave Femino a ‘Render Service or Quit”, Femino has not responded to this request to date and refuses to answer any calls. (Attached for your review)

4/13/22 Femino was officially fired, she did no show to another court date (sentencing), Judge Rodriquez gave client another attorney and submitted another OSC [order to show cause] on Femino

Judge Rodriquez asked Femino to show cause/OSC why she was abandoning her client because the DA and himself where also getting tired of her not there for court or doing her job. Femino did not show again for court on her OSC. Femino attended only Apr. 7 out of 20 or more court dates since 1/21. The Judge in this case had forewarned Femino several times to show for her client. All of this is documented in the Superior Court records and online case search under: Chris Keehl Cs #22-0-04470

5/4/22 Femino was arrested by the Honorable Judge Rodriguez for Contempt on this case. Femino had a ‘No Bail’ hold, I don’t know how long she stayed in jail.

5/22 After Release from jail, Judge Rodriquez asked Femino for another order to show cause/OSC, she failed to Show Cause again so he gave her $1000.00 fine.

I have also reported Femino and submitted all evidence and documentation to:

Butte County DA Fraud Unit

DA Investigator Ryan Hutts

(530) 53 8-7465

The State Bar Of California 4/6/22 CS #22-0-04470

Investigator Timothy Byers

12 other clients have recently submitted complaints to the Bar regarding Femino and she is currently being investigated.

Butte County Bar Association

Spoke with ‘Chance’

(530) 332-8156

There are no Arbitrary services available so I had no choice but to do a Small Claims.

I have attached all evidence and documentation for your review. I am asking for my fees to be returned and resolve. Femino has caused the client harm and both of us severe stress. Femino has evaded all correspondence with me and refuses to give my fees back. I have been dealing with this for over a year and would greatly appreciate your much needed help in this matter.

Thank you,

Shelly M. Keehl

Magalia Ca 95954

In an attorney misconduct complaint to the California State Bar Association, dated April 6, 2022, Keehl also wrote the following. This is also copied verbatim, except that the single, long paragraph has been broken into several smaller paragraphs:

4/21 paid in full, the amount of 4500.00 to Stephana Femino for services and representation for Chris Keehl (my son) in DUI case (4th DUI). The Agreement was for Diversion Program so he could get the help he needs and Romero Motion to remove strike and enhancements (that is over 12 years old).

3/21 Medical Diversion: Referred and recommended by Stephana Femino; paid 3300.00 extra fee to Mary Ellen Smith, an addiction specialist. The agreement was to build proof and prepare Chris Keehl for the Diversion Program to be approved by courts: to council bi/weekly, assessment, treatment plan, to write recommendation for Diversion Program to the courts, attend court dates to recommend and support the Diversion Program for Chris Keehl. (Mary E. Smith never did her job, she was fired and taken to small claims at Butte County Superior Court for services not rendered on 1/28/22 cs# 218002960 2280A00704 for your review. Smith did mention on court record and it is in the judgement that Stephana Femino told Smith that ‘lt wasn’t important to show to court’, Femino never made sure any of Smith’s work for client Chris Keehl was done for submission to courts). The clinical forms where never turned in; court was set out several times. Chris did not get program due to the negligence and abandonment of both Smith and Femino. This caused the client harm (Civil code 1549; stated in SC Judgement) He didn’t get the help he needed, program for his addiction and mental health issues. did report Mary E. Smith to the Butte County DA Investigation dept as well as the CCAPP.

1/16/21 hired private Clinical Social Worker: Stephanie Badame, Did the assessment, treatment plan, and letter recommending Chris for Medical Diversion program that he needed for court. Femino never returned calls or any correspondence with Badame to obtain or submitted them. finally went and got them few weeks later and took copies to Femino’s office personally and asked her to submit them; they were never filed. (The Medical Diversion was denied by courts due to lack of evidence on representations side). finally submitted them myself 3/23/22, after courts denied the program, just to show proof to courts that it was never submitted.

8/11/22 Trial: was set out several times, months went by, no forms or evidence was filed for this trial. Finally, she shows for court on trial setting and had Chris plea, the trial was held. Femino had no evidence filed and pressured Chris to plead ‘No Contest’ (he had already pleaded Not Guilty prior to this) Chris and were left very confused and concerned regarding the representation but didn’t know what to do. There again, where no forms filed for any defense for Chris or evidence supporting his case or the Diversion program.

12/14/21 Ramero Motion/Strike Enhancements: paid extra fee in am0unt of 500.00 as recommended by Stephana Femino, for Strike Specialist to do report to submit with the Romero Motion. told her that’s what had hired her to do months ago, but she assured me it would benefit Chris for his strike and enhancements and Ramero Motion. got receipt and have asked several times who the specialist is, Femino refuses to give me the name of Specialist.

3/23/22 Sentencing: Has been set out several times, it has been Apr. 15 months due to so many “No Shows”, the “Work not Ready” for Chris’s court or defense. Femino has missed so many that even the DA and The Judge have noticed; Judge Rodriquez stated at Chris’s sentencing that ‘He will not continue any more court dates due to Femino missing to many/no show’ and that ‘He requested proof from Femino that she was at doctor’s Appointment’. The Judge even stated to Chris that He was sorry that he has gone so long without proper representation. All of this is recorded by the Court Recorder and should be on file).

3/24/22 Render Services or Return Fees and Provide Requested information: submitted written render services or return fees. requested once again, the Specialist’s name, copy of all forms submitted tocourts, and an itemized list of the fees for the 4500.00. asked for the information within weeks’ time as the last sentencing is in weeks from request and would need time to review and decide if we need to obtain another attorney to help with Chris’s sentencing and Ramero Motion he still needs filed. Femino never responded, ‘As Usual’, have not heard from her to date. Missed court dates (apr 15 missed out of 23). Femino has not seen Chris or talked to him for several months and only few times within the year. Femino has also refused to show itemized list of what the 4500.00 fee has gone towards and is refusing to give the name of specialist because she doesn’t want to return that 500.00. The only forms submitted to the courts from Femino for Chris is the Application for the Medical Diversion. No other reports, evidence, or forms have been filed to date or any copies given to us as requested. This unethical behavior, abandonment, negligence, and misconduct has caused harm and major hardship to the client, Chris Keehl. This has affected his case in negative way. have letter from Stephanie Badame stating Femino did not correspond for the client Chris’ assessment and treatment plan. did report all of this to the local Butte County DA investigator office 4/4/22. have all receipts, saved documentation, text messages, and any other evidence supporting this

Keehl’s case is scheduled to be heard in the Butte County Superior Court in Oroville on Friday, Sept. 16.

As for Ashford, who is no longer represented by Femino, he was back in court on Wednesday, Aug. 17, for “Further Arraignment/Entry of Plea”. He was then returned to the custody of the Butte County Jail.

Murder victim Efrain Vargas, 14

Femino is also the attorney for a 17-year-old boy accused in the murder of Efrain Vargas, 14, and the stabbing of another child, 15, at a Quinceañera in Corning in April. The 15-year-old survived the attack.

A fitness hearing was supposed to be held in the Tehama County Superior Court in Red Bluff on Tuesday, Aug. 16, but once again she was a no-show. A new fitness hearing to determine if the 17-year-old should be tried as an adult was set for Thursday, Sept. 1.

On Tuesday, Aug. 16, the judge said Femino will continue to represent the boy.

Femino attended Orland High School. She began studying in 1994 at California State University, Chico, majoring in political science, then she began studying law at Cal Northern School of Law in 2001.

Before becoming an attorney, she worked as a courtroom clerk at the Butte County Superior Court. She was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2010, and opened her law offices in Chico.

She was a resident of Paradise and a survivor of the Camp Fire of November, 2018.

Adam Ashford has a very long criminal history. In Butte County alone, between 1994 and 2022, the court’s website lists seven misdemeanor cases and 11 felony cases against him.

Ashford has also been arrested in Yuba, Colusa, Shasta, Glenn, and Placer Counties.

Femino was relieved as Ashford’s attorney on July 27, two days before her arrest.

One thought on “Lawsuit brought against attorney Femino”

  1. Thank you for sharing this information to the public to help prevent any further harm to clients or her obtaining any further clients while not intending to do her job as she has done to so many.


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