top of page

Robert M. Sanger

Robert M. Sanger, Senior Partner, Sanger Swysen and Dunkle

Senior Partner

Robert M. Sanger, senior partner in the firm, is an experienced trial lawyer who has practiced in Santa Barbara since 1973.   Mr. Sanger is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, certified by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.  Mr. Sanger has tried a number of high profile cases and has handled complex criminal and civil cases in the State and Federal courts throughout California and in other jurisdiction, including the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) and the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) .

Mr. Sanger defends individuals and companies facing prosecution in State and Federal court. He defends against accusations such as capital crimes, homicide, sex offenses, white collar crimes, securities fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, embezzlement, bribery, anti-trust violations, and other crimes.  He litigates high stakes disputes including business and corporate litigation, complex cases, regulatory matters, SEC, FTC, FDA, EPA, anti-trust and defense of civil litigation related to governmental investigations. 

Mr. Sanger earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1970 and his Juris Doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law in 1973. 

Mr. Sanger is admitted to practice by the State Bar of California, U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Central, Eastern and Southern Districts of California, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Ninth Circuit, Tenth Circuit and D.C. Circuit, the United States Tax Court and the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Sanger is a frequent contributor of articles and book reviews published in the American Bar Association Journal, The Federal Lawyer, The Champion, and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Forum.  He is the author of a monthly column for the Santa Barbara Lawyer Magazine entitled Criminal Justice (2006 to present).

Mr. Sanger published an article entitled “Comparison of the Illinois Commission Report on Capital Punishment Recommendations with the Capital Punishment System in California”  in Volume 44 of the University of Santa Clara Law Review, September 2003.

Mr. Sanger published  a chapter entitled "A Scientific Approach to Scientific Evidence: A Four-Stage Rule for Admissibility and Scope" in UTILIZING FORENSIC SCIENCE IN CRIMINAL CASES, 2014 EDITION LEADING LAWYERS ON ANALYZING THE LATEST TRENDS IN FORENSICS AND INCORPORATING THEM INTO DEFENSE STRATEGIES. (2013 WL 5757941.)

Mr. Sanger published an article entitled “Duties of Capital Trial Counsel Under the California 'Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016'” in Volume 53, Number 3 of Criminal Law Bulletin.  The article discusses the obligations of trial and post-conviction counsel in the wake of the passage of Proposition 66.

Mr. Sanger is the co-chair of the Capital Case Defense Seminar (CCDS).  He served on the faculty of CCDS from 2006 to 2009 and 2011 to 2017.   He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Santa Barbara College of Law.  He lectured at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College as a Guest Lecturer.   He lectured at MCLE courses for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), the California Public Defender's Association (CPDA), Santa Barbara County Bar Association, Kern County Bar Association and the Santa Barbara Criminal Defense Bar Association.  He presented at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Symposium on the Wrongfully Convicted.

Mr. Sanger is a member of the American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), California Public Defenders Association, Santa Barbara Women Lawyers, Santa Barbara County Bar Association, and Santa Barbara Criminal Defense Lawyer's Bar Association.  He is a past President of CACJ (2013) and has served on the Board of Governors from 2006 to 2014.  He is a member of Death Penalty Focus and has been a Director from 1998 to the present.  He served as the President of the American Civil Liberties Union, Santa Barbara Chapter from 1987 to 1989 and 1991 to 1993.  He served as a Delegate to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference between 2004 and 2007.

Mr. Sanger is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) in the Jurisprudence Section.  He is the Chair of the Firearms and Toolmarks Academy Standards Board. 

Mr. Sanger has received recognition for his work on behalf of the public, in civil rights and criminal defense, including, the California State Bar Board of Governor's Award for Pro Bono Services, 1982; Bill of Rights Award, ACLU, Santa Barbara Chapter, 1994; Santa Barbara Criminal Defense Bar Association Order of the Reasonable Doubt, 1993; Death Penalty Focus Special Achievement Award 2004.

Mr. Sanger is listed in Naifeth and Smith, The Best Lawyers in America.  He has obtained an AV® Preeminent™ rating and is listed in the Martindale-Hubbell, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He is also designated a SuperLawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine.

View Selected Works of Robert M. Sanger


10/2015 - By Robert M. Sanger

Respondeat Superior in Criminal Cases
04/2013 - By Robert M. Sanger

Science and the Law – A New Rule for Admissibility
04/2012 - By Robert M. Sanger

Mental Retardation and Being Put to Death by the State, Part 1
08/2011 - By Robert M. Sanger

Money Laundering and Financial Crimes in Santa Barbara
01/2011 - By Robert M. Sanger

bottom of page