Ayana Curry | Lawyer

Ayana Curry

Burris Nisenbaum Curry & Lacy | Partner

Ayana Curry was born and raised in Oakland, CA and first served as a student intern to the Law Offices of John L. Burris when she was in high school. She then returned to the office in 2000 as a lawyer where her primary role was serving as junior counsel on the infamous Oakland Riders case and managing the firm’s 119 clients.

Ayana went on to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the California Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Appeals, Writs & Trials Division, where she discovered her deep interest in legal research and writing and affinity for appellate practice. Ayana, then, served as Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, in Atlanta, Georgia, in the Appellate Division handling all manner of criminal appeals, writs, post-verdict motions, and specialized law and motion work.

Ayana rejoined the Law Offices of John L. Burris in 2009 and handled all of the firms appellate matters and significant law and motion work. In 2014, Curry served as the briefing attorney in Sheehan v. City and County of San Francisco to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the secured the protections of the ADA to arrests. And she was a member of the team that litigated the case in the United States Supreme Court.

Curry has focused on appellate practice for over 20 years, handling a wide range of civil rights matters in both the federal and state courts, and working on cases involving police misconduct, employment law, race and gender-based discrimination, civil procedure, evidentiary matters, and bankruptcy. Ayana’s appellate work has resulted in numerous published opinions, in the United States Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, California and Georgia Courts of Appeals.

Ayana Curry, however, is more than a respected civil rights and appellate lawyer. She is a mentor. Whenever she has a spare minute, she can be found working with and guiding new law clerks. Of particular interest is teaching law clerks skills to write creative, well-supported, and well-argued claims and complaints as these are the backbone to any successful case.

Through appellate advocacy, Ms. Curry has solidified her commitment to social justice and advocating for underrepresented communities and has secured excellent results for her clients.

Alt Text!
P: 510-839-5200 Northern California Office
About Ayana Curry
  • Columbia College, Columbia University, B.S., Political Science (1997)
  • University of California, Davis School of Law, King Hall, J.D. (2000)
  • California, 2000
  • Georgia, 2005
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Southern, and Eastern Districts of California
  • All California State Courts
  • All Georgia State Courts
  • Board Member, LIFE Courses, Inc.
  • Board Member, National Black Women’s Justice Institute
  • Former Board Member, Operation Hope, Northwest Advisory Board
  • Theresa Sheehan v. City and County of San Francisco, 743 F.3d 1211, 1232 (9th Cir. 2014),, rev'd in part, cert. dismissed in part sub nom. City and County of San Francisco, California, et al. v. Sheehan, 575 U.S. 600, 135 S. Ct. 1765, 191 L. Ed. 2d 856 (2015)

    This case addressed violations of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Importantly, the Ninth Circuit stated that it “agree[s] with the majority of circuits to have addressed the question that Title II applies to arrests. The ADA applies broadly to police ‘services, programs, or activities.’ 42 U.S.C. § 12132.”

  • Tan Lam v. City of Los Banos, 976 F.3d 986, 1007 (9th Cir. 2020), cert. denied sub nom. Acosta v. Lam, 142 S. Ct. 77, 211 L. Ed. 2d 14 (2021)

    Importantly, the Ninth Court found that testimony on the officer’s PTSD and its effect on the officer (i.e., it could cause him to misperceive reality) could be admitted as evidence. The officer, claiming the PTSD diagnosis was not relevant because it was two year old, wanted to have it excluded as evidence. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, finding it was probative of his credibility. The Court also noted that in doing so, it “join[ed] its sister circuits who have deemed admissible evidence of a witness's psychological condition even when there was an interval of several years between the contested diagnostic evidence and the events to which the witness testified.”

  • Mackey v. Bd. of Trustees of California State Univ., 31 Cal. App. 5th 640, 669, 242 Cal. Rptr. 3d 757, 781 (2019)

    Freshmen athletes accused their basketball coach of racial discrimination and retaliation and that they consequentially suffered adverse effects. The California Court of Appeals found that the School Board did not meet its moving burden to prove that these athletes lacked a triable issue. Further, the Court found that genuine questions of fact existed as to whether the coach had a discriminatory motive for treating the athletes more severely than their teammates and retaliated against them.
Case Results

Reginald Oliver v. City of Oakland

Oakland Police keep fabricating evidence and lying about minorities to arrest and prosecute them for supposed “gang” crimes, in violation of a settlement that prohibits …

Read More
Named plaintiff Reginald Oliver claims the Oakland PD continues violating the Constitution, in defiance of the settlement in Delphine Allen e al. v. City of Oakland, USDC No. C-00-4599 TEH, also known as "The Riders" litigation. Read Full Course
John Burris
Jane Smith v. City of Oakland

Racial profiling of Asian women by police officer resulting in a class action complaint for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief

Read More
Finding evidence about defendant's post-conviction parole violation unfairly prejudicial "since the jury could have construed that parole violation as character evidence in violation of Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)" Read Full Course
Rodney King
Rodney King v. City of Los Angeles

Rodney King has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to have Judge John G. Davies disqualified from presiding at the trial of …

Read More
Rodney King waited too long to file a malpractice suit against the first of 27 lawyers who represented him in connection with the infamous beating he suffered from Los Angeles police in 1991, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled yesterday. The ruling by Div. Two affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Kough’s grant of summary judgment to Steven Lerman. King earlier this year dismissed his appeal of Kough’s ruling in favor of two other lawyers sued in the case, Federico Sayre and John Burris. Read Full Course
FEATURED News & Updates

Civil rights lawyer John Burris confronts police narratives

Written by Janie Har, AP researcher Rhonda Shafner also contributed to this report. To read on AP News click here OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Before …

Watch our video