Get to Know…
Liann Raquel Sabatini
Ho’oponopono (pronounced “ho-o-po-no-po-no” in Hawaiian) means to “make things right and just”. In Hawaii, ho’oponopono is a means of conflict resolution; where people come together peacefully and commit to healing through reconciliation and forgiveness.
Born and raised on the rural south side of the Big Island of Hawaii, Liann (or Li as her friends call her), was taught to practice ho’oponopono from early on in life. Even if it meant having to hug her hard-headed brother after a fight or having to wrestle her way to the top of the batting order on an all-boy’s baseball team, Liann always has had a strong sense of justice and commitment to doing whatever it takes to make things right. This sense of justice was tested when she was just 9 years old, involving one of the direst situations a close-knit family can imagine: a family member being falsely accused, charged, and taken away based on a very serious crime that they did not commit. Even though it took a year, even though the system was stacked against them, Li’s loved one was cleared of all charges, returning home to their family and avoiding several years of prison in the process. It’s no surprise that exoneration might have sparked the idea for Li to want to pursue an eventual career in law, but it wasn’t the ultimate result that had the most impact on her, rather, it was the attorney who was appointed by the court because Li’s family could not afford to hire anyone. Although he was a stranger to her, having her loved one’s life in his hands, he inspired Li to become a Public Defender so that she could help other families make things right and just, the way he had helped hers.
Starting the summer of her first year of law school, Li interned at the Public Defender’s Office and stayed on as an intern, post-bar clerk, and ultimately became a Deputy Public Defender, proudly serving the San Diego community for over 10 years. During that time, she assisted in the litigation of more than 10,000 cases, and personally handled her own felony caseload for the majority of her career that included being lead counsel for more than 2,000 felony cases. Specializing in the art of trial, Li has tried over 50 cases to verdict, covering every imaginable alleged crime including murder, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, mayhem, domestic violence, sex crimes, weapons charges, drug offenses, and even thefts and DUIs.
Whether it was a serious felony that called for life in prison, or a misdemeanor that would not result in more than a fine, Li implemented ho’oponopono into every single case she handled, ensuring that her clients not only received exceptional legal representation, but also justice. Li is known in the legal community for her effective and zealous advocacy, her ability to command respect in any courtroom and negotiation she enters, and to obtain incredible results for her clients by ensuring that the prosecutors, judges and jurors see her clients as she does: human beings with deep and compelling histories deserving of reconciliation and forgiveness, not just another number and charge.
When she is not making her opponents work harder, Li loves to travel (far and often), see live music, try new restaurants, and attempt to maintain her composure every time her daughter asks her, with the utmost sincerity, whether she has shaved her beard that morning.