Adjunct Professor of Law
John M. Fentis is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with bachelor degrees in Political Science as well as History. He attended Whittier College, School of Law where he received his Juris Doctor in 1976.
John practiced law in the private sector for five years as a criminal defense attorney before joining the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office in 1981. In 1990, he established the environmental criminal prosecution unit for the office and directed its operations until his retirement from public service in 2005.
Under his guidance, the unit averaged in excess of 250 criminal prosecutions per year and generated fines and penalties in excess of $7,000,000. The unit aggressively prosecuted criminal violations involving all of the major components of California’s complex system of environmental laws including hazardous waste management, underground storage tanks, marine oil spills, natural resource laws, water pollution laws, air quality laws, noise pollution, and medical waste management laws. He was designated by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as a special prosecutor to assist with felony prosecutions of environmental offenders.
John was a co-founder of the Long Beach/Los Angeles County Natural Resources Trust, a unique entity which gave grants to environmental organizations to assist in wetland restoration projects as well as environmental education for schools within the Southern California area. He was honored by the State of California Department of Fish and Game in 1998 for his aggressive enforcement efforts in the field of marine conservation. In 2002, the California District Attorneys Association presented John with an environmental prosecution award in recognition of his achievements of the previous twelve years.
In 2005, John joined the Board of Directors for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation which is dedicated to the study and impact of plastics upon the marine environment. He served as President of this organization from September 2007 until May 2009. John is currently the Environmental Project Director for the California District Attorneys Association which provides educational training and litigation support to California’s environmental prosecutors in an effort to ensure consistent enforcement and compliance with California’s environmental laws.