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  • I am the son of a city that was forgotten by governments, abandoned by corporations, ridiculed by the national media, plagued by drugs and violence, and infected with the disease of segregation. Despite that, I’ve done OK for myself. Along the way to today, I’ve done some things. Most I did not realize the importance of until later and, therefore, I was too busy doing to document. So, you’ll have to take my word. Others I understood the gravity at the time and you might even know about them. Maybe you were even there. Long story short, I started in music in New York and ended up in law in California. I’m still learning about both and so many other topics. Not the least of which is me and you. Join me on the journey if you want. But you are warned: it’s not always sunshine and lollipops. Because no matter where I am or what I am doing, I am always going to be that kid

    from the decaying inner-city of the Rust Belt who got here despite himself. I once heard somebody say, “if you don’t remind yourself of where you are from you might never go anywhere.” OK, that was me. But part of my charm is quoting myself.That said, here’s the stuff the you want to know about Kris J. Kraus, Esq.

  • Kris studied Theatre and Music at the State University of New York College (now University,) at Buffalo, where he focused on play-writing and directing. Drawn to the works of Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, and Arthur Schnitzler, Kris was mentored by Vincent Cardinal, Donn Youngstrom, and most importantly, Terrence McDonald who in honor of Kris endowed a fellowship that awards a yearly stipend to a needy student.

  • At Buffalo State, Kris was a member of the school’s radio station, WBNY, which broadcasted throughout Western New York and Ontario, Canada. At the time, WBNY was an influential outlet for punk/alternative music and Kris was not only a popular on-air personality, but the promotions and underwriting director. Kris also was an in-demand club DJ, managed the Black rock pioneers "Sky Church," road managed the iconoclast lounge singer Lance Diamond, and co-founded, with Dave Shulz, the funk spectacle that was Shaft.


  • At the State University of New York at Buffalo, Kris earned a Master’s Degree in American Studies under the guidance of Charles Keil, Masani Alexis De Veaux, John Mohawk, and Oren Lyons. At the City University of New York School of Law, Kris founded the school's Criminal Law and

    Entertainment and Sports Law Societies, Captained the school's basketball team, was the elected student representative on the Admissions Committee, and served as a Teaching Assistant for Torts

    and Criminal Law. Selected by the administration and students as a Commencement Speaker, he was awarded a Charles H. Revson Public Interest Fellowship, interned at the Legal Aid Society of New York Criminal Defense Division in The Bronx and Queens Counties, spent a summer as a

    Law Clerk for the Legal Aid Society of New York Federal Defender Division for the Eastern District of New York, and was selected to participate in The New York Unified Court System's Legal Fellows Program upon graduation in 2004.


  • Kris declined the fellowship to pursue a career as a defense attorney at the Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. (FDSDI). He spent a decade at FDSDI, before going into private practice in 2013. In his almost twenty-decade career, Kris has tried approximately thirty federal felony trials, represented thousands of clients, argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, authored and filed written briefs before the United States Supreme Court, and was the lead trial attorney and coauthored the brief for United States v. Juvenile Male, (07-50107) (holding that the government violated the Juvenile Delinquency Act by their actions of treating a suspect they had reason to believe was a juvenile as an adult).


  • Known for his slightly argumentative opening statements, unorthodox cross-examination style, and ability to negotiate favorable dispositions and sentences for some of the Southern District's most difficult and unsympathetic clients, Kris has unselfishly dedicated his professional career to defending the indigent. Along the way, he’s trained hundreds of attorneys, including some future judges, in his duties at FDSDI, as an Adjunct Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where he developed and taught courses on Federal Sentencing Law, Border Crimes, and Criminal Trial Procedure and Advocacy, and as a mentor to new attorneys in the Southern District of California where he has been a member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel since going into private practice.


  • After taking a break from music to focus on his graduate and law studies, Kris was lured back into music by members of Rick James’ Original Stone City Band who were looking to reform. This led to Kris briefly managing them and producing their comeback concert in Downtown LA which also

    featured rising stars NYOIL, Dam Funk, and Year Of The Dragon featuring Dirty Walt Kibby of Fishbone. Kris would later manager YOTD and form The IBCT label with Kibby, and their partner Rod Palmer, where he would partner with award winning producers and engineers Darryl Swann, Scott Colburn, and Peter Barker to craft singles and albums by Dirty Walt, YOTD, Uncle Pooch, Karmic Unrest, and others. Kris’s journey with The IBCT has led to countless shows at world famous venues like The Whiskey, The Viper Room, The Key Club, and The Roxy, producing showcases at SXSW, and tours across the United States, including one with Fishbone.


  • In 2021, during the pandemic, Kris built Lucca’s SnakeBite Lounge from the ground up at his home in Joshua Tree, California. A tiki bar, it is one of three that Kris has on his ten-acre property. In 2022, LSBL began hosting award winning Suite Parties at tiki events throughout Southern California and Arizona. Featuring original drinks crafted by Kris and Australian bartender and burlesque performer Abby Roennfeldt and music supplied by DJ Lee Joseph, of Dionysus Records, and a host of nationally known recording artists, LSBL’s parties win crowds over with an authenticity and originality that is a throwback to the late 1980/early 90’s DIY scene.


  • The last few years, Kris has taken his love of music and mid-century culture to a new level, by researching and developing seminars/symposiums for events such as Tiki Oasis, Arizona Tiki Oasis, and Exotikon. An in-demand speaker on retro-pop culture, Kris has shared the stage with El Vez the Mexican Elvis AKA Mr. Robert Lopez of The Zeros, Dr. Robby Virus of Project Pimento, The Millionaire of Combustible Edison, Marty Lush, and noted exotica scholars Jeff Winner, Jeff Chenault, and Jordan Reichek.


  • Kris continues producing albums for The IBCT. He other current projects include studying

    scriptwriting at UCLA in hopes of developing projects into feature films, working on a

    documentary about thrifting, writing a bartending book with Abby Roennfeldt, and a memoir about his youth in the early 90’s counter-culture. All while continuing to defend indigent defendants full- time to the best of his abilities. Kris is available for your events, podcasts, and other projects and open to collaborations with the right people and ideas.


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