Local attorney Felipe Plascencia dies in plane crash


Prominent attorney Felipe Plascencia perished in an airplane crash in the Tehachapi Mountains last week at the age of 53.

The La Habra Heights resident was returning from a court appearance in San Luis Obispo when the twin engine Beechcraft he was in went down. In addition to Plascencia, and the pilot, the crash killed attorney Marina Villavicencio aged 38.

Plascencia was a well respected trial attorney and political activist. Plascencia was nationally regarded as as an expert in driving under the influence cases and he was frequently asked to lecture on the subject to both the legal community and members of law enforcement.

Plascencia was born in Tepatitlan, Jalisco, Mexico in 1965. He immigrated to Santa Ana, California at the age of seven with his parents Rafael Plascencia, Maria Guadalupe Plascencia and three brothers and a sister. Plascencia attended Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley and while at Los Amigos he distinguished himself academically.

He was also a top varsity athlete on the soccer, cross country and track team. Plascencia did so while working a number of jobs throughout his childhood to contribute to his family’s household.

Plascencia matriculated to California State University Fullerton where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While at CSUF, Plascencia actively participated in student organizations to advocate on behalf of Latino and other minority students. It was in college that Plascencia met and married his sweetheart, Yolanda Brito Plascencia who attended Santa Ana College.

In 1990 Loyola Law School admitted Plascencia and he continued to be active in politics focusing on issues that impacted the working poor and underserved immigrant communities. Upon graduation from Loyola Law School in 1993, Plascencia remained a loyal alumnus and regularly donated his time and money to the institution.

Prior to opening his own practice, Plascencia served as a Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender, and a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Compton. A graduate of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College, Plascencia regularly lectured on trial techniques and often mentored law students and new lawyers.

A life long student of psychology and human nature, Plascencia encouraged lawyers to empathize with all those involved in the legal process and role play the perspectives of all participants in a case before trial. Plascencia was known for his charming, down to earth style in front of a jury and his relentless advocacy on behalf of his clients. In 2009 he was recognized as the Attorney of the Year by the Mexican American Bar Association, and he was introduced by then Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley.

Plascencia remained active in California politics and was President of the Mexican American Bar Association Political Action Committee from 2005 to present. During his presidency Plascencia raised the visibility of MABAPAC in Los Angeles county and Sacramento.

Plascencia, a lifelong Democrat, encouraged MABAPAC to endorse the candidates they felt would best serve the community regardless of political affiliation. The annual MABAPAC mixer, held at Plascencia’s residence in La Habra Heights, hosted prominent members of the legal and political communities.

Plascencia is survived by his wife Yolanda, and his daughters Magali and Alena. Additionally he is survived by his father Rafael and his siblings Ramon, Rosa, Moises, Rafael, Joseph, and Erika.