A directory of key contacts is displayed below for your convenience.
Program Coordinator, Books Beyond Bars
Pietro Bartoli earned his M.A. in Theology, focusing on Religion and Society, from the Graduate Theological Union. There, he studied Catholic non-profits in the social justice world, writing a thesis entitled “Lived Faith and Official Religion: Lessons From Social Justice Catholics.” He also holds a B.A. in Theology focusing on Biblical Studies from Georgetown University, along with minors in History and Jewish Civilization. He is a long-time member of the Community of Sant’Egidio, with whom he has worked on issues of interreligious dialogue, human rights, and poverty.
Steven Benathen received his J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law, where he was a recipient of the Rickert Award for Excellence in Advocacy and was a member of the Moot Court Board.
After graduating from law school, Steven joined The Bronx Defenders as a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice, where he represented clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies and was a member of the Forensic Practice Group, serving as specialist in scientifically complex DWI cases.
After leaving The Bronx Defenders and prior to joining CAL, Steven served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ellen Gesmer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department.
He holds a B.S. magna cum laude with honors in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University.
Teighlor Bonner received her J.D. from NYU School of Law, where she was a Dean’s Award Scholar. She was a student advocate in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic, through which she interned at Bronx Legal Aid Society, and the Criminal Appellate Defender Clinic in partnership with the Office of the Appellate Defender. Teighlor served as the Public Interest Co-Chair of the Black Allied Law Students Association, Director of Operations of the Washington Square Legal Services Bail Fund, and Secretary of the Women of Color Collective. During her law school summers, she interned at the ACLU in the Criminal Law Reform Project and at CAL. Prior to law school, Teighlor received her B.A. in Psychology from Tufts University.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Matthew Bova graduated with highest honors from The George Washington University Law School, where he was a member of the moot court team. He received the Thurgood Marshall Civil Liberties Award for his law school externships with the Public Defender’s Service of D.C. and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Upon graduation, Matthew served as a fellow at CAL, working on post-conviction and direct appeals. He subsequently clerked for Judge Robert S. Smith of the New York Court of Appeals.
Matthew is the co-chair of the Appellate Courts Committee of the New York County Lawyers’ Association. He has also published an article on appellate procedure in the CUNY Law Review, entitled A Sufficiency-of-the-Evidence Exception to the New York Appellate Preservation Rule, 19 CUNY L. Rev. 1 (2015).
Matthew is an active coach with the NYC Mentor Moot and has presented numerous CLEs on New York criminal law.
Kyleen received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School where she an associate managing editor for Brooklyn Law Review and a member of the Moot Court Honor Society - Appellate Division. Kyleen developed her interest in assisting indigent clients while working with the Legal Aid Society in the King’s County Criminal Defense Division. Kyleen also worked as a student attorney with the Safe Harbor Project helping indigent clients seek asylum and immigration assistance.
Prior to attending law school, Kyleen received her B.A. from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO and worked in political organizing and recruiting in the Bay Area.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Megan Byrne graduated from Stanford Law School with pro bono distinction. During law school, she was involved in the Spark Mentoring Program and served as Vice President of the Black Law Students Association. She also represented clients at the trial and appellate levels in Stanford’s Criminal Defense Clinic and spent a summer working for the New York Center for Juvenile Justice. Upon graduation, she joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP as a litigation associate, where she continued working on criminal appeals pro bono. She holds a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Indiana University, where she graduated with high distinction.
Amaya Contreras Driggs received her B.A from Tufts University, where she double majored in International Relations and Political Science. During her time at Tufts, she served as the International Community Representative in the Tufts Community Union Senate and Vice President of Marketing for Alpha Phi, amongst other on-campus leadership roles. Additionally, Amaya interned at the Massachusetts State House, and in criminal defense and immigration law offices in New York, NY and Miami, FL.
Rachel is a second year law student at Northeastern University School of Law. Rachel is the Chair of Northeastern's Student Bar Association and an active member of the Student Political Organizing Team (SPOT) and her campus's chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild (NLG). Rachel has also worked as a research assistant for one of her school’s criminal justice professors, researching accountability measures for prosecutorial misconduct, and as part of her first year social justice project, Rachel worked on a case for the New England Innocence Project (NEIP).
Rachel first became interested in helping incarcerated individuals through her volunteer work with LGBT Books to Prisoners. Prior to attending law school, Rachel received her B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago and worked in political organizing, software testing, and philanthropy.
Robert S. Dean is the Attorney-in-Charge of the Center for Appellate Litigation. He has taught appellate advocacy and post-conviction remedies at the NYU School of Law and Brooklyn Law School. A graduate of NYU Law School with over 40 years of experience as an appellate public defender, he has personally briefed and argued over 350 cases in New York’s intermediate appellate courts, more than 35 cases in the New York Court of Appeals, and one winning case in the U.S. Supreme Court (Cruz v. New York).
Bob is a principal author of the West Book New York Pretrial Criminal Procedure, first and second editions. He was most recently chair of the Committee on Criminal Courts at the New York City Bar Association. He is currently Chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section Executive Committee and Vice Chair of the State Bar’s Committee on Mandated Representation. He is on the board of the Chief Defenders Association of New York.
In January 2013 Bob received the State Bar Criminal Justice Section’s Award for Outstanding Appellate Practitioner.
Senior Supervising Attorney
Abigail Everett is a career public defender. She started at The Legal Aid Society of New York, Criminal Appeals Bureau and subsequently joined the team at CAL, where she currently serves clients as a Senior Supervising Attorney. At these two organizations, she has represented countless individuals challenging their criminal convictions. Since 2012, she has also led CAL’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) defense project, working with clients facing legal restrictions resulting from sex offense convictions.
Previously, Abby was law secretary to Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice Colleen McMahon.
Abby is a graduate of NYU Law School, where she was the recipient of the Ann Petluck Poses Memorial Prize for outstanding work in a clinical program. She is also a graduate of Smith College.
Abby is a member of the New York County Lawyers’ Association and received that organization’s 2012 Public Service Award. She previously served as Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Operations Committee.
Assistant Managing Attorney
Brittany Francis received her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar and a client advocate with the Community Reentry and Reintegration Clinic. As a clinic member, Brittany represented clients facing criminal-history-based employment barriers. While in law school, she interned with The Bronx Defenders and the Equal Justice Initiative, and served as the Community Service Chair for the Women of Color Collective and the Black Allied Law Students Association.
Upon graduation, Brittany clerked for the Honorable Ronald L. Ellis in the Southern District of New York. She holds a B.A. with honors in Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Communication and Culture from Indiana University.
Nicole Geoglis received her J.D. cum laude from NYU School of Law where she served as the Moot Court Board’s Marden Competition Editor and co-authored the Spring 2012 Marden Competition problem. While in law school, she interned at the Mental Hygiene Legal Services and worked as a research assistant for Professor Erin E. Murphy, whose research focuses on technology and forensic evidence in the criminal justice system.
Prior to joining CAL, Nicole worked as a litigation associate at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP where her practice included the representation of criminal defendants in Federal court. She graduated summa cum laude from Stony Brook University, earning a B.S. degree in both Psychology and Political Science, and was awarded the Valedictory Distinction in the Psychology Bachelor of Science Program.
Alma received her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Banquet and Alumni Chair for the Latinx Law Students Association, and Recruitment Chair for the Criminal Justice Action Network. During her time at Columbia Law, Alma was an advanced student in the Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic in which she litigated conditions of confinement issues in state and federal court. In addition to interning at CAL, Alma interned with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, externed with the Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit, and led a student caravan to the Berks County Family Detention Center to assist families seeking asylum. Alma is honored to have been a 2019 Bid for Justice Honoree for her dedication to public interest and pro bono work and the recipient of the Honorable Rolando T. Acosta Award for her strong presence in the Latinx community and commitment to public interest work.
Prior to law school, Alma received her B.A. in International Relations, with honors, and a minor in Italian Studies from New York University.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Hunter received his J.D., cum laude, from New York University School of Law. At NYU, he served as a staff editor of the NYU Review of Law and Social Change, co-founded the Washington Square Legal Services charitable bail fund, and was a recipient of the NYU President’s Service Award (for outstanding contributions to NYU) and the Ann Petluck Poses Memorial Prize (for outstanding work in a clinical course requiring student practice). He also externed at the Federal Defenders of New York as part of NYU’s Federal Defender Clinic, and interned at the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, New York County Defender Services, and with Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Before returning to CAL (where he was previously a staff attorney), Hunter clerked for Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He also holds a bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Vassar College, where he majored in English and Chinese.
Sarah is a second year law student at New York University School of Law, where she is a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change. At UCLA School of Law, Sarah was in the David J. Epstein Program for Public Interest Law, and volunteered with the El Centro Legal Clinic’s Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Project. She also served as a staff editor on the Women’s Law Journal.
While in law school, Sarah has interned with the Legal Aid Society’s Exploitation Intervention Project.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Allison Haupt graduated Order of the Coif, magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law. While in law school, she was a student advocate in the Federal Defender Clinic; a Senior Articles Editor on the Review of Law and Social Change; and a student teacher with the Prisoners’ Rights and Education Project. She also interned with the ACLU’s LGBT project, was a summer associate at Covington & Burling, and served as a research and teaching assistant to Professor Arthur R. Miller. Upon graduation, Allison clerked for the Honorable Janet C. Hall on the District of Connecticut. She was a fellow at CAL before becoming a staff attorney with the Criminal Defense Practice of The Legal Aid Society, representing indigent clients in Queens County on misdemeanor and felony cases in trial court. She graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Government.
Scott Henney received his J.D. from The University of Chicago, The Law School, where he was an Articles Editor on the Chicago Journal of International Law, a Norval Morris Fellow, a student attorney with the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic, a Vice President of Programming for the Defenders student organization, a member of the American Constitution Society, and a research assistant for Professors John Rappaport and Martha Nussbaum. While in law school, Scott interned with CAL and the Denver office of the Colorado Public Defender as well as volunteered with the Arch City Defenders in St. Louis, Missouri and the Berrien County Indigent Defense Administrator in Michigan. During his final year as a law student, Scott participated in litigating a felony case in the Northern District of Illinois.
Scott holds a B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy with a minor in Russian and Slavic Studies from New York University, where he received the Founders Day Award for academic excellence and High Honors from the philosophy department and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa national honors society.
Scott is a member of the Criminal Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
Lead Appellate Counsel
Jan Hoth received her JD, cum laude, from Brooklyn Law School. She works extensively with CAL's pro bono volunteer program which provides New York area law firm associates an opportunity to brief and argue appellate cases. Every spring she conducts a criminal appeals clinic at Brooklyn Law School where she serves on the adjunct faculty.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Camilla Hsu graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she served as the Training Director for Harvard Defenders, and a student practitioner in the Criminal Justice Institute, the Trauma Learning and Policy Institute Education Law Clinic, and the Prison Legal Assistance Project. During law school, Camilla completed internships with the Federal Defenders of New York and the Southern Center for Human Rights.
As an E. Barrett Prettyman fellow after law school, Camilla represented indigent clients in criminal court, while also supervising student-attorneys and assisting with classroom instruction in Georgetown’s Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic. She subsequently represented clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies as a staff attorney at the Bronx Defenders.
Camilla holds a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in Literature summa cum laude from Yale University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Public Interest Public Service (PipS) Fellow
Lena is a third year law student at Brooklyn Law School. Lena is member of the Moot Court Honor Society – Appellate Division, currently coaching both the Veteran’s Law Competition and the Gibbons Criminal Procedure Competition. Prior to coming to CAL, Lena worked for the Legal Aid Society in their Juvenile Rights Practice as a legal intern. While at Brooklyn Law, Lena worked in the Children’s Law Center Clinic and the Immigrant Visa Assistance Project (IVAP), a pro bono project she co-chaired, in which students assist attorneys at Sanctuary for Families, in helping immigrants, often victims of domestic violence, apply for U-Visas.
Prior to attending Law School, Lena received her B.S. from St. Francis College in Brooklyn. While in college she was the research assistant for the head of the Criminal Justice and Sociology department, where she worked with St. Francis College’s Post Prison Program, a program run by Emily Horowitz that aims to support and encourage previously incarcerated people in pursuing a post-secondary education.
Allison Kahl received her J.D., cum laude, from NYU School of Law. During law school, she was a student attorney in the Juvenile Defender Clinic working at the Legal Aid Society and in the Children’s Rights Clinic working at Advocates for Children. She was also a member of the Journal of Law and Liberty. She interned with Connecticut Legal Services and was a summer associate at Sullivan and Cromwell LLP.
Upon graduation from law school, Allison clerked for Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. After her clerkship, she was an associate at Sullivan and Cromwell LLP. She later clerked for the Honorable Charles S. Haight, Jr. in the District of Connecticut. She holds a B.A. in History and Economics and a B.A.H. from Villanova University.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Carl S. Kaplan received his J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was the New York Times Fellow in Law, a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and a Columbia Human Rights Fellow at the London-based free speech group, Article 19. He was also a staff editor for the Columbia-VLA Journal of Law & the Arts.
After graduation, Carl worked as a litigation associate at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler in New York. He was also a Markle Information Policy Fellow in the Programme in Comparative Media Law & Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Wolfson College, Oxford. He received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Amherst College, where he majored in English and wrote an honors thesis on Jonathan Swift.
Prior to taking up law, Carl worked as a journalist for many publications, including the late and lamented New York Newsday, where he served as a business reporter. His weekly and later biweekly column, "CyberLaw Journal," published in The New York Times, online edition, covered cutting-edge Internet-related issues such as freedom of speech, privacy, and the copyright wars for a general, international audience.
Carl founded, designed, and co-teaches the externship in criminal appeals at Columbia Law School.
Licensed Social Worker, LMSW
Susannah Karlin received her M.S.W. from Columbia University and her B.A. from the University of Michigan. She has over 20 years of experience in criminal justice settings, including work in the courtroom as a mitigation specialist and as a mental health clinician in NYC correctional facilities. Susannah is a member of the New York State Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.
Emilia (Mila) King-Musza received her J.D. from New York University, where she was an Executive Editor of the NYU Law Review and a Robert McKay Scholar. While in law school, Mila was a student advocate in the Immigrant Defense Clinic and worked with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project through NYU’s Racial Justice Clinic. She interned at the Federal Defenders of the Southern District of New York and here at CAL. She was also a semi-finalist in the Marden Moot Court Competition and volunteer at the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.
Prior to joining CAL, Mila clerked for the Honorable William K. Sessions III in the District of Vermont. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and French from Middlebury College.
David Klem is a cum laude graduate of NYU School of Law, where he was the Managing Editor of the Review of Law & Social Change, the Editor-in-Chief of the law school newspaper, and a recipient of the Anne Petluck Poses prize for outstanding work in a clinic. After law school, he clerked for Judge Raymond J. Dearie in the Eastern District of New York, as well as for Justice Alan B. Handler in the New Jersey Supreme Court, where he handled capital appeals. David taught and ran the Federal Defender Clinic at NYU School of Law for many years and, prior to that, taught legal research and writing at Brooklyn Law School. He has briefed and argued hundreds of cases in New York’s intermediate appellate courts, including nearly 20 in the New York Court of Appeals.
Geehyun Sussan Lee received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was a student advocate with the Immigration and Refugee Clinic and a policy extern at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. She is currently a board member of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led advocacy network in the country, and a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Immigration & Nationality Law Committee.
Prior to joining CAL, Sussan was an immigration staff attorney at Queens Law Associates and an Immigrant Justice Fellow at the MinKwon Center for Community Action. She holds a M.Sc. in Migration Studies from University of Oxford and a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University.
Juliana Lopez graduated with a B.A. from Princeton University, earning a major in Spanish with a concentration in Latin American Studies, and writing a thesis in history titled “The Housing Problem: Exclusionary Practices and Socialist Revisionism in Turn-of-the-Century Havana.” At Princeton, she served as a Peer Student Mentor and was part of the Latinx Collective, which initiated discussions about diversity and inclusion on campus. While in college, she interned at Colson Hicks Eidson in Miami, FL and the Immigration Protection Unit of the New York Legal Assistance Group. This past year, Juliana completed a year-long fellowship at the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services through the Princeton Project 55 Program. At CHFS, she served as the Special Projects Assistant to the Executive Director and the Coordinator for the Bushwick Community Partnership Program, a network of local stakeholders advocating for child safety and family well-being.
Office Manager and Human Resources Administrator
Kathleen Martinez received her B.A. in Psychology and Black Studies from SUNY New Paltz and an M.A. in Urban Affairs from Queens College.
Director of Trial Court Litigation
Marika joined CAL to lead the office’s trial court litigation. Marika received her J.D. cum laude from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and had been a public defender for nearly 20 years. She spent over 14 years at The Bronx Defenders as a trial attorney handling serious felony cases where she tried over 35 cases to verdict and conducted over 50 suppression hearings. As Legal Director of The Bronx Defenders, she litigated complex and novel issues and supervised all in-house and pro bono appeals, including two cases that she briefed and argued before the New York State Court of Appeals that resulted in favorable decisions. As the Director of the Forensic Practice Group, she led the office in challenging unvalidated forensic science and seeking the admissibility of validated forensic science and gained expertise in DNA and other forensic sciences. She has presented at trainings all over New York and has testified before the City Council. Prior to working at The Bronx Defenders, she worked at the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society, at Appellate Advocates and as a Staff Attorney at the Second Circuit.
Katherine Milanes received her B.A. from the State University of New York at Cortland, where she majored in Criminology with a minor in Political Science. During her time at Cortland, she worked at the Cortland Institute for Civic Engagement and interned at the Cortland Public Defender’s Office. She also served as Historian of the Student Activities Board, receiving an Outstanding Leadership Award, and actively participated in many on-campus organizations. Before CAL, Katherine worked as a legal assistant at Greco Neyland P.C. and the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman.
Gabby Miranda received their B.A from Vassar College, where they majored in Urban Studies with concentrations in English and Art History. Gabby also double-minored in Hispanic Studies and Creative Writing. While at Vassar, they worked as a docent at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, led an improv comedy group for students of color, and served as the poetry editor of the Vassar Review. Gabby additionally worked in the Campus Life and Diversity Office, was an active member of the Multiracial Biracial Students Alliance, and served as a research assistant in the Political Science department.
Assistant Director, Justice First
Alexandra (Lexie) Mitter graduated cum laude from NYU School of Law, where she was the Symposium Editor of the Annual Survey of American Law. While in law school, she helped formerly incarcerated individuals obtain employment licensure through administrative hearings before the Secretary of State.
Upon graduation, Lexie worked as an associate at Arnold & Porter LLP, where she represented corporations and individuals in a wide range of internal investigations as well as complex criminal and civil litigation. She also clerked for the Honorable Andrew L. Carter, Jr. and James L. Cott, both in the Southern District of New York.
Lexie graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with highest distinction in History and Anthropology from the University of Michigan.
Taylor Louise Napolitano received her J.D. from NYU School of Law. During her time in law school, she was the Executive Editor of the Journal of Legislation and Public Policy and participated in clinics with the Innocence Project, Brooklyn Family Defense Practice, and the Equal Justice Initiative.
Prior to joining CAL, Taylor was a litigation associate at Sidley Austin LLP, where she handled complex commercial litigation and maintained an active pro bono practice, including the representation of two capital defendants in Alabama. She holds a B.A. in Italian Literature from Columbia University.
Supervising Attorney and Co-Director, Immigrant Justice Project
Robin Nichinsky is a Senior Supervising Attorney and Co-Director of CAL's Immigrant Justice Project (IJP. As IJP co-director, she works to coordinate the full range of CAL's representation of non-citizen clients. She is a veteran appellate criminal defense lawyer with specialized knowledge in post-conviction relief practice for immigrants. In 2017, she was recognized by the Immigrant Defense Project for her work spearheading CAL’s practice in this area. Robin has extensive experience seeking post-conviction relief for clients in the New York trial courts, Appellate Division, and Court of Appeals. Before CAL, Robin was a Supervising Attorney in the Criminal Appeals Bureau of The Legal Aid Society of New York. She is a cum laude graduate of Cardozo Law School, where she was Managing Editor of the Cardozo Law Review. She has a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY Stony Brook and an M.S. in Counseling from the College of New Rochelle.
John Palmer received his J.D. from NYU School of Law, where he was a Dean's Award Scholar.During law school, he was a student advocate in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic as well as the Federal Defender Clinic.He was a member of NYU's Black Allied Law Students Association and the Prison Reform and Education Project. During summers in law school, John was an intern at the Re-Entry Project of Mobilization for Justice (formerly MFY Legal Services) and The Bronx Defenders Criminal Defense Practice. He also holds a B.A. in Economics and B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati.
Senior Client Advocate
Erika Parry received her B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Vermont. While in school, she conducted research with the Vermont Department of Corrections in an effort to improve family communications. She also worked with Vermont Probation and Parole's Intensive Substance Abuse Program Team. She received the Outstanding Senior Major in Sociology Award and was selected for Phi Beta Kappa.
Anjali Pathmanathan graduated from Boston College Law School. While in law school, she advocated for the rights of the indigent accused through her work with the International Legal Foundation, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, the New England Innocence Project and Amnesty International USA. Upon earning her J.D., she became a staff attorney with the Criminal Defense Practice of the Legal Aid Society, representing indigent clients in Kings County on misdemeanor and felony cases in trial court. After working for the Legal Aid Society, Anjali worked at the Vera Institute of Justice for their Center on Immigration and Justice, before joining CAL in 2018. She graduated cum laude from New York University with a B.A. in Politics and Economics.
Ben Perelmuter received his B.A. from Princeton University where he majored in History and received certificates in Latin American Studies and Values and Public Life. He wrote a thesis on efforts to regulate administrative discretion in the criminal justice system during the 1960s and 70’s. At Princeton, Ben served as an editor for the Nassau Weekly and a member of the Alliance of Jewish Progressives. While in college, Ben interned at the MAP Foundation—a migrants’ rights organization in Chiang Mai Thailand—the New York Review of Books, and the Bronx Defenders.
Senior Appellate Counsel & Coordinating Attorney, Plea Project
Jody Ratner received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, where she participated in the Poverty Law and Practice Clinic and was a teaching assistant for a first-year Civil Procedure class. Her four quarter-long “co-ops” included working for the Honorable Robert E. Keeton in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm Stern, Shapiro, Weissberg & Garin, and the Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.
Upon graduation, Jody worked at the Staff Attorney’s Office at Second Circuit Court of Appeals and clerked for the Honorable Anne E. Thompson, then-Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court in New Jersey. Following her clerkships, Jody had a two-year Equal Justice Works fellowship at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she focused on young women’s access to reproductive health services. She has argued over 40 cases, including three in the Court of Appeals and one in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and has litigated more than a dozen successful post-conviction motions, negotiating or receiving reduced sentences for many of our clients.
Arielle Reid received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, graduating as a three-time Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. While in law school, Arielle held leadership positions in a number of student organizations: the Black Law Students Association, the Student Public Interest Network, and the Criminal Justice Action Network. She also served on the board of the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, and as a student advocate in the Mass Incarceration Clinic.
Before joining CAL, Arielle interned with a number of other public defender offices, both in New York City and elsewhere. She holds a B.A. in Political Science, with Highest Honors, from the University of North Carolina.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Zoë Root received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law where she completed four “co-ops” working at the Center for Appellate Litigation, the Bronx Defenders, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
Upon graduation, Zoë joined the Bronx Defenders where she worked for five years as a staff and supervising attorney, directed the Prostitution Conviction Vacatur Project and served as coordinating attorney in the Bronx County human trafficking intervention court. Thereafter she worked as Senior Policy Counsel at the Justice Programs Office (JPO) at American University. At JPO, Zoë directed two nationwide initiatives dedicated to providing training and technical assistance to judicial stakeholders on best practices for survivors of human trafficking facing criminal charges, and juveniles in drug treatment courts. She also served as an Adjunct Instructor at American University’s Justice Law and Criminology department within the School of Public Affairs.
Ben received his J.D., magna cum laude, from NYU School of Law. Prior to attending law school, Ben worked as a paralegal for the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice in the Bronx. During his time at NYU, Ben volunteered with the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, served as a Teacher’s Assistant for a first-year Civil Procedure course, and participated in clinics with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund as well as an externship with the Equal Justice Initiative. During his law school summers, he interned with the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Upon graduation, Ben spent a year with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice, Special Litigation Unit, where his work focused on issues of police misconduct and accountability.
Ben A. Schatz has represented clients on matters pending in federal and state courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court of the United States and the New York Court of Appeals. Before joining CAL, Ben served as law clerk to the Honorable Ronnie Abrams, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, and handled high-profile First Amendment and complex commercial matters at the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP. Ben is a past recipient of The Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Publico Award and a two-time recipient of Sanctuary for Families’ Above & Beyond Pro Bono Achievement Award. He graduated magna cum laude from Washington University School of Law in 2008.
Molly Schindler received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was an editor for the Jailhouse Lawyers Manual and supervised students with the Foundation Moot Court Program. While in law school, she interned with CAL, the Felony Unit of the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Aging and Disabilities Unit of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia.
Upon graduation, Molly worked for The Bronx Defenders as a staff attorney in its Criminal Defense Practice. She holds a B.A. in Classics from Johns Hopkins University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Chloe graduated in 2016 from CUNY School of Law, where she was a Notes Editor of the CUNY Law Review, Graduate Fellow, research assistant, teaching assistant, and student attorney in the Criminal Defense Clinic. During law school, she interned with the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, where she worked on criminal vacatur motions, and externed with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady’s civil rights practice. She also worked as a law clerk for two years with Meyer Suozzi English & Klein’s plaintiff- and union-side labor and employment law practice. She was named a Hank Henry Judicial Fellow in 2014.
After graduating law school, Chloe served as a law clerk for two years to the Honorable Deborah A. Batts in the Southern District of New York. She is currently a member of the NYC Bar’s Civil Rights Committee.
Stacey Simone is CAL’s Paralegal Supervisor and has been with our office since its inception. Before joining CAL Stacey also worked as Paralegal Supervisor at The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau in New York City. Stacey received her B.A. from St. John’s University, where she studied Criminology and Justice.
Beulah Sims-Agbabiaka received her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law where she was Editor in Chief of the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, an Oldham’s Fellow and an NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Scholar. While in law school she interned with Zhicheng Public Interest Lawyers in Beijing, China, the Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem, Alliance of Families for Justice New York, Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and for the Honorable Margo K. Brodie in the Eastern District of New York. In those roles she researched comparative criminal justice policy, acted as a direct services provider in criminal defense and conditions of confinement issues, and drafted legal documents.
Beulah holds a B.A. in African-American Studies, with honors, and a special concentration in Jazz Studies from Columbia University, Columbia College.
Kate Skolnick coordinates CAL's practice in the Appellate Term and its Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act Project. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of The Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual, a self-help litigation resource for prisoners, and Chair of the Civil Rights Law Society. While in law school, Kate spent her summers at The Legal Aid Society's Prisoners' Rights Project in New York City and at Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP, a civil rights firm. She was a student attorney in the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, where she represented clients facing public benefits cuts and developed a database for advocates pursuing systemic change in New York's social welfare system; an extern with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem; and a volunteer with the Community Oversight of the Police Project and Immigration Law Unit of The Legal Aid Society. She received Kent and Stone Scholar designations and feels grateful to have received a Lowenstein Fellowship to pursue public interest work in the years since completing her degree. Kate received her B.A. in History, with distinction, from Stanford University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. There, she began her lifelong pursuit of social justice, working on divestment, labor, and other campus campaigns, and serving as a researcher at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project. Before joining CAL, Kate worked as a research scholar at the Center for Institutional and Social Change. Kate is a member of the New York City Bar Association's Social Welfare Committee.
Senior Appellate Counsel & Coordinating Attorney, Client Support Services
Lauren J. Springer received her J.D. from NYU School of Law. At CAL she represents clients on their direct appeals and in post-conviction proceedings. She has also worked on CAL special projects, including post-release supervision resentencings, SORA, In Forma Pauperis motions, and client support services.
Senior Supervising Attorney and Director, Justice First and Client Re-entry Projects
Claudia Trupp is founder and Director of CAL's Justice First Project, which received the New York State Bar Association's award for Excellence in Mandated Representation in 2015. Before joining CAL, she was a staff attorney with the Criminal Appeals Bureau of The Legal Aid Society in New York City. Claudia is a past recipient of an Outstanding Public Service Award from the New York County Lawyer's Association and the Reginald Heber Smith Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She is a board member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL) and Vice-President of the NYSACDL Foundation. Claudia received her J.D., magna cum laude, from NYU School of Law, where she was Order of the Coif.She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Rochester.
Priya Vaishampayan received her bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and majored in Political Science. At Tufts, Priya was an active member of the Petey Greene Program and Ears for Peers. While in college, she also interned for the New American Leaders and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Prior to coming to CAL, she worked as a legal advocate in the Employment Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services and primarily worked on unemployment insurance issues.
Senior Appellate Counsel
John Vang received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he co-founded the Prisoner’s Legal Education Project and was a student attorney with the Philadelphia Defender Association’s criminal defense clinic. After graduating from law school, John worked in the Staff Attorney’s Office of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Before returning to CAL (where he was previously a staff attorney), John was a criminal defense attorney at The Bronx Defenders. John is a co-chair of the LGBT Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. He has a B.A. in American history from Columbia University and an M.A. in the History of Colonial Southeast Asia from the University of Toronto.
Shaina Watrous received her J.D. from NYU School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar. At NYU, Shaina was a student advocate in both the Family Defense Clinic and the Criminal Appellate Defender Clinic, and she served on the board of the Prison Reform and Education Project. During law school, Shaina interned with CAL, the Orleans Public Defenders, and the Special Litigation Unit of Brooklyn Defender Services. She was also a volunteer advocate with the Parole Preparation Project.
Shaina graduated cum laude from Princeton University, with a B.A. in public policy and certificates in African American Studies and South Asian Studies.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Ben Wiener received his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. At Penn, he was an Articles Editor for the Journal of Constitutional Law, Membership Chair of the Prisoners Education and Advocacy Project, and a legal writing instructor. He also interned at the Innocence Project, where his work focused on reforming eyewitness identification procedures. After graduating, he clerked for Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak on the Eastern District of New York. He also holds a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Dartmouth College. Ben is a member of the Criminal Justice Operations Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
Legal Archivist/Re-Entry Associate
Greg Williams is a 2015 Graduate of Bard College. During his time there he served as a Writing Fellow and liaison for the Student Resource Center. He is currently continuing his studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where his major is Human Service and Community Justice. His studies have focused on Public Health and Computer Science.
Prior to joining CAL, Greg interned at the Fortune Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting justice involved individuals realize success, where he operated in the Client Support Services field (Individualized Corrections Achievement Network–ICAN).
Ciera is a third-year law student at Fordham University School of Law. She is a Board Member for the Civil Legal Assistance Resource Office in Manhattan, Bronx County, and Staten Island, a member of Advocates for the Incarcerated, and an active member of the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Program. She is also a Stein Scholar in the Stein Scholars Program in Public Interest Law and Ethics and a New York Courts Pro Bono Scholar. Ciera interned previously with the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, where she first became passionate about criminal justice reform, abolishing the death penalty nationally, and providing zealous representation to every defendant no matter their income bracket.
Prior to attending law school, Ciera received her B.A. in Political Science and English Literature from Washington and Lee University and worked in legislation and policy in her home state of Tennessee and Washington, D.C.
Senior Appellate Counsel
Christina Wong received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a student attorney with the Juvenile Justice Clinic, Federal Appellate Litigation Clinic, and the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project, a Comment Editor for the Michigan Journal of Law Reform, and treasurer of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. While in law school, she interned with the Honorable Richard R. Clifton on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Hawaii State Office of the Public Defender. She holds a B.A. in English from Amherst College and, prior to law school, worked at a nonprofit advocating for the homeless. Christina is a member of the Criminal Justice Operations Committee of the New York City Bar Association, as well as a member of the New York Sex Offense Working Group.
Supervising Attorney and Co-Director, Immigrant Justice Project
Marianne Yang co-directs CAL’s Immigrant Justice Project, which pursues post-conviction relief for noncitizen clients at risk of immigration detention and deportation as a result of their conviction. Before joining CAL, Marianne directed the Immigration Practice of Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), where she developed and spearheaded BDS’s Padilla unit, its Immigrant Youth and Communities unit, and its assigned counsel role in a first-in-nation assigned counsel program—the New York Immigrant Family Unity Program—for indigent immigrants in detained removal proceedings. Earlier in her career Marianne was a staff attorney and then project director of the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) and, before that, an associate attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s New York and Singapore offices.
Marianne is a past recipient of the New York City Bar Legal Services Award, BDS’s inaugural Harvey Mandelcorn Defender of Justice Award, and The Legal Aid Society’s Pro Bono Publico Award. She is a member of the Judge Robert A. Katzmann New York Immigrant Representation Study Group, an advisory board member of IDP, and an advisory board member of the MinKwon Center for Community Action. Marianne received her A.B., magna cum laude, in American History and Literature from Harvard College and her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she served on its Law Review as Articles Editor.
Gilbert Zelaya received his J.D. degree from Brooklyn Law School, where he was an advisor for incoming students and a Notes and Comments Editor for the Brooklyn Journal of International Law. While in law school, Gilbert was a Public Interest Public Service (PIPS) Fellow working with CAL to secure the right to appeal and obtain the assignment of appellate counsel for indigent clients from various trial level providers. After graduating cum laude from Binghamton University, where he earned his B.A. in both History and Politics, Philosophy, and Law, Gilbert developed his interest in assisting indigent clients while working with criminal defense attorneys at Raiser & Kenniff, P.C. in Mineola and The Sheldon Law Firm in the Bronx.
Mark Zeno has been at CAL since its founding, having previously served as appellate counsel at The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau and, before that, practicing civil litigation. A frequent advocate in the New York Court of Appeals, Mark’s clients’ cases have advanced the rights of criminal defendants in the areas of sentencing (e.g., People v. Pratts & Paulin, 17 N.Y.3d 238 (2011)(extending eligibility for reduced sentences under the Rockefeller Drug-Law reforms to parolees)); double jeopardy (e.g., People v. Williams & Rodriguez, 14 N.Y.3d 198, cert. denied sub. nom., New York v. Williams, 562 U.S. 947 (2010)(striking down, on constitutional double jeopardy grounds, statewide practice of correcting offenders’ sentences by adding periods of post-release supervision)); and limitations on homicide offenses (e.g., People v. Suarez, 6 N.Y.3d 202 (2005)(reformulating the elements of New York's depraved indifference murder statute, dismissing client's second-degree murder conviction)). His commitment to protecting the rights of immigrant New Yorkers led to his spearheading the work of our Immigrant Justice Project and his continued supervision of all direct appeals of our noncitizen clients.
A Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, Mark co-teaches CAL’s Criminal Appeals Externship. Mark is an active member of the New York City Bar Association, currently serving on its Executive Committee, previously serving on its Judiciary and Criminal Law Committees.
Mark received his J.D., cum laude, from Western New England University, School of Law, where he was the Notes & Comments Editor of the Law Review. He received his B.A. in American History from SUNY Albany.
Senior Supervising Attorney
Barbara Zolot received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, where she was a Wigmore Scholar and a member of the Northwestern Law Review. She received her B.A., summa cum laude, in English from SUNY Albany, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
After law school, Barbara worked as a litigation associate at Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays and Handler before joining the Criminal Appeals Bureau of The Legal Aid Society of New York. Barbara joined CAL at its inception, but she also served in New York’s Capital Defender Office from 2000 to 2005, where she participated in arguing the first death penalty case brought under the statute before the New York Court of Appeals, People v. Darrell Harris, winning vacatur of Mr. Harris’ death sentence. Barbara has argued over 20 cases before the New York Court of Appeals, winning broad relief for criminal defendants in the areas of drug law reform and sentencing. In addition to her supervisory duties at CAL, she authors CAL’s “Issues to Develop at Trial,” a newsletter distributed to the statewide defense community, and coordinates CAL’s Court of Appeals practice with Robert Dean.
Barbara received the New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Public Service Award in 2011.