Speakers: Law Review Symposium (2015)
Director of Litigation, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
As the Litigation Director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., Christina Swarns oversees all aspects of LDF’s litigation in its four key practice areas: economic justice, education, political participation and criminal justice. In that capacity, Christina conceptualizes and evaluates new cases and campaigns, reviews and edits all substantive briefs, assists with preparation for oral arguments, and provides overall supervision for the legal staff. Christina also strategically engages the media through the development of messaging themes, press releases, talking points, letters to the editor, op-eds, and other communications vehicles. Christina has served as Lead Counsel in the litigation of significant impact cases, including Texas v. Duane Buck (challenging a Texas death-sentence that was the product of explicit racial bias), Mumia Abu-Jamal v. Secretary (Pennsylvania death sentence for “world’s most famous death row prisoner” vacated based on improper instruction to sentencing jury), Rosales v. Quarterman (Texas capital murder conviction and death sentence vacated based on intentional discrimination in jury selection by Harris County District Attorney’s Office), Commonwealth v. Whitney (Pennsylvania death sentence vacated based on finding of “mental retardation”), Roper v. Simmons (amicus brief addressing racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty for child offenders to support abolition of such sentences) and Wilson v. Horn (Pennsylvania capital murder conviction and death sentence vacated based on intentional discrimination in jury selection by Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office). Christina was previously the Director of LDF’s Criminal Justice Project, where she analyzed, developed and implemented litigation, organizing, public education, communications and other advocacy strategies to ensure that the American criminal justice system is administered fairly and without regard to race such that all communities receive fair and appropriate police protection and that all individuals charged with or convicted of crimes are afforded the safeguards guaranteed by the constitution.
Prior to joining LDF, Christina served as a Supervising Assistant Federal Defender and Assistant Federal Defender at the Capital Habeas Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia’s Federal Court Division. While there, Christina represented numerous death-sentenced prisoners whose convictions and/or death-sentences were reversed, including Nicholas Yarris, the first death row prisoner in Pennsylvania to be exonerated by DNA evidence. She was also a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in New York.
Christina earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Howard University.
United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey
Paul J. Fishman was nominated by President Barack Obama as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey in June 2009; he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 7, 2009 and sworn in on October 14, 2009. As U.S. Attorney, he is responsible for overseeing all federal criminal investigations and prosecutions and the litigation of all civil matters in New Jersey in which the federal government has an interest. Mr. Fishman supervises a staff of approximately 145 attorneys and 115 support personnel in Newark, Camden, and Trenton. In addition to his service as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Fishman is a member of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys ("AGAC"). He served as Vice-Chair of the AGAC from 2009-2011, and Chair from 2011-2012. Created in 1973, the AGAC represents the voice of the U.S. Attorneys and provides advice and counsel to the Attorney General on policy, management, and operational issues affecting the offices of the United States Attorneys across the country. Mr. Fishman has spent much of his professional career in public service. After graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable Edward R. Becker of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He was an Assistant United States Attorney from 1983 to 1994, during which time he served as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, Chief of Narcotics, Chief of the Criminal Division, and First Assistant U.S. Attorney. From 1994 to 1997, he was a senior adviser to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States on a variety of law enforcement, policy, legislative, national security, and international matters, as well as on specific investigations and prosecutions. In addition to his public service, from 1998 - 2009 Mr. Fishman was a partner in the law firm of Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman, where he headed the firm’s white collar practice and also handled complex civil litigation. He graduated magna cum laude in 1978 from Princeton University and cum laude in 1982 from Harvard Law School, where he was the Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Review. In 2011, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law by Seton Hall University Law School.
New Jersey Commissioner, Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor
Michael Murphy is the former Prosecutor of Morris County, where he began the Bias Crimes Unit and structured the county’s first Human Relations Commission. In 1992, at the request of then U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff, Mr. Murphy was deputized as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and successfully prosecuted Arthur and Irene Seale for the highly publicized kidnapping and murder of Exxon executive Sidney Reso. In 1994, working closely with the U.S. Department of State and the Jordanian government, he secured the conviction of Mohammed Abequa, a Morris County resident who murdered his wife, kidnapped his children, and fled to his native Jordan to escape justice.
Mr. Murphy has served as President of the New Jersey Prosecutors Association, and has chaired the Association’s Legislative Committee. He is the past Chairman of the Garden State Preservation Trust, and was both the Chairman and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Public Policy Center of New Jersey.
A graduate of Georgetown University and Seton Hall University School of Law with nearly forty years of practice, Mr. Murphy has served as a municipal attorney, municipal prosecutor, county prosecutor and public defender. In private practice, he specialized in the areas of land use, corporate litigation, products liability and white collar defense. He also served in the United States Merchant Marine, and through his service as a mariner, he developed a firsthand appreciation for the critical role the waterfront plays in the economy of the State of New Jersey, the State of New York, and beyond.
Mr. Murphy has been involved in politics since the first gubernatorial campaign of his stepfather, two-term New Jersey Governor and Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard J. Hughes, and was candidate for Governor of New Jersey in 1997. Currently a Visiting Associate at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Mr. Murphy has been called upon to appear as a guest commentator on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNBC, MSNBC, My 9, Fox, TruTV, NJN, New 12 NJ and other cable and radio outlets.
Legal Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
Baher Azmy is the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He directs all litigation and advocacy around issues related to the promotion of civil and human rights. At CCR, he has litigated cases related to discriminatory policing practices (stop and frisk), government surveillance, the rights of Guantanamo detainees, and accountability for victims of torture. Baher is currently on leave from his faculty position at Seton Hall University School of Law, where he taught Constitutional Law and directed the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic. While a Clinical Law Professor, Baher represented Murat Kurnaz, a German resident of Turkish descent imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, until his release in August 2006. In addition, he litigated cases challenging police misconduct and violations of the rights of immigrants, prisoners, and the press. He has authored numerous legal briefs in the federal appeals courts and the United States Supreme Court on issues related to human rights and constitutional law, testified before Congress, and produced substantial scholarship on issues of access to justice. He is a magna cum laudegraduate of the University of Pennsylvania and of NYU School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Snow Public Interest Scholar. In 2012, Baher was selected as one of the top 500 lawyers in America by Lawdragon Magazine.
Baher has been published by and appeared on major media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, 60 Minutes, PBS Newshour, and MSNBC.
First Assistant Federal Public Defender for New Jersey
First Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender’s Office for the District of New Jersey
Chester Keller is the First Assistant Federal Defender in New Jersey and has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at Seton Hall Law School for the past 25 years. Keller began his career as the Assistant Prosecutor in Hudson County and served in the office for 5 years. He is a graduate of Saint Peter’s College and holds an M.A. in English from Seton Hall and J.D. from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
|Brandon Del Pozo
Chief of Police of Burlington, Burlington Police Department, and former NYPD Officer, New York Police Department
Brandon del Pozo is the chief of police of Burlington, Vermont, the largest municipal police force in the state. Prior to being appointed to this position in September, he served for over 18 years in the New York City Police Department, retiring as a deputy inspector. While in the NYPD he commanded police precincts in the Bronx and Manhattan, worked for the Internal Affairs Bureau, and was stationed overseas in Amman, Jordan, for two years as the NYPD's intelligence liaison to the Arab Middle East and India. He also served as a policy analyst and strategic planner for the police commissioner and the chief of department. He began his career on patrol in East Flatbush and Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Chief del Pozo is a 1996 graduate of Dartmouth College, and holds an MPA from Harvard University, an MA from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and an MPhil, in Philosophy, from the City University of New York.
Associate Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
Jocelyn Simonson is an Assistant Professor at Brooklyn Law School. Her scholarship around policing explores ways in which communities participate in police accountability outside of formal government-driven processes. For example, one forthcoming article, Copwatching, explores the phenomenon of organized copwatching – groups of local residents who wear uniforms, carry visible recording devices, patrol neighborhoods, and film police-citizen interactions in an effort to hold police departments accountable to the populations they police. More broadly, Professor Simonson is interested in identifying ways in which the public participates in criminal justice processes and how that participation, in turn, has the potential to lead to broader changes in the justice system. Prior to joining Brooklyn Law School, Professor Simonson taught at NYU School of Law and was a public defender in the Bronx.
Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law
Ekow N. Yankah is a Professor of Law at Cardozo School of Law. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Columbia University School of Law and a B.C.L., a post-graduate law degree from Oxford University. Professor Yankah’s scholarship explores the intersection of analytical jurisprudence, criminal law and political theory. His scholarship has appeared in a variety of books, law reviews and peer reviewed legal theory journals. His current work and forthcoming book explores republican theories of political obligation grounded in civic duty and its relationship to law generally and criminal law in particular. Professor Yankah has been recognized as one of the Top 50 influential Law Professors under 50.
Prior to joining the Cardozo faculty, Professor Yankah was an assistant professor at University of Illinois where he was a member of the Law and Philosophy Program as well as the Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Program. Previously, he was an associate in complex commercial litigation at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in New York.
Outside of the law school, Professor Yankah is active in Democratic politics. Professor Yankah is the Co-Chair of the nationally recognized New York Democratic Lawyer’s Counsel, the voting rights organization of the Democratic National Committee. In this role, Professor Yankah often lobbies and advises elected officials and the New York State Senate and Assembly on voter protection laws and strategies to ensure every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote. Professor Yankah also serves on the Executive Board of the Innocence Project and American Constitution Society’s (ACS) New York Chapter. His opinion pieces have appeared in, among other places, The New York Times and The Huffington Post.
|Cynthia Conti Cook
Staff Attorney, Special Litigation Unit at the Legal Aid Society
Cynthia Conti-Cook is a staff attorney at the New York City's Legal Aid Society, Special Litigation Unit, where she oversees the Cop Accountability Database and works on strategic litigation, policy reform and practice advisories for public defenders. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Cynthia was a civil rights litigator for seven years at a small Brooklyn law firm, Stoll, Glickman & Bellina, LLP, where she brought over 100 civil rights lawsuits against police and correction officers in New York City and State. She graduated from CUNY School of Law and Bard College.
Principal, Eric S. Pennington, P.C.
Eric S. Pennington is an attorney with a Newark practice specializing in civil rights, employment discrimination and complex civil litigation. From 2000 - 2010, he served as Chief Municipal Court Judge in the City of Orange Township. He has successfully litigated matters in the State and Federal Courts of New Jersey, and has been certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Certified Civil Trial Attorney.
Mr. Pennington was an associate with the Labor and Employment Group of Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione (Gibbons, PC) in Newark, and with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York City from 1995 to 1997. He clerked for the Honorable Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Detroit, Michigan and, prior to that, for the Honorable Robert N. Wilentz, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Mr. Pennington received his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Thomas A. Edison State College and his Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers University School of Law, Newark. He is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the Garden State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Mr. Pennington was certified as a mediator with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after attending the Cornell University Mediation training program.
Mr. Pennington previously served as a Commissioner of the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation; and served as Vice Chair, as well as Chair of the Board’s Joint Conference/Planning Committee, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He currently serves as an Adjunct Faculty Member of Seton Hall University Law School.
Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, New York Law School, and Member of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board
An expert in the areas of civil rights and racial discrimination, Deborah N. Archer is a Professor of Law, Co-Director of the Impact Center for Public Interest Law and Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at New York Law School. She also serves as a member of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, which considers claims of alleged police misconduct. Dean Archer was previously an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated at the trial and appellate level in cases involving affirmative action in higher education, employment discrimination, school desegregation, and voting rights. She was also a Marvin H. Karpatkin Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was involved in federal and state litigation on issues of race and poverty. Prior to joining New York Law School, Dean Archer was a litigation associate at Simpson, Thacher & Barlett LLP. As Director of the Racial Justice Project, Archer continues to work to protect the constitutional and civil rights of people of color and increase public awareness of racism, racial injustice, and structural racial inequality. Dean Archer has also participated as amicus counsel in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeal, including Ricci v. DeStefano, Fisher v. University of Texas, Shelby County v. Holder, and Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project.
Dean Archer graduated with honors from Smith College in 1993 and was awarded her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1996. She clerked for Judge Alvin Thompson in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Executive Director, ACLU-NJ
Udi Ofer is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ). Under Ofer’s leadership, the ACLU-NJ has taken up the charge to reform the state’s criminal justice system, and has succeeded in overhauling New Jersey’s broken bail system, exposing and challenging stop-and-frisk and other policing abuses, and creating one of the nation’s strongest police civilian review boards in Newark.
Prior to joining the ACLU-NJ, Ofer founded the Advocacy Department of the New York Civil Liberties Union. He is best known for his work challenging the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices and spearheading the effort to pass legislation, known as the Community Safety Act, banning racial profiling by the NYPD and creating an NYPD Inspector General’s office.
Ofer began his legal career in 2001 as a Skadden Fellow at a domestic violence organization. From 2009-2012, he was as an adjunct professor at New York Law School. Ofer has authored more than a dozen law review articles and reports. He is a frequent commentator on civil liberties and civil rights issues in local and national media. Ofer is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
|Katherine A. Levine
Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering, New York University School of Law
Kate joined the Lawyering faculty in 2012. For the three years before that, she was a staff attorney at Appellate Advocates, representing clients on appeal from their criminal convictions in New York State's Second Department and Court of Appeals. From 2007-2008, she she was a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, and from 2006-2007, she was a law clerk for Judge Robert P. Patterson, Jr., in the Southern District of New York. She has also worked at the New York Capital Defender Office and the Southern Center for Human Rights.
Kate received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2006 and her A.B. in American History and Literature from Harvard College in 2002.
|Mina Q. Malik
Executive Director of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board
Mina Malik is the Executive Director of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the largest police oversight agency in the nation which investigates allegations of police misconduct. Appointed in February of 2015, her role as Chief Executive Officer is to oversee the agency’s operations, and work with the Board in spearheading change, implementing new policy, and improving the organization at all levels. Ms. Malik has been a life-long dedicated public servant with a proven track record as a career prosecutor and creative innovator.
Most recently, Ms. Malik served as Special Counsel to the District Attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office where she counseled and assisted the newly-elected Brooklyn District Attorney in the day-to-day operations of the agency consisting of 1,200 employees. Ms. Malik was a vital member of the executive team and advised the District Attorney on the restructuring and reorganization of the agency, personnel matters, policy issues and wrongful conviction cases.
Prior to her work in Brooklyn, Ms. Malik served as Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office where she prosecuted a broad range of felony cases and argued numerous appeals. Her concentration was in Special Victims where she oversaw the investigation, prosecution, and litigation of child homicides, child physical and sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and adult sex crimes. Ms. Malik served as a law clerk in the Law Offices of Plato Cacheris in Washington, D.C.; a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Reggie B. Walton of the District of Columbia Superior Court; and a Criminal Investigator for the D.C. Public Defender Service. Ms. Malik also serves as a faculty member of the Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute. She is a graduate of Bates College, and received her J.D. from The American University Washington College of Law.