By Charles Coughlin
Criminal lawyers and death penalty lawyers have always faced challenges. Over the past year, challenges have grown due to COVID-19 and the increased focus on issues such as racial justice, over-policing, and mass incarceration. The criminal law system disproportionally impacts communities of color and badly needed reform is one step toward a just and equitable society. The scope of the problem requires creative and innovative approaches. Public-interest and pro bono lawyers must be part of the solution.
Join us for our final virtual Summer Forum panel, Criminal Law & the Death Penalty, on Thursday, June 17 at 1:15 pm ET to learn how you can get involved. Our panel of experts will be moderated by Stephon Woods. Stephon is a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Enforcement Division, where he investigates and litigates claims of discrimination in housing across the country. Prior to his current role, Stephon served as an Assistant Attorney General with the Office of Attorney General for the District of Columbia’s (OAG) Social Justice Section. In that role, he investigated and litigated cases under the Tenant Receivership Act to compel housing providers to make outstanding repairs to their properties to protect the health and safety of their tenants. He also recovered more than $2 million in restitution and penalties for harmed consumers for unfair and deceptive practices committed by housing providers under the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act. Stephon also fought for much-needed security improvements at residential and commercial properties around the District through enforcement of the Drug-, Firearm-, or Prostitution-Related Nuisance Abatement Act. He is a former Staff Attorney for Bread for the City’s Legal Clinic and a current member of Washington Council of Lawyers’ Board of Directors and Co-Chair for the Washington Bar Association’s Knowledge is Power Committee.
Our panelists include the following:
Daniel is a partner at White & Case with over 30 years of experience in the criminal justice arena. He spent six years as an Assistant United States Attorney in California, where he prosecuted several jury trials, including multi-month, multi-defendant racketeering trials and the first federal death penalty case in the district in more than 30 years. He served as the Chief of Staff at both the FBI and the DOJ, senior associate counsel to the president, and legal adviser to the National Security Council. Today, Daniel spends most of his time advising international clients under investigation for FCPA violations. He has handled investigations, due diligence, and compliance engagements in Asia, Europe, Africa, and North and South America and politically high-profile matters, both before the Justice Department and Congress.
Emily is the Director & Chief Counsel of the ABA’s Death Penalty Representation Project. Emily first joined the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project in 2008 as a staff attorney and later became Director & Chief Counsel in 2015. Emily works with civil lawyers and law firms that are interested in pro bono death penalty representation to identify cases in need of assistance and that match the needs and interests of the firm. She also oversees the Project’s systemic reform efforts and serves as a national expert on the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment & Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases. She routinely provides training and technical assistance to capital defenders and pro bono counsel and also assists state agencies and lawmakers with implementing qualification and performance standards for capital defenders. Emily co-teaches a habeas practicum at Georgetown University Law Center with staff attorney Christina Mathieson in the fall semester. The course introduces students to habeas law and how to address issues such as mass incarceration, systemic racism, and geographic disparity in the American legal system through individual direct representation as well as systemic litigation.
Chiquisha (Keisha) Robinson
Keisha is the Deputy Chief for Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Keisha is a visionary, transformational leader, and freedom fighter who has dedicated her entire career to protecting the rights and restoring the dignity of vulnerable populations. Keisha envisions a world that rightfully asserts civil rights, constitutional rights, and racial justice within our communities. She has been on the front lines of this fight as a successful litigator, manager, and change agent with over 15 years of experience. From the courtroom to the community, Keisha focuses her practice on reentry and prisoner’s rights matters. A pioneer in her field, Keisha brought together every D.C. criminal justice stakeholder—over hundreds of people—to collaborate and produce a transformational reentry book of expert knowledge and resources for anyone affected by the D.C. criminal legal system. She aims to empower her colleagues, members of the community, and those affected by the criminal justice system to persevere and achieve to the highest degree.
Bridgette is the co-founder and executive director of Network for Victim Recovery DC. At NVRDC, Bridgette concentrates on advocating for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence throughout the DC area, including on college campuses. During her time at NVRDC, Bridgette has led local and national policy efforts to advance the rights of survivors—providing expertise to members of the United States Congress to increase the transparency of sexual assault prosecutions and enhance the rights of crime victims, and by offering legal testimony and analysis to the D.C. Council on multiple pieces of legislation impacting survivors’ rights. She has served on multiple policymaking committees, including the Department of Education’s Negotiated Rule-making Committee to address Clery Act amendments under Campus SaVE through the Violence Against Women Act, an advisory panel hosted by the Financial Crimes Resource Center to create “Assisting Victims of Financial Crimes,” and in consultation to the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime for the Department of Justice Canada. Bridgette is also a certified Police Instructor who has trained at several Maryland academies and the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia in-service trainings on topics such as Trauma Responses, Instructor Liability, Victims’ Rights, Elder Abuse, Sexual Assault on Campuses, and Domestic Violence Awareness and is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland University College, where she teaches the Study of Victimology.
Join us for all of our Summer Forum practice panel discussions starting on Thursday, June 3. Register for the Summer Forum here.
Look for updates and join the conversation about the Summer Forum using #SumFo21 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn!