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Current Liman Fellows

Liman Report: Solitary Confinement on Texas’s Death Row
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We are delighted to announce that the Liman Program awarded eight new fellowships for 2014-15, in addition to four extensions, made possible by matching funds from the host organizations.  Below, we provide brief overviews of the Fellows’ projects. 

New Fellows

Anna Arkin-Gallagher is helping the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights to create a program to provide civil legal services to young people involved in the New Orleans juvenile justice system.  Services include representation on issues related to education, school discipline, housing, and access to mental health services.  Anna, who graduated from Yale College in 2004 and from Yale law School in 2009, worked in the Civil Action Practice of the Bronx Defenders.  There, she provided comprehensive civil legal representations for clients in need of assistance with housing, employment, education, and civil rights. 

At the ACLU of Arizona, Josh Bendor works to ensure that local officials respect the rights of migrants.  In 2013, the ACLU obtained a judgment requiring the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to refrain from targeting Latinos for traffic stops and from engaging in other activities on the basis of race and ethnicity.  Josh works with a newly-appointed monitor to implement that order.  Josh, a member of the Yale Law School class of 2013, graduated magna cum laude from Yale College, where he was also a Liman Summer Fellow.  He clerked for the Honorable Paul A. Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and after his Liman Fellowship, he will clerk for the Honorable Andrew Hurwitz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Emily Gerrick joined the Texas Fair Defense Project to oppose modern-day debtors’ prisons in Texas.  Through litigation and legislative advocacy, her focus is on reforming the practices of counties which incarcerate poor people who are unable to pay legal fees and fines.  Emily is a member of the Yale Law School Class of 2014 and graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a B.A. in philosophy.  In law school, she was a student director of the Detention and Human Rights Project and a member of the Capital Punishment Clinic. 

At the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center and the Home Base program in Boston, Dana Montalto helps veterans gain access to treatments and benefits.  One focus is on veterans who suffer from mental illness and other disabilities but are ineligible for benefits due to having discharges other than honorable.  Dana graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College in 2009 and from  Yale Law School in 2013.  She clerked for the Honorable F. Dennis Saylor IV of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. 

Matthew Vogel is spending his fellowship year at the Capital Defense Unit at Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans, where he aims to strengthen and support capital public defense and capital reform in Louisiana.  He aids capital public defenders to ensure that they have the tools they need to avoid potential capital indictments, or to resolve those charges without trials and to assist in litigating the many issues that arise if cases do go to trial.  A 2013 graduate of Yale Law School, where he was active in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, Matt clerked for the Honorable Keith P. Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.  Prior to law school, Matt, a 2001 graduate of Harvard College, served homeless people at New York City’s Catholic Worker.

Jessica Vosburgh is working with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network to establish a workers’ center in Birmingham, Alabama.  The center, which opened its doors in November 2013, is dedicated to defending and expanding the rights of day laborers, domestic workers, and other low-wage and immigrant workers in the region.  Jessica, who graduated from Brown University in 2007, received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2013, where she represented clients in deportation defense cases, wage claims, and civil rights litigation.  Before law school, Jessica curated exhibits and events at a small café and arts venue in Manhattan. 

Adrien A. Weibgen joined the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center in New York City.  Adrien, a member of the Yale Law School class of 2014, is helping to launch a land use practice so that low-income communities of color are represented in negotiations with developers about local real estate projects.  Prior to law school, Adrien, who graduated from Wesleyan University in 2005, worked in racial justice advocacy, including at the ACLU Racial Justice Program and the Center for Social Inclusion.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Adrien co-founded People’s Relief, a grassroots canvassing effort in Coney Island that assisted thousands of elderly and disabled people trapped in high-rise buildings.  Adrien’s project will focus especially on communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Molly Weston is spending her fellowship year at A Better Balance in New York City.  She assists low-income workers enforce the Earned Sick Time Act and Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a municipal law enacted in 2013 that requires employers of more than 15 workers to provide paid family and sick leave.  Molly, a member of the Yale Law School class of 2013, is currently clerking for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Wilmington, DE.  She graduated with High Honors in Political Science from Swarthmore College in 2010, where she was a Lang Opportunity Scholar. 

Continuing Fellows

Burke Butler will work at the Texas Defender Services (TDS), where she will address living conditions for people on death row, all of whom are housed in solitary confinement. The focus will be on post-conviction representation related to the conditions of confinement.  Burke will also continue collaborations begun this past year with various groups, including a local corrections officers’ union, to improve death row conditions for prisoners and staff alike.  Burke, a 2011 graduate of Yale Law School, clerked for Judge Harris Hartz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and for Judge Keith Ellison of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.  Prior to law school, Burke attended the University of Chicago, where she focused on human rights projects in Peru and India. 

Katie Chamblee, who is at the Southern Center for Human Rights, seeks to strengthen the quality of counsel for poor people facing the death penalty in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.  Katie, who developed training and other resources for trial counsel during her first year as a Liman Fellow, will focus during the upcoming year on pre-trial strategies for defendants.  The effort aims to help at the front end, so as to enable defendants to avoid capital trials when possible, and to reduce the instances in which death penalty sentences are imposed.  Katie graduated from Yale Law School in 2012 and clerked for the Honorable Myron H. Thompson on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.  She graduated with Highest Honors in History and English in 2007 from Swarthmore College, where she was a Philip Evans Scholar. 

Caitlin Mitchell will build on work begun during her first fellowship year at Youth, Rights & Justice, in Portland, Oregon, where she represents incarcerated parents, aiming to help them continue their parental relationships while incarcerated.  Caitlin will help to revive a coalition—the Children of Incarcerated Parents Workgroup—that seeks to make the criminal justice and family law systems more responsive to the needs of poor families affected by incarceration.  Caitlin graduated from Yale Law School in 2012 and from Yale College in 2006. Prior to law school, she worked as a counselor and community educator for a sexual assault crisis center in New Haven, CT. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable Martha Lee Walters of the Oregon Supreme Court.

Alyssa Work will continue for a second year at the Bronx Freedom Fund in New York. There, she assists individuals facing misdemeanor criminal charges to post bail and to avoid pretrial detention.  In the coming year, Alyssa will also collect information on the effects of pre-trial detention on misdemeanor defendants and explore how to create legislative alternatives to bail.  Alyssa is a member of the Yale Law School Class of 2013 and graduated in 2008 with High Honors in Political Science from Swarthmore College. Before law school, she worked as a legal assistant at a law firm focused on immigration in Washington, D.C.

Liman Report: Solitary Confinement on Texas’s Death Row
Read More