Symposium Speaker Biographies

Prosecutor 2.0—How has the job changed since the emergence of the “progressive prosecution” movement and what impact has this had on campaigns?

Maybell Romero joined the NIU Law faculty in 2017. She has varied research interests in criminal law, criminal legal system ethics, constitutional law, and juvenile justice; a major focus of her research centers on rural criminal legal systems. At NIU College of Law she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure: Adjudication, Constitutional Law, Children & The Law, and a seminar on Criminal Justice System Ethics. From 2015 to 2017, Professor Romero was a visiting professor at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. She has served as both a state’s attorney and defense attorney during her decade of practice in Utah, where she also handled child welfare and civil litigation matters.

Professor Romero is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (2006), where she was the editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law. She holds a B.A. from Cornell University (2003), where she studied both English and government.

Ronald Wright is the Needham Gulley Professor of Criminal Law at Wake Forest University. He teaches courses in criminal procedure, criminal sentencing, and evidence. His empirical research concentrates on the lawyers and judges who work in criminal courts, with special emphasis on the offices of criminal prosecutors. Wright is an advisory board member to professional associations and think tanks for prosecutors, such as the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

 

Carissa Byrne Hessick is the Ransdell Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she also serves as the Director of the Prosecutors and Politics Project. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and winner of the Potter Stewart Prize for the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals.  After graduating from law school, Professor Hessick clerked for Judge Barbara S. Jones on the Southern District of New York and for Judge A. Raymond Randolph on the D.C. Circuit.  She also worked as a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City. Before joining the faculty at Carolina Law, Professor Hessick taught for several years on the faculties at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.  She also spent two years as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School. Professor Hessick’s areas of research and expertise include criminal law, criminal sentencing, plea bargaining, and the structure of the criminal justice system.

Miriam Aroni Krinsky is the Executive Director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a nonprofit that supports and inter-connects recently elected leaders of prosecutors’ offices committed to new thinking and innovation. She has spent the past few decades working in public service, justice system reform and academia, including 15 years as a federal prosecutor — both in Los Angeles and on a strike force in the Mid-Atlantic region.

In 2012, Miriam served as the Executive Director of Los Angeles County’s Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, a high-level Commission appointed to investigate allegations of excessive force by Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies in L.A. County jails. She has taught at the UCLA School of Public Policy and at Loyola and Southwestern Law Schools, served as a policy consultant on youth violence prevention, juvenile justice, and justice reform issues for The California Endowment and spent five years as the Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles – a legal services organization representing over 20,000 abused and neglected children.  She also served as President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission (serving as Commission President for three years), on the California Judicial Council and California State Bar Board of Trustees (by appointment of the California Supreme Court) and on the American Law Institute Sentencing Project Advisory group and the Principles of Policing Advisory Group. She has testified before national and state legislative bodies, authored over 50 articles, and lectured nationwide on criminal law, law enforcement oversight and reform, juvenile justice, and sentencing issues.

Jeff Yates, co-author of Carissa Byrne Hessick and Ronald Wright, is an attorney and professor of political science at Binghamton University. He teaches courses in criminal procedure, criminal law, judicial politics, and the presidency, among others. He is the author (or co-author) of three books: Popular Justice: Presidential Prestige and Executive Success in the Supreme Court (SUNY Press 2012), Presidential Rhetoric and the Public Agenda: Constructing the War on Drugs (Johns Hopkins University Press 2009), and These Estimable Courts: Understanding Public Perceptions of State Judicial Institutions and Legal Policy-Making (Oxford University Press 2016). He has also written articles on a wide range of topics in political science, law, and public policy.

Nathan Pinnell is 2L at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he is a Chancellor’s Scholar and will serve as the Publication Editor for Volume 100 of the North Carolina Law Review. As a 1L, his recent development, Flag of Convenience: Substituting Void-for-Vagueness Doctrine for Equal Protection Analysis in Manning, won the Joint Journal Competition at UNC Law as the best overall submission and was accepted for publication in the North Carolina Law Review. Before attending law school, he received an MA in Political Science from UNC – Chapel Hill with a focus on American politics.

 

Prosecutorial Biases as a Catalyst for Systemic Racism —The intersect between prosecutorial discretion, prosecutorial ethics, and racial inequity in criminal justice.

Angela J. Davis is a Distinguished Professor of Law at the American University Washington College of Law where she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Criminal Defense:  Theory and Practice.  Professor Davis has been a Visiting Professor at George Washington University Law School and Georgetown University Law Center.   She has served on the adjunct faculty at George Washington, Georgetown, and Harvard Law Schools.  Professor Davis is the author of Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Oxford University Press, 2007), the editor of Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment (Pantheon, 2017),the co-editor of Trial Stories (with Professor Michael E. Tigar) (Foundation Press, 2007), and the co-author of Criminal Law (with Professor Katheryn Russell-Brown) (Sage Publications, 2015) and the 7th edition of Basic Criminal Procedure (with Professors Stephen Saltzburg and Daniel Capra) (Thomson West, 2017). Professor Davis’ other publications include articles and book chapters on prosecutorial discretion and racism in the criminal justice system.  She received the Washington College of Law’s Pauline Ruyle Moore award for scholarly contribution in the area of public law in 2000 and 2009, the American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment in 2002, the American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship in 2009, and the American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award in 2015.  Professor Davis’ book Arbitrary Justice won the Association of American Publishers 2007 Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Award for Excellence in the Law and Legal Studies Division. She was awarded a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship in 2004. Professor Davis served as the Executive Director of the National Rainbow Coalition from 1994 – 1995.  From 1991 – 1994, she was the Director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (“PDS”).  She also served as the Deputy Director from 1988 – 1991 and as a staff attorney at PDS from 1982 – 1988.  Professor Davis is a former law clerk of the Honorable Theodore R. Newman of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She is a graduate of Howard University and Harvard Law School.

Tamara F. Lawson is Dean and Professor of Law at St. Thomas University School of Law. She previously served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2017-2018, and Associate Dean for Faculty Development from 2013-2017. Additionally, Dean Lawson is Chair of the Law Professors Division of the National Bar Association, and Board member of the Society of American Law Teachers, and Board of Trustees member of The Law School Admission Council.

Dean Lawson joined the St. Thomas Law faculty in 2004 and was awarded “Professor of the Year” in 2005 and 2006. In addition to her administrative duties, she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and a seminar on Race and the Law.  Prior to joining the law faculty, Dean Lawson served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Clark County District Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas, Nevada, from 1996-2002. As a criminal prosecutor, she worked in the Special Victims Unit for Domestic Violence, argued multiple cases before the Nevada Supreme Court, including death penalty cases, as well as served in various departments in the prosecutor’s office.

Roger A. Fairfax, Jr. is Professor of Law, the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor, and Founding Director of the Criminal Law & Policy Initiative. Professor Fairfax served as the Jeffrey and Martha Kohn Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2015-2019, and as Associate Dean for Public Engagement from 2014-2015. Professor Fairfax teaches courses in criminal law, constitutional and adjudicatory criminal procedure, criminal litigation, prosecutorial and criminal defense ethics, and seminars on the grand jury, white-collar criminal investigations, criminal defense, and criminal justice policy. He conducts research on discretion in the criminal process, the grand jury, prosecutorial ethics, and criminal justice policy and reform. His scholarship has been published in edited books, including his own Grand Jury 2.0: Modern Perspectives on the Grand Jury. He is additionally the author of Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure: Cases, Statutes, and Materials, along with a number of articles and essays appearing in leading law journals.

Before joining the Law School faculty, Professor Fairfax served as a federal prosecutor in the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. During his time in the Attorney General’s Honors Program, he also served details as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia and as special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of DOJ.

Professor Fairfax has testified before Congress, spoken at the White House, and advised local, state, and national government officials and candidates on criminal justice policy. He worked on criminal justice reform as a Senior Legislative Fellow with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism and as a Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute. Professor Fairfax was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley, and confirmed by the Maryland Senate, to the Board of Trustees of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, and also served as Chair of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission in Montgomery County, Maryland. Professor Fairfax has served as an elected member of the governing council of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, and on the boards of the National Bar Association and the Southeastern Association of Law Schools. He is a member of the advisory board of the Bloomberg/BNA White Collar Crime Report and the editorial board of the ABA’s Criminal Justice magazine. Professor Fairfax is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, a barrister of the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and an elected member of the American Law Institute.  In 2019, Chief Justice Roberts appointed Professor Fairfax to serve on the Judicial Conference of the United States, Advisory Committee for the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Professor Olwyn Conway teaches in the Criminal Defense and Criminal Prosecution clinics. In the Criminal Defense Clinic, she guides students in navigating one of the nation’s busiest municipal courts by counseling them on client interviews, fact investigations, case strategy, client meetings, plea negotiations, and trials. In the Criminal Prosecution Clinic, Professor Conway and her students prosecute a wide range of criminal cases, including theft, assault, weapons charges, drug possession, and domestic violence in Ohio’s Delaware County, the state’s fastest-growing region.

Prior to joining Ohio State, Professor Conway was an assistant defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia for seven years, providing indigent criminal representation in preliminary hearings, misdemeanor trials, bench trials, and felony jury trials. She also previously taught the Criminal Litigation Field Clinic at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Professor Conway won awards for public service and moot court. She served as a senior editor on the Journal of International Law, earned a certificate in gender studies, interned at Community Legal Services and the Penn Immigration Law Clinic, and co-founded the Penn Environmental Law Project. After graduation, she clerked for the Hon. William J. Cook, who presided over the Adult Drug Court Program in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Criminal Division.  Professor Conway studied abroad in The Netherlands and was a University of Pennsylvania Law School Public International Fellow in Quito, Ecuador.

Prosecutorial Discretion and Drug Reform—The role of prosecutors in perpetuating the War on Drugs and the link to mass incarceration.

On January 8, 2015, Marilyn J. Mosby was sworn in as the 25th State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, making her the youngest chief prosecutor of any major American city. Her leadership immediately transformed the State’s Attorney’s office into a national model for progressive holistic prosecution, exemplifying the mantra of not just being “tough on crime” but more importantly “smart on crime.” While the primary focus of her administration has been and continues to be successfully targeting and convicting violent offenders, Mosby understands that the community has an integral role in realizing a safer city. Therefore, repairing the fractured relationship between law enforcement and communities remains a hallmark of her tenure. Since the start of her administration, Mosby has worked tirelessly to reinstate the community engagement division; hired and assigned 10 new community liaisons to each region of the city; personally attended more than 500 community events, churches, and schools; and has increased SAO grant funding by more than 27 percent.

In an effort to be “smart on crime” and address crime holistically, Mosby created the Crime Control and Prevention division to tackle recidivism and deter youth violence through the implementation of innovative criminal justice initiatives such as Aim to B’More, the Junior State’s Attorney program and Great Expectations. Aim to B’More provides first-time, non-violent felony drug offenders with a second opportunity to get it right by offering life skills and educational training which ultimately leads to full-time employment and the expungement of the associated felony conviction, while the Junior State’s Attorney and Great Expectations programs expose young people to the positive aspects of the criminal justice system. Recognizing that prosecutors must not only aggressively advocate on behalf of the victims of crime, but in the pursuit of “justice,”—when the evidence exists—to exonerate those that have been falsely accused or convicted, in her first year in office, Mosby created the Conviction Integrity Unit to bolster the Office’s efforts to review and investigate claims of actual innocence. Finally, Mosby’s creation of the Policy and Legislative Affairs division within the SAO has made significant legislative strides under her leadership.

Mosby has additionally received numerous professional accolades and served in a number of leadership roles. She is a member of the Links Incorporated; the Peer Review Committee of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission; and has served on the Judicial Nomination Committee for the Monumental Bar Association, as well as the Criminal Justice Committee for the Baltimore City Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mosby is a member of the Association for Prosecuting Attorney’s (APA), and was an integral contributor to the APA’s reform proposals provided in the 21st Century Principles of Prosecution of Peace Officers. In 2016, Mosby revealed her own police accountability reform proposals with the APA’s support. Mosby received the prestigious 2016 Newsmaker of the Year Award by The National Newspaper Publishers Association; being named the 2015 Junius W. Williams Young Lawyer of the Year by the National Bar Association; and receiving the Woman of Courage Award by the National Women’s Political Caucus. Additionally, Mosby was among the 2015 class of both The Root 100 and Ebony Magazine’s Power 100. She was named as one of the Baltimore Sun’s 50 Women to Watch twice, in 2013 and 2014; Baltimore Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 in 2014; and one of the Daily Record’s Leading Women in 2013.

Kay Levine is a Professor of Law at Emory Law School. After graduating from Duke University, she received both a JD and a PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California at Berkeley. Her research and teaching interests center on the fields of criminal law and procedure, with a particular emphasis on prosecutorial culture and behavior in the United States. She previously served as the co-editor of the Law Section of the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences and is currently the co-author of a casebook about criminal procedure. Her empirical work has been widely published in both law journals and peer reviewed journals, including The George Washington University Law Review, the Arizona Law Review, the Stanford Journal of Crime and Public Policy, the Fordham Urban Law Journal, the American Criminal Law Review, the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, and Law and Social Inquiry.

Professor Alex Kreit became the first director of the Chase Center on Addiction Law & Policy, when it was established in 2020 at the Northern Kentucky University Chase School of Law. He is an assistant professor of law, teaching Healthcare and the Law and Criminal Law during his initial academic year at Chase. Prior to joining the Chase faculty, he was a visiting professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, in affiliation with the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. He has been a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, director of the school’s Center for Law and Social Justice, co-director of its Center for Criminal Law and Policy and a visiting associate professor at Boston College Law School, Newton, Mass. Before joining Thomas Jefferson, he was an associate at Morrison & Foerster, San Francisco, and had been a law clerk for Judge M. Blane Michael of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Professor Kreit is a leading expert in the field of illegal drug and marijuana law. He is author of the casebook Illegal Drug and Marijuana Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2019), co-author of the reference book Drug Abuse and the Law Sourcebook (Thomson Reuters, 2013, updated annually) and co-author of the casebook Marijuana Law and Policy (Carolina Academic Press, 2020). His articles have appeared in journals including the Boston College Law Review, the Ohio State Law Journal and the UC Davis Law Review. Professor Kreit is frequently quoted in the media on drug policy and marijuana law issues, having appeared in news outlets including CNN Headline News, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Slate, The Wall Street Journal and WIRED. In 2019, the National Law Journal selected him for its list of Trailblazers in Cannabis Law. While in San Diego, Professor Kreit was a member of the City of San Diego Ethics Commission and chair of the City of San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force.