Speaker Bios

Overview of the Panelist

Panel 1 Panel 2 Keynote Roundtable
Chaz Arnett

Sean Hill

Stacey Little

Jocelyn Simonson

Monica Bell

Ahmed Lavalais

Jamelia Morgan

David Singleton

Nikki Trautman-Baszynski

Wesley Bell

Alec Karakatsanis

Alexandra Natapoff

Welcome

Keith McCormish

Director of Columbus Coalition for the Homeless

 

Keith McCormish is the Director of Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and Editor of Street Speech, a street newspaper sold by people who have been homeless.  His work has been mostly in the field of housing, healthcare, and behavioral health. Prior to becoming Director of CCH, Keith spent many years as a social worker, nonprofit administrator, and consultant. 

 

Panel 1

Chaz Arnett

Assistant Professor of Law

University of Pittsburgh Law School 

Professor Chaz Arnett research interests rest at the intersection of criminal law, technology, and surveillance studies. His most recent scholarship examines the ways in which surveillance measures are used within the criminal justice system and the impact these practices have on historically marginalized groups and vulnerable populations. Prof. Arnett’s teaches courses in criminal procedure, legal ethics, juvenile justice, and education law. 

 

Prior to teaching, Prof. Arnett served as a trial attorney with public defender offices in Baltimore and New Orleans, and as a staff attorney with the Advancement Project, where he assisted in local and national campaigns aimed at combating the school-to-prison pipeline. As a recipient of the prestigious Satter Fellowship, through Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program, he also worked with the International Center for Transitional Justice on issues of constitutional development in Zimbabwe, and asylum cases for Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his commitment toward furthering human rights through criminal justice reform.

 

Sean A. Hill, II

Research Fellow & Adjunct Professor of Law

Georgetown University Law Center

Sean Hill’s teaching and research lie at the intersection of criminal justice policy and critical race theory. His current research examines algorithmic risk assessment instruments in the criminal justice system, specifically how these tools contribute to discriminatory practices and racial disparities in pretrial detention. He has also written on innovative collaborations between attorneys and #BlackLivesMatter activists, to address inequalities that persist along racial lines.

 

Prior to joining Georgetown as a Research Fellow, Professor Hill served as a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Fellow, driving a campaign to reform New York’s bail practices. As a Senior Staff Attorney with the legal non-profit, Youth Represent, he represented formerly-incarcerated youth in assorted criminal and civil proceedings, and expanded the office’s legal practice to family court matters through a 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellowship. He is a 2012 graduate of Harvard Law School, and earned his A.B. in English from Duke University in 2009.

 

Stacey Little

Founder, Ball Smart. Ball Hard LLC

Community Organizer 

Stacey Little is the founder of Ball Smart. Ball Hard LLC in Columbus, Ohio, a program with after-school sports and mentoring to high school students who are at-risk or have had brushes with the law. She is also a community organizer with the People’s Justice Project and Voices of the Unheard (VOU) project. She lead the 2019 #FreeBlackMamas campaign in Columbus. Little describes her purpose as helping communities become the greatest communities that they can be. Specifically, she is interested in starting a community bail fund in Columbus. Stacey is a mentor to many and models how one can be both passionate and inclusive – getting others to join her fight for justice.

 

Stacey served as a Diversity Peer Educator in the Global Diversity and Inclusion Center at Columbus State. In this role she helps coordinate the M.A.N. Initiative program and has provided leadership for programs, including water drives for Flint, MI, the 2017 Brother’s Keeper Panel, and more.

 

Jocelyn Simonson

Associate Professor of Law

Brooklyn Law School

Professor Simonson writes and teaches about criminal law, criminal procedure, and social change. Her scholarship explores ways in which the public participates in the criminal process and in the institutions of local governance that control policing and punishment. In particular, she studies bottom-up interventions in the criminal legal system, such as bail funds, copwatching, courtwatching, and participatory defense, asking how these real-life interventions should inform our conceptions of the design of criminal legal institutions, the discourse of constitutional rights, and the meaning of democratic justice. Her law review articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the Harvard Law Review, Columbia Law Review, California Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Northwestern University Law Review, and NYU Review of Law & Social Change. Professor Simonson’s scholarship has been cited twice by the Supreme Court, and was designated “Must Read” by the NACDL Getting Scholarship Into Courts Project.

Professor Simonson is an Associate Professor at Brooklyn Law School. Prior to joining the Brooklyn Law School faculty in 2015, Professor Simonson was an Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering at New York University School of Law. Previously, Professor Simonson spent five years as a public defender with the Bronx Defenders. She clerked for the Hon. Barrington D. Parker, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

 

Panel 2

Monica Bell

Associate Professor of Law; Associate Professor of Sociology

Yale Law School; Yale University

Monica Bell is an Associate Professor of Law and Sociology at Yale Law School. Her areas of research and teaching include law and sociology, constitutional law, criminal legal policy, welfare and public benefits law, housing law and residential segregation, and race and the law. Monica’s scholarship aims to center the voices and experiences of people who experience exclusion through specific bodies of law and their implementation, with an emphasis on qualitative methodology and inductive theory building. 

 

Monica’s scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal, NYU Law Review, American Journal of Sociology, Law & Society Review, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, and other journals. She has also published writing in popular outlets. 

 

A first-generation college graduate from Upstate South Carolina, Monica holds a B.A. from Furman University, an M.Sc. from University College Dublin, a J.D. from Yale, and a Ph.D. in Sociology & Social Policy from Harvard. In 2019, she received the Yale Law Women Faculty Excellence Award, Yale Law School’s highest award for teaching and mentoring students. In 2020-2021, Monica will be a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, where she will work on a book on the ideological dynamics between poor racially marginalized youth and the legal system.

 

Ahmed Lavalais

Clinical Teaching Fellow, Policy Advocacy Clinic

UC Berkeley School Of Law

Ahmed Lavalais works on the Policy Advocacy Clinic’s national multi-year campaign to eliminate debt imposed on youth and families by the juvenile justice system.

 

During law school, Lavalais was a student in the Policy Advocacy Clinic, where he worked on efforts to increase support services to commercially sexually exploited children, and on reform work related to the Clinic’s juvenile justice debt project. Lavalais coauthored first of their kind reports describing the harmful, costly, and unlawful nature of administrative fees in the juvenile justice system in Alameda County, California and in delinquency systems throughout California more broadly. Lavalais also worked at the Western Center on Law & Poverty on legislation to help end the criminalization of low-income youth, and at the East Bay Community Law Center, in its Education, Defense, & Justice for Youth program, where he provided holistic representation to youth in delinquency and school expulsion proceedings, and advocated for young people with special education needs.

 

Lavalais graduated from U.C. Berkeley and earned his J.D. at Berkeley Law, where he was named a National Jurist Law Student of the Year. Prior to law school, Lavalais worked as a television writer, with his central focus on telling stories related to youth justice and criminal justice reform.

 

Jamelia Morgan

Associate Professor of Law and Robert D. Glass Scholar

University of Connecticut School of Law

Jamelia N. Morgan’s current scholarship focuses on issues at the intersections of race, disability, and criminal law and punishment. Her research examines the development of disability as a legal category, how law shapes disability as an identity in prison and jails, and the criminalization of dissent and non-normative identities and expressions. Morgan’s additional research projects have explored the ways in which doctrinal tensions and political discourse over race-conscious remedies influence how antidiscrimination claims and remedies are conceptualized in court opinions involving voter discrimination and disability discrimination.

 

Prior to joining the faculty at UConn, Morgan was a civil rights litigator at the Abolitionist Law Center and worked to improve prison conditions and end the use of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania state prisons. From 2015 to 2017, Professor Morgan was an Arthur Liman Fellow with the ACLU National Prison Project, where she focused on the impact of prisons on individuals with physical disabilities and authored an ACLU report titled, Caged In: Solitary Confinement’s Devastating Harm on Prisoners with Disabilities. Prior to her fellowship, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard W. Roberts of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

 

Professor Morgan is a 2013 graduate of Yale Law School, where she was an active member of the Criminal Defense Project and the Detention and Human Rights Clinic. Prior to law school, she served as associate director of the African American Policy Forum, a social justice think tank that works to bridge the gap between scholarly research and public discourse related to affirmative action, structural racism, and gender inequality. She is a 2006 graduate of Stanford University. 

 

David Singleton

Executive Director & Professor of Law 

Ohio Justice and Policy Center

Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law

David A. Singleton is an attorney and Executive Director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC). The OJPC is a non-partisan, nonprofit, public interest law office based in Cincinnati whose purpose is to reform Ohio’s justice system.

 

Mr. Singleton received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1991, and his A.B. in Economics and Public Policy Studies from Duke University in 1987. Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Singleton received a Skadden Fellowship to work at the Legal Action Center for the Homeless in New York City, where he practiced for three years. He then worked as a public defender for seven years, first with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and then with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.

 

After moving to Cincinnati in 2001, Mr. Singleton practiced at Thompson Hine before joining OJPC as its Executive Director in July 2002. He joined the faculty here as a Visiting Professor during the 2007-2008 academic year. He teaches a seminar on Constitutional Issues in Criminal Justice and the Constitutional Law Clinical Externship.

 

Nikki Trautman-Baszynski

Legal Counsel

The Justice Collaborative 

Nikki Trautman Baszynski is legal counsel at The Justice Collaborative, a policy and media organization that works in partnership with organizers, elected officials, and reporters to provide local communities with the information they need to understand the policies, practices, and people responsible for mass criminalization and incarceration.

 

Prior to joining TJC, Nikki served as an assistant state public defender in the Ohio Public Defender’s Appeals and Postconviction Section. In 2015, she founded the agency’s Racial Justice Initiative, an interdepartmental team focused on identifying racially discriminatory practices within the state and collaborating to address them.

 

Nikki began her legal career as the inaugural Greif Fellow in Juvenile Human Trafficking at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. While in law school, Nikki founded SPEAK, a student-driven dispute-resolution system whose purpose was to foster difficult conversations that address biases, misunderstandings, discomfort, and assumptions within the college and beyond. For that work, she received The Ohio State University 2013 Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award. Before becoming a lawyer, Nikki was a founding teacher at the high-performing Columbus Collegiate Academy and a Teach for America corps member in the Bronx.

 

Keynote Roundtable

 

Wesley Bell

Prosecuting Attorney

St. Louis County, Missouri

Wesley Bell is the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County, Missouri and he is the first African American to serve in this position. Elected in a 2018 landslide, Wesley ran a vigorous grassroots campaign to unseat a 28-year incumbent. Wesley has served with distinction across the spectrum of the legal profession as a public defender, defense attorney, judge, professor, and prosecutor.

 

Wesley is an advocate for ending mass incarceration, eliminating ‘debtors’ prison’ practices, and rebuilding trust between communities and the prosecutor’s office. As prosecutor, Wesley began implementing reforms on day one; directing more resources to fight violent crime and ensuring victims receive compassion and justice at every step. These shifts are based on data driven policy that further increases public safety by making sure violent crimes are vigorously prosecuted and those needing treatment for addiction or mental health have access to appropriate care.

 

Wesley earned degrees from Lindenwood University and the University of Missouri-Columbia law school. While at Mizzou Law, Wesley chose to focus his studies on the representation of the poor and disenfranchised. After graduating, he returned to St. Louis to work as a Public Defender. 

 

As a Special Public Defender, Wesley represented hundreds of disenfranchised clients throughout the St. Louis region. It was immediately apparent to him that St. Louis County’s criminal justice system was sorely broken and wasn’t working for anyone from any background, but especially the marginalized. 

 

After his time as a Public Defender, Wesley started his own criminal defense practice where he maintained a robust pro bono case load. From his time as a Public Defender, Wesley determined that one of the shortcomings of our criminal justice system is that most people simply don’t understand how it works. In order to address this problem, Wesley became a criminal justice professor at St. Louis Community College (Florissant Valley) where he currently is head of the department. 

 

Alec Karakatsanis

Founder & Executive Director

Civil Rights Corps

Before founding Civil Rights Corps, Alec was a civil rights lawyer and public defender with the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; a federal public defender in Alabama, representing impoverished people accused of federal crimes; and co-founder of the non-profit organization Equal Justice Under Law.

 

Alec was awarded the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year by Public Justice for his role in bringing constitutional civil rights cases to challenge the American money bail system and the 2016 Stephen B. Bright Award for contributions to indigent defense in the South by Gideon’s Promise. Alec’s work at Civil Rights Corps challenging the money bail system in California was honored with the 2018 Champion of Public Defense Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 

 

Alec is interested in ending human caging, surveillance, the death penalty, immigration laws, war, and inequality. He is the author of the new book Usual Cruelty: the Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System. Alec graduated from Yale College in 2005 and Harvard Law School in 2008, where he was a Supreme Court Chair of the Harvard Law Review. 

 

Alexandra Natapoff

Chancellor’s Professor of Law

University Of California, Irvine School of Law

Professor Natapoff’s areas of expertise include criminal law and procedure, misdemeanors, informants, public defense, law and inequality. Her scholarship has won numerous awards, including a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 Law and Society Association Article Prize, and two Outstanding Scholarship Awards from the AALS Criminal Justice Section. Her new book, Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal, describes the powerful influence that misdemeanors exert over the entire U.S. criminal system. It was selected by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of 2018. 

 

Professor Natapoff is also author of Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice which won the ABA Silver Gavel Award Honorable Mention for Books; her original work on criminal informants has made her a nationally-recognized expert.  Professor Natapoff is a member of the American Law Institute; in 2015 she was appointed as an Adviser to the ALI Policing Project. She has helped draft legislation at both the state and federal levels and is quoted frequently by major media outlets.

 

Prior to joining the academy, Professor Natapoff served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland, and was the recipient of an Open Society Institute Community Fellowship. She clerked for the Honorable David S. Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, and for the Honorable Paul L. Friedman, U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C.