Post-conviction Litigation

Adnan Sultan

Adnan Sultan

Staff Attorney

Adnan Sultan

Adnan Sultan

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Adnan Sultan

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Adnan Sultan is a staff attorney at the Innocence Project. He litigates post-conviction cases nationwide on behalf of individuals seeking access to DNA testing and relief from wrongful convictions. He also instructs law students as part of the Innocence Project clinic at Cardozo. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, he worked as a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders for five where he represented thousands of clients charged with misdemeanors and felony crimes from arraignments to trial. In addition, he was a member of the Bronx Defenders’ Forensic Practice Group where he consulted with attorneys and conducted trainings on DNA evidence. Before working at the Bronx Defenders, Adnan was a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law School where he both represented clients charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes in D.C. Superior Court and supervised third year law students in Georgetown’s Criminal Justice Clinic. He graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Staff Attorney

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Andrew Lee

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Andrew Shear

Andrew Shear

Director of Post-conviction Litigation

Andrew Shear

Andrew Shear

Director of Post-conviction Litigation Post-conviction Litigation

Andrew Shear

Director of Post-conviction Litigation Post-conviction Litigation

As Director of Post-conviction Litigation at the Innocence Project, Andrew Shear leads the team of attorneys and paralegals who litigate on behalf of wrongfully convicted people. Before joining the Innocence Project in 2022 Andrew had worked for almost 30 years as a criminal defense attorney, primarily representing people sentenced to death in direct appeal and post-conviction proceedings. Andrew most recently worked as a Supervising Deputy State Public Defender at the Office of the State Public Defender in California. He has also worked at the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in California and the Capital Defender Office in New York. He started his career as a trial lawyer in the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in Brooklyn. Andrew graduated magna cum laude from the New York University School of Law and has a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University.

Angie Louie

Angie Louie

Senior Staff Attorney

Angie Louie

Angie Louie

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Angie Louie

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Angie is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, she was a Supervising Attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau, where her practice encompassed court-appointed appeals and post-conviction matters in state and federal courts. She has also worked as a staff attorney at the Office of the Appellate Defender and The Center for Appellate Litigation. She began her legal career as a litigation associate at Milbank LLP and clerked for the Honorable Andre M. Davis on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, where she was an Articles Editor for the Law Review, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ava Pacchiana

Ava Pacchiana

Exoneration Innovator

Ava Pacchiana

Ava Pacchiana

Exoneration Innovator Post-conviction Litigation

Ava Pacchiana

Exoneration Innovator Post-conviction Litigation

Ava Pacchiana joined the Innocence Project as a Weil Legal Innovator in the summer of 2023 to further her involvement in the movement to create a more just and equitable criminal legal system.

While completing her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University, Ava co-led a local clemency campaign for a Nashville native, organized a community-based Court Watch program, and planned weekly dinners to bring together previously incarcerated individuals and Vanderbilt students. Ava will be matriculating to Harvard Law School in the fall of 2024 where she plans to pursue a career in capital cases and post-conviction litigation.

Bhavan Sodhi

Bhavan Sodhi

Chief Program Officer

Bhavan Sodhi

Bhavan Sodhi

Chief Program Officer Intake

Bhavan Sodhi

Chief Program Officer Intake

Bhavan K. Sodhi is the Chief Program Officer at the Innocence Project. In this capacity, she is responsible for the oversight, management, and supervision of all six programmatic departments: Client Intake and Evaluation, Post-conviction Litigation, Data Science & Research, Strategic Litigation, Social Work, and Public Policy Reform.

Prior to this role, she served as the IP’s Director of Intake & Case Evaluation. Bhavan comes to the IP with deep experience in innocence work, having served as the Legal Director at Innocence Canada, where she is now a member of its Case Review Committee and Executive Board. She was also the Executive Director of the Osgoode Innocence Project in Toronto and an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, teaching wrongful conviction and forensic science. Bhavan also co-founded and instructed the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law for many years.

Bhavan has served as a Board Member of the international Innocence Network and has experience working as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in Toronto. Bhavan has written extensively about criminal justice and wrongful convictions and regularly presents on these topics. She is deeply passionate about and committed to addressing injustice and the systems that foster it.

Cecily Burge

Cecily Burge

Paralegal

Cecily Burge

Cecily Burge

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Cecily Burge

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Cecily Burge joined the Innocence Project’s Post-conviction Litigation team in 2021.

Prior to working at the Innocence Project, Cecily was a Fellow at the Frederick Douglass Project for Justice, where she helped launch the organization’s cornerstone Prison Visitation Program. Cecily graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government. In college, she helped individuals returning from incarceration find employment, produced an award-winning documentary about an innocent man behind bars, and was the teaching assistant for a class known as “Making an Exoneree,” where she oversaw the reinvestigation of wrongful conviction cases and advocated for exoneration.

Christa Alexander

Christa Alexander

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow

Christa Alexander

Christa Alexander

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Christa Alexander

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Christa Alexander joined the Innocence Project as a Post-conviction Litigation Fellow in the fall of 2023.

Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Christa attended St. John’s University School of Law. While at St. John’s, she worked as an intern at the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Practice, Appellate Advocates, New York County Defender Services, Federal Defenders Western District of Missouri Capital Habeas Unit, and her law school’s Defense and Advocacy Clinic. She is also the founding member of her law school’s first criminal public defense organization, SJU Defenders. Prior to attending law school, she worked for two years at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice on the implementation of the NYS Bail Reform Law, supervised release, and alternatives to incarceration.

Christa graduated summa cum laude from Binghamton University in 2018 with a B.A in Political Science and Sociology. She is also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Christa is passionate about disrupting cycles of incarceration and providing zealous advocacy in her legal career.

Elizabeth Gardner

Elizabeth Gardner

Paralegal

Elizabeth Gardner

Elizabeth Gardner

Paralegal Staff

Elizabeth Gardner

Paralegal Staff

Prior to joining the Innocence Project in July of 2022, Liz was a Fellow with the NYC Urban Fellows Program and worked for the Administration for Children’s Services, helping to create and implement educational and vocational programming for underserved youth. Liz has always had a passion for criminal justice reform and has worked with numerous Seattle based non-profits, including TeamChild, a youth-advocacy focused legal organization, and University Beyond Bars, an organization that aims to bring education to those incarcerated. Liz graduated from the University of Washington in 2021, earning her B.A. in Law, Societies, and Justice, and minors in American Indian Studies and Political Science. Liz is thrilled to be working for an organization as driven and impactful as the Innocence Project and hopes to support its goals of creating a more fair and equitable justice system.

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Staff Attorney

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Staff Attorney Staff

Hannah L. Fitzsimons

Staff Attorney Staff

Hannah joined the Innocence Project as a staff attorney in 2023. Before the Innocence Project, Hannah worked at Justice 360, a non-profit organization in her home state of South Carolina, where she represented men facing the death penalty and children facing death-in-prison sentences. Hannah has also worked as an adjunct clinical professor at Cornell Law School. She began her legal career as a law clerk, first to Justice Harold Eaton on the Vermont Supreme Court and later to Judge Richard C. Wesley on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to law school, Hannah served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay. She is a graduate of Cornell Law School and Duke University.

Isabela Budelmann

Isabela Budelmann

Paralegal

Isabela Budelmann

Isabela Budelmann

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Isabela Budelmann

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Jane Pucher

Jane Pucher

Senior Staff Attorney

Jane Pucher

Jane Pucher

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Jane Pucher

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Jane litigates post-conviction cases nationwide on behalf of individuals seeking access to DNA testing and relief from wrongful convictions.  She also instructs law students as part of the Innocence Project clinic at Cardozo Law School. Prior to joining The Innocence Project, Jane worked for five years as a public defender with The Bronx Defenders, representing thousands of individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes from arraignment through trial. She also served as a supervising attorney, training newer attorneys who were just beginning to represent clients charged with felonies, and mentoring them in all areas of practice. Jane graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011, where she was a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Clinic, and where she volunteered at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, at the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office, at the Public Defender Service of D.C, and at the Southern Center for Human Rights. She graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science in 2008.

Jessica Spencer

Jessica Spencer

Staff Attorney

Jessica Spencer

Jessica Spencer

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Jessica Spencer

Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Jessica Spencer joined the Innocence Project in 2023, after spending eight years as a trial attorney at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender. At the OPD, Jessica served as sole counsel on hundreds of felony cases, worked with experts on DNA and fingerprint evidence, and had an undefeated trial record. She also litigated the first motion to compel discovery related to facial recognition technology in the state of New Jersey and led the digital evidence team of the statewide Forensic Working Group for five years. Before joining the OPD, Jessica clerked on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. She graduated from Stanford Law School in 2013 and received a B.A. in Religious Studies from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010.

Ji-hye Rhee

Ji-hye Rhee

Paralegal

Ji-hye Rhee

Ji-hye Rhee

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Ji-hye Rhee

Paralegal Post-conviction Litigation

Kaila Johnson

Kaila Johnson

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow

Kaila Johnson

Kaila Johnson

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Kaila Johnson

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Post-conviction Litigation

Kaila Johnson joined the Innocence Project as a Post-conviction Litigation Fellow in the fall of 2023. Prior to her arrival, she attended the University of California Los Angeles School of Law within the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law & Policy Program and specialized in critical race studies. While at UCLA Law, Kaila served for two years as the Prison Law & Policy Fellow, bringing community leaders and legal scholars together on campus to foster discussions and hold events centered on addressing and combating the far-reaching effects of the American carceral system. At UCLA Law, she also helped found and served as a co-chair of Law Students for Decarceration, a student group devoted to abolition efforts on campus and within the larger southern California region. Kaila graduated from Brown University in 2019 with B.A’s in Political Science and English. She looks forward to a long legal career rooted in service and hopes to help build a more humane and restorative criminal legal system in her lifetime.

Kanani Schnider

Kanani Schnider

Paralegal

Kanani Schnider

Kanani Schnider

Paralegal Staff

Kanani Schnider

Paralegal Staff

Kanani joined the Innocence Project as a Paralegal in July 2022. Prior to joining the IP, Kanani worked as a Resource Coordinator at the Center for Court Innovation, where she supported clients charged with misdemeanors in New York; as a Research Consultant for Kaunalewa, a nonprofit pursuing environmental justice in Hawai’i; and as a Stanford Human Rights Fellow at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Kanani graduated from Stanford University with her B.A. in International Relations and a minor in German Studies in 2019, where she focused on the relationship between history, human rights, and racial justice.

Leland Hurley

Leland Hurley

Administrative Assistant

Leland Hurley

Leland Hurley

Administrative Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Leland Hurley

Administrative Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Paralegal, Post-conviction Litigation Fellowship Program

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Paralegal, Post-conviction Litigation Fellowship Program Staff

Robyn Trent Jefferson

Paralegal, Post-conviction Litigation Fellowship Program Staff

Robyn Trent Jefferson enjoyed a diverse career as a litigation and real estate paralegal for more than 34 years before joining the Innocence Project.

A born advocate, she has always been passionate about effecting change for those who are and have been wronged and in the last ten years has had more opportunities to dedicate more of her time in pursuit of much-needed reform. In the Spring of this year, it was one of those opportunities that led her to the Innocence Project.

Sarah Jean-Charles

Sarah Jean-Charles

Legal Assistant

Sarah Jean-Charles

Sarah Jean-Charles

Legal Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Sarah Jean-Charles

Legal Assistant Post-conviction Litigation

Shabel Castro

Shabel Castro

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow

Shabel Castro

Shabel Castro

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Staff

Shabel Castro

Foderaro Post-conviction Litigation Fellow Staff

Shabel has joined the Innocence Project as a Post-conviction Litigation Fellow. Prior to joining the Innocence Project, Shabel worked as a Staff Attorney with the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) at Brooklyn Defender Services, which is the first and largest public defender program in the country offering universal representation for low-income immigrants that are detained under ICE custody and facing deportation. Shabel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2019, obtaining both a Juris Doctor and a Master of Science in Social Policy. Shabel was part of the inaugural class of the Black Defender Leadership Institute, which trains emerging Black advocates and supports them in becoming the next generation of leaders who are equipped to dismantle systems of racialized oppression.

Susan Friedman

Susan Friedman

Senior Staff Attorney

Susan Friedman

Susan Friedman

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Susan Friedman

Senior Staff Attorney Post-conviction Litigation

Susan litigates post-conviction cases nationwide on behalf of individuals seeking access to DNA testing and relief from wrongful conviction. She also supervises students through the Innocence Project clinic at Cardozo Law School. Before joining the Innocence Project, Susan was a staff attorney with the DNA Unit at The Legal Aid Society in New York where her practice focused on emerging DNA technology. Prior to working at The Legal Aid Society, Susan was an Equal Justice Works Fellow and staff attorney at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project in D.C. where she represented individuals whose wrongful convictions were secured through the use of unreliable and unvalidated forensic science evidence. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School where she teaches a seminar on forensic science. Susan graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a B.A. in Biochemistry and from The George Washington University Law School. She also holds an M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where her research focused on stem cells and cancer development.

Timothy Gumkowski

Timothy Gumkowski

Senior Staff Attorney

Timothy Gumkowski

Timothy Gumkowski

Senior Staff Attorney Staff

Timothy Gumkowski

Senior Staff Attorney Staff

Tim joined the Innocence Project and returned to New York in 2023, after spending over five years representing death-sentenced individuals in Texas. Tim’s work with Texas Defender Service and the Capital Habeas Unit of Federal Public Defender in Austin included leading interdisciplinary teams litigating post conviction matters in both state and federal courts. Before moving to Texas to represent clients convicted of capital offenses, Tim spent nearly a decade as a trial attorney with Brooklyn Defender Service, advocating for individuals charged with various crimes across the borough. Tim began his legal career as a staff attorney with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He maintains a commitment to fighting the injustices that permeate our criminal legal system and to furthering our mission. He brings compassion, humility, and resilience to the Innocence Project. Tim graduated from Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island, and received a B.A. in Philosophy from Clemson University.

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