For OAD's 30th Anniversary, we're sharing 30 ways that OAD makes a difference. 

Scroll through the slideshow, or just scroll down the page, and get ready to be inspired! 

And please consider a gift to support OAD's holistic, innovative and client-centered work.

#1 of 30: OAD Alumni

As Director of the Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice, sujatha baliga demonstrates the value of a lifelong commitment to advocacy.

“It's a true honor to have OAD believe in my work and my journey. I learned so much at OAD about the importance of developing meaningful, trusting relationships with our clients, and offering people the very best representation we possibly can.”

Read more about sujatha here, and follow her on Twitter: @sujathabaliga

#2 of 30: OAD Alumni

OAD’s founding mission is to provide not just great representation but also education and training in order to improve the administration of criminal justice. We are so proud that Justice McCormack is doing just that on the Michigan Supreme Court.

“OAD is the best of the best. I was fortunate to get to learn there as a young lawyer.”

Read more about Justice McCormack here, and follow her on Twitter: @BridgetMaryMc

#3 of 30: OAD Alumni

Brian Stull spent 5 years as a Senior Staff Attorney at OAD. With our training and education, he became an outstanding capital defense attorney fighting for the rights of the condemned throughout the Deep South.

Read more about Brian here, and follow him on Twitter: @brianwstull

#4 of 30: OAD Alumni

After serving as an OAD Staff Attorney, Lisa Freeland joined the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and ultimately became the Chief!

Lisa has argued numerous cases in the Court of Appeals, and one before the United States Supreme Court.

As a Federal Public Defender, Lisa demonstrates the importance of advocacy across all levels of our judicial system.  Read more about Lisa here.

 

#5 of 30: OAD Alumni

We wrap up our featured alumni with University of Maryland Law School Professor Michael Pinard.

Professor Pinard epitomizes the impact of OAD's focus on education, using his OAD Staff Attorney training — and later PD experience — to teach law students about criminal law and criminal justice.

Read more about Professor Pinard here, and follow him on Twitter: @ProfMPinard

#6 of 30: OAD's Parole Advocacy Program

"Parole advocacy offers an opportunity to highlight compelling facts or circumstances that would be excluded from the appeals process. For example, I filed an appellate brief arguing that my client’s sentence was excessive. Limited only to the record, I could not talk about how the client had successfully completed extensive programming, or that he was suffering from severe health issues, or that he wanted to take care of his elderly mother. In writing a letter to include with my client’s parole packet, I could talk about him as a person.

"In the end, my client did not get relief from the appellate court but he was granted parole--and was released just a couple of months after his appeal was denied! He wrote me a letter saying that he felt our ‘strength and persist[ence]’ in fighting for him.”

#7 of 30: OAD's Re-Entry Support

Re-Entry Support—connecting our clients to the resources necessary for successful reintegration into the community after release from prison—is another critical way OAD makes a difference.

Elia Johnson, OAD Client Services Director, shares the following example:

“Our client was concerned about having his benefit checks sent to his shelter. We discussed the issue and it turned out that the client did not have the money to purchase an ID in order to open a bank account, so I went with him to the DMV and helped him go through the process and OAD paid for his ID, so that he can now open a bank account and have his benefit checks deposited directly into that account."

#8 of 30: OAD's Parole Advocacy Program

OAD Supervising Attorney, Rosemary Herbert, has also seen the very real impact that OAD’s Parole Advocacy Program has on our clients:

“Our client was serving a life sentence for his role in a crime he committed as a teenager.  At his request, I wrote a letter in support of his parole application.  He was granted parole on his third appearance before the parole board.  The Client was a powerful and articulate advocate for himself, so he might well have been granted parole without my letter, but he felt it was meaningful.”

#9 of 30: OAD's Client Visits

OAD Staff Attorney, Emma Shreefter, explains the profound impact our Client Services have:

“Thanks to the ability to make trips upstate, my supervisor and I were able to visit our 82 year old client. Many of his friends and family have passed away. He has no one to send him money for his commissary account.

"Our visit was the only visit he will have in his 5-year term of incarceration. He was so grateful to just talk about his experience and be treated to coffee from the vending machine. In February, he will be released to a nursing home and Client Services will assist with this transition.”

#10 of 30: OAD's Client Services

“Clients have time and time again remarked that our work has boosted morale and/or provided hope, especially during long stretches in [solitary confinement], or during low points where they felt they had no one else to turn to. It’s often the seemingly small things that provide the biggest joys.

"For example, a client asked to have a ten page article he penned to be typed up for him because the typewriter in the law library was broken. We typed it for him. He said that we saved his life because he invested so much energy and spent the better part of a year working on the article; it meant that much to him. We later used that article as an exhibit in his parole advocacy letter.

"He was granted parole and sent a thank you card in which he wrote: 'What you [have] given me cannot be valued in $ amounts.'"

#11 of 30: OAD's Re-Entry Support

In our final example of how OAD's Client Services Program makes a difference, Elia Johnson, the Program's Director, explains:

“Our client was released from prison with nothing. He did not have clean clothes or underwear. He was able to get clean underclothing and toiletries from OAD's client closet.

"He was also having problems getting his Food Stamps and had been going to the Human Resources Administration office multiple days in a row and still there was no money on his card. He gave me the number of the supervisor at the HRA center.

I was able to get him on the phone and the next day he had money for food.”

#12 of 30

#13 of 30: In-Court Victories

In the case People v. Soriano, the court held that prosecutors deceived the jury by misstating the law. Specifically, Mr. Soriano was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, after unsuccessfully claiming self-defense at trial.

The Appellate Division, First Department, reversed this conviction because the trial court improperly instructed the jury regarding Mr. Soriano's burden of proof. The trial court's error improperly put a thumb on the scale in favor of conviction.  Read the full decision here.

#14 of 30: In-Court Victories

In People v. Knupp, the Appellate Division unanimously upheld the trial court's conclusion that the police officer testimony was not credible and failed to justify the stop of our client's car.

The decision was discussed in a New York Times article about "testilying."

As a result of the decision, Mr. Knupp's statements & physical evidence could not be used against him at trial.  If you are interested in reading the full decision, please visit this link.

#15 of 30: In-Court Victories

In People v. Maldonado, the New York Court of Appeals reversed our client's attempted murder and attempted robbery convictions after finding that a composite sketch relied on by the prosecutor at trial was unreliable.

The Court concluded that given the dearth of other evidence against Mr. Maldonado, the trial court’s introduction of the sketch denied him his right to a fair trial.

Mr. Maldonado was ACQUITTED on retrial, when represented by OAD alum, Julia Kuan.  You can read the Court of Appeals decision here.

#16 of 30: In-Court Victories

At trial in People v. Miller, the judge prevented defense counsel from questioning prospective jurors about their ability to consider the possibility that Mr. Miller's confession was involuntary.

OAD challenged that ruling on appeal and won because everyone is entitled to a fair and unbiased jury that can and will consider their defense.

Mr. Miller's conviction was vacated.

#17 of 30

#18 of 30: Client Closet

Too often, our clients are released from prison to poverty and homelessness.

OAD recognizes that our clients cannot benefit from their case successes—or break cycles of poverty or recidivism—if they are struggling to survive day-to-day. This is why we provide clothes and toiletries to those who are most in need.

This is holistic representation. This is OAD@30.

First up are five of our rockstar alumni.

Because OAD seeks to improve the quality of indigent defense representation through education and training, our alumni are living proof of our success.

sujatha baliga

#1 of 30

As Director of the Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice, sujatha baliga demonstrates the value of a lifelong commitment to advocacy.

“It's a true honor to have OAD believe in my work and my journey. I learned so much at OAD about the importance of developing meaningful, trusting relationships with our clients, and offering people the very best representation we possibly can.”

Read more about sujatha here, and follow her on Twitter: @sujathabaliga

OAD’s founding mission is to provide not just great representation but also education and training in order to improve the administration of criminal justice. We are so proud that Justice McCormack is doing just that on the Michigan Supreme Court.   “OAD is the best of the best. I was fortunate to get to learn there as a young lawyer.”   Read more about Justice McCormack here, and follow her on Twitter: @BridgetMaryMc

#2 of 30

OAD’s founding mission is to provide not just great representation but also education and training in order to improve the administration of criminal justice. We are so proud that Justice McCormack is doing just that on the Michigan Supreme Court.

“OAD is the best of the best. I was fortunate to get to learn there as a young lawyer.”

Read more about Justice McCormack here, and follow her on Twitter: @BridgetMaryMc

 

Brian Stull

#3 of 30

Brian spent 5 years as a Senior Staff Attorney at OAD. With our training and education, he became an outstanding capital defense attorney fighting for the rights of the condemned throughout the Deep South.

Read more about Brian here, and follow him on Twitter: @brianwstull

 

Lisa Freeland

#4 of 30

After serving as an OAD Staff Attorney, Lisa joined the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and ultimately became the Chief!

Lisa has argued numerous cases in the Court of Appeals, and one before the United States Supreme Court.

As a Federal Public Defender, Lisa demonstrates the importance of advocacy across all levels of our judicial system. Read more about Lisa here.

Michael-Pinard

#5 of 30

We wrap up our featured alumni with University of Maryland Law School Professor Michael Pinard.

Professor Pinard epitomizes the impact of OAD's focus on education, using his OAD Staff Attorney training — and later PD experience — to teach law students about criminal law and criminal justice.

Read more about Professor Pinard here, and follow him on Twitter: @ProfMPinard

 

Ways #6-8 are all about OAD's client advocacy beyond the courtroom, including our Client Services Program and Parole Advocacy.

Client-Services-1-2

#6 of 30

 OAD Staff Attorney, Caitlin Glass, explains the importance of OAD's Parole Advocacy Program: "Parole advocacy offers an opportunity to highlight compelling facts or circumstances that would be excluded from the appeals process. For example, I filed an appellate brief arguing that my client’s sentence was excessive. Limited only to the record, I could not talk about how the client had successfully completed extensive programming, or that he was suffering from severe health issues, or that he wanted to take care of his elderly mother. In writing a letter to include with my client’s parole packet, I could talk about him as a person.

"In the end, my client did not get relief from the appellate court but he was granted parole--and was released just a couple of months after his appeal was denied! He wrote me a letter saying that he felt our ‘strength and persist[ence]’ in fighting for him.”

Client-Services-7

#7 of 30

 

Re-Entry Support—connecting our clients to the resources necessary for successful reintegration into the community after release from prison—is another critical way OAD makes a difference.

Elia Johnson, OAD Client Services Director, shares the following example: “Our client was concerned about having his benefit checks sent to his shelter. We discussed the issue and it turned out that the client did not have the money to purchase an ID in order to open a bank account, so I went with him to the DMV and helped him go through the process and OAD paid for his ID, so that he can now open a bank account and have his benefit checks deposited directly into that account."

 

Client-Services-8

#8 of 30

 

OAD Supervising Attorney, Rosemary Herbert, has also seen the very real impact that OAD’s Parole Advocacy Program has on our clients:

“Our client was serving a life sentence for his role in a crime he committed as a teenager. At his request, I wrote a letter in support of his parole application. He was granted parole on his third appearance before the parole board. The Client was a powerful and articulate advocate for himself, so he might well have been granted parole without my letter, but he felt it was meaningful.”

 

Client-Services-9

#9 of 30

 

OAD Staff Attorney, Emma Shreefter, explains the profound impact our Client Services have:

“Thanks to the ability to make trips upstate, my supervisor and I were able to visit our 82 year old client. Many of his friends and family have passed away. He has no one to send him money for his commissary account.

"Our visit was the only visit he will have in his 5-year term of incarceration. He was so grateful to just talk about his experience and be treated to coffee from the vending machine. In February, he will be released to a nursing home and Client Services will assist with this transition.”

 

Client-Services-10

#10 of 30

Clients have time and time again remarked that our work has boosted morale and/or provided hope, especially during long stretches in [solitary confinement], or during low points where they felt they had no one else to turn to. It’s often the seemingly small things that provide the biggest joys.

"For example, a client asked to have a ten page article he penned to be typed up for him because the typewriter in the law library was broken. We typed it for him. He said that we saved his life because he invested so much energy and spent the better part of a year working on the article; it meant that much to him. We later used that article as an exhibit in his parole advocacy letter.

"He was granted parole and sent a thank you card in which he wrote: 'What you [have] given me cannot be valued in $ amounts.'"

 

Client-Services-11

#11 of 30

 

In our final example of the impact of OAD's Client Services Program, Elia Johnson, the Program's Director, explains:

“Our client was released from prison with nothing. He did not have clean clothes or underwear. He was able to get clean underclothing and toiletries from OAD's client closet.

"He was also having problems getting his Food Stamps and had been going to the Human Resources Administration office multiple days in a row and still there was no money on his card. He gave me the number of the supervisor at the HRA center. I was able to get him on the phone and the next day he had money for food.”

 

You've learned about our extraordinary alumni, and about our holistic, client-centered representation.

Next we'll share about our legal work--but first, we're going to brag just a little with #12 of 30:

Awards-1
Case-13

#13 of 30

In the case People v. Soriano, the court held that prosecutors deceived the jury by misstating the law. Specifically, Mr. Soriano was convicted of first-degree manslaughter, after unsuccessfully claiming self-defense at trial.

The Appellate Division, First Department, reversed this conviction because the trial court improperly instructed the jury regarding Mr. Soriano's burden of proof. The trial court's error improperly put a thumb on the scale in favor of conviction.  Read the full decision here.

Case-14

#14 of 30

In People v. Knupp, the Appellate Division unanimously upheld the trial court's conclusion that the police officer testimony was not credible and failed to justify the stop of our client's car.

The decision was discussed in a New York Times article about "testilying."

As a result of the decision, Mr. Knupp's statements & physical evidence could not be used against him at trial.  If you are interested in reading the full decision, please visit this link.

Case-15

#15 of 30

In People v. Maldonado, the New York Court of Appeals reversed our client's attempted murder and attempted robbery convictions after finding that a composite sketch relied on by the prosecutor at trial was unreliable.

The Court concluded that given the dearth of other evidence against Mr. Maldonado, the trial court’s introduction of the sketch denied him his right to a fair trial.

Mr. Maldonado was ACQUITTED on retrial, when represented by OAD alum, Julia Kuan.  You can read the Court of Appeals decision here.

 

James Miller

#16 of 30

At trial in People v. Miller, the judge prevented defense counsel from questioning prospective jurors about their ability to consider the possibility that Mr. Miller's confession was involuntary.

OAD challenged that ruling on appeal and won because everyone is entitled to a fair and unbiased jury that can and will consider their defense.

Mr. Miller's conviction was vacated.

 

Award

#17 of 30

OAD fights for fairness in the administration of criminal justice for EVERYONE.

When we learned about a proposal to (further) banish people convicted of sex offenses from the City of New York, we spoke out—because banishment is not an effective public safety policy.

The United States Department of Justice agrees, yet NY politicians were still pushing this law. Why? Just like the politicians that passed laws creating a 100-to-1 sentencing ratio between crack and powder cocaine (even though they are exactly the same); just like the politicians that sent children to prison for life based on the juvenile super-predator myth—they were acting based on fear, not facts.

However, we spoke out, we organized, we shamed some folks, and the law did not pass.

And OAD's willingness to do what was right earned us the Legislative Leadership Award from the NYS Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers and the NYS Alliance for the Prevention of Sexual Abuse.

 

Client-Closet

#18 of 30

Too often, our clients are released from prison to poverty and homelessness.

OAD recognizes that our clients cannot benefit from their case successes—or break cycles of poverty or recidivism—if they are struggling to survive day-to-day.  This is why we provide clothes and toiletries to those who are most in need.

This is holistic representation.  This is OAD@30.

 

Stay tuned as we reveal the rest of #30Waysin30Days throughout December!