Welcome to the New Leaders in CDP Trial Offices, CAB and DNA

Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice, announced the following promotions:

Bahar Ansari - Bahar joined LAS in 2006 as a Staff Attorney in JRP after graduating from CUNY Law School. She transferred to CDP in 2010 and has been in the Brooklyn Trial office ever since. Recently, Bahar returned to her alma mater after being afforded the incredible opportunity to co-teach as a Clinical Law Professor at CUNY alongside Professor Steve Zeidman. Bahar writes, “I am incredibly grateful for my amazing colleagues, supervisors and clients who have inspired, motivated and taught me so much over the past 12 years. I look forward to repaying the favor in my new role. My door (and email) is always open! Please reach out with your questions and thoughts on how I can continue to help build a creative, supportive and affirming workplace.” Bahar will remain in Brooklyn in her new role.

Ray Beauchamp - Ray is currently with our Bronx Trial office. He joined CDP in 2010 after graduating from Fordham University School of Law. Ray will be a Supervising Attorney in our Manhattan Trial Office. Ray writes, “ Legal Aid has been at the center of my life for the last eight and a half years. I came here to defend the least well off in their worst moments. What I discovered was a community of others -- attorneys, investigators, social workers, support staff -- singularly devoted to the same worthy goal. Transitioning to the supervisor position, I look forward to continuing my path, but also assisting everyone else in this great work. I will do so in a new Borough, an opportunity to forge new relationships. I know I will find like-minded folks sharing the same mission. I hope to be welcomed and look forward to joining the Manhattan fight.”

Dana Cohen - Dana is on our Brooklyn Trial Office and will remain there in her new role. Dana has over 20 years of experience and came to LAS from The Legal Aid Society of Nassau County. Dana writes, “I am looking forward to this opportunity to mentor and assist the amazing attorneys at CDP in their daily fight on behalf of our clients. Because we often face conflict in our role as criminal defense attorneys – from the court, from the prosecution, and even sometimes from our own clients – it is important to be able to count on and turn to each other for support. I am excited to start this new chapter of my career at The Legal Aid Society.”

Andrea Ferrante - Andrea is a staff attorney in our Staten Island Trial office. Andrea has worked at the Legal Aid Society since 2007, starting her career first at Brooklyn CDP. During her time with us, she was fortunate enough to be able to earn her LL.M. in International Law. She will remain in Staten Island in her new role as a Supervising Attorney. Andrea states, “I look forward to supporting our staff members as they zealously defend our clients as well as mentoring new attorneys entering the Society to take on the important cause of representing the people of Staten Island that need us the most.”

Juliette-Noor Haji - In 2010 Juliette-Noor joined CDP and has been with our Queens Trial Office. Since that time she has dedicated herself to the communities we serve and will now join the leadership team of the office. As she takes on this new role, she wants everyone to know “As attorneys within CDP, with the support of investigators, forensic social workers and support staff, we are often the only means of making our clients’ voices heard in a system riddled with racial and socioeconomic injustice. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide , as a Supervising Attorney, the support needed for my colleagues to continue the daily battle, both in and outside of the courtroom, to fight for our clients’ rights.”

Jeff Lee - “I’m excited for this new opportunity at LAS and vow to make my most of it. We are lucky enough to work at the best public defender’s office in the country and I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues, sharing what I’ve learned from all the tremendous lawyers who work here, and bettering myself as an advocate. I’m always available to talk or email with any of you. Additionally, I vow to finally have my online OCA access reinstated after being locked out because of too many invalid log-ins. “ Jeff brings commitment to clients, incredible litigation experience and a keen sense of humor to his work. He joined CDP in 2005, starting off in our Parole Revocation Defense Unit, after graduating from the Boston University School of Law. In 2007 Jeff joined CDP’s Brooklyn Trial office, where he will remain in his new role.

Maria Martinez - Maria has dedicated her career to serving our clients and communities in the Queens trial Office where she has litigated incredibly difficult cases and raised awareness of the unjust discovery practices and Brady violations of the District Attorney’s Office. Maria will bring her litigation experience and dedication to the Manhattan Trial Office in the Spring . Last night, Maria took a few minutes away from her most recent trial prep to write, “I joined the Queens CDP at The Legal Aid Society in 2011. I am thrilled and honored to have been selected as a supervisor. Since my first day, I have been truly grateful for the supportive and collaborative environment at CDP. I look forward to fostering that same approach as a member of this team, where together we can support and advance the mission of the Society.”

Jon Stonbely - Since graduating from the CUNY School of Law in 2007, Jon has served clients in both the Parole Revocation Defense Unit and the Manhattan Trial Office. Jon has consistently sought opportunities to mentor, helping new lawyers find their own styles and develop confidence in their work. Jon writes, “I am ecstatic about the opportunity to focus on promoting best practices and client-centered representation as a Supervising Attorney in the Manhattan Trial Office, and am committed to optimizing office harmony and the use of collaborative casework in order to most effectively combat the unfair practices of our adversaries and obtain the best results for our clients and client communities.”

In addition to the new leadership in our trial offices, I am pleased to announce that the DNA Unit and CDP’s newly launched Wrongful Conviction Unit also have two new supervisors joining the management team!

Terri Rosenblatt, DNA Unit - Terri Rosenblatt has been promoted to supervising attorney of the DNA Unit and will now spearhead that unit’s work. Terri brings a wealth of experience to the work. She has represented clients in cases involving DNA and other complex forensic evidence in hearings and trial. In her role as DNA Unit staff attorney, she has advised attorney in all five boroughs concerning forensic science issues. Terri has drafted model forensic motions and, through CLE programs, she has instructed on such issues, both internally and externally. Terri has written published articles concerning forensic issues, spearheaded affirmative litigation efforts, and has spoken with criminal justice stakeholders to protect civil liberties and make our courts fairer. Terri came to Legal Aid after working, most recently, as a partner at the Law Offices of Joel Rudin, and before that as the DNA Specialist at the Bronx Defenders. Terri states, “I am honored to have been selected as Supervisor of LAS’s DNA Unit. The lawyers in our Unit are leaders in advocating for our clients in the face of some of the most challenging evidence there is. I look forward to working across all of LAS’s practices to fight for our clients in court, protect their genetic privacy, and push back against unreliable forensics.”

Elizabeth Felber, Wrongful Conviction Unit - Under Elizabeth’s leadership, the unit will review claims of innocence both from previously assigned clients and those who reach out to the Legal Aid Society seeking exoneration. The unit will work closely with the Criminal Appeals Bureau to investigate possible avenues of relief, including untested biological evidence, newly discovered evidence, and claims of government misconduct. The Wrong Convictions Unit will with work legislators and other advocacy groups to advance reform initiatives to prevent future wrongful convictions and remedy past ones.

Liz has most recently served as a supervising attorney in the Bronx Criminal Defense Practice. During her tenure as a supervisor, she litigated wrongful conviction cases involving newly discovered evidence and Brady violations, two of which resulted in exonerations. She investigated homicide cases that were overturned on appeal. Elizabeth previously worked in the Criminal Appeals Bureau both as an appellate attorney and as the resource attorney in the Bronx. Prior to being an appellate attorney, Elizabeth worked in both the Brooklyn Criminal Defense Practice and the Federal Defenders Eastern District. She has also litigated false confessions as well as habeas corpus claims in the Eastern District of New York. Liz writes, “I am honored and excited to be supervising the newly created wrongful conviction unit here at The Legal Aid Society. With the addition of an investigator and paralegal specifically dedicated to investigating and litigating wrongful claims, we plan to obtain exonerations for persons who have been protesting their innocence for years. The Legal Aid Society is uniquely qualified to take on this challenge because of the depth and breadth of expertise of our staff. We anticipate working collaboratively with trial attorneys, as well as the DNA unit, Digital Forensics, student interns and pro bono attorneys. If you have received letters from persons seeking assistance in achieving their exoneration, please send them along to the wrongful conviction unit.”