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Prison Litigation Issues 2017: Practical Strategies


Speaker(s): Alissa R. Hull, David Rudovsky, Margo Schlanger, Philip Desgranges, Veronica Vela
Recorded on: Jun. 6, 2017
PLI Program #: 185626

David Rudovsky is a founding partner of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin LLP, and is a Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he teaches courses in Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, and Evidence.

He has practiced in the civil rights and criminal defense fields for 45 years, with a primary focus on cases involving police and governmental misconduct, prisoners’ rights, first amendment freedoms, due process issues, and racial discrimination.

Mr. Rudovsky has argued two civil rights cases in the United States Supreme Court: Mitchell v. Forsyth (1985) (immunity of Attorney General for illegal electronic surveillance) and City of Canton v. Harris (1989) (liability of municipalities for civil rights violations by police).  He has also prepared numerous amicus briefs in civil rights cases in the Supreme Court and has argued scores of civil rights and criminal law cases in the federal and state courts.

Mr. Rudovsky is the author of a number of books and law review articles on civil rights and criminal justice issues.  These include Police Misconduct: Law & Litigation and The Law of Arrest, Search and Seizure in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Rudovsky is President of the Board of Directors of the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

In 1986, Mr. Rudovsky was a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (“Genious Award”) for his work in Criminal Justice.  He has also been awarded the Judge Gerald F. Flood Award for Public Interest Accomplishments by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, the ACLU Civil Liberties Life-Time Achievements Award, and the Cesare Beccaria Award for Contributions to Criminal Justice.


Margo Schlanger is the Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, and also founded and heads the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. She teaches constitutional law, torts, and classes relating to civil rights (such as Civil Rights and Homeland Security) and to prisons (such as Prisons and the Law, and the Constitutional Law of Incarceration). 

Professor Schlanger is the court-appointed monitor for a statewide settlement dealing with deaf prisoners in Kentucky, and she serves on the Department of Homeland Security's Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers.  She took a two-year leave from the University in 2010 and 2011, serving as the presidentially appointed Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  As the head of civil rights and civil liberties for DHS, she was the Secretary's lead advisor on civil rights and civil liberties issues; in that capacity, she testified before Congress; chaired the Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the federal Information Sharing Environment's Information Sharing and Access Interagency Policy Committee; chaired the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities; served on the first U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review; and met with community leaders and groups across America to ensure that their perspectives regarding civil rights and homeland security were considered in the Department's policy process.

Professor Schlanger earned her J.D. from Yale in 1993. She served as law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1993 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, she was a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, where she worked to remedy civil rights abuses by prison and police departments and earned two Division Special Achievement awards.  Schlanger, a leading authority on civil rights issues and civil and criminal detention, served on the Vera Institute’s blue ribbon Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons; she worked as an advisor on the development of proposed national standards implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and testified before the Prison Rape Elimination Commission.  She also served as the reporter for the American Bar Association’s revision of its Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners.   

She writes frequently about prisons and prison reform, both in scholarly journals and mainstream publications.


Philip Desgranges is a senior staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he focuses on statewide civil rights and civil liberties impact litigation.  He is lead counsel in V.W. v. Conway, No. 9:16-CV-1150, 2017 WL 696808, a case challenging the solitary confinement of 16- and 17-year-old juveniles in a Syracuse jail, and counsel in Peoples v. Annucci, No. 1:11-CV-2694, a case challenging the use of solitary confinement in New York’s prison system.  Desgranges is also the Chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and is a member of the City Bar’s Task Force on Mass Incarceration.

Prior to joining the NYCLU, Desgranges was an associate at Goodwin Procter LLP, where he litigated commercial matters and a wide range of pro bono matters, including a death penalty appeal.  He previously worked as a public defender at The Bronx Defenders, where he represented indigent clients at all stages of criminal proceedings, including trying cases to verdict.

Desgranges graduated cum laude from Boston University in 2006, and he graduated from New York University School of Law in 2009.


Alissa R. Hull is currently a staff attorney with Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York. She previously worked as a criminal defense attorney for indigent clients and as a staff attorney with Human Rights Defense Center / Prison Legal News. She is the co-author of The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Second Edition, published by Prison Legal News, and was a contributor and researcher for the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook, 5th Edition, published by the National Lawyers Guild and Center for Constitutional Rights. She has presented and spoken on topics such as First Amendment legal challenges in jails and prisons and Hepatitis C treatment for incarcerated people. She was a founding collective member and adult ally for fourteen years with the Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP) in Chicago, a youth-run harm reduction program for youth in the sex trade and street economies. With YWEP, she trained healthcare and social work providers on respectfully working with street-based youth, including transgender youth, and supported youth-run political education and skill building, syringe exchanges, and transformative justice campaigns designed and implemented by young people. She graduated from CUNY School of Law in 2010.


Veronica Vela is an Interim Supervising Attorney with the Prisoners’ Rights Project of The Legal Aid Society, which she joined in 2008.  She is currently part of the team representing plaintiffs in Jane Jones v. Annucci, a putative class action on behalf of women alleging that they have been abused by male corrections staff while in the custody of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).  Prior to joining The Legal Aid Society, Ms. Vela was an associate at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett in New York City.  She clerked for the Honorable Ivan L.R. Lemelle of the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans and for the Honorable Frank Maas in the Southern District of New York. Ms. Vela earned her Bachelor of Arts from Yale College and her J.D. from the University of Michigan.