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Prison Law 2019


Speaker(s): Brittany Thomas, Eunice Cho, Katie Rosenfeld, Kenneth Samuels, Luis Mancheno, Mary Lynne Werlwas, Michael E. Cassidy, Muriel Goode-Trufant, Professor Alex Reinert, Professor Margo Schlanger, Professor Philip M. Genty, Rachel Meeropol
Recorded on: Nov. 22, 2019
PLI Program #: 252028

Alex Reinert joined the faculty of Cardozo Law School in 2007, after working as an associate at Koob & Magoolaghan for six years, where he focused on the rights of people confined in prisons and jails, employment discrimination, and disability rights.  Alex teaches and conducts research in the areas of constitutional law, civil procedure, and criminal law. He argued before the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, and has appeared on behalf of parties and amicus curiae in many significant civil rights cases. In 2016 he became the director of the Center for Rights and Justice, which brings together the scholarship, programs and clinics at Cardozo engaged in public service, client advocacy and academic scholarship dealing with issues of fairness, equality, access to justice and transparency.

Alex graduated magna cum laude from New York University School of Law.  Upon graduating from law school, he held two clerkships, first with the Hon. Harry T. Edwards, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and then with United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer. 


Eunice Hyunhye Cho is a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project. Eunice’s work focuses on challenging the expansion of immigration detention and unconstitutional conditions in U.S. immigration detention facilities. Prior to joining the NPP, Eunice was a Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Washington, where she litigated cases involving the rights of immigrants in detention, incarcerated people, and students with disabilities.  She also worked as a Staff Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Atlanta, where she litigated cases related to immigration enforcement abuse and a statewide class action challenge to inadequate health care in Alabama prisons. At the SPLC, she authored several reports regarding abuses in immigration detention and immigration court adjudication, including Shadow Prisons: Immigration Detention in the South.  She was a Skadden Fellow, and later a Staff Attorney, at the National Employment Law Center in Oakland, working on issues affecting immigrant workers. She is a member of the national steering committee for the Detention Watch Network and a board member of ASISTA.

Eunice graduated from Yale University and earned her J.D. from Stanford Law School. Following graduation, she clerked for Hon. Kim McLane Wardlaw of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is proficient in Spanish and Korean, and is a former community organizer.


Katie Rosenfeld is a partner at ECBA, where she maintains a diverse practice that includes prisoners’ rights, police misconduct, housing and employment discrimination, and civil litigation. Some of her recent cases representing people incarcerated in jail or prison include:

  • Scott v. Quay (E.D.N.Y. 2019) (putative class action challenging the conditions of confinement at Brooklyn’s federal jail, Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”), during the humanitarian crisis that unfolded over the bitterly cold week of January 27, 2019 to February 3, 2019, after an electrical fire at the jail left people without light or heat).
  • Smith v. Allbaugh (W.D. Okla. 2019) (action brought by family of Joshua England, a 21-year-old man who died in an Oklahoma prison in 2018 from untreated appendicitis, after staff ignored multiple complaints of abdominal pain over the course of a week).
  • Washington v. City of New York, 18 Civ. 12306 (CM), 2019 WL 2120524, at *41 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 30, 2019) (“Barbarity of the sort alleged in the FAC cannot be tolerated in a civilized society; and when such conduct is plausibly alleged, it should be investigated by those responsible for enforcing the criminal law, not just litigated in a civil court.”) (civil rights action filed by four young men who were pretrial detainees at Rikers Island, when the City of New York abruptly and punitively transferred them in 2018 to an upstate “black site” jail, Albany County Correctional Facility, where they were beaten and held in solitary confinement, to evade New York City solitary restrictions).
  • Raymond v. Mitchell (N.D.N.Y. 2018) (excessive force action arising from brutal assault by guards at Auburn Correctional Facility, including Lieutenant Troy Mitchell, a defendant for whom the State of New York has paid nearly one million dollars in settlement payouts to date).
  • Jane Doe v. City of New York (S.D.N.Y. 2018) (civil rights action filed by Bronx woman who was arrested when she was 40 weeks pregnant and shackled during transport and active labor, and shackled after her daughter was born: recent settlement of $610,000 and agreement to draft NYPD patrol guide procedures for treatment of pregnant women detained by police).

From 2014 to 2017, Katie served as the Legal Director of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, where she led the organization’s advocacy work.  Katie is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School, and clerked for the Honorable Dean D. Pregerson. 


Luis Mancheno is a Supervising Attorney at The Legal Aid Society in New York. In his role as Supervising Attorney, he co-manages the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, the first program in the country to offer universal representation to immigrant detainees facing removal proceedings in New York. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Roger Williams School of Law. After graduating, he worked as an Immigration Attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona. In 2014, he was selected as part of the inaugural class of Immigrant Justice Corps Fellows in New York and was placed at the Bronx Defenders where he represented detained people in immigration and federal courts in New York. Luis also worked as a Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. More recently, Luis worked as a Refugee Status Determination and Resettlement Expert for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Washington, D.C.

Luis's writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Public Radio International, Vox, and the Providence Journal. His immigration story and his work as an attorney have been featured in The New York Times, NBC News, and others. In 2017, he was selected as one of the 30 LGBTQ change-makers and rising stars in the country by NBC News and as the LGBTQ activist of the year by the New York City Comptroller's Office.

Luis is also one of the producers and the expert host of Martes De “Migra” (Immigration Tuesdays), a weekly community education segment on NY1Noticias, a local Spanish channel in New York.

Luis, por supuesto, habla Español.


Margo Schlanger, the Wade H. and Dores M. McCree Collegiate Professor of Law, is a leading authority on civil rights issues and civil and criminal detention. She joined the Law School faculty in fall 2009; her teaching and research deal with civil rights, prison reform, torts, and surveillance. She also founded and heads the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. She is the court-appointed settlement monitor for Adams v. Kentucky Department of Corrections, a statewide civil rights lawsuit dealing with conditions of confinement for Kentucky's deaf prisoners. Before starting at Michigan, she was a professor at Washington University in St. Louis and an assistant professor at Harvard Law School.

In 2010 and 2011, Professor Schlanger was on leave, serving as the presidentially appointed Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the head of civil rights and civil liberties for DHS, she was the secretary's lead adviser 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 UN 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 JD from Yale in 1993. While there, she served as book reviews editor of the Yale Law Journal and received the Vinson Prize for excellence in clinical casework. She then served as a 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.

Professor Schlanger served on the Vera Institute's blue-ribbon Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, worked as an adviser on the development of proposed national standards implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and testified before the Prison Rape Elimination Commission. She served as the reporter for the American Bar Association's revision of its Standards Governing the Legal Treatment of Prisoners. She has been the chair of the Association of American Law Schools sections on Remedies and on Law and the Social Sciences.


Mary Lynne Werlwas is the Director of the Prisoners’ Rights Project of The Legal Aid Society of the City of New York.  The Prisoners’ Rights Project challenges constitutional violations and unlawful conditions in jails and prisons in New York, and advocates for individual prisoners on matters including access to medical care and mental health treatment, safety and protection from violence, disability and conditions of confinement..  She is class counsel in Nunez  v. New York, seeking to reform the systemwide misuse of force in New York City jails, and Handberry v. Thompson, remedying New York City’s failure to provide high school education to youth held in adult jails.  Previously she was an associate at Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain in San Francisco, specializing in labor, employment, constitutional and civil rights law, and the Leonard Sandler Fellow at Human Rights Watch in New York.  She served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Richard D. Cudahy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and to the Honorable Chief Justice Gubbay of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe in Harare.  She is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review.


Michael Cassidy is the Managing Attorney of the Plattsburgh Office of Prisoners' Legal Services of New York (PLS), as well as the statewide PLS Litigation Coordinator.  He has litigated and supervised numerous prison cases in both state and federal courts.  These have included cases involving excessive force, as well as deliberate indifference claims involving failure to protect and denial of medical care.  He has also litigated and handled exhaustion issues under the PLRA, religious rights claims, retaliation claims, and various types of challenges to solitary confinement, including many state and federal procedural due process claims involving prison disciplinary issues.      

He received his Juris doctor, cum laude, from Vermont Law School in 1991 and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Vermont in 1987. He served as a staff attorney at PLS from 1991-1996 and Managing Attorney for Litigation from 1996-1998.  He engaged in private practice in Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Maine from 1998-2002, before returning to the PLS as the Plattsburgh Office Managing Attorney.  Since 2017 he has also served as the statewide Litigation Coordinator for PLS, which has offices in Albany, Ithaca, Buffalo, and Plattsburgh.

He is admitted to the state bars of New York, Vermont and Maine.  He is also admitted to practice in the United States District Courts for the District of Vermont, the District of Maine, the Northern District of New York, and the Western District of New York, as well as the United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, and D.C. Circuits.


Philip M. Genty is the Everett B. Birch Innovative Teaching Clinical Professor in Professional Responsibility at Columbia Law School. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1989. He teaches professional responsibility and civil procedure, and has taught a civil clinic for low income clients. His research interests are in legal ethics, prisoners’ rights, family law, and clinical education. He has taught and consulted on legal ethics and clinical legal education in Central and Eastern Europe and Israel. He has been a member of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York City Bar Association and has served as a volunteer Subject Matter Expert for the MPRE. He has developed legal resource materials for incarcerated parents and works with several organizations that assist women who are in prison. He received a Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2014, and Columbia Law School’s Willis L.M. Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2008. Prior to coming to Columbia, he taught at Brooklyn Law School and worked as an attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Legal Services Corporation. 


Rachel Meeropol is a Senior Staff Attorney and the Associate Director of Legal Training and Education at the Center for Constitutional Rights (“CCR”), where she has worked since 2002.  Rachel represents federal prisoners in restrictive Communication Management Units, California prisoners held for decades in solitary confinement, and animal rights and environmental activists targeted for their organizing. Rachel is also lead counsel on Turkmen v. Ashcroft, a class action lawsuit against high-level federal officials for the post-911 detention and abuse of Muslim non-citizens, which she argued in the Supreme Court in 2016. Rachel has co-edited and written two editions of the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook, a do-it-yourself litigation manual for prisoners distributed free by CCR and the National Lawyers Guild, and was the contributing editor of “America’s Disappeared: Secret Imprisonment, Detainees, and the War on Terror,” published in 2005 by Seven Stories Press. Rachel completed her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and graduated from NYU School of Law in 2002.   


A graduate of the Temple University School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania, Muriel Goode-Trufant is the Managing Attorney the New York City Law Department, one of the oldest and most dynamic legal offices in the world.  With more than 1000 attorneys and 800 professional support staff, the New York City Law Department ranks among the largest law offices in New York City and the largest public law offices in the United States.  Prior to her appointment as Managing Attorney in 2015, Mrs. Trufant held a variety of positions at the Law Department including, but not limited to, Chief of the Special Federal Litigation Division and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.   

Mrs. Trufant has served as a faculty member for several continuing legal education courses sponsored by the Practicing Law Institute, including Federal Civil Practice, Municipal Law Institute and Class Action Litigation: Prosecution and Defense. She has also been a presenter at courses sponsored by the Federal Bar Council, Fordham Law School and Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. She also is a member of the Advisory Committee on Civil Practice for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. 


Kenneth Samuels, Pro Se Plaintiff, successfully litigated his own civil rights case for many years, resulting in decisions in Samuels v. Fischer, 98 A.D.3d 776 (3d Dep’t 2012) (finding that petitioner’s conditional right to call witnesses was violated at disciplinary hearing and ordering expungement and restoration of good time taken); Samuels v. Fischer, 168 F.Supp.3d 625 (S.D.N.Y. 2016); and Samuels v. Prack, No. 13 Civ. 8287, 2017 WL 934706 (S.D.N.Y. March 8, 2017).


Brittany Thomas is a Bertha Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she challenges abusive police practices and inhumane immigration policies. At CCR, Brittany has aided in Post-settlement enforcement in Ashker et. al. v. Governor of California, ensuring that the California department of corrections complies with their legal obligations. In addition, she has worked on CCR’s challenge to the Department of Homeland Security’s Public Charge rule, which seeks to prevent low-income immigrants of color from successfully adjusting their immigration status. 

She is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, cum laude. While in law school, she was a fellow in the Environmental Justice Clinic, where she advocated alongside historically African-American communities against an array of environmental abuses, including suing the City of Miami to remediate local parks contaminated by a trash incinerator located in their neighborhood. She also worked extensively on housing issues aimed at addressing the inhumane conditions in which many communities were forced to live.