Summer 2016 Fellowship Recipients

This year, thanks to the outstanding support of The University of Texas School of Law students, faculty, and staff and the surrounding legal community, Texas Law Fellowships has the pleasure of funding 30 applicants. We are pleased to announce the following as members of our 2016 Fellows Class:

Tyler Allard –Federal Aviation Administration

Ard Ardalan – Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Michael Babcock –United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas

Louis Bedford – The Department of Education

Yuri Chornobil – Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Vanessa Chorush – American Gateways

Jessica Cisneros – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

Cody Combs – Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation

Mark Dore – Environmental Protection Agency

James Earl – Legal Aid Society

Emily Eby – Texas Appleseed

Amanda Fullerton – Williamson County District Attorney

Justin Garbacz – American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

Teddy Garber – Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Rachel Geiman – Maryland Attorney General’s Office

Saadia Hashmi – North Texas Civil Rights Project

Ellen Horton – U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas

Marisa Joyce – Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division

Jung Lim Koo – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Claire Krebs – Natural Resources Defense Council

Emilie Melton – Austin Bar Association, Veteran’s Legal Assistance Project

George Miller – New York Attorney General’s Office

Brooke Noble – Texas Advocacy Project

Michael O’Brien – Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Texas

Paul Osadebe – The Texas Civil Rights Project

Amy Rodriguez – U.S. Attorney’s Office and Human Rights First

Chelsea Schell – Securities and Exchange Commission, Enforcement Division

Alex Shahrestani – Electronic Frontier Foundation

Samantha Whitehead – Texas Advocacy Project

Mollie Williams – The Institute for Justice

2015 Fellowship Recipients

Thanks to the generous support of the UT Law and Austin legal community, TLF will be able to fund forty-one of our summer fellowship candidates this year! We’re pleased to announce the following recipients:

TLF 2015 Recipients

Named Fellowships

“The Abbott and Leslie Sprague Family Foundation Fellowship”

Kelly Hill – 2l – Institute of Museum and Library Services

“The American Constitution Society Fellowship”

Daniel Benowitz – 1L – American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

“The Angela K. Littwin Fellowship”

Bennett Moss – 1L – Antitrust Section of the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General of Texas

“The Hispanic Bar Association of Austin Fellowships”

Pamela Nickell – 2L – Kids In Need of Defense

Eddy Perez – Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Texas Charter School Association

Scott Weaver – 1L – American Gateways

“The Jordan M Steiker Fellowship”

Karly Jo Dixon – 1L – Texas Defender Service

“The McKool Smith Fellowship”

Thomas Dannehy – 1L – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

“The Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights Fellowship”


“The Texas Journal of Oil, Gas, and Energy Law Fellowship”

Daniel Hung – 1L – Texas Railroad Commission

“The Texas Law Review Fellowship”

David Goode – 1L – Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division


Unnamed Fellowships

Glenn Adkins – 1L – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Hunter Barker – 1L – Texas Attorney General’s Office

Colette Billings – 1L – Orange County Department of Education, Schools Legal Services

Emily Cohen – 2L – Dallas District Attorney’s Office and Collin County District Attorney’s Office

Katelin Cox – 1L – U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas

Hannah Dyal – 1L – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Amanda Fullerton – 1L – Workers Defense Project

Vanessa Garza – 1L – South Texas Civil Rights Project

Meghan Hennessy – 1L – Orange Country District Attorney’s Office

Elizabeth Hughes – 1L – Travis Country District Attorney’s Office

Vishal Iyer – 1L – Office of Capital Writs

Jared Janes – 2L – Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Emily Kirby – 2L – Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Merritt Lander – 1L – Institute for Justice

Erika López – 1L – Sacramento District Attorney’s Office

Alexandra Manatou – 2L – American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

Meredith Morse – 2L – Texas Defender Service

Alexcis Nell – 2L – Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Gita Pathak – 1L – Legal Aid Society of Orange County

Kristina Pekkala – 1L – U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas

Chase Porter – 2L – Texas RioGrande Legal Aid

Loura Proske – 1L – Dallas County Public Defender’s Office

Shadi Rafeedie 1L – Fort Bend District Attorney’s Office

Taylor Raymond – 1L – Disability Rights Texas

Miryea Ayala – 1L – Texas Attorney General’s Office

Alysha Seroussi – 2L – Public Defender Service of D.C.

Coco Sprague – 1L – Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Texas

Hollie Sumrall – 2L – Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Jonathan Turner – 1L – California Attorney General’s Office: Employment and Administrative Mandate Section

Claire Vaho – 2L – Texas Civil Rights Project

Margaret Wittenmyer – 1L – Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office

2014 Fellows

Texas Advocacy Project  – Audrey Bartosh, 1L 

Office of the Colorado State Public Defender  – Megan Bishop, 1L 

Dallas County District Attorney’s Office  – Emily Cohen, 1L 

New Orleans Public Defender’s Office  – Matthew Coughlan, 1L 

Environment Texas –  Ashley Croswell, 1L 

Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas  – Brigid Essing, 1L 

Shurat HaDin & Texas Advocacy Project  – Crystal Flinn, 1L 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security –  Helen Halldorsson, 1L 

Wise County District Attorney’s Office  – Jared Hudson, 1L 

Texas Attorney General’s Office & the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas  – Jared Janes, 1L 

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas  – Lauren Johnson, 1L 

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – Ryan Jones, 1L 

Houston Immigration Court  – Craig Lauchner, 1L  

Department of Education’s Office of the General Counsel – Seth Manetta-Dillon, 1L 

Office of the Attorney General of Texas  – Chris Marshall, 1L 

Texas Civil Rights Project  – Mandy Nguyen, 1L 

Travis County District Attorney’s Office  – James Nichols, 1L 

Orleans Public Defenders  – Young Eun Noh, 1L 

U.S. Attorney’s Office  – Elizabeth Parker, 1L 

U.S. Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative  – Ian Petersen, 1L  

U. S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, Reno – Michael Rowe, 1L 

Disability Rights Texas  – Alysha Seroussi, 1L 

Texas Charter Schools Association & Child Support Division of the Texas State Attorney General’s Office  – Jack Traylor, 1L  

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas  – Joshua Vanderslice, 1L 

Travis County District Attorney’s Office  – Pedro Villalobos, 1L 

Texas Fair Defense Project  – Bryan Zubay, 1L 

Harris County District Attorney’s Office  – Brett Batchelor, 2L 

Department of Justice, Antitrust Division  – Daniel Bradley, 2L

U. S. Attorney’s Office: District of Montana  – Kallie Dale-Ramos, 2L 

Federal Communications Commission  – Emily Fitzgerald, 2L

U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas  – Lindsay Forbe, 2L 

Texas Charter Schools Association & the Texas Attorney General – Public Finance Division  – T Jordan Hill, 2L 

Administrative Law Division at the Office of the Attorney General & the Texas Department of Agriculture  – Mary Kidd, 2L 

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas  – Ashley Martin, 2L  

South Central Pensions Rights Project  – Aaron Moore, 2L 

Securities and Exchange Commission: Enforcement Division – David Moore, 2L 

Office of the City Attorney, San Diego – Stephen Moulton, 2L 

Environmental Protection Agency – Kathleen Pritchard, 2L 

Harris County District Attorney’s Office – Chandler Raine, 2L 

American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU) – Ethan Ranis, 2L 

Texas Defender Service (TDS) – Roland Rivera, 2L 

U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee – Diana Rudd, 2L  

RFK Center’s Partners for Humans Rights – Albert Suarez, 2L 

Travis County District Attorney’s Office, Prosecution & U.S. Attorney’s Office, Houston, Prosecution  – Nils-Erik Swanson, 2L 

Immigration Legal Services of Catholic Charities of Central Texas – Kevin Yarley, 2L 

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office  – Jack Yeh, 2L 

Center for Death Penalty Litigation  – Mary Chisolm Rios, 3L 

Fellow Profile: Sage Stone

This summer I had the privilege to serve alongside the reputable prosecutors of the Consumer Fraud division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Not only did this opportunity help me to grow professionally, but it also sparked an interest in me to pursue a career in prosecution. Without your support, I would not have been able to pursue this internship, and would not have considered a career in prosecution, which strongly appeals to me now.

While in the Consumer Fraud division, not only did I have real responsibility in investigating and managing cases, but I also had an opportunity to witness what exactly transpires in the courtroom. Since the Consumer Fraud division operates differently from most of the rest of the District Attorney’s Office, the cases we investigate and eventually prosecute tend to last a long time. While I was there, however, I was able to help resolve two cases (one we closed, and another we pressed charges), and made significant strides in consolidating and acquiring evidence in the other two. My duties included reviewing thousands of pages of bank records to find evidence of fraud and self-dealing, subpoenaing documents, and interviewing witnesses.

My duties also included a significant learning component outside of our division’s office; I accompanied my supervising attorney to court to observe negotiations with defense counsel and conferences with the judge. I also had the opportunity to observe several trials all the way from voir dire to sentencing for both misdemeanor and felony cases. I also witnessed juvenile proceedings and justice of the peace proceedings.

At the end of my time at the District Attorney’s Office, I had an opportunity to apply for a position after I graduate—an opportunity I enthusiastically took. The prospect of working as a prosecutor excites me. But had I not had the promise of financial support for my work this summer, I probably would not have been able to work at the District Attorney’s Office. So thank you again for enabling me to have a meaningful summer experience and potentially a meaningful career in prosecution. Your continued support allows individuals like myself to pursue opportunities that give back to the community—opportunities that we may not have otherwise been able to pursue but for your generosity.

Sage Stone

Fellow Profile: Jessica Johnson

Dear TLF Donors:

With the utmost and deepest gratitude, I thank you for your generous donation to Texas Law Fellowships. Your generosity has allowed me the ability to clerk for Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), an organization dedicated to protecting civil rights for a variety of underserved classes such as minorities and people with disabilities.

As a clerk, I worked with the organization to provide direct legal assistance to spark impact litigation in order to effect systemic change. In other words, by helping one, TCRP aims to help many who have or will be similarly wronged. I had the privilege of drafting pleadings, writing memos, drafting discovery documents, preparing for a hearing, conducting fact investigations, and doing intakes. I had the privilege of interacting with clients and potential clients, and listening to their stories about alleged civil rights violations was incredibly eye opening. Additionally, I delved into such subjects as disability rights, free speech, and discrimination. I learned so much about subjects I had never previously encountered, and I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of TCRP for the summer. Receiving a Texas Law Fellowship provided me with the financial support I needed in order to pursue a host of incredibly worthy causes with a noble organization for which I have much respect, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Through the work of its attorneys and staff, Texas Civil Rights Project demonstrates a truly inspiring fortitude and courage by speaking out for those whose cries typically go unheard. In the relatively short amount of time in which I’ve served as a clerk, I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself, about this work, and about the courageous individuals who refuse to sit back and let their civil rights be violated. I truly believe the skills and knowledge I gained this summer will be pivotal in my future public interest career. Moreover, I look forward to putting these skills to future use by continuing to assist underserved communities. Thank you for the part that you’ve played in the development of my legal skills and to the beginning of what I hope will be a long and fruitful career in public service. Finally, thank you for being a truly unforgettable example of the importance of giving back to UT Law and to public interest in general. I plan to one day be in the position to perpetuate this act of generosity and pass it on to future generations of lawyers.

With Deepest Gratitude,

Jessica Johnson

Fellow Profile: Sara Schaefer

Dear TLF Donors,

My name is Sara Schaefer and I received a Hagans Fellowship from Texas Law Fellowships this summer. I am writing to thank you for making my summer at The Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office possible. I enjoyed my experience at the office immensely and learned so much. I know I would not have been able to spend my summer there without your generous support.

I worked as an Extern with the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, which is in Knoxville, TN. I chose the office because of its unique approach to public defense. The office is committed to marrying quality legal defense with a myriad of social services that address root causes of criminality. This includes linkages to community mental health services, counseling, children’s programs, drug and alcohol treatment, and help with housing. This means, when I met with clients, I was able to address any underlying issues that they thought was contributing to their entry into the criminal justice system. For example, I was able to assign a social worker to a case to visit a client in jail twice weekly so he could receive in depth counseling. I was able to refer a homeless client to our summer kids camp, so his children could have a healthy activity to attend. There are many examples of how the strong social services department enhanced the legal representation I was able to provide and helped me establish trust with my clients.

My favorite social program that our office organizes is the Summer at the CLO. This is a twice-­‐weekly camp for kids from low-­‐income Knox County families. I was able to volunteer at the camp multiple times this summer during the art days and the yoga days. I was also able to work with the HABIT dog, a dog that comes to the camp, sits in a quiet room, and allows kids to work on their reading skills in a non-­‐judgmental environment (as they are reading to the dog). The camp also provides the kids with a nutritious lunch, and a goody bag full of nutritious snacks to take home. The kids were a breath of fresh air and were exposed, through this program, to a wealth of new experiences that might be out of reach for them otherwise.

Additionally, I was certified to practice in court under the supervision of an attorney through Tennessee’s student practice law. Therefore, I got to advocate in open court and handle cases from first interview to resolution. I was working on the felony team, so I got to work exclusively with felonies. I got to visit the county jail and interview new clients. Then I would be able to identify a plan of action to go forward and do legal research on the best path. I got to negotiate with prosecutors to reach an amicable deal. I got to go out on investigations to interview witnesses or see the scene of the crime. I was able to reach deals on many cases and then announce the plea agreement in open court. Most excitingly, I completed all the research to form a foundation for a motion to suppress. I then got to write and file the motion to suppress and participate in the hearing on the motion to suppress by sitting second chair. Further, I improved my research and writing skills by completing many memoranda for attorneys in the office.

Being able to work in a holistic public defender’s office this summer allowed me to develop many skills that are vital to being a zealous public defender and trial attorney. The trust I was able to establish with my clients and the quality of legal representation I was able to provide was dramatically enhanced by the existence of a strong social services department. I left my summer job feeling more confident speaking in court and working through issues with clients. I feel even more convinced that public defense is the right career path for me. I want to thank you again for making this wonderful work experience possible. It was so extremely generous for you to sponsor my summer work, and through it, the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office’s work.

Thank you!

Sara Schaefer

Fellow Profile: Joey Piorkowski

Dear TLF Donors,

Thank you so much for donating to Texas Law Fellowships. Because of your donation I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and work with an international human rights organization (International Justice Mission – IJM) to assist in the prosecution of perpetrators of sex-trafficking.

During my two month internship I provided legal assistance on five sting operations that resulted in thirty trafficking victims getting rescued and nine perpetrators prosecuted. Some of my responsibilities during the operations included assisting lawyers in interviewing victims by tracking their testimony with the elements of the trafficking law to ensure that we built the strongest case possible. I also assisted the attorneys in drafting victims’ affidavits which would be presented to the public prosecutor.

Apart from the actual operations, some of my other job responsibilities included conducting research and drafting memorandum on legal issues arising in the prosecution of sex-trafficking cases. The legal issues I researched included statutory interpretation questions, new avenues for trafficking in the form of cyber sex, and the appropriateness for damages in cases of trafficking. Additionally, I had the unique opportunity to give a training presentation to over fifty officers in the Philippine National Police about the recent changes in the Philippine trafficking law.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Philippines and the experience has greatly impacted my life. Thank you again for helping to make this possible.

Joey Piorkowski

Fellow Profile: Marsha Perez

Dear TLF Donors,

My summer internships in Illinois and Texas were profound. Aside from basking in the perfect weather of a Chicago summer, I led hearings before the bench, attended numerous mediations, completed rigorous child protection trainings, and represented the most worthy clients a lawyer could have: kids. Because of your assistance, I was also able to return to Texas to practice family law and experience what a non-profit organization career is like at Texas Advocacy Project.

To serve in Chicago, where the crime rates and buildings are sky high, was life changing. In 1899, the nation established its first juvenile court in Chicago, making the city an ideal frontier in which to delve into juvenile law and child protection. My clerkship with the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian surpassed every expectation I had.

I continued the endeavors I described to you in my last letter (analyzing evidence for trial, observing mediations, and preparing witnesses to testify), then obtained my Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711 Temporary License, which opened the door for my first litigation experiences. At the conclusion of 300 hours of service, I conducted seven permanency hearings representing clients adjudged wards of the state as their attorney and guardian ad litem. The unique dual role of attorney and guardian ad litem was a novel experience for me in client relations and professional responsibility. The seasoned attorney staff at the Public Guardian’s Office maintained an excellent system of evaluating the progress of law clerks and providing constructive feedback. The mentorship of the six lawyers on my assigned Calendar (or docket) helped mold my trial practice by providing honest critiques for improvement, and celebrating my achievements.

Moreover, I completed formal trainings on sensitive issues such as the effective prevention and intervention of bullying; bone fracture investigation and differentiating abusive injuries from accidental ones; emancipation planning; and a panel on restorative justice. Perhaps most rewarding, I independently conducted two interviews of our child clients in the comfort of their homes located in the widely avoided area of south side Chicago. The joy of meeting and advocating in the best interest of a child in need is far unmatched.

It is true that without your contribution, I never would have spent the summer affecting the lives of youth in the system and finding my forte in the legal field. I have applied and shared my experience at the Public Guardian’s Office every day since I began the fall semester of my last year of law school. It is my continued intention to apply this experience to advancing juvenile justice and child protection policy in Texas for the rest of my legal career.

The second portion of the summer I returned home to Texas and assisted Texas Advocacy Project in providing free legal services statewide to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. I completed 100 hours of pro bono work at Texas Advocacy Project and experienced the workings of a non-profit organization. My supervising attorneys assigned me projects bearing much responsibility, such as screening prospective clients to the organization’s legal hotline, and handling an assisted pro se protective order case from start to finish.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity for learning was in spearheading the updates to the organization’s protective order training material. Many new and amended protective order laws passed during the 83rd Legislative Session. I researched relevant bills and incorporated the updates into a formal presentation for use by Texas Advocacy Project’s development team. At the request of agencies such as local law enforcement and community service centers, Texas Advocacy Project’s development team conducts professional trainings in family law issues. I co-presented at one such training for a statewide agency in Williamson County that serves children and families. This knowledge will be practical in my future practice. My time with Texas Advocacy Project fulfilled my personal goal to work for an organization devoted to supporting families affected by domestic violence.

I am forever grateful for your substantial contribution to Texas Law Fellowships. I understand I am but one of several fortunate students who were able to serve the underserved this summer because of your exceptional support. Thank you for your generosity.

Deepest regards,
Marsha Lynn Perez

Fellow Profile: Nora Gay

Dear TLF Donors,

Thank you for granting me a Texas Law Fellowship for this recent summer. I had the opportunity to intern with the Washington Defender Association in Seattle, Washington, which I otherwise would not have had the financial resources for without the assistance of TLF. I so appreciate the work that TLF does to fundraise and afford law students the experience of clerking with public interest or government organizations.

Being able to work in Seattle was particularly meaningful for me, because while I am happily attending school in Texas, I am from the Pacific Northwest and may very well return there to work after law school. Because WDA is a statewide nonprofit and works closely with a variety of criminal and civil legal organizations or firms, I got to meet and work with a variety of those lawyers, judges, and non-legal professionals like social workers. Even if I don’t return to practice in the PNW, it was at least an invaluable experience to see how the various nonprofits, government agencies, and private law firms interact in the realm of public defense. It was also invaluable to learn that the most effective public defenders do not simply focus on criminal law, but rather take a “holistic” approach, taking into account the various other criminal, civil, and non-legal issues that often befall their clients.

The main project I focused on dealt with the reliability of eyewitness identification. Currently, Washington State has no pattern instruction on eyewitness identification, and it is still not clear if an instruction (and one with teeth) would actually be approved, but I drafted instructions for attorneys to use in cases where the identification of the perpetrator is at issue. Previous instructions that have been submitted in cases have either ignored or misstated the science, so I used models from other states that relied on eyewitness identification research. A couple eyewitness experts are currently researching the effectiveness of cross-racial eyewitness identification jury instructions in particular, so it will be exciting to see what the data shows – and exciting to know that I was working on something that is a current issue. I also drafted sample motions to admit jury instructions and eyewitness expert witnesses. Thus, if an eyewitness identification case comes up for a public defender or defense attorney in Washington, my materials will be available (assuming the lawyer is a member of WDA) for use or guidance. Aside from that work, I also helped update parts of a model search and seizure motion. I also was able to sit in at the federal district court, the mental health court, and the county court; attend CLE trainings on minority justice, juvenile justice, and holistic defense; attend task force and committee meetings regarding public defense in King County and Washington; and attend brown bag lunches hosted at a number of civil legal nonprofits in Seattle. These experiences were educational in themselves, and they also allowed me to further get to know the legal community in Seattle.

I had a full summer experience, and I owe that in great part to my fellowship from TLF. I am so appreciative of your support, and I hope to continue to contribute and share that support so future law students may have the same opportunity. Thank you!

Nora Gay

Fellow Profile: Christopher Larson

To the generous Texas Law Fellowship donors:

This past summer I worked for the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.  In just three months, I had the opportunity to work on a diverse array of cases ranging from administrative law and constitutional tort suits to employment discrimination and Freedom of Information Act requests, all under the mentorship and guidance of the incredible Assistant U.S. Attorneys of the Central District of California.  In addition to providing legal research and drafting motions, I also participated in several off-site visits to the various federal agencies of the Central District.  I interviewed Customs and Border Patrol officers at Los Angeles International Airport for an employment discrimination suit, toured the Metropolitan Detention Center where federal criminal defendants are held awaiting trial, and received hands-on training in the FBI’s use of deadly force policy from the Swat Team’s captain.

My time at the USAO was the most rewarding and memorable experience of my 1L year – and you made it possible.  Thank you for your kind and thoughtful donations to the TLF Fund.  I am grateful for your generosity and honored to be a Texas Law Fellowship recipient.

Thank you,
Christopher Larson