2022 Summer Conference Bios

Learn about the extraordinary people giving conference presentations

Presenter Biographies

Omotayo B. Alli, J.D., M.P.A., SPHR, is the Executive Director of the Georgia Public Defender Council and leads the agency statewide. An experienced public defender, she brings proven skills to enhance the effectiveness and quality of legal representation for indigent persons. Her goal as Executive Director is to augment indigent defense services, providing citizens with socially responsive rehabilitative services that allow them to permanently transcend their present circumstances— ultimately breaking cycles of court involvement and recidivism.

In Ms. Alli’s previous role as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Fulton County Juvenile Court, she was instrumental in developing several progressive, evidence-based diversionary programs. These efforts transformed the court into a more rehabilitative institution. For example, Ms. Alli was instrumental in creating the Leadership & Educational Enhancement Program (LEAP), a court-based school providing much-needed educational resources to court-involved children disengaged from the traditional academic settings. All participants receive instructions in a variety of subjects with the goal of either successfully earning a G.E.D. or enough credits to return to a conventional educational environment. Since its launch, over 50 participating children have successfully received a G.E.D. with some matriculating to technical schools or four-year colleges.

As the first Director of Fulton County Child Attorneys, Ms. Allipositioned the office as the benchmark child welfare program by ensuring the achievement of performance outcomes mandated by the Kenny A. Consent Decree. She also acquired the necessary resources to double the growth and operating budget of the office within the first year of her tenure.

Executive Director Alli is a recipient of the 2018 Community Partner Spirit of the League Award from the Greater Atlanta Urban League and the 2019 Daily Reports Trailblazer Award. Her vision and strategic focus have enabled her to skillfully build critical infrastructures, integrate best practices, and spearhead high-profile projects that have produced transformational results for constituents.

Executive Director Alli holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Kent State University, a master of public administration degree (M.P.A.) from Jacksonville State University, and a Juris Doctor from Georgia State University. In addition to her formal education, Ms. Alli is a registered neutral mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution. She also holds both the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (S.C.P.) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications. An active participant in the DeKalb and Fulton communities, Mrs. Alli is a member of Leadership DeKalb and a host of other civic and professional organizations.

Lela Acker is an appellate staff attorney with the Georgia Public Defender Council. Lela attended Florida State University and Florida Coastal School of Law, earning two Bachelor’s degrees in 2008 and her J.D. in 2011. While in college, Lela received numerous academic awards and served as the secretary and then vice-president of Phi Sigma Pi national honors fraternity was a member of key club and Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, and was a member of a number of different organizations on campus. In law school, Lela earned a number of “Book Awards” for the top grade in her writing classes, numerous academic awards, as well as being a founding member of the Technology Law Students Association, in which she served as secretary. Lela did internships with several law firms giving her some background in intellectual property law, bankruptcy law, and criminal law. Lela joined the Georgia Bar as an attorney in 2013. Lela was with the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office, where she served as lead counsel in over 50 jury trials and got started writing appeals. Lela then joined the Georgia Public Defender Council first as a contract appellate attorney and then as an appellate staff attorney. Lela has experience in everything from traffic tickets to death penalty cases but has focused on post-conviction appellate law. Lela has a two-year-old son named Lucas who is her pride and joy.

Christopher Barnett was appointed as Executive Director of Parole in August of 2015, after serving as Interim Director and guiding the Board through a significant reorganization as parole supervision transitioned to the new Department of Community Supervision. As Director, Mr. Barnett has continuously worked to strengthen relationships with community stakeholders and criminal justice partners and inform Georgians about the scientific parole consideration process. Director Barnett joined the Georgia Parole Board in 2003 as a parole officer in the Marietta Parole District. Promotions to senior parole officer, assistant chief parole officer, field operations officer, senior field operations officer, and statewide program manager followed. In May 2013, he was promoted to regional director, supervising all operations and parole districts within the Northeast Region.

Honorable Leisa Blount started the first Public Defender’s Office in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit (Albany, GA) in 2004. In a legal career spanning over 33 years, Blount has practiced civil and criminal law. As a criminal defense trial lawyer, Blount typically represented clients who faced life imprisonment, and she consistently obtained acquittals in cases that were thought to be unwinnable.

Blount served as a vice president of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and chairperson of the Southwest Georgia Reentry Coalition. She initiated establishment of a State-funded parental accountability court in Dougherty County, and she co-authored a book, titled “Grace Horse: The Redemption of a Teen Sentenced to Life,” about a teenager sentenced to life in prison.

A native of Washington, D.C., Blount holds a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University National Law Center in Washington, D.C. Blount is also a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia. She is admitted to practice law in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Georgia and before the United States Supreme Court.

Blount was appointed and then elected, in 2020, to the position of Judge of the Probate Court of Dougherty County.

Chief Judge Bradley J. Boyd  of the Fulton County Juvenile Court served 46 years in juvenile law in Fulton County and retired at the end of 2019. Over the course of his career, Judge Boyd has witnessed and played a key role in the evolution and process of juvenile court. Before his appointment as Chief Judge, Mr. Boyd served as an Associate Judge for Fulton County Juvenile Court.

He is a native of Holmes County in Ohio. Boyd graduated from Goshen College in Goshen, IN., attended Indiana State University’s graduate school and graduated from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law.

Boyd’s experience with juvenile court issues is extensive. His work history includes service as Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Project. Boyd also performed in numerous past roles for the Fulton County Juvenile Court, including probation officer, intake attorney, referee, child advocate, Chief Probation Officer and Director of Management Planning.

In 1993, he joined the office of the Fulton County District Attorney as Senior Assistant District Attorney in Juvenile Court. Before becoming an Associate Judge, Boyd served as Deputy Director for the Juvenile Court Division of the office of the Fulton County Conflict Defender.

Brandon Cannon is the current Chief Investigator for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office and was appointed as the Chief Investigator in 2015. Brandon has been employed as an Investigator with the Conasauga Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s office since the spring of 2012. Brandon has been in the criminal justice field for 18 years. Prior to joining GPDC, Brandon was a C.A.T Officer and Warrant Division Officer from 2011 to 2012 for the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Department in Dalton, Georgia. From 2010- 2011, Brandon was employed as the Sexual Assault Investigator and Child Forensic Interviewer for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit, District Attorney’s Office. From 2004-2009, Brandon was a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Deputy for the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office in Dalton, Georgia. Brandon currently holds two board certifications from the CDITC Academy in Stuart, Florida. Brandon obtained his first board certification in 2015 as a Board Certified Criminal Defense Investigator. In 2018, Brandon received his second board certification as a Board Certified Forensic Interviewer in relation to the Forensic Testimonial Evidence Recovery Method. Brandon has over 1400 hours of POST training and is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants as of 2019. Brandon also is still currently Peace Officer Certified in Georgia and graduated from the police academy in 2007 with the “TOP GUN” Award for the highest proficiency in firearms. From 2004-2006, Brandon attended Dalton State University and completed two years in investigative studies. When Brandon isn’t working, he enjoys honing his craft in martial arts ever since 1992. Brandon also holds the high distinction of a United Karate Studios black belt since 1999. Brandon also enjoys training for his upcoming kickboxing match in November 2022. Brandon also enjoys time with his wife and two children and writing/leading/directing for his Drama Ministry team at Church since 2018. As of 2021, Brandon made his first original content, a motion picture film for his church in Dalton, Georgia

Angela Dillon is a graduate of Emory Law School and was in private practice since 1995 until recently joining GPDC as a Managing Attorney for the Southwest Alternate Public Defender Office. Her practice has focused on criminal trials and appeals. She is admitted to practice before both the GeorgiaCourtofAppeals and the Georgia Supreme Court. She currently lives on her family farm in Marion County.

Reggie Hammond is a managing partner at Your Crescendo. Mr. Hammond is committed to his mission to help people, teams, and organizations live their purpose in their projects, business, careers, and lives. He focuses on helping professionals find their forte through optimizing their passions, gifts/strengths, and market-rewarding motivations in a way that impacts their purpose and the world around them. He uses this approach to help leaders drive purpose and engagement in their teams and organizations.

Craig Head is the Chief Assistant Public Defender for the Waycross Judicial Circuit. Craig has spent his entire career as a public defender and has handled a variety of litigation, including juvenile delinquency proceedings, preliminary and bond hearings, probation revocations, general felony trial practice, serious violent felony litigation, and death penalty representation. Craig has also represented clients before the Court of Appeals of Georgia and the Georgia Supreme Court. Craig also has extensive experience representing clients who have been civilly committed or who are currently receiving treatment for restoration of competency to stand trial. When not practicing law, Craig enjoys spending time with his wife, Addie, and their two small children. Also, he does some firefighting on the side for the adrenaline rush.

Shawn Hoover is a trial attorney with the Georgia Capital Defender Office. He was previously the Southwest Georgia Conflict Defender for the Georgia Public Defender Council. Shawn started his career as an Assistant Public Defender in Douglas County, Ga. Shawn is also an Adjunct Professor at Emory Law School.

Shawn earned his B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Philosophy from Webster University. Shawn earned his Juris Doctorate and Certificate of Dispute Resolution from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Shawn is a member of the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honors Fraternity; a 2017 Pi Kappa Delta Order of Attainment Inductee; a 2017 American Bar Foundation Fellow Inductee; a 2018 recipient of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Presidential Commitment Award, and a 2019 recipient of the Gideon’s Promise Foot Soldier Award. Shawn has served on the Georgia State Bar Indigent Defense Committee as a presidential appointment, as well as the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Indigent Defense Committee.

Lyndsey Hix is the Chief Assistant Public Defender for the Augusta Judicial Circuit. She graduated from Penn State University in 2004 and the University of Georgia School of Law in 2007. Immediately after taking the bar in 2007, Lyndsey started her legal career in as an Assistant Public Defender in the Augusta Circuit. Over the last fifteen years, she has represented thousands of clients in State, Superior, and Juvenile Court, as well as numerous clients on direct appeal. Lyndsey is a founding member and treasurer for the Augusta Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. She lives in Augusta with her husband, son, cat (Bagel) and dog (Biscuit).

Tim Huff is an Executive Coach and Leadership Advisor who has a passion for helping leaders and executives at all levels tap into the greatness that exists within themselves to lead their teams at their full potential and live their lives intentionally and unapologetically. With over 26 years of high-stakes leadership experience in the U.S. Army as well as multiple Fortune 500 companies, he has a unique background that allows him to empathize with his clients’ leadership challenges as he helps them in their journey of transformational change.

As a Certified Executive Coach, Tim enjoys coaching and advising individuals as well as teams in values-based leadership, effective behaviors, healthy relationships, executive presence, and high-performing team dynamics. With a strong business and Information Technology background, he understands the pressures placed on today’s executives as well as the value of excellent leadership in an organization. Tim’s mission is to help all leaders be at their best for their teams!

Penny Hunter is a graduate of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega and a 2012 graduate of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. After law school she worked for Strickland, Chesnutt, and Lindsey in Winder. In 2013, she was offered an A.P.D. position at the Enotah Circuit Public Defender’s Office and primarily accepted the position to avoid additional time in family law battles. Shortly after her work as a public defender began, Penny realized that she had a passion for public defense. After tough losses, fulfilling victories, and the chance to personally offer help to broken people in broken times, Penny has no doubt that this is the work she was created to do.

In 2021 Penny became the Circuit Public Defender of the Enotah Judicial Circuit. She is fortunate to lead an incredible group of public defenders. She resides in her hometown of Lula with her husband and two sons.

Brett Ladd is a graduate of U.G.A. Law School and U.G.A. Undergrad. He has worked throughout Georgia and has been active in criminal law matters for 35 years. He has been involved in one way or another with GPDC since its inception, as a C.P.D., Contract Attorney, or managing attorney.

Alison Lerner serves as General Counsel for the Council of Accountability Court Judges (CACJ). Prior to working for CACJ, she was a Senior Staff Attorney with the Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts. At the A.O.C., she provided legal support to the Council of Accountability Court Judges, the Georgia Supreme Court’s Commission on Dispute Resolution, Commission on Interpreters, and the Board of Court Reporting. In that role, she led ethics investigations into registered neutrals and A.D.R. programs, court reporters, court interpreters, and investigates grievances filed against accountability court programs.

Ms. Lerner began her career as a juvenile public defender, later moving to felony jury trial work. She has first-chaired dozens of jury trials, including a two-week long murder trial, and has has served on the teams for a juvenile drug court, adult felony drug court, and adult felony mental health court. After leaving criminal defense, she joined a small civil litigation boutique law firm, acting as lead attorney in matters including product liability, EEO claims, premises liability, professional liability, first party insurance coverage, and auto and trucking cases, from case inception to resolution. Ms. Lerner holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wesleyan University, Connecticut, and a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Jennifer Lewis is is the Circuit Public Defender for the Flint Judicial Circuit (Henry County). She graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law with a specialization in Litigation in 2006. She started out at a national law firm, but came running back to do what she loves – public defense. She started with GPDC in 2007 as the Juvenile Court attorney in the Alcovy Circuit, and moved to the Flint Circuit Superior Court in 2009, where she has tried all levels of cases. Jen has extensive training and experience with mental health cases. Fluent in Spanish, she is her office’s in-house Spanish translator. Being a public defender is her calling in life. In addition to her love of trying cases, Jen has a passion for teaching young lawyers our craft. She teaches at Emory Law School’s Kessler-Eidson Trial

Jonathan Lockwood is the Chief Assistant Public Defender for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. Jonathan is a career public defender. Jonathan started as an Assistant Public Defender in the Middle Judicial Circuit in 2010 and then moved to the Brunswick Judicial Circuit where he became Chief Assistant in 2013. Currently, Jonathan primarily represents clients in the Superior Court of Wayne County and Wayne County Drug Court. Jonathan represents clients charged with offenses ranging from murder to financial transaction card fraud. Approximately half of his annual caseload consists of violations of probation. Jonathan supervises the representation of all of the Brunswick Circuit’s post conviction clients and has presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Court of Appeals of Georgia. Jonathan is a active nerd outside of work. As such, when he is not at the gym or hiking, he is preparing for his weekly D&D group where he is the D.M.

Techniques Program, as well as TILPP. Finally, Jen is lucky to go home to her husband, her two rambunctious children and her dog.  

Honorable Lisa Lott received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and her J.D. from Emory School of Law, 1994. She began the practice of law as an assistant district attorney for Gwinnett County. In between prosecutorial stints, she was the staff attorney for the Council of Juvenile Court Judges and also the lobbyist and staff attorney for the former GIDC (Georgia Indigent Defense Council, the forerunner of the Georgia Public Defender Council). In 2000, she was hired at the U.G.A. Legal Aid & Defender Clinic, the forerunner to the Western Circuit Public Defender’s Office, and worked as an assistant public defender and also the Chief Assistant Public Defender until being elected a superior court judge for the Western Circuit in 2018. Judge Lott has been on the bench since January 2019 for the Western Judicial Circuit, which is comprised of Clarke and Oconee Counties. She lives in Athens and has two children, both of whom are quite adept at the art of argument but swear they will never become lawyers. Judge Lott’s husband is a public interest attorney specializing in environmental law.

Courtney Farmer Morgan graduated from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri in May of 2017 and promptly moved to small town Dublin, Georgia to begin working for the Dublin Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office. As an Austin, Texas native, the culture shock of Middle Georgia was intense, but Dublin is now her home. Her first experience with indigent defense was served with Legal Aid South Africa in the summer of 2015, followed by an internship with the Georgia Capital Defenders and an externship with the St. Louis County Public Defender’s Office. Courtney loves her career and is proud to be a public defender. She is even more proud to be a wife and mother of two youngsters, Bennett and Holly.

Matthew Nestrund is currently an Appellate Public Defender for the Coweta Judicial Circuit handling appeals for indigent clients in Carroll, Heard, Merriweather, Troup, and Coweta counties. Matthew received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Arkansas in 2008 and a Juris Doctorate from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 2012. Barred in the State of Georgia in 2013, Matthew began his career in criminal trial and appellate work as an Assistant District Attorney for the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit and an Assistant Public Defender for the Paulding Judicial Circuit. After a short stint in private practice doing civil and criminal litigation, Matthew found his passion truly lies in the public defense of Georgia’s indigent accused and has focused solely in appellate work. Before joining the Coweta Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office, Matthew worked for the Georgia Public Defender Council’s Office of the Appellate Defender. Matthew is a published and cited author and has taught C.L.E. training for the Georgia Public Defender Council on the topic of objections and preservation of errors. Feeling “saved” from private practice, Matthew aspires to remain practicing indigent defense and being involved in education for the rest of his career.

Dr. Matthew Norman is a board-certified psychiatrist dedicated to delivering superior patient care by employing various forms of psychotherapy and psychopharmacological services. With a goal of becoming a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Norman received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Virginia and completed medical school at Mercer University School of Medicine. He completed psychiatric residency and forensic psychiatric fellowship training at Emory University School of Medicine. After training, he started a private practice of general and forensic psychiatry. In his forensic practice, Dr. Norman has been qualified as an expert witness over 200 times in state and federal jurisdictions, including numerous insanity trials and capital cases. Dr. Norman has continued teaching as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He was honored to be appointed to the Georgia Composite Medical Board in 2019 by the governor.  Dr. Norman was elected Chair of the medical board in 2022.  

Benjamin Pearlman is the Deputy Chief Assistant Public Defender at the Western Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office in Athens. He represents clients charged with serious felonies, and is responsible for appeals in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. After graduating from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2001, he clerked for the Superior Court judges of the Western Judicial Circuit, following which he was in private practice. In 2004, he started at the University of Georgia Legal Aid and Defender Clinic, which became the Western Judicial Public Defender’s Office in 2005, and has been employed there ever since. He has been part of the staffing team for the Western Circuit Veteran’s Treatment Court, and is currently the public defender representative on the Treatment and Accountability Court (the Western Circuit’s mental health court).

Arnold Ragas is As Deputy Director/Managing Attorney of the Specialized Unit. He leads the Early Intervention Unit, which aims to reduce the number of death noticed cases, and the Complex Case Unit, which aims to surge resources into regions where C.P.D.s petition for assistance on major cases. Prior, he served as Managing Attorney in the Cherokee and Rome Conflict Office. He developed a reputation as someone who would enthusiastically try any case, any time, anywhere irrespective of the facts and still expect to win.

More often than not, he would.

In a recent nine month period, he secured acquittals in trials for murder, drug trafficking, aggravated assault, rape, and possession with intent, without a single loss. In the past month, he concluded a thirty day stretch with three trials: two murder/home invasion trials and one arson/attempted murder trial. The results of those trials: an acquittal; a hung jury in a case unlikely to be retried; and a probation plea after the close of the state’s case.

As a poor kid from the housing projects of New Orleans, he sees the humanity in every indigent person he represents and feels honored and privileged to fight for them.

Luci Ruiz is currently an Assistant Public Defender for the Office of the Appellate Defender. Luci received her Juris Doctor in 2016 from Mercer University and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Justice Studies from Georgia Southern University. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Public Defender for Juvenile Court and State Court Divisions of the Office of the Public Defender, Atlanta Judicial Circuit. She was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, where she still lives with her husband and their two fur babies, Murphy and Nonna Ginsburg. 

Kenneth Sheppard is currently the Managing Attorney for the Office of the Appellate Defender. Kenneth received his Juris Doctor in 1994 from Harvard Law School and also has a Master of Arts Degree (2004) and a Bachelor’s Degree (1991) from Georgia State University. He joined the State Bar of Georgia in 1995 and has been practicing law full time since that time. Kenneth has performed numerous Jury Trials including 20 Murder Trials and also numerous Appeals including over 30 Murder Appeals.

Jackie Tyo graduated from Emory University School of Law in 2017. She practices primarily in the Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia and the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia. Jackie has been with GPDC since January 2018, when she was hired as a Staff Attorney with the Appellate Division.

Jackie has had the privilege of orally arguing in front of the Supreme Court of Georgia three times, she has won multiple cases in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Georgia, and has been successful arguing sentence modifications and merger issues in multiple superior courts across the State. In January 2022, Jackie transferred to the Clayton Judicial Circuit, and now handles their non-conflict appeals. 

Jackie lives in Cumming, GA, with her husband, Ray, their daughter, Ava, and their floppy-eared furry friend, Daisy. She enjoys cooking, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends.

LeAnna Wade is the managing attorney for the Northwest Georgia Alternate Defender Program.  LeAnna has been with GPDC in one capacity or another since 2012.  In June 2019, LeAnna attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  She has extensive trial experience, and she has a very successful trial record. 

Randee J. Waldman serves as the director of the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law. In this role, she supervises law students in holistic representation of young people charged with delinquent and status offenses. In addition to representing these clients in their juvenile court cases, she and her students also represent them in special education proceedings, school suspension proceedings, and other forums according to the clients’ needs. Waldman engages in policy work related to juvenile justice issues and teaches courses in juvenile justice and education law.

Prior to joining the Juvenile Defender Clinic in 2006, Waldman practiced in New York for nine years. She began her legal career as a litigation associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton. She then worked for almost six years as a senior attorney at Advocates for Children of New York, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring quality and equal public education services for New York City’s most vulnerable students. While at Advocates for Children, Waldman represented parents and students to obtain appropriate special education services for students with disabilities, represented students in school discipline proceedings, served as co-counsel in several impact litigation cases in federal court, and directed the pro bono and law student intern programs.

Waldman is a widely respected trainer, speaker, and writer. She is a NITA certified trial skills trainer and a certified trainer for the National Juvenile Defender Center’s Juvenile Training Immersion Program. She has presented at numerous regional and national conferences, including National Juvenile Defender Center Leadership Summits, Southern Juvenile Defender Center Regional Summits, Georgia Public Defender Council’s Annual Statewide Defender Conferences, The Virginia State Bar’s Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr. Indigent Criminal Defense Advanced Skills for the Experienced Practitioner Training Program, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association conference, Florida’s Child Litigation Skills Training, the Mississippi Youth Court Defender Conference, and many more. Professor Waldman is co-director of the Advisory Council for the Southern Juvenile Defender Center and Chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She also serves on the advisory council for PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health, and the executive committee of the Child Protection and Advocacy Section of the State Bar of Georgia. She is also an active member of the juvenile justice committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Clinical Legal Education Association. In 2016 she was honored by the National Juvenile Defender Center with the Champion of Justice award, and in 2013 she was honored by the Juvenile Law Committee of the Young Lawyers Division of the Georgia Bar with their award for outstanding delinquency legal advocate.

Rochelle Warren Gordon completed her Bachelor’s degree in History at Temple University in 2003. In 2010, she obtained her Juris Doctor from Indiana University- Maurer School of Law. After graduating from law school, Rochelle clerked for the Hon. Torkwase Sekou, in Essex County, New Jersey. In 2011, Rochelle relocated to the state of Georgia, where she began her professional career as a Litigator. She began this journey with Lister and Holt in Clayton County. Her work with that office sparked a very keen interest in the Appellate field. As a result, Rochelle moved to the Office of the Attorney General, where she worked as an Assistant Attorney General in the Post-Conviction Relief Section. During that post, Rochelle traveled throughout the State of Georgia, where she handled Habeas matters on behalf of the State.

As a result of that position, and the experience and skills she honed, Rochelle was later able

to join the Court of Appeals of Georgia as a Central Staff Attorney. Through her work there, Rochelle quickly became interested in advocating for indigent individuals. As a result, she decided to leave to pursue a position as Defense Attorney for a Public Defenders office. In 2017, Rochelle began working in the Griffin Judicial Circuit, as an Attorney with their Public Defender’s office. In 2018, Rochelle moved to the Public Defender’s office in the Flint Judicial Circuit, where she currently serves as the Chief Assistant Public Defender. Rochelle is a member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a member of the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers and a provisional member of the Atlanta Junior League.

David Lee Windecher is a trailblazing criminal defense attorney, author, and activist in the social justice movement to end mass incarceration, reduce recidivism and redress racial inequity in the criminal justice system.

David was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 2012 and the Florida Bar in 2014. David is a member of the Georgia and Florida Court of Appeals, the Georgia and Florida Supreme Court, the Northern District of Georgia United States District Court and the American Bar Association. David graduated Summa Cum Laude from American Intercontinental University in 2005 and received his Juris Doctorate degree from John Marshall Law School in 2012.

David started his legal career as an intern with the Dekalb County District Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted misdemeanor and felony cases under the Third-Year Practice Act from May 2011 thru May 2012. While at the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, David invested the majority of his time into prosecuting cases under Georgia’s Criminal Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. Prior to establishing the Windecher Firm, David was an Associate Attorney at the esteemed criminal defense firm of Arora & LaScala from November 2012 thru June 2015.

David specializes in record restriction (formerly termed expungement in Georgia) procedures, criminal defense (misdemeanors and felonies), D.U.I. defense and juvenile law. In addition to his legal specialties, David is a continuing legal education (C.L.E.) instructor on record restriction and criminal street gang expert testimony.

Mark Winne is an investigative reporte with WSB-TV in Atlanta. While Mark Winne was still a student at Auburn University and working part-time at The Birmingham News, he and a photographer spotted a hand sticking out of the trunk of a car and chased it across the city, ultimately leading to the rescue of a kidnap victim. Thus began a career of crime and corruption coverage. After three and a half years working full-time for the News, Mark was hired by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Later switching to television, he went on the air for WSB-TV in 1986 and has helped Channel 2 Action News break many of Georgia’s biggest stories. His print and broadcast work have been honored with numerous professional and civic awards, including a number of Southern Regional Emmys. Mark’s coverage of a series of mail bombings which killed a federal judge and a civil rights attorney led to the publication of his book on the case, “Priority Mail” (Scribner, 1995.) Mark has been active with a number of charities and especially at church. For several seasons he coached youth basketball and baseball. Married to the former Kate Sievert, he is an avid golfer.

Todd Yancey is the Chief Investigator for the Office of the Public Defender in the Cordele Circuit. He started in Law Enforcement in 1993 in Toombs County. From 2011 to 2014  Todd was the Chief Investigator for the Middle Circuit. He has been with the Cordele Circuit Public Defender working as the Chief Investigator since 2018. Todd is is Certified Criminal Defense Investigator.

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