PBI Board of Advisors

The PBI Board of Advisors assists in influencing and shaping the work of the institute. It comprises practitioners, academics from various disciplines, policy advocates, and impacted persons with deep experience in the criminal justice and plea bargaining fields.

Rebecca Brown

Founder, Maat Strategies

Rebecca Brown founded Maat Strategies, LLC., in 2023 to work with social justice organizations engaged in criminal legal reform to design and develop effective policy shops, regardless of size, and craft successful federal, state and/or local policy agendas. Previously, she directed the Innocence Project’s state and federal policy agenda since 2005. She has also served as a Policy Analyst for the Mayor’s Office in New York City and a Senior Planner at Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), where she conducted research, evaluation and planning work around its alternative to incarceration programs. Rebecca began her career at the Civilian Complaint Review Board, where she investigated allegations of police misconduct for the City of New York. She graduated from Barnard College and holds a Masters in Urban Planning, with a concentration in economic and community development from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, where she was the recipient of the Public Service Scholarship.

Cynthia Jones

Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University

Cynthia Jones is a law professor at the American University Washington College of Law. Professor Jones has written numerous scholarly articles on wrongful convictions, criminal discovery, bail reform, and addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and is the co-author of: Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law Concepts, Practice and Mastering Criminal Procedure, and the forthcoming edition of Mastering Criminal Law.

Professor Jones has received the prestigious American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching and an award from the American University Center for Teaching Excellence. She is the 2022 recipient of the Raeder-Taslitz Award from the ABA Criminal Justice Section, and each year the Professor Cynthia E. Jones Scholarship is awarded in her honor to an aspiring public defender.

Before her appointment as the Executive Director of the venerable Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) in 2000, Professor Jones clerked on the D.C. Court of Appeals, worked in private practice, and served as a staff attorney at PDS.  Professor Jones has also served as the Deputy Director of the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency.

Abbe David Lowell

Defense Lawyer, Winston & Strawn

Abbe David Lowell is one of the country’s foremost white collar defense and trial lawyers. He has tried civil and criminal cases before judges and juries in more than a dozen states, argued numerous appeals before courts that include the U.S. Supreme Court, led complex international investigations, and navigated clients through congressional and administrative proceedings, often under the glare of media scrutiny. Lowell served as Chief Minority Counsel to the House of Representatives during the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. He also previously served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General and was appointed as Special Counselor to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the investigation and prosecution of human rights violations and war crimes. Lowell has authored numerous articles on the law and teaches criminal procedure, evidence, congressional oversight and trial practice at Georgetown Law Center and Columbia Law School.

Allison Redlich

University Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University

Allison Redlich is a Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University, and the past President of the American Psychology-Law Society (2019–2022). She is currently a Visiting Scholar at Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law.

Although trained as an experimental psychologist, Professor Redlich uses multiple methods to conduct her research which centers on whether legal decision-making is knowing, intelligent, and voluntary — particularly in vulnerable populations. Professor Redlich also studies wrongful convictions, with a particular focus on false confessions and false guilty pleas. She has co-authored/edited five books, most recently a volume on the science of pleading guilty, which was awarded the AP-LS Lawrence Wrightsman book award. She especially enjoys working with and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, and has been awarded teaching-mentoring awards from two national societies.

Jenny Roberts

Professor of Law, Washington College of Law, American University

Jenny Roberts is a Professor at American University Washington College of Law, where she co-directs the Criminal Justice Clinic and teaches Criminal Law. She chairs the Appointments Committee, serves on American University’s Senate Committee on Scholarship, and received the law school’s Excellence in Teaching Award for 2019-20, among other law school and university awards. Professor Roberts’ work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and she has written numerous articles on topics including misdemeanors and plea bargaining and co-authors a treatise on the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. She is on the National Research Advisory Board for the Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College.

Rodney Roberts

Activist and Exoneree

Rodney Roberts is a re-entry coach with the Innocence Project, where he supports exonerees adjusting to life outside and acts as an ambassador for the Innocence Project’s work. Rodney was exonerated in 2014 following 18 years of incarceration after pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit.

Cynthia W. Roseberry

Director, Policy and Government Affairs, Justice Division, ACLU

Cynthia W. Roseberry is a lawyer and criminal justice reform advocate. At the national ACLU she directs work to reform federal and state criminal legal systems. She served as Executive Director of the Clemency Project 2014, obtaining release from President Obama for nearly 2000 people. Cynthia also served on the Congressional Blue Ribbon Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections and is a founding board member of the Georgia Innocence Project, the first African American Woman to serve as the President of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the former Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia. She has received several awards for her work, including the 2016 COS Humanitarian Award and the 2017 Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. As a national and international speaker, she has presented in nearly every U.S. state, Europe, and the former Soviet Union. Her TedX talk, which was performed in a prison can be found here.

Martín Sabelli

Defense Lawyer, Past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Principal of the Law offices of Martín A. Sabelli

Martín is a highly experienced criminal defense attorney who has represented individuals in both state and federal courts across the US for 30 years. He has also served as a federal public defender, the Director of Training for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, and a law clerk to a US District Judge. Martín is the Chair of the Ninth Circuit Lawyer’s Assistance Strike Force and numerous NACDL committees. He received NACDL’s highly prestigious Champion of Justice Award in 2018. He is a member of the Board of Regents of the National Criminal Defense College and the Advisory Counsel of the Argentine Association for Jury Trials. Martín has trained public defenders and lawyers in numerous countries and, in 2012, established a criminal defense college in Argentina for Latin American defenders. Martín is a recognized expert and lecturer in jury selection.

Abbe Smith

Director, Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, Georgetown University Law Center

Abbe Smith is the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Law, Director of the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, and Co-Director of the E. Barrett Prettyman Fellowship Program at Georgetown University. She has also taught at other universities and written extensively on criminal defense, legal ethics, and clinical legal education. Professor Smith began her legal career as an Assistant Defender in Philadelphia and continues to be actively engaged in indigent criminal defense. She is a member of the boards of several legal organizations, including The Bronx Defenders, and has received numerous awards and honors for her teaching and legal work. Additionally, Professor Smith is a published cartoonist.

Norm Reimer

Of Counsel, Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C.

Norman L. Reimer has been a bar leader and a criminal defense attorney throughout his career. For more than a decade a central focus of his work has been to expose and reform the trial penalty and coercive plea practices that have contributed significantly to systemic injustice and mass incarceration. Norman Reimer served as the Global CEO of Fair Trials from 2021 – 2022 and served as the Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) from 2006 – 2021.

Prior to his time at NACDL, Norman Reimer was a criminal defense lawyer based in New York City for over 20 years, practicing in state and federal court at both the trial and appellate levels and promoting systemic reform through both his service as a leader of the organised bar and the chair of numerous task forces and committees. Norman Reimer also taught Trial Advocacy for more than ten years. He is a passionate advocate for the rights of the accused and the need to limit governmental overreach in the enforcement of its criminal laws.

Rebecca Shaeffer

Legal Services, National Disability Rights Network

Rebecca joined NDRN in July 2023 as a Disability Legal Specialist at NDRN for criminal justice and institutions. In this role she provides technical support and training to P&As in their work monitoring, investigating and litigating rights abuses against people with disabilities involved in the criminal legal system, from police emergency response to jails, prisons and re-entry. Prior to joining NDRN, Rebecca worked for over a decade in international human rights, where she helped to develop and implement new standards for criminal procedural rights in Europe, the US, and Latin America, and supported networks of criminal defense lawyers with international and comparative legal expertise and peer learning facilitation. She served on the steering committee that produced the Mendez Principles, the first international guidance on police interrogation, and on the ABA Criminal Justice Section Task Force on Plea Bargaining.

Nathan Pysno

Director of Economic Crime & Criminal Procedure Justice, NACDL

Nathan Pysno is Director of Economic Crime & Procedural Justice at NACDL. He leads NACDL’s policy work on a wide variety of issues including, the trial penalty, plea bargaining, discovery, white collar crime, overcriminalization, and mens rea. He is a frequent writer, speaker, and lobbyist on criminal legal system reform issues. He was a member of the task force that published The New York State Trial Penalty: The Constitutional Right to Trial Under Attack.


Vanessa Potkin

Director of Special Litigation, The Innocence Project

Vanessa Potkin is the Director of Special Litigation at The Innocence Project. She joined the Project in 2000 as its first staff attorney, and has helped pioneer the model of post-conviction DNA litigation used nationwide to exonerate wrongfully convicted persons. Vanessa has represented and exonerated over 30 innocent individuals, from Louisiana to Nevada, who collectively served over 500 years of wrongful imprisonment, five of whom were originally prosecuted for capital murder. Vanessa maintains a post-conviction docket, crafting litigation strategy, writing motions, and litigating in trial and appellate courts nationwide to secure post-conviction DNA testing and to obtain relief based DNA test results, and other exculpatory evidence in cases involving: false confessions, erroneous eyewitness identification, informant testimony, faulty forensics, prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. She works with a wide-range of forensic experts. She also trains and mentors other attorneys at the Innocence Project. Vanessa is a nationally recognized expert on wrongful convictions and the use of DNA to establish innocence; she is regularly consulted by attorneys, judicial and legislative committees, and media outlets. She was a member of an eight-person multidisciplinary technical working group that collaborated on a report for criminal defense attorneys published in 2012 by the National Institute of Justice to increase understanding of the science of DNA and its application in the courtroom (“DNA for the Defense Bar”). Vanessa is an adjunct professor of law at Cardozo School of Law and has co-taught the Innocence Project Legal Clinic since 2000.