Denver, CO (July 24, 2015) — Marissa McCall Dodson, Policy Director and Attorney at the Georgia Justice Project (GJP), is being honored today with the National Association of Criminal Justice Lawyers' (NACDL) Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award at NACDL's 14th Annual State Criminal Justice Network conference in Denver, Colo. The Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award recognizes an individual or group who has made exceptional efforts advocating for progressive reform of a state's criminal justice system.
Ms. Dodson is receiving this award as a result of her tireless efforts to lobby Georgia's legislature to reform its reentry policies. Her work proved successful with the passing of a number of bills which overhauled the state's record restriction (expungement) law, eliminated the automatic suspension of driver's licenses for certain drug convictions, provided protections for employers being sued for negligent hiring or retention due to an employee's criminal background, and required anyone facing criminal charges to be informed of their eligibility for the state's First Offender Act, among other provisions. She has led two successful "Enhance the Chance" Lobby Days at the Georgia State Capitol where individuals with a criminal history and their families have spoken to lawmakers about the challenges they face. Most recently, she served as a lead advocate to successfully lobby Governor Nathan Deal to issue an executive order to ban-the-box, a fair hiring practice which removes criminal history questions from the initial state employment application. The Governor signed the order on February 23, 2015.
Ms. Dodson started her legal career as an Equal Justice Fellow at GJP where she developed the "Coming Home Program," which combats employment, housing, and education restrictions faced by those with a criminal history through direct service, education, and legislative advocacy.
She has also been a powerful advocate for indigent individuals in the Atlanta region, where she continues to represent those facing felony and misdemeanor charges. In one memorable case, Ms. Dodson represented a man charged with eleven counts, including murder, even while her organization was reluctant to take on such a serious case. Nevertheless, she was convinced that her client was innocent, and he was eventually acquitted of all charges.
NACDL's Director of State Legislative Affairs and Special Projects Angelyn Frazer said: "Marissa's unyielding drive to reform Georgia's criminal justice system and to ease the transition for individuals with a criminal record to reenter society clearly demonstrates her passion for ensuring fairness in an uphill battle against an often unjust system. In addition, NACDL is very pleased that Marissa's reform efforts parallel many of the recommendations in our groundbreaking Collateral Damage report. She is a determined, dedicated leader in her community, and I am proud to present her this award on behalf of NACDL's State Criminal Justice Network."
Ms. Dodson received her J.D. and Bachelor of Civil Law magna cum laude from Louisiana State University Law Center in 2008, and graduated cum laude from Spelman College in 2005 with a major in Political Science and a minor in U.S. History. A native of Ontario, California, Ms. Dodson lives with her husband and five-year-old son in Marietta, Georgia.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
Ezra Dunkle-Polier, NACDL Public Affairs & Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7656 or email@example.com for more information.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.