President and Senior Counsel
Stephen B. Bright is president and senior counsel of the Center and teaches at Yale Law School and the University of Georgia School of Law. He served as director of the Center from 1982 through 2005, and has been in his present position since the start of 2006. He has taught at Yale since 1993.
Subjects of his litigation, teaching and writing include capital punishment, legal representation for poor people accused of crimes, conditions and practices in prisons and jails, racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, judicial independence, and sentencing. He has tried cases, including capital cases, before juries and argued cases before state and federal appellate courts. He has twice argued and won cases before the United States Supreme Court, Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472 (2008) (hear oral argument), and Amadeo v. Zant, 486 U.S. 214 (1988) (hear oral argument). Both cases involved racial discrimination in the composition of the juries.
He has testified on many occasions before committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He has also taught at the law schools at Harvard, Georgetown, Emory and Northeastern. His and the Center's work has been the subject of a documentary film, Finding for Life in the Death Belt, (EM Productions 2005), and two books, Proximity to Death by William McFeely (Norton 1999) and Finding Life on Death Row by Kayta Lezin (Northeastern University Press 1999).
He received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award in 1998, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty in 1991, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s Kutak-Dodds Prize in 1992, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, several honarary degrees and other recognition set out in the curriculum vitae below. The Fulton Daily Law Report, Georgia's legal newspaper, named Bright “Newsmaker (and Agitator) of the Year” in 2003 for his contribution to bringing about creation of a public defender system in Georgia.
H. Lee Sarokin Executive Director
Sara Totonchi joined Southern Center for Human Rights in 2001 as Public Policy Director and became the organization’s Executive Director in 2010. For the last decade, she has represented SCHR on a full range of criminal justice and public safety issues at the Georgia General Assembly. Sara led coalition efforts and legislative advocacy to establish Georgia’s statewide public defender system and enact criminal justice reforms, specializing in building partnerships with unlikely allies such as law enforcement, survivors of crime, and conservative elected officials.
Sara was recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of 2010's "Top 40 Under 40" and a “Notable Person of 2012.” In 2011, Atlanta Magazine profiled Sara as one of "Five of the Future" leaders. Sara is the immediate past chairperson and current Board Member of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an Advisor for the Georgia Chapter of the American Constitution Society, alumna of Leadership Atlanta, a member of the Georgia State Bar’s Indigent Defense Committee, and serves on the Steering Committee of the International Arab Women's Solidarity Association. Sara and her family immigrated to the United States when she was a child, settling in Chicago. She is a graduate of Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Prior to joining SCHR, Sara worked at the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, an organization that employs a coordinated community response to reduce domestic violence.
Sarah Forte, paralegal/investigator, joined SCHR in June 2006 upon graduating from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. At SCHR, Sarah investigates death penalty cases, at the trial level and in post-conviction proceedings.
Prior to joining SCHR, Sarah worked for the Medill Innocence Project investigating possible wrongful murder convictions and other miscarriages of justice.
Terrica Redfield Ganzy joined the Southern Center in September 2004 as a staff attorney. Her work at the Center focuses on representing clients on death row in Georgia and Alabama.
For five years, she served as the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Death Penalty Resource Counsel. In 2006, Terrica was awarded a Reprieve Fellowship to support her work challenging the death penalty in Alabama. Prior to joining the Center, Terrica completed a two-year fellowship at Fair Trial Initiative (FTI) in Durham, North Carolina. While a fellow at FTI, she worked with appointed attorneys on trial level capital cases throughout the state of North Carolina.
Terrica is a 2012 graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law’s LL.M. in Trial Advocacy program and is a 2002 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law (UVA). As a law student, Terrica was awarded the Mortimer M. Caplin Public Service Fellowship for her demonstrated commitment to public service. Terrica received a B.A. in English and Humanities, summa cum laude, from Tougaloo College in 1999.
She is a member of the 2012-2013 class of Leadership Clayton. She serves on the Board of Directors of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP), Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP), and Fair Trial Initiative (FTI). Terrica is a past member of the American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project’s Steering Committee. She is admitted to practice in North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sarah Geraghty is a Senior Attorney in the Impact Litigation Unit. At SCHR, Sarah has represented plaintiffs in cases challenging violence, excessive force, and inadequate medical care in prisons, the incarceration of indigent persons for civil debt, the expansion of the sex offender registry to include teens who engaged in consensual sex with other teens of like age, the attempted expulsion of all registered sex offenders from Georgia, the unlawful withholding of public records documenting unconstitutional conditions in Alabama prisons, and the assessment of illegal jail “room and board” fees on pre-trial detainees, among others.
In 2011, Sarah received the Indigent Defense Award from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She was named by Fulton County Daily Report as an “On the Rise” Georgia Lawyer Under 40.
Prior to joining SCHR, Sarah was an attorney at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York and clerked for Judge James B. Zagel on the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, her M.S.W. from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and her B.A. from Northwestern University. She is a member of the Alabama, Georgia, Illinois and New York bars.
Deonna Green joined SCHR in February 2011. Deonna works directly with the Operations and Development Directors to insure that everyday activities run smoothly and that annual fundraising events meet their goals. She also serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Center. Prior to joining SCHR, Deonna was an account manger for OnPeak, formerly know as Ambassador’s, for four years.
While at Onpeak, Deonna played an essential role in providing some of the largest clients of the company exemplary services including, but not limited to event planning, marketing, and logistics. Deonna has 8 years experience in hospitality and studied marketing and public relations at Troy State University.
Patricia Hale joined SCHR as administrative assistant in 1999. She formerly worked for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (1990-98) where she served as Documents Coordinator, Senior Administrative Assistant, and Receptionist. Patricia received her A.S. in Specialized Business from ICM School of Business in Pittsburgh, PA (1990).
Public Policy and Communications Manager
Kathryn Hamoudah joined SCHR in January 2010. She supports the efforts of the Center through media, legislative and community advocacy. Kathryn is Chairperson of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, our statewide anti-death penalty coalition. In addition, she is currently a Rockwood Death Penalty Abolition Fellow. Kathryn received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. Prior to SCHR, she worked at the All About Developmental Disabilities, an organization that provides support services to thousands of families in the Metro Atlanta area living with developmental disabilities.
Atteeyah Hollie returned to the Center in 2010 as an Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale Fellow. Prior to law school, Atteeyah worked for almost five years as an investigator in the Center's Impact Litigation Unit. She now works to improve the quality of legal representation provided to poor Georgians accused of crimes. She received her B.A. in History from Dartmouth College in 2002. Atteeyah graduated from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 2010 and is a member of the Georgia bar.
Barbara, a veteran fundraiser joins SCHR as the Development Director, after 8 years as senior major gifts/planned giving officer with The Nature Conservancy’s Georgia program working with individuals, foundations and corporations. Barbara’s previous development experiences included serving as development director for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Georgia chapter and Special Programs Director for Georgia Public Broadcasting.
She is involved in projects which advance and promote environment sustainability, women’s issues, including Planned Parenthood of Georgia and The White House Project, and tutors at the International Community School in Decatur. Barbara holds a B.A. in American Studies from Wellesley College. She and husband, Jerry Banks, are avid cyclists and former competitive runners and live in Decatur with Tigger, Squirt and Gatto, their cats.
Mary Sidney, investigator/paralegal, joined SCHR in April 2002. She investigates the provision of indigent defense in Georgia.
Prior to joining SCHR, Mary Sidney worked as a journalist and editor, and as a researcher and educator for environmental and wildlife issues. She earned her M.A. in Journalism from New York University in 1997 and her B.A. in Biology from Hollins College in 1992.
William R. Montross, Jr., staff attorney, joined the Southern Center in 2003. William works on behalf of death row clients in Georgia and Alabama, as well as challenging the quality of legal representation provided to poor people.
Prior to joining SCHR, William served as a law clerk to the Honorable Gary S. Stein of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and was subsequently chosen as an E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he supervised and taught third-year law students enrolled in the Criminal Justice Clinic. William received an L.L.M. in trial advocacy from the Law Center. Following his fellowship, he practiced as a public defender in Philadelphia and New York City, at both the trial and appellate levels. William has litigated numerous felony jury trials. William is a 1994 graduate of Harvard Law School.
William is the co-author of "The Calling of Criminal Defense," 50 Mercer L. Rev. 443 (1999), and has regularly appeared on national television, offering the perspective of the defense. He is a member of the bars of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Georgia, and Alabama.
Patrick Mulvaney, staff attorney, joined SCHR in 2008, initially as a Reprieve Fellow. He focuses on capital litigation in Georgia and Alabama and also serves as a supervisor for SCHR's internship program.
Patrick earned his B.A. from Saint Joseph's University in 2002, his M.A. in journalism from New York University in 2004, and his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2008. Upon graduating from Penn Law, he received the Summer Jackson-Healy Award for Public Service.
In 2009, Patrick co-authored, with SCHR's William Montross, an article in the Stanford Law Review on the virtues and vices of criminal justice reporting. He is a member of the Georgia and Alabama bars.
Jeric Murphy became a member of the SCHR team in November 2009. He works as a investigator/paralegal with the Capital Litigation Unit. As an investigator Jeric provides assistance to staff attorneys and investigates capital cases throughout the various stages of litigation. Prior to joining SCHR he worked with a number of community programs in the Atlanta area such as The Man-Up Organization and Hosanna Therapeutic Support Services. Most recently he served as a canvass director for the Kasim Reed for Mayor Campaign and AFL-CIO labor union in the 2009 Atlanta mayoral race. Jeric earned a Bachelors of Science degree in theology from Oral Roberts University in 2004.
Operations & Marketing Director
Renée Floyd Myers has been with SCHR since 2007, and in January 2012, Marketing Director was added to her role. She was previously the Director of Finance and Communications for the Center for Law & Renewal, where she was co-editor of the book Transforming the Field of Law & Justice - A Collection of Essays. Renée has been a public relations consultant for nonprofit organizations and a freelance graphic designer. She received an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Leadership & Administration from Western Michigan University and a B.S. in Psychology from Michigan State University.
Jess Oats rejoined SCHR in 2009 as a SPILF-SLS Public Interest Fellow and staff attorney. Jess represents indigent clients on Georgia’s and Alabama’s death row in trial, appellate, and postconviction litigation. For the four years before she attended Stanford Law School, Jess worked at SCHR as an investigator on capital cases in Alabama; for the last two of those four years, she also served as a defense-initiated victim outreach specialist in pretrial capital murder cases in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
While a law student, Jess served on the executive board of the Stanford Law Review, heading a symposium on issues of criminal justice and the media. For her demonstrated commitment to public interest law, Jess was awarded the 2008 Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellowship, the California Bar Foundation 2008 Public Interest Scholarship Award, and the 2007 Sonnenschein Scholars Foundation Scholarship. Jess earned her A.B. from Harvard University in 2002; she is a member of the Alabama, California, and Georgia bars.
Christopher joined SCHR in August 2012 as an investigator/paralegal in the Impact Litigation Unit. Prior to joining SCHR, Christopher was a judicial intern to the Honorable Gail S. Tusan at Superior Court of Fulton County. Christopher has a B.A. in Political Science from Morehouse College.
Fellow, George Washington University Law School's Pathways to Practice Program
Ryan joined SCHR in August 2012 as a research fellow with the Southern Center’s Impact Litigation Unit. He received a B.A. in Religious Studies from Georgia State University in 2008 and graduated from the George Washington University Law School in 2012.
Julia Robinson-Hicks joined SCHR in 1992 as administrative assistant, became the office manager in 1994, and thereafter became responsible for SCHR's finances. She manages all of the Southern Center's financial matters.
Before joining SCHR, she worked as a Personnel Assistant, Lead Agent, and Group Sales Agent with Days Inns of America. Julia received her A.A.S. in Business Administration from Coastal Carolina College.
Lochlin Rosen joined SCHR as an investigator in June, 2011 soon after his graduation from Elon University. During his college years Lochlin worked as a summer intern at SCHR and at the Federal Public Defender's office in Pittsburgh, PA.
Raoul Schonemann joined SCHR in July 2008 as a senior staff attorney in capital litigation.
Raoul received his B.A. from Washington University in 1985 and his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1989. From 1989 to 1991, he was a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, where he taught and supervised students in the Juvenile Justice Clinic. He received an L.L.M. degree from Georgetown in 1994.
Prior to joining the Center, Raoul represented death-row inmates in Texas and California for 17 years. He began representing death-row prisoners in 1991 as a staff attorney at the Texas Resource Center in Austin. From 1995 to 2001, he was an adjunct professor and supervising attorney of the Capital Punishment Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law. From 2001 to 2008, he represented death-sentenced inmates in California as a deputy public defender with the Office of the State Public Defender in San Francisco.
Melanie Velez joined SCHR in October 2004. Her work focuses on litigation challenging prison and jail conditions in Georgia and Alabama and on litigation regarding the provision of indigent defense in Georgia.
Prior to joining SCHR, Melanie was a litigation associate with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, New York, where in addition to handling general commercial litigation matters she represented numerous clients pro bono. Her pro bono matters included representing individuals seeking asylum, obtaining orders of protection in domestic violence matters, and she was part of a team that won discharge planning for a class of individuals with mental illness incarcerated in New York City Jails. During law school, she took part in the “Prisoners & Families Clinic” which represented incarcerated mothers who faced termination of their parental rights and served as an editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and Columbia’s Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual.
Melanie graduated from Columbia Law School in 2001 and earned her undergraduate degree from Williams College. She is a member of the bars of New York and Georgia.
Gerry Weber currently serves as a Senior Staff Counsel at SCHR, and is an Adjunct Professor at Emory University School of Law and Georgia State College of Law in constitutional litigation and the first amendment. He is half-time at the Southern Center, and also has a private constitutional law practice http://www.constitutional-litigation.com. Gerry previously served for seventeen years as Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia litigating significant issues of constitutional law. Gerry clerked for the Honorable Carolyn Dineen King, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He was named one of the "21 Young Lawyers Leading Us Into the 21st Century" by the American Bar Association and "Top 40 Achievers under 40" by Georgia Trend Magazine.