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Current Issue : Fall 2008

Faculty Leaders in Public Service

Brooklyn Law School's faculty has a strong commitment to public service. Many members of the faculty play leading roles at nonprofit and advocacy organizations around the world; others have held important positions in government; and many take an active role instilling their students with a passion for helping communities and the underserved. The faculty includes experts on such issues as the death penalty, refugees and asylum, children's rights, art law and intellectual property, international human rights, employment law, public sector real estate issues, gender law, and civil rights.

The adjunct faculty comprises many prominent practitioners — judges and government leaders; heads of legal service organizations and private law firms committed to pro bono service; district attorneys and public defenders; and leaders of foundations, nonprofits, public interest groups and NGOs. As just one example, Charles "Joe" Hynes, the Kings County District Attorney, has taught trial advocacy at the Law School for years as an adjunct professor.


Ursula Bentele is a nationally recognized expert on death penalty issues. She has argued numerous death penalty appeals and is the author of Capital Case Sentencing: How to Protect Your Client. She was the recipient of the New York City Bar's Thurgood Marshall Award given to outstanding attorneys who have represented those sentenced to death. She directs the Capital Defender and Federal Habeas Clinic, which provides students with the opportunity to participate in the post-conviction representation of death row inmates in other states and defendants in New York who have filed federal habeas corpus petitions.

Stacy Caplow is the director of the Law School's Clinical Education Program and co-director of the Safe Harbor Project. A leader in the field of clinical legal education, she received a Fulbright award in 2006 and spent the semester at University College Cork Faculty of Law, where she helped to augment the clinical curriculum for LLB and LLM students, and worked with a local refugee center in conjunction with an immigration law course she taught. She also spent a semester at the University of Hong Kong helping to establish its first legal clinic.

William Hellerstein teaches criminal procedure, constitutional law, and a seminar on wrongful convictions. For many years, he led the Law School's Second Look Program, which investigated and litigated claims of innocence by prisoners. He has been honored by the New York State Bar Association with an award for "Outstanding Contribution to the Delivery of Defense Services" and by the New York Civil Liberties Union for his contribution to the cause of civil liberties. He served for many years as Special Counsel for Pro Bono Matters at Proskauer Rose, LLP, where he coordinated its pro bono program. Prior to joining the faculty, he ran the Legal Aid Society's Criminal Appeals Bureau for 16 years.

Beryl Jones-Woodin specializes in copyright law, art law, intellectual property, and professional responsibility. She is also Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Applying her expertise to further the public good, Professor Jones-Woodin is on the board of directors of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the board of directors of the Westchester Children's Museum.

Aliza Kaplan is on the National Executive Board of Equal Justice Works. She is an advisor to BLS's Student Hurricane Network organization, and in 2007, she was the group's attorney-supervisor during its trip to the Gulf Coast over the winter break, where the students worked on criminal matters with the public defender's office. Prior to teaching, she was the deputy director of the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to identifying, investigating and exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals using DNA evidence. She also co-founded the New England Innocence Project, which focuses on high impact advocacy in the courts, providing exonerees with assistance in readjusting to the outside world.

Samuel Murumba teaches and writes in the fields of intellectual property and international human rights. A refugee who fled the regime of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, he continues his lifelong commitment to human rights, serving on the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch, and on the Board's Policy Committee. In addition, he serves on the advisory boards of both its Women's Rights and Africa Divisions and has served as a member of the Committee on Human Rights of the New York City Bar. He is an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda and of its subordinate courts.

Robert Pitler, an expert on criminal law and procedure, had a success-ful career in public service before joining the faculty. He was Counsel to the New York County District Attorney and Chief of the Office's Investigations Division and Chief of the Appeals Bureau. He has been twice honored by the New York State Bar Association for "Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Criminal Law Education" and "Outstanding Contribution in Criminal Justice Legislation." He currently serves as chair of the New York State Law Revision Commission.

David Reiss' scholarship concentrates on real estate issues in the nonprofit, government and community sectors. In particular, he is noted for his research on the subprime secondary mortgage markets. He directs the Brooklyn Law School's Community Development Clinic, which represents community development corporations, cultural institutions, affordable housing providers and small businesses that serve under-represented communities. He serves on several local community boards.

Elizabeth Schneider is the director of the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest law Fellowship Program. She is a national expert in the fields of federal civil litigation, procedure, gender, law and domestic violence. She was recently honored by The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence as one of 30 leaders making a difference in the lives of survivors of domestic violence. She served as a consultant for the Secretary-General's Report on All Forms of Violence Against Women, which was submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2006.

Professor Susan Herman
Elected President of ACLU

Professor Herman Professor Herman (right) receives gavel from former ACLU President Nadine Strossen.

Brooklyn Law School Centennial Professor of Law Susan Herman was elected president of the American Civil Liberties Union on October 18. She is a well-regarded expert on the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional law. As ACLU president, Herman will preside over an 83-member board of civil libertarians, consult with the ACLU executive director on major decisions, and act as an ACLU spokesperson.

She began working for the organization over 25 years ago when she was still in law school at NYU. During her long tenure with the ACLU, she has served on its national board, on the executive committee, and has acted as the board's general counsel for the last 10 years. In addition, Herman has served on multiple ACLU committees and subcommittees, written many Supreme Court amicus briefs for the organization, lobbied Congress for ACLU positions, and served as a public spokesperson for the organization in a variety of contexts.

As a specialist in constitutional law, Herman has written books and numerous articles on civil liberties issues, including the due process rights of prisoners, the Patriot Act, the Fourth Amendment, socioeconomic rights and equality, and the First Amendment. She regularly appears as a commentator on constitutional issues in the media.