Inside NACDL: New Faces, New Talent

Inside NACDL Norman L. Reimer October 2011 7 New Faces, New Talent Dynamic organizations thrive on the continual infusion of new leaders and staff who bring fresh insights and energy to advance the institutional mission. This is certainly the case at NACDL. Each year, with each incoming class of

Access to The Champion archive is one of many exclusive member benefits. It’s normally restricted to just NACDL members. However, this content, and others like it, is available to everyone in order to educate the public on why criminal justice reform is a necessity.

Dynamic organizations thrive on the continual infusion of new leaders and staff who bring fresh insights and energy to advance the institutional mission. This is certainly the case at NACDL. Each year, with each incoming class of directors, the Association receives a boost as newcomers from around the nation assume their place on the Board of Directors. Similarly, as life circumstances lead key employees to new opportunities, others with a passion for their unique craft and the mission of the defense bar bring their vision to NACDL’s professional staff. The group of new directors installed in Denver at the Annual Meeting is a remarkably diverse pool of talent that reflects the strength and vitality of the criminal defense profession. In addition, a former Board member has been designated as NACDL’s parliamentarian, and the prior parliamentarian was elected secretary, the only newcomer among the officers. On the staff side, during the past year NACDL filled five key positions, including one counsel position, three managers, and a replacement for the pivotal national affairs assistant slot. 

These newly installed leaders and newly designated staff join a leadership and staff team that is thoroughly dedicated to serving NACDL’s members and the fundamental constitutional principles for which liberty’s last champions fight every day, in every case and in every courtroom. The complete list of officers and directors, led by President Lisa Wayne, appears on page two. The complete staff list appears on page 24.

It is my singular pleasure and a great honor to introduce NACDL’s new faces and new talent.


Barry J. Pollack has been elected to the position of secretary. Barry is a member of Miller Chevalier, where he represents individuals and corporations in criminal investigations, trials, and in other government enforcement matters. He is a former certified public accountant, and much of his work involves litigation of complex financial matters. In addition to his extensive career in private practice, Barry served as an assistant federal public defender in Maryland. Barry has received numerous accolades for his work in his practice and for his pro bono representation of criminal defendants. Those honors include the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project Defender of Innocence Award and the Gideon Champion of Justice Award from the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been recognized by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and Washington’s Top Lawyers. Among his numerous bar activities, Barry serves as president of the board of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and is a Barrister of the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court. Barry has served NACDL in myriad capacities, including parliamentarian, two terms on the Board of Directors, chair of the White Collar Crime Committee, co-chair of the National Security Committee, and vice chair of the Amicus Committee. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.


In her first act as president, Lisa Wayne appointed Rick Jones to serve as parliamentarian. Rick has just completed six years of service on NACDL’s Board of Directors. He is the executive director and a founding member of the highly regarded public interest law firm Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS). Rick is a distinguished trial attorney with more than 20 years of experience in complex, high-profile, multi-forum litigation. He is also a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School and serves on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Ga. Rick sits on the board of the New York State Defender Association (NYSDA), is a member of the executive committee of the New York State Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section, and is on the editorial board of the Amsterdam News. He was a Leadership New York Coro Fellow and sat as an expert on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s yearlong Race and Criminal Justice Initiative. During his two terms on the NACDL board, Rick served as co-chair of both the Indigent Defense Committee and the Task Force on Problem-Solving Courts. He is currently a co-chair of the Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction. Rick earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and his law degree from Rutgers University School of Law.


Paul B. DeWolfe is the Public Defender for the state of Maryland. He heads an office that employs 535 attorneys and over 400 support staff, handling more than 200,000 cases annually. Prior to assuming this position, Paul was the district public defender in Montgomery County, Md., and before that he was in private practice for many years. He started his legal career as an assistant public defender. Among Paul’s many bar achievements, he served as president of NACDL’s Maryland affiliate, the Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and as president of the Bar Association of Montgomery County. Among the honors Paul has received is the Joseph P. Curran Award for Public Service, and he was recognized for his expertise in criminal defense by Superlawyers Magazine. Paul earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and his juris doctor at Potomac School of Law.

Elissa B. Heinrichs is a partner at Cevallos & Wong, LLP in Newtown, Pa., where she represents criminal defendants in state courts throughout Eastern Pennsylvania and parents in juvenile court proceedings following the removal of their children arising from allegations of abuse and neglect. Elissa’s legal career includes stints as legislative counsel to New York Assemblyman Vtio Lopez and counsel in the New York City Comptroller’s Office, as well as serving as an assistant district attorney in the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. She also clerked for King’s County Criminal Court Judge Wayne Saitta. Elissa is active in many bar associations, and has been recognized by Thomson Reuters and Pennsylvania Magazine with the Pennsylvania Rising Star Award, and by the Bucks County Bar Association with the Arthur B. Walsh, Jr. Pro Bon Publico Award. Elissa Heinrichs earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and her juris doctor from the University of Texas School of Law.

Michael P. Heiskell is a member of the firm Johnson, Vaughn & Heiskell in Fort Worth, Texas, where he practices criminal law, with an emphasis on white collar defense, and administrative and government law. Michael is active in many groups including NACDL’s Texas affiliate, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, where he served as president. He is also a former president of the Tarrant County Bar Association. Michael is a frequent author and lecturer before many groups on all aspects of state and federal practice. He was a recipient of the Lawyer of the Year Award from the Tarrant County Black Bar Association, was named one of Texas’ Super Lawyers, and was recently recognized in Texas Lawyer as one of the “Extraordinary Minorities in Texas Law.” Michael earned his bachelor’s degree and his juris doctor from Baylor University.

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Tracy A. Miner is a member in the Litigation Section in the Boston office of Mintz Levin. As chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense Group, she represents many of the region’s major corporations, financial institutions, public officials, and an array of others in state and federal investigations. Among Tracy’s many bar activities, she served as the president of NACDL’s Massachusetts affiliate, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is a member of the First Circuit Rules Committee, and serves on the Board of Advisors to the American Law Institute’s Sentencing Project. Among the honors conferred upon her, Tracy’s peers selected her to be included in The Best Lawyers in America 2011, and in 2010 the National Law Journal included her in its annual Winning: Profiles of Successful Litigators section. Tracy earned her bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame University and her juris doctor at Boston College Law School.

Tyrone C. Moncriffe practices criminal defense law in Houston, Texas. In private practice since 1983, he is both Board Certified in Criminal Law and is a certified first chair in death penalty cases in Harris County, Texas. Tyrone is a frequent lecturer for many groups including NACDL, the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He specializes in working with young lawyers to develop their communication and trial skills. In addition, Tyrone has lectured on death penalty issues in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Tyrone hosts a radio show, Moncriffe Files, on KWWJ in Baytown, Texas, where he speaks on topical legal issues to inform the community of basic rights. Tyrone earned his undergraduate degree from Texas Southern University and his law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Melinda Sarafa practices criminal law as a member of Sarafa Law, LLC, where she represents the accused in state, federal, and international criminal and related civil matters. Her legal career has included stints as a clerk to Chief Judge Jerry Buchmeyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, clerk to Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and service as a federal public defender in Houston. Melinda also served as senior associate at Brafman & Ross, P.C. in New York, and as a partner at the New York office of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP. Melinda is active in many bar associations, including NACDL, and she was recently appointed co-chair of NACDL’s White Collar Crime Committee. Melinda is also a frequent lecturer on a wide array of criminal defense subjects. She earned her undergraduate degree at Princeton University and her law degree at Stanford Law School.

David B. Smith practices criminal defense on the trial and appellate levels as a member of English & Smith in Alexandria, Va. He has been in private practice for more than 20 years, following a distinguished career in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria. Among his many positions, he served as the first deputy chief of the Asset Forfeiture Office and is a nationally recognized expert on forfeiture law. He is the author of the leading two-volume treatise, Prosecution and Defense of Forfeiture Cases. He has provided counsel to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees on forfeiture reform litigation and was appointed by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to serve as a commissioner with the Judicial Review Commission on Foreign Asset Control. David has a long history of service to NACDL, including serving as chair of the Forfeiture Committee, vice chair of the Amicus Committee, and as a member of The Champion magazine advisory board. David previously served a term on the Board of Directors. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, studied at Pembroke College at Oxford, and received his law degree from Yale Law School.

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Christopher D. Glen has been appointed to fill NACDL’s grassroots manager position. As grassroots manager, Chris will enhance NACDL’s capability to promote criminal justice reform and support affiliate reform initiatives, especially on the state level. Chris has worked for several years in legislative advocacy, most recently at PALA (Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association), where he served as director of Advocacy and Awareness. Prior to that Chris held the position of member advocacy and grassroots manager for PANPHA (Pennsylvania Association for Non-Profit Homes for the Aging). He has also published articles on successful grassroots advocacy strategies in numerous publications. Chris earned his bachelor’s degree at Elon University, where he majored in Communications, with a concentration in Business and Marketing.

John P. Gross has been appointed as NACDL’s indigent defense counsel. The indigent defense counsel is a key member of the national affairs staff and directs NACDL’s national effort to support indigent defense systems and promote reform. John has been a visiting professor at Syracuse University College of Law and acting director of the Criminal Defense Clinic. In that capacity he supervised clinic students and taught seminars on virtually every aspect of criminal law and procedure. Prior to that, he was a practitioner-in-residence at Syracuse for three years and before that he served as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society in New York City. At Legal Aid, he represented the indigent accused in felony and misdemeanor cases. John earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his juris doctor from Hofstra University College of Law.

Renee Harris-Etheridge has been appointed to the newly created position of marketing manager. Renee’s responsibilities include implementation of innovative strategies to enhance NACDL’s non-dues revenue streams. These efforts are pivotal to keep dues as low as possible while generating the resources necessary to support member benefits and reform initiatives. Renee comes to NACDL with extensive marketing experience with the American Corporate Counsel Association and the Food Marketing Institute. In addition, Renee was a membership coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. Renee earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Southeastern University. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Business at the University of Maryland.

Obaid Khan is NACDL’s new national affairs assistant. This critical position provides support to myriad policy areas. Obaid comes to NACDL with a passion for public policy work and specifically criminal justice reform. Obaid graduated last year from the University of California at San Diego, earning a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He was a member of the National Political Science Honor Society and was awarded highest honors for his thesis. Obaid was a co-founder and co-president of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter at UC San Diego. He has also served internships with Sen. Barbara Boxer, the ACLU for San Diego and Imperial Counties, and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Steven Logan has been appointed as manager for information services. This critical position provides support for all of NACDL’s technology including the website, listserves, and all communications systems. Steven has worked in the technology field for several years, most recently as technology manager for the See Forever Foundation/Maya Angelou Schools. Prior to that, he served as director of information technology at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Ga. Steven earned his bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn.