New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Advancing the Reform Dialogue through Action

December 6, 2013


On December 6th, 2013, the Brennan Center for Justice, along with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, the Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions, and the New York County Lawyers’ Association hosted an all-day convening to discuss Criminal Justice in the 21st Century. This event was a 1-year follow-up to the convening held in October 2012 entitled Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System.

The convening discussion was tailored to promote conversation about advancing reform in the criminal justice system, specifically to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities, and included a review of the "best practices" outlined in the conference report from the October 2012 conference. Convening participants included invited guests from the academic, civil rights and social justice communities.

This event was by invitation-only.


Nicole Austin-Hillery

Nicole Austin-Hillery


Nicole Austin-Hillery

Nicole Austin-Hillery is the first Director and Counsel of The Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office, which she opened in March 2008. In her role, Ms. Austin-Hillery oversees D.C. office operations, serves as the chief advocate for the Brennan Center on a host of justice and democracy issues and coordinates work with other civil rights, social justice and democracy organizations in D.C. Ms. Austin-Hillery is the organization’s chief liaison to Congress and the Administration. Priority areas of Ms. Austin-Hillery’s portfolio at the Brennan Center include racial and criminal justice advocacy and reform, voting rights, and felon enfranchisement. In her role, Ms. Austin-Hillery has written opinion pieces for publications such as Roll Call and The Root and has been a contributing writer to several advocacy publications. She has appeared on numerous news programs, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Washington Watch with Roland Martin, and NPR affiliate, WAMU's, Kojo Nnamdi Show. She has also submitted testimony for Congressional hearings and has served as a speaker on a host of public interest advocacy issues.

Before beginning her career at the Brennan Center, Ms. Austin-Hillery practiced with the law firm of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC where she focused primarily on the firm's civil rights employment class action litigation practice. While there, Ms. Austin-Hillery worked on all aspects of complex employment class action litigation and outreach to the larger public-interest civil rights community. Her experience as a litigator included work on a variety of employment matters focused on race and gender including employment negotiations, pre-filing settlements, with an emphasis on both individual and programmatic relief, as well as work with federal trial courts.

Prior to joining Mehri & Skalet, Ms. Austin-Hillery was the George N. Lindsay Civil Rights Law Fellow at the national office of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. where she worked on housing litigation as well as policy and community development issues. During her fellowship, Ms. Austin-Hillery was a member of the Lawyers' Committee's delegation to the NGO Forum of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

In 2007, Ms. Austin-Hillery was selected as a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School. She currently serves on the Board of the Washington Bar Association and is a former member of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee and is a past-president of the Washington Council of Lawyers. Ms. Austin-Hillery is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University.

Confirmed Panelists and Participants


Breakfast, Registration & Networking

Pearlstein Family Foyer

Welcome & Purpose

Welcome & Purpose

  • Norman Reimer, Executive Director; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
  • Nicole Austin-Hillery, Director and Counsel; Brennan Center for Justice-Washington, D.C. Office.

Keynote Address

The Disparate Racial & Ethnic Implications of Money Bail, the Pretrial Process and the Need for Reform

  • Moderator
  • Panelists
    • Cynthia Jones, Associate Professor, American University Washington College of Law
    • Spurgeon Kennedy, Director of Strategic Development; Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia
    • Timothy J. Murray, Executive Director; Pretrial Justice Institute

Stop & Frisk / Search & Seizures: Terry v. Ohio, Floyd et al. v. City of New York and Beyond

  • Moderator
  • Panelists
    • Renee McDonald Hutchins, Associate Professor of Law, The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
    • David Harris, Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
    • Darius Charney, Senior Staff Attorney, Racial Justice/Government Misconduct Docket, Center for Constitutional Rights

Working Lunch: A Review of the Report Recommendations

A review of report recommendations in which attendees will join the moderators to share thoughts and concerns about the report recommendations.

How Implicit Bias Determines Charge, and Case Disposition: The Role of Prosecutors, Defense, Judge & Jury

  • Moderator
    • Dave LaBahn, President/CEO, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
  • Panelists
    • Jonathan Rapping, Associate Professor, John Marshall Law School
    • Angela Davis, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
    • Wayne McKenzie, General Counsel; New York Department of Probation

The Impact of Sentencing & Incarceration on Racial and Ethnic Communities

  • Moderator
    • Nkechi Taifa, Senior Policy Analyst for Civil and Criminal Justice Reform at the Open Society Foundations
  • Panelists
    • Eric Cadora, Director, Justice Mapping Center
    • Divine Pryor, Deputy Executive Director, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
    • Geneva Vanderhorst, Attorney at Law; Washington, D.C.
    • Marc Levin, Director; Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation


Coffee Break

The Collateral Consequences of a Conviction & Promising Remedies for Relief

  • Moderator
    • Rick Jones, Executive Director, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
  • Panelists
    • Michael Pinard, Director of the Clinical Law Program, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
    • David Lopez, General Counsel; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC)

Final Thoughts, Closing, and Next Steps

NYU Footer