The cause of “justice for all” is neither liberal nor conservative. The non-partisan nature of our work is reflected in our board’s composition. The Sixth Amendment Center’s board represents a cross-section of stakeholder groups, including the judiciary, the prosecution, the defense, the legislature, the business community, and academia — all groups with which our staff interacts with frequency at the state and local levels. Our board’s diversity of expertise and thought is matched by its diversity of geography and background, with board members representing all regions of the country.
Sixth Amendment Center Board of Directors
Michelle Cirocco is chief social responsibility officer for Televerde and the executive director of the Televerde Foundation. She joined Televerde in 1999 and has held several leadership positions including chief marketing officer. Michelle earned her MBA from Arizona State University where she also serves as an advisory board member for the ASU Center for Services Leadership. Michelle is an avid TED fan and organized and hosted TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional, the first TEDx to be held in an Arizona prison, looking behind the curtain of incarceration to show the potential that exists in providing second chances. Michelle dedicates a significant amount of her free time giving back to her local community by volunteering for the Phoenix Rescue Mission and Athena International.
Emily Chiang is a principal with The Raben Group. Emily previously served as a public policy manager with Facebook, legal director of the ACLU of Washington, and director of the Public Policy Clinic and associate professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. Before her stint in academia, Emily was a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Legal Department Racial Justice Program, staff attorney with the Brennan Center for Justice, and associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her Juris Doctor from Harvard University School of Law, where she was also an editor on the Harvard Law Review. Emily has watched every single movie in the Fast and Furious franchise.
Nick Chiarkas began his professional career as a New York City police officer, before attaining his law degree and multiple masters and doctorate-level degrees in criminal justice and sociology. He was a professor of law at Sanford University for eight years and a professor of criminology at Trenton State College for six. During the Reagan Administration, Chiarkas served as deputy chief counsel to the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; deputy chief counsel and research director to the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; and chief counsel to the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. In 1988, Chiarkas relocated to Wisconsin where he was appointed as the state public defender — a position he held for the next 22 years. As the head of the statewide defender agency, Chiarkas helped develop drug, alcohol, and mental-health treatment courts throughout the state, and was the primary facilitator of the Wisconsin Veterans Intervention Program. Chiarkas served as a consultant to Israel in establishing and enriching Israel’s first National Public Defender and to Japan as it introduced a public defender system.
Michael F. Crowley
Michael Crowley is a former Senior Justice Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Management & Budget and has worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations. In that capacity, he managed the policy, budget, and legislative oversight of over $3 billion in justice assistance, research and evaluation, and statistics programs. In recent years, he organized a White House/Department of Justice review of state and local justice assistance programs and led efforts to instigate reforms in state and local practice through development of incentives and new forms of Federal grant assistance. He began his career as an economist for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics before moving to the U.S. Department of Treasury, and then to the Office of Management & Budget.
Silas Horst is a program officer at The Just Trust. Previously, he worked on state-based campaigns at the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice. Before that, Silas worked at Stand Together where he managed a policy portfolio focused on poverty issues, and at Koch Industries where was public policy director on criminal and civil justice reforms.
Deborah Leff is former senior advisor to the Equal Justice Initiative and has held leadership positions public, private, and non-profit, most recently as Pardon Attorney of the United States. Prior to assuming the Pardon Attorney position, she served as Acting Senior Counselor for Access to Justice at the US Department of Justice, where she oversaw federal efforts to increase legal assistance and improve the justice delivery systems that serve people who are unable to afford lawyers. She received the Department of Justice’s John Marshall Award, the agency’s top award for litigation. Leff previously served as President and member of the Board of Directors of the Public Welfare Foundation, as Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, as President and CEO of Feeding America, and as President of the Joyce Foundation.
Erik Luna is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University, where he teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law and procedure. He is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute. Luna began his career as a prosecutor in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office. He has served as the senior Fulbright Scholar to New Zealand, where he taught at Victoria University Law School (Wellington, NZ) and conducted research on sentencing alternatives. Luna has also been a visiting scholar with the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Freiburg, DE), a visiting professor with the Cuban Society of Penal Sciences (Havana, CU), and a visiting professional in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (The Hague, NL). Luna previously was the Hugh B. Brown Professor of Law at the University of Utah and co-director of the Utah Criminal Justice Center.
Dave Meyer is a clinical professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine’s Institute of Psychiatry, Law, and Behavioral Science. Meyer is the former Chief Deputy Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and a nationally recognized expert on health law and medical-legal issues. Meyer began his legal career as an attorney with the Office of the Public Defender of Los Angeles County, where he served for 23 years at all levels from trial attorney to interim chief public defender. Additionally, he served for three years as a member of the Board of Examiners of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and holds leadership positions with numerous professional associations and commissions, including the Forensic Mental Health Association of California and the California Judicial Council’s Committee on Collaborative Justice Courts. Meyer is the Chair of the Sixth Amendment Center Board of Directors.
Walter M. Sanchez
Walt Sanchez is a highly-respected criminal defense attorney successfully representing people in criminal cases, both state and federal, and in complex and highly contested family law cases. He is a frequent lecturer on criminal and family law issues at both the national and state level and is a member of the Louisiana State University Law School Trial Advocacy Training Program faculty. He has testified before the Louisiana legislature on criminal justice issues annually for more than 20 years. In 1998, Sanchez was elected President of the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and, in 2007, received the association’s highest honor, the Justice Albert Tate Award. Since 1999, the Louisiana Supreme Court has appointed him, on an as-needed basis, to serve as Judge Pro Tempore for Sulphur City Court. The Court has also appointed him to numerous board and committees seeking to improve the criminal and civil justice system of the state. In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, he helped draft legislation that provided a system for the relocation and continued operation of the state’s civil and criminal justice system in the case of future catastrophes. In 2007, he helped craft legislation that resulted in the complete restructuring of the Louisiana indigent defense system.
Jason D. Williamson
Jason Williamson is executive director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law. Before joining NYU School of Law in 2021, Jason was deputy director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, a litigation associate at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York, and a law clerk for Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. in the Eastern District of New York. He began his legal career in New Orleans in the months following Hurricane Katrina, first as a staff attorney for the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, and later as a staff attorney and founding member of Juvenile Regional Services (now the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights), which provides legal representation for indigent youth in Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. Jason received his Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University in 1998, his MA from University of Chicago in 1999, and his JD from NYU Law in 2006. Jason is a devout Rastafarian, loving husband, and proud father of 14-year-old twin daughters.