Shawn Armbrust, Executive Director, has extensive experience in the innocence community. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Shawn was instrumental in achieving the 1999 death row exoneration of Anthony Porter. From 1999 to 2001, Shawn was the Case Coordinator at the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, screening requests for counsel and coordinating public education events and development efforts. Through the Center, she also worked with the Commission appointed by former Illinois Governor George Ryan, who stayed and ultimately commuted all capital sentences in the state. From 2001 to 2004, Shawn was a Public Interest Law Scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated magna cum laude. As a Senior Articles and Notes Editor of the American Criminal Law Review, she wrote her note on the compensation of the wrongfully convicted. Prior to coming to the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Shawn clerked for the Honorable Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law, a member of the National Committee on the Right to Counsel, and on the Board of Directors of the Innocence Network.
Elizabeth P. Raman, Screening Director, comes to the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project with a strong background in criminal defense. Eily graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1990 and cum laude in 1994 from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she was an Articles Editor of the American Criminal Law Review and a student attorney in the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic. Following law school, Eily spent two years clerking for the Honorable Edith Brown Clement of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. She then worked for a year as an Associate at Crowell & Moring LLP, a law firm in the District of Columbia, where she focused on white collar and civil fraud defense. Prior to coming to the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Eily spent five years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt. She is an Adjunct Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law.
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Staff Attorney, joins us from the Special Litigation and Parole divisions of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. While there, she won the first post-conviction DNA exoneration in DC when a DC Superior Court vacated Donald Gates’s conviction for the rape and murder of a young college student and released him from prison after serving 28 years of what was essentially a life sentence. Prior to joining PDS, Parisa was a Chesterfield Smith Fellow at Holland & Knight, where she represented clients on a pro bono basis. In one such representation, her team won the release of Wilbert Rideau after he had spent more than 40 years in Louisiana prisons due to racial animus that existed when Mr. Rideau was first tried in 1961. Parisa recently spent a year teaching Legal Practice at New York Law School. Parisa joined MAIP in August 2012 and is responsible for litigating and screening MAIP cases.
Susan Friedman, Staff Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig LLP, graduated with Honors from The George Washington University Law School in May 2011. She was a member of The George Washington University Moot Court Board and a recipient of the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Public Service Fellowship. While at GW, Susan was a legal intern with MAIP, as well as a law clerk with the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office and a judicial extern for the Honorable Ann Aldrich in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. She researched the National Academy of Sciences’ Report, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.” With co-author Paul Giannelli, she wrote “The National Academy of Sciences’ Report: A Challenge to Forensic Sciences” which was published in the Criminal Justice Magazine for the ABA Section of Criminal Justice and “The National Academy of Sciences’ Forensics Report” in the Criminal Law Bulletin. Susan graduated cum laude in biology from Mount Holyoke College with a B.A. in biochemistry and received her M.S. in biomedical science from Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she focused her research on stem cell and cancer development.
Don Stoop, Staff Investigator, comes to MAIP with a very strong background in criminal investigation, having served as a patrolman with the police departments in Atlanta and Annapolis, and also having worked for several years as a criminal investigator for the Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney’s Office. More recently, he has focused on fraud investigations for private insurance companies and for the Office of the Inspector General for the city of Baltimore.
Caryn Fiscella, Office Manager, comes to us with a diverse criminal justice background. In addition to her work as a long-time volunteer at MAIP, she spent several years volunteering in the Homicide Unit of the Metropolitan Police Department. While at MPD, she worked on the Violent Crime Case Review Project and spearheaded a total reorganization of the MPD homicide file room. Earlier in her career, Caryn received her J.D. from Washington University Law School in St. Louis, and practiced as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Bureau in Montgomery County, Maryland.