You are invited
2020 Light of Justice Day & Virtual Luncheon
Thursday, October 29 at 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm CST
Michael Goldberg, 2020 Light of Justice Chair & Moderator
Celebrating 25 years of Texas Defender Service providing passionate representation for those facing death and to eradicate systemic flaws in our criminal justice system.
Luncheon has been moved to a virtual event, since in-person events are not feasible at this time.
Join us for a vibrant virtual panel conversation on race and criminal justice with the moderator and panel below.
Chair & Moderator
Michael S. Goldberg is a senior litigation partner at Baker Botts, with extensive trial experience in complex commercial, governmental and international arbitration matters. He is co-chair of the firm’s international dispute resolution section (international arbitration and litigation.)
Wesley Lowery is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author who is currently a correspondent for “60 in 6,” a 60 Minutes spinoff on the mobile app Quibi.
Lowery was previously a national correspondent at the Washington Post, specializing in issues of race and law enforcement. He led the team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2016 for the creation and analysis of a real-time database to track fatal police shootings in the United States. His most recent project, Murder With Impunity, an unprecedented look at unsolved homicides in major American cities, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2019.
His first book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement, was a New York Times bestseller and was awarded the Christopher Isherwood
Evan Mintz develops communications for the criminal justice team at Arnold Ventures, a Houston-based philanthropy. He previously served as deputy opinion editor for the Houston Chronicle, where he wrote editorials, solicited and edited op-eds, curated online opinion, and spearheaded the political endorsement process. Evan was a 2017 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing for a series on gun laws, gun culture, and gun tragedy. He also served as interim editor of the editorial board team that was a finalist for the 2018 Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership.
Evan is a licensed attorney and received his law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, where he served as editorial board editor of the Cardozo Jurist. He also worked as executive editor at the Rice Thresher, the student newspaper at Rice University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history and the Bobb Award for writing and journalism.
Christina Swarns is the Executive Director of the Innocence Project. Founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardozo School of Law, the Innocence Project exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal legal system to prevent future injustice.
Christina previously served as the President and Attorney-in-Charge of the Office of the Appellate Defender, Inc. (OAD), one of New York City’s oldest institutional providers of indigent appellate defense representation. OAD strives to ensure that poor people convicted of felonies receive full and fair access to justice by providing exceptional appellate representation, improving the quality of indigent defense representation through education and training, and advocating for systemic reform of New York City’s criminal justice system. Since its founding in 1988, OAD has maintained a national reputation for superb appellate advocacy and innovation, as well as a holistic, client-centered, approach to representation.
Prior to joining OAD, Christina served as the Litigation Director for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). In that capacity, she oversaw all aspects of LDF’s economic justice, education, political participation and criminal justice litigation. Christina conceptualized and evaluated new cases and campaigns, reviewed and edited all substantive briefs, assisted with preparation for oral arguments, and provided overall supervision for the legal staff. Christina also strategically engaged the media through the development of messaging themes, press releases, talking points, letters to the editor, op-eds, and other communications vehicles.
Christina argued, and won, Buck v. Davis, a challenge to the introduction of explicitly racially biased evidence in a Texas death penalty case, in the United States Supreme Court. In a February 2017 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 6-2 majority, vacated Mr. Duane Buck’s death sentence and denounced the “noxious
strain of racial prejudice” that infected the case after an expert witness testified that
Mr. Buck was more likely to commit criminal acts of violence in the future because he is Black. Christina was the only Black woman to argue in that Supreme Court term, and is one of the few Black women to have argued before the nation’s highest court.
Before becoming LDF’s Litigation Director, Christina served as the Director of LDF’s Criminal Justice Project, where she analyzed, developed and implemented litigation, organizing, public education, communications and other advocacy strategies to ensure that the American criminal justice system is administered fairly and without regard to race such that all communities receive fair and appropriate police protection and that all individuals charged with or convicted of crimes are afforded the safeguards guaranteed by the constitution. In that capacity, Christina litigated such significant impact cases as Davis v. NYC (challenging the New York City Police Department’s unlawful pattern and practice of indiscriminately stopping, questioning and arresting Black and Latino New York City Housing Authority residents and guests for purportedly trespassing) and State of Mississippi v. Brister (vacating life without parole sentence for child offender). She also filed significant amicus briefs in Miller v. Alabama (addressing racial discrimination in the origins of juvenile life without parole sentencing to support abolition of such sentences), Maples v. Thomas (urging a constitutional right to effective assistance of post-conviction counsel in capital cases), Graham v. Florida (addressing the challenges faced by children navigating the criminal justice system to support abolition of juvenile life without parole sentencing for non-homicide offenders), and Berghuis v. Smith (addressing requirements for jury fair cross-section challenge).
A passionate legal advocate, Christina speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law, and criminal justice. She is frequently interviewed by media outlets including: PBS News Hour, NBC, MSNBC, Democracy Now!, CNN, National Public Radio and the New York Times. She has authored op-eds, including, most recently, “Dylann Roof Shouldn’t Get the Death Penalty” which was published in the New York Times. An interview of Christina by Academy Award-winning film maker,
Errol Morris, was published in the New York Times (“Who is Dangerous, and Who
Dies?”), and she was profiled by the ABA Journal (“Lady of the Last Chance: Lawyer
Makes Her Mark Getting Convicts Off Death Row”), the Washington Post (“Defense
Lawyer Fights Racism in Death Row Cases”), and in CES FEMMES QUI PORTENT LA ROBE – FEMMES ENGAGES, FEMMES DE RESEAU (THESE WOMEN WHO WEAR THE ROBE – WOMEN ENGAGED, WOMEN NETWORKING), a book by Christiane Féral-Schuhl, Past President of the Paris, France, Bar Association, for her successful representation of condemned prisoners.
Prior to joining LDF, Christina served as a Supervising Assistant Federal Defender and Assistant Federal Defender at the Capital Habeas Unit of Philadelphia’s Federal Community Defender Office. While there, Christina represented numerous death sentenced prisoners whose convictions and/or death-sentences were reversed, including Nicholas Yarris, the first death-sentenced prisoner in Pennsylvania to be exonerated by DNA evidence. Christina began herlegal career as a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in New York.
In 2018, Christina received the Norman Redlich Capital Defense Distinguished Service Award from the New York City Bar Association’s Capital Punishment Committee; in 2017 she received the Sadie T.M. Alexander Award from the National Black Law Student Association; in 2014, Christina was selected by the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School to be an Honorary Fellow in Residence, an honor given to an attorney who makes “significant contributions to the ends of justice at the cost of great personal risk and sacrifice;” and in 2011, Christina served as a Practitioner-in-Residence at Berkeley Law School.
Christina earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Howard University.