The panel discussion will be moderated by Assistant Dean and Martha Craig Daughtrey Director for Public Interest Spring Miller. It is part of the Social Justice and the Legal Profession Series and is co-sponsored by the Public Interest Office and the George Barrett Social Justice Program. It will be held in Flynn Auditorium, circumstances permitting, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Dawn Deaner is the founder and executive director of the Choosing Justice Initiative, which she launched in Nashville in 2019 as a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal representation to people in the criminal legal system who are seeking justice and fair treatment and cannot afford to hire a lawyer. CJI places clients at the center of its work and advocates to end systemic inequities that impact people who lack financial resources, such as ineffective legal representation by court-appointed lawyers, prolonged pretrial detention for people who cannot pay bail, and expensive court costs bills that keep people in debt for years after their cases end. Before launching CJI in 2018, Deaner was Nashville’s Public Defender for 10 years, before which she had worked for 11 years as an assistant public defender. She earned her law degree from George Washington University Law School and her undergraduate degree from Columbia College.
Wesley Dozier ’19 joined the Choosing Justice Initiative legal staff after serving as an Equal Justice Works Fellow with Just City in Memphis, where he worked closely with organizers and advocated for the elimination of court debt. At the CJI, Dozier’s work focuses on eliminating fines generated by the criminal legal process and ending the criminalization of poverty. He also focuses on the intersection of law and organizing. A Memphis native, Dozier earned his B.A. at Vanderbilt University in 2016 before earning his J.D. from Vanderbilt in 2019.
Erica Perry is executive director of the Nashville Community Bail Fund, which provides financial aid to indigent defendents facing criminal charges. Perry is a movement lawyer and community organizer who has worked with organizers and advocates throughout Tennessee and nationwide to create alternatives to police and jails, fight for local budgets that invest in the community, and organize to build power. Before joining the Nashville Community Bail Fund, Perry spent four years as partnership director at Law for Black Lives. She organizes locally with the Black Nashville Assembly and the Nashville People’s Budget Coalition. A Nashville native, Perry previously worked as an organizer and movement lawyer with Workers’ Dignity. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee and her J.D. at the University of Memphis School of Law.