Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board establishes the policy and project priorities of The Council of State Governments Justice Center. The board features state legislators from both political parties, judicial leaders, health and human service agency administrators, victim advocates, corrections administrators, juvenile justice professionals, law enforcement officials, and people who have experienced the criminal justice system firsthand. Together, our Advisory Board represents a cross-section of leaders who shape criminal justice policy in various parts of the country.

Executive Committee


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Marie Williams, Chair
Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Marie Williams, LCSW, serves as commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). Under her leadership, the state has initiated many criminal justice reforms, proactively responded to the opioid crisis, and developed innovative ways to
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address emergency department boarding of psychiatric patients, among other initiatives. Ms. Williams was reappointed as commissioner by Governor Bill Lee on January 19, 2019, and was initially appointed to the post by Gov. Bill Haslam, effective October 22, 2016. Under her guidance and strategic vision and with support from the state's elected leaders and federal government partners, the TDMHSAS annual budget has grown from $337 million to more than $500 million. Innovative new programs instituted under her leadership include the Creating Homes Initiative, which has created more than 28,000 housing opportunities and leveraged more than $850 million in funding for people living with behavioral health challenges; prearrest diversion infrastructure projects across Tennessee, which kept more than 13,000 people out of jail and saved local governments nearly $10 million in the first two years; and the Tennessee Recovery Navigators who interact with people in emergency departments and successfully connect more than 75 percent of them to substance use disorder treatment. Ms. Williams provides leadership and oversight to 1,849 full-time positions that assist individuals in securing treatment and recovery services for serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbances, and substance use disorders. She began her career in behavioral health as a mental health case manager for people experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders in Memphis, Tennessee, and that front-line experience still informs her decision-making and thought processes.
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Michael P. Boggs, Immediate Past Chair
Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia
Justice Michael P. Boggs serves on the Supreme Court of Georgia. Previously, Justice Boggs served as a judge on the Court of Appeals of Georgia from 2012 through 2016. Prior to his appellate judicial service, Justice Boggs served as a
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superior court judge where he founded his circuit’s felony drug court program, and served as its presiding judge. Justice Boggs also previously served in the Georgia General Assembly. Justice Boggs has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his legislative and judicial career, including the Georgia Sheriff’s Association “Leadership Award,” the Georgia District Attorney’s Association “Commitment to Justice Award,” recognition for his support of the Magnolia House Shelter for abused women and child victims of domestic violence, and the Boy Scouts of America “Golden Eagle” Award. In 2017, Justice Boggs was awarded the prestigious St. Thomas More Award for his work in leading the state in criminal justice reform, and in 2019 was awarded the “Spirit of Justice” award by the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Georgia. Justice Boggs served as a member of Georgia’s Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform in 2011 and served as co-chair of the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council from 2012 to 2018. He currently serves as a member of Georgia’s Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission and chairs the Mental Health Courts and Corrections subcommittee. Justice Boggs also serves on the Pew Public Safety Performance Project Councils on Jails/Pretrial and Community Corrections and Civil Justice Reform, as well as the National Center for State Courts Evidence-Based Sentencing Peer Group. Justice Boggs is a member of the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission, the Mercer Law School Board of Visitors, and the Board of Directors of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation.
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Cam Ward, Vice Chair
Director, Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles
Cam Ward is the director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, where he is responsible for all agency operations in support of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. From 2011 to 2020, Ward served in the Alabama
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State Senate, where he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee for nine years. In 2014, he was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley to serve as the chair of Alabama’s Prison Reform Task Force, which is a group of state policymakers and practitioners that guides the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Alabama. Ward previously served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives. He received his bachelor’s degree from Troy University and his JD from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.
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Bernice Corley
Executive Director, Indiana Public Defender Council
Bernice A. N. Corley is the executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council. As executive director, she helps manage the agency and carry out the policies established by the Board of Directors. Prior to joining the Public Defender Council,
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Corley served four years as general counsel at the Department of Education and also served as legal counsel for both the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives. Her career includes clerking for Hon. Carr Darden. Corley served as a Marion County public defender, as trial counsel, as well as appellate counsel.
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Peter John Koutoujian, Jr.
Sheriff, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
During his nearly eight years in office, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian has initiated several landmark programs at the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office that have garnered national attention. These include a medication-assisted treatment program recognized as a Center of Excellence by the National
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Institute of Corrections. Under Sheriff Koutoujian, Middlesex County was also chosen as one of three Data Driven Justice Project pilot sites by Arnold Ventures. In October 2017, he was selected by his peers to serve as president of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association; he is also a founding member of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration and has been recognized as a “champion of justice reform” by the Coalition for Public Safety. Sheriff Koutoujian is a graduate of Bridgewater State University, the New England School of Law, and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
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Anne L. Precythe
Director, Missouri Department of Corrections
Anne L. Precythe became the director of the Missouri Department of Corrections in 2017. In this role, Precythe is responsible for 21 adult correctional facilities, 6 community supervision centers, a community release center, and more than 40 probation and parole
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offices across Missouri. She oversees more than 11,000 staff, 58,000 people on probation and parole, and 33,000 incarcerated people. Before becoming the second woman to serve as director of the department, Precythe was the director of the Division of Community Corrections in the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, where she served from March 2013 to December 2016. Previously, Precythe served as the North Carolina Division of Community Corrections Supervision Services administrator. In 2015, she was appointed by United States Attorney Eric Holder to the National Institute of Corrections Advisory Board, representing community corrections across the country.
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Elgie R. Sims, Jr.
Senator, Illinois General Assembly
Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. serves as state senator for the 17th Illinois Senate District. Prior to joining the Illinois Senate, he served nearly four terms as state representative of Illinois’s 34th House District. A member of the Illinois Senate
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Criminal Law Committee, Sims is one of Illinois’s leading voices in the effort to reform the state’s criminal justice system. Sims has also spearheaded efforts to pass a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that will change the current use of force policy and how courts impose bail and sentence people. Sims led efforts to move Illinois away from the use of cash bail through passage of the Bail Reform Act of 2017. Sims holds a BA in political science from Illinois State University, an MPA from the University of Illinois, and a JD from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
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Board Members At-Large


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Bryan Collier
Executive Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Bryan Collier was appointed executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in August 2016. In his current role, he oversees the operations of one of the largest adult criminal justice systems in the country, for which he
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is responsible for the confinement and care of approximately 146,000 people convicted of felony offenses, the supervision of roughly 490,000 people on probation or parole, and the management of nearly 37,000 employees statewide. Collier began his career in adult corrections more than three decades ago, having joined the TDCJ in 1985 as a clerk. Since then, he has held a wide variety of positions with the agency, including correctional officer, parole officer, unit supervisor, program administrator, section director, parole division director, and deputy executive director. He is an active member of the Association of State Correctional Administrators and the American Correctional Association (ACA) and serves as an ex-officio member of the Texas Department of Information Resources board. He sits on numerous committees for the ACA, including the Awards Committee, the Board of Governors, the Congress Program Planning Committee, and the Standards Committee. Collier formerly served as chair of the ACA Adult Corrections Committee, is a past member of the ACA Delegate Assembly, and a past member and president of the Texas Corrections Association (TCA). He has been recognized as one of the ACA’s “best in the business” and received the Dr. George J. Beto Hall of Honor award from the TCA in 2013. He has a BS in criminology and corrections from Sam Houston State University.
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Marsha R. Curry-Nixon
Founder and Executive Director, Amiracle4sure, Inc.
Marsha R. Curry-Nixon is the founder and executive director of Amiracle4sure, Inc., a ministry focused on renewing, refreshing, and restoring the lives of people reentering the community after incarceration. Her work as an educator, counselor, and mentor has brought her
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to prisons, rehabilitation facilities, and churches with the intention of educating communities on the needs of this population. Curry-Nixon sits on the executive board for the Capital Region Ex-Offenders Coalition, is an advisory board member for Correctional Ministries Chaplains Association, and is a trainer and facilitator for Healing Communities of PA. She earned her associate degree at Harrisburg Area Community College, her bachelor’s at Lebanon Valley College, and an MA in public service leadership.
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Theresa Gavarone
Senator, Ohio General Assembly
Senator Theresa Gavarone has served in the Ohio Senate since 2019 and is currently in her first full term after having previously served in the Ohio House since 2016. As a resident of Wood County for over 35 years, Senator
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Gavarone has an extensive background representing the community, including serving on the Bowling Green City Council. Gavarone has worked on a variety of legislative issues in recent years. She is passionate about advocating for her constituents, and many of the bills that she has championed were due to conversations she had with members of the community. Gavarone has sponsored numerous bills on many different topics including elections security, religious freedom of expression, school bus safety, mental health care access, communications disabilities, cybersecurity, water quality, and others. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bowling Green State University and a JD from the University of Toledo College of Law.
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Laurie Givens
Director, Administrative Office of the Courts, Kentucky Court of Justice
As director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, Laurie K. Givens administers the judicial branch budget, monitors legislation, and works with county, state, and national officials on court-related issues. She is responsible for providing administrative support to Kentucky's 404
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elected justices, judges, and circuit court clerks. Laurie previously practiced law in Kentucky and South Carolina; she was also executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy and a staff attorney in the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. She has a BA and JD from the University of Kentucky.
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John Lovick
Senator, Washington State Legislature
John Lovick was appointed to the Washington House of Representatives in 2016. He previously served in the House for nine years beginning in 1998, which included five years as speaker pro tempore; he also served on the Mill Creek City
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Council, which included a year as mayor pro tempore. In 2007, Lovick was elected as Snohomish County Sheriff, a position he served in until 2013, when he was appointed to be the Snohomish County Executive. Lovick served as a state trooper in the Washington State Patrol for 31 years and was named Trooper of the Year in 1992. He also served in the United States Coast Guard for 13 years.
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John R. Mehr
Sheriff, Madison County, Tennessee
Sheriff John R. Mehr was elected to serve as the Sheriff of Madison County, Tennessee, in August 2014 and was reelected in 2018. His entire working career has been devoted to law enforcement, with 38 of those years in the
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Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). In 1975, Mehr joined the TBI as a special agent for the Criminal Investigation Division and worked his way up to Special Agent in Charge for the Western District of Tennessee, Criminal Investigation Division, in which he served from 1991 until his retirement in 2012. He has been a member of  numerous organizations, including the West Tennessee Criminal Investigators Association, where he served as President from 2000–2002 and was honored as Officer of the Year for 2005–2006. Past awards include the Director’s Award from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office in 2018 and Union University 2018 Champion of Victims’ Rights Award. Sheriff Mehr received his BS in law enforcement from the University of Tennessee Martin and his MA from The University of Memphis. He is a 2008 graduate of the Tennessee Government Management Institute and a graduate of the FBI National Academy, 139th session, among other programs.
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Valerie Mielke
Valerie Mielke
Assistant Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Human Services
Valerie Mielke is the assistant commissioner for the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services, which serves as the Single State Agency for Substance Abuse and the State Mental Health Authority as
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designated by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Mielke currently serves (as past president) on the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Board of Directors and served as president from 2019 to 2021. Additionally, Mielke serves as a board member of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors Public Policy Committee. Mielke holds a BA from Fairfield University and an MSW from Rutgers University.
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Ann Miller
Managing Attorney, Tribal Defenders Office of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
Ann M. Miller has been an attorney with the Tribal Defenders Office of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead Reservation in Montana for 23 years and the managing attorney for 13. During her tenure, the Defenders Office
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implemented an innovative in-house service for clients with co-occurring mental illness and chemical dependency and adopted a holistic defense practice with assistance from the Center for Holistic Defense, sponsored by the Bronx Defenders Office in New York. In 2015, her office created the Flathead Reservation Reentry Program that provides interdisciplinary, supportive services for tribal members returning to the reservation from incarceration. Miller served on Montana’s Public Defender Commission for six years and Montana’s Statewide Reentry Task Force for two. She currently serves on the Missoula Criminal Justice Coordinating Council that seeks criminal justice reform in Missoula, Montana.
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Joe O'Leary
Director, Oregon Youth Authority
In February 2018, Joe O’Leary became the director of the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA), the state’s juvenile justice agency, after serving as acting director since September 2017, and as its deputy director before that. His professional experience ranges from working
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as a public defender to advising two governors on public safety and legal issues. As the OYA director, Joe is responsible for overseeing the operations of the agency, which serves approximately 1,400 youths ages 12‐24 at any given time. Immediately before joining OYA as deputy director in June 2012, O'Leary ran the Policy, Planning and Legislative Analysis Division at the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System. Prior to his state government service, O'Leary was a trial attorney in Portland. He began his legal career as a public defender, which included a stint in juvenile court. Afterward, he spent several years in private practice representing members of law enforcement, corporate officers, lawyers, and employees. Prior to attending law school, he worked in a Latino farmworker community in Central Washington as a volunteer housing program coordinator through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. He received his undergraduate degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and his JD from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland.
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Christopher Poulos
Christopher Poulos
Director of Person-Centered Services, Washington State Department of Corrections
Christopher Poulos is an attorney and the director of Person-Centered Services at the Washington State Department of Corrections. Previously, he was executive director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council and developed and taught a course on drug law and policy
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at Seattle University School of Law. Poulos advised U.S. Senator Angus King on addiction and justice policy, served on several criminal justice task forces, and served at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project. He graduated cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law. Before that, Poulos overcame tragic family losses, addiction, homelessness, and a federal incarceration. He now dedicates his life to helping others overcome or avoid similar challenges and supports a public health-­based approach to addressing addiction.
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Shannon Roers Jones
Shannon Roers Jones
Representative, North Dakota Legislative Assembly
Representative Shannon Roers Jones has served in the North Dakota legislature since 2016. While serving on the Judiciary Committee, Roers Jones has been a leading voice on criminal justice reform and substance use disorders. Roers Jones developed legislation to seal criminal records,
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expand access to harm reduction resources, allow greater access to driving privileges for those participating in 24/7 sobriety programs, and improve cooperation between Tribal, state, county, and municipal law enforcement. She has served on boards of directors for multiple nonprofit organizations that focus on addiction and successful reentry. As a person in recovery, Roers Jones received the Governor’s Phoenix Award for her efforts advancing these issues. She holds a BA in business from the College of St. Benedict, an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, and a JD from the University of North Dakota School of Law.
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Richard Sears
Senator, Vermont General Assembly
Vermont Senator Richard Sears has served in the Vermont State Legislature for 24 years and has chaired the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee for 20 years. A passionate advocate for improving the criminal justice system, Sen. Sears also chairs the Corrections
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Oversight Committee and has worked with residential programs for troubled youths for more than 35 years. Sen. Sears began his public service in 1987, when he was elected to the Bennington Select Board, where he served for seven years before his election to the Vermont State Legislature in 1992. Sen. Sears received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont.
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Charles A. Spahos
Chief Financial Crimes Prosecutor, North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys
Charles A. “Chuck” Spahos has been the chief financial crimes prosecutor for the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys since January 2018. Prior to this role, Spahos served more than 5 years as the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys'
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Council of Georgia following more than 10 years as the elected solicitor-general of Henry County, Georgia. He previously practiced law as a sole practitioner and served as the solicitor for the City of McDonough Municipal Court. Additionally, Spahos is a certified police officer, having been a patrol officer, a narcotics investigator, and later the chief investigator of the Flint Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. He also served as an assistant district attorney upon graduating from law school. Spahos received his BS in criminal justice from Mercer University and graduated magna cum laude from John Marshall Law School. Spahos served in the U.S. Army National Guard from 1987 to 1992 and was on active duty during Operation Desert Storm.
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Thomas Stickrath
Director, Ohio Department of Public Safety
Thomas Stickrath brings more than 30 years of experience in the criminal justice field to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Stickrath began his career in 1978 with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) and subsequently served as warden
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at the Orient Correctional Institution and regional director of the DRC, before being named assistant director in 1991. In 2005, Governor Bob Taft appointed him the director of the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS). Under his leadership, the department achieved national accreditation for all of its programs, earning DYS the American Correctional Association’s distinguished Eagle Award. In 2010, Governor Ted Strickland appointed Stickrath the director of the Department of Public Safety, where he oversaw the State Highway Patrol, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and Homeland Security. The following year, then-Attorney General Mike DeWine tapped Stickrath to serve as superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, overseeing the state crime lab and a team of law enforcement professionals. Stickrath also chairs Ohio’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. He has served extensively as a consultant on criminal justice issues to various organizations and state governments. Stickrath received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from The Ohio State University and his JD from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and in 2011 received the university’s “Distinguished Service Award."
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Clarke Tucker
Clarke Tucker
Senator, Arkansas General Assembly
Clarke Tucker has served in the Arkansas State Senate since 2021. Tucker was previously a state representative in the Arkansas General Assembly from 2015 through 2018, where he served on the Judiciary Committee and as the chairperson of the Courts/Civil
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Law Permanent Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. He has been in private law practice since 2008, where his primary area of practice has been litigation. Tucker was a law clerk for the Honorable J. Leon Holmes of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2006 to 2008. He has an AB in government from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Arkansas, where he graduated magna cum laude and served as editor-in-chief of the Arkansas Law Review.
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Joseph A. Zayas
Justice, New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
Joseph A. Zayas was appointed to the 2nd Department of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division in 2021. He is also a judge for the New York Supreme Court in Queens County, New York (11th Judicial District). Previously, he
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served as judge of the Court of Claims, acting supreme court justice, and judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York, presiding over drug treatment court, mental health court, and youth court. Earlier in his career, Justice Zayas served as the principal law clerk for supreme court Justice Rolando T. Acosta at the Harlem Community Justice Center, a multi-jurisdictional, problem-solving court serving the communities of East and Central Harlem. He is a frequent lecturer and presenter on legal and judicial subjects, including drug, mental health, and youth courts, and conducts seminars for new judges. Justice Zayas received his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center and his JD from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Charles Evan Hughes Fellow.
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