FOUNDER + PRESIDENT
Prior to forming the Due Process Institute, Shana-Tara O'Toole served as a Policy Director for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). In that capacity, she led NACDL’s strategic partnership with other organizations on multiple federal legislative initiatives designed to prevent the further erosion of civil liberties in our criminal justice system.
Prior to joining NACDL, Shana practiced as a defense lawyer representing clients in civil and criminal investigations. She also served as pro bono immigration counsel for political refugees seeking asylum.
Shana received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Western New England College School of Law, where she was a Note Editor for the Law Review. Following law school, Shana had the honor of clerking for Justice Joette Katz of the Connecticut Supreme Court, who was the first woman to serve as Chief of Connecticut’s Public Defender Office and the youngest to have ever been appointed to Connecticut’s Supreme Court.
Before she found her calling as a progressive legal reformer, Shana received a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from the University of New Orleans--a city that remains in her thoughts and dreams. While there, she taught literature and writing at several Louisiana colleges. Shana holds a B.A. in English Literature, Writing, and Political Science from Sweet Briar College, which has proudly served as an all women’s college in the Blue Ridge Mountains since 1901.
Shana lives with her husband, stepdaughter, and two mischievous French bulldogs—Trudeau and Balthazar—in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of DC. When she’s not fighting on behalf of fundamental fairness, Shana enjoys hiking in National Parks, cheering for the Nationals, and attending JazzFest.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender.
Follow Shana on Twitter @stregon
DIRECTOR, RULE OF LAW INITIATIVES
Before joining the Due Process Institute, Joseph Luppino-Esposito served as the Manager for Federal Initiatives for Right on Crime and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Austin, TX. Joe worked in Washington, DC with members of Congress, their staff, and allied organizations to develop conservative criminal justice reform policies that increase public safety.
In his capacity as Editor and General Counsel of State Budget Solutions, a state policy organization, Joe focused his research on public employee pensions, labor law, and state budget reforms.
As the Visiting Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Joe worked on the overcriminalization project, analyzing federal criminal laws. It was at Heritage where Joe first studied the extent of the problem—the overuse and misuse of the criminal law—that he continues to work on today with the Due Process Institute.
Joe is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, where he was Editor in Chief of the Circuit Review legal journal. He received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary, where he also co-founded the campus newspaper, The Virginia Informer.
He is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Virginia with his wife and daughter and their two cats, Reagan and Jack Bauer. When he's not advocating for reform, Joe spends his time catching up on books he should have read in high school and preparing for the next season of his 15+ year-running fantasy football league.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: The DC flag is based on the crest of George Washington’s family.
Follow Joe on Twitter @avgjoele
VISITING LEGAL FELLOW
Prior to joining the Due Process Institute, Kaitlin Bigger discovered her passion for the promotion of civil rights and the reformation of criminal justice policy through a series of opportunities that she was afforded while attending law school. Most recently, Kaitlin served as a judicial intern for The Honorable Amit P. Mehta on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In that role, she was introduced to the importance of judicial discretion in the fair administration of justice.
Before her experience in District Court, Kaitlin clerked at Outten & Golden LLP, a mid-size law firm focused on workplace fairness. Assisting with cases of employment discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation reinforced Kaitlin’s interest in the protection of civil rights and the advocacy for social justice.
During her second year of law school, Kaitlin had the tremendous opportunity to intern at two preeminent organizations that work tirelessly to promote equality in our justice system. At the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Kaitlin wrote an article for The Champion on the disproportionate application of state strict liability laws against members of minority and/or disadvantaged communities. Kaitlin also interned with the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project (ABA). It was at the ABA that Kaitlin first recognized the grave need for policy reform to address the growing gap between actual justice and America’s current system of overcriminalization.
Kaitlin received her J.D., cum laude, from American University Washington College of Law, where she was Executive Editor for the Criminal Law Practitioner. Kaitlin earned a B.S. in Political Science from Appalachian State University, known for handing Michigan the biggest upset in college football history.
Kaitlin is a North Carolina native and currently lives in the Woodley Park neighborhood of DC with her beau, Phillip, and their boisterous beagle, Smokey. When she’s not investigating inequalities in the criminal justice system, Kaitlin can be found putting Smokey’s hound nose to the test on local trails, reading any book James Patterson places his name on, and rooting for the Stanley Cup hopeful Washington Capitals.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: President Harrison had two pet opossums while in the White House – Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection.
DIRECTOR, INSPIRATION + WORK ETHIC
Hazel is a Tyrannosaurus Rex and does not appreciate being confused for a Velociraptor. She has previously served in an inspirational capacity for elementary schools, large corporations, and a circus. She is ferocious, but fair.
Favorite Fun Fact of the Moment: During his presidency, John Quincy Adams enjoyed skinny-dipping in the Potomac River in the early mornings.