Who We Are

Headshot of Professor Judith Resnik

Judith Resnik
Founding Director / Arthur Liman Professor of Law [full bio]
Law School Room M43

Resnik has led the Liman Center since its inception in 1997. During this past year, she has continued to work on her book, Impermissible Punishments, supported by a 2018-2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. Much of this year was also focused on aiming to alleviate some of the harms of COVID for people in detention. In the spring of 2020, Bloomberg News ran her op-ed, "Protecting Prisoners in Pandemics Is a Constitutional Must," and she submitted a declaration in several jurisdictions about the availability of provisional remedies for judges responding to COVID litigation. One of her articles, "Preclusion and Inaccessible Arbitration: Data, Non-Disclosure, and Public Knowledge" (with Stephanie Garlock and Annie J. Wang) published in 2020 in a symposium in the Lewis & Clark Law Review, was the basis for a March 2021 op-ed, "Unlocking Courts: Ending Arbitration Mandates and Gag Orders" in Hearst media Connecticut news outlets. Other recent essays include "The Puzzles of Prisoners and Rights: An Essay in Honor of Frank Johnson" in a symposium in the Alabama Law Review; "(Un)Constitutional Punishments: Eighth Amendment Silos," "Penological Purposes," and "People’s 'Ruin,'” and "Constituting Security" and "Fairness: Reflecting on Charles Reich’s Imagination and Impact," both in the Yale Law Journal forum.


Kate Braner's portrait photo

Kate Braner
Executive Director
Law School Room J33

Prior to joining the Liman Center, Katherine Braner ’93 was the Interim Public Defender of the San Diego County Office of the Public Defender where she promoted excellence in holistic indigent criminal defense and sought systemic criminal legal reform. For close to thirty years, she served in that office in many roles, including as a trial attorney, Recruitment Coordinator, Attorney Supervisor, Chief of Development and Training, and Chief of the Primary Public Defender. To respond to the negative impact a conviction record can have on a person’s quality of life, Braner created a comprehensive criminal record relief program that won national recognition. The Fresh Start Program was designed to educate and aid community members in removing the barriers to employment, housing, education, and voting, which are often the consequence of arrests and convictions Lawyers working with the program have represented more than 10,000 individuals and achieved forms of relief for clients in 99 percent of the cases filed. An advocate on behalf of victims of human trafficking, Braner represented the first person in California who succeeded in having her criminal record erased under a 2017 state vacatur law. The law recognizes the injustice of criminalizing victims of human trafficking for behavior manipulated and controlled by traffickers. It offers human trafficking victims a chance to vacate, or clear, their records upon showing a nexus between the conviction and their victimization. Braner has also been an educator in the many areas in which she is an expert, including the vacatur process, access to justice, and legal protections for human trafficking victims. From 2020 to 2022, Braner and the San Diego Public Defender Office hosted Liman Fellow Kelley Schiffman ’18, whose project focused on implementing California’s law enabling eligible individuals to be removed from the sex offender registry. Braner received her Bachelors’ degree from Bowling Green State University, graduating summa cum laude with honors in 1990.


Marilyn Wilkes Headshot

Marilyn Wilkes
Director of Communications

Wilkes leads the Liman Center’s communications efforts. Prior to joining the Liman Center, she worked as the director of communications for Yale’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. Wilkes graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in mass communication and earned an MBA from the University of New Haven, where she currently teaches a course on the principles of communications.


Nicole Gehring Headshot

Nicole Gehring
Center Coordinator

Gehring is the center coordinator for the Liman Center. Prior to joining the Center, she worked at New York University and the New York Academy of Medicine as an event specialist. In addition, she assisted in finding venture capitalists for Artificial Intelligence Innovations for startup company Global Decision Sciences. Gehring holds a B.A. in International Business from Fashion Institute of Technology, and a master’s in journalism from New York University.


Headshot of Pardiss Kebriaei

Pardiss Kebriaei
Senior Liman Fellow in Residence

Kebriaei has worked on issues of civil and human rights for more than 20 years. A Senior Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), she joined that organization in 2007 as part of a project dedicated to providing legal representation to men detained without charge at the Guantánamo Bay prison. As the “war on terror” after 9/11 evolved, Kebriaei represented other victims, including in the “targeted killing” context; with attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union, she brought the first case to challenge the U.S. drone program. For the past 10 years, her work has turned increasingly toward domestic prisons, including ending solitary confinement and other inhumane conditions and sentences, such as life sentences.

Kebriaei’s commentary and scholarship on human rights and incarceration have appeared in magazines and journals including Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and the Yale Law & Policy Review, and in edited volumes including Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict: Ethical, Legal, and Strategic Implications (University of Chicago Press, 2015). At the Liman Center, her research includes interdisciplinary work on the public health impacts of mass incarceration in the U.S. She also contributes to Liman Center research and public education projects on solitary confinement and co-teaches the Spring 2024 Liman Workshop. While a Liman Senior Fellow in Residence, Kebriaei continues as a part-time attorney at CCR. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Northwestern University and was a 2021–22 Practitioner-in-Residence Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is also the recipient of a Tulsa Arts Fellowship for 2024–26, which she will use to develop work on issues of incarceration in Oklahoma.


Headshot of Elizabeth Clarke

Elizabeth Clarke
Curtis-Liman Clinical Fellow

Clarke works at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Connecticut, as well as Yale Law School. Her fellowship focuses on reducing the harms associated with federal supervised release for vulnerable populations, including individuals with substance use and mental health challenges. She is working with stakeholders across the District of Connecticut to develop less punitive and coercive supervision practices. As part of her partnership with the Liman Center, Clarke supervises students working on research and policy advocacy projects related to community supervision. Clarke received a B.A. in psychology from Cornell University. While at Yale Law School, she was a research assistant at The Justice Collaboratory and a member of the Criminal Justice Advocacy Clinic.


Headshot of Laura Fernandez

Laura Fernandez
Senior Liman Fellow in Residence [full bio]

Fernandez is a Clinical Lecturer in Law and Research Scholar in Law at Yale Law School, in addition to being Senior Liman Fellow in Residence. Her research focuses on questions of prosecutorial power, ethics, and accountability. Before joining Yale Law School, she was Senior Counsel at Holland & Knight, LLP, where she worked as a full-time member of the Community Services Team. Laura clerked for the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York, and was an E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law Center, where she obtained her LL.M. She holds an A.B. in Literature from Harvard College, a J.D. from Yale Law School.


Headshot of Dwayne Betts

Dwayne Betts
Senior Liman Scholar [full bio]

Betts ’16 is a poet and lawyer. A 2021 MacArthur Fellow, he is the CEO of the Freedom Reads, an organization that transforms prison cellblocks into Freedom Libraries. A Senior Liman Scholar for more than 20 years, he has used his poetry and essays to explore the world of prison and the effects of violence and incarceration on American society. The author of a memoir and three collections of poetry, he has transformed his latest collection of poetry, the American Book Award-winning Felon, into a solo theater show that explores the post-incarceration experience and lingering consequences of a criminal record through poetry, stories, and engaging with the timeless and transcendental art of papermaking. In 2019, Betts won the National Magazine Award in the Essays and Criticism category for his NY Times Magazine essay that chronicles his journey from prison to becoming a licensed attorney. He has been awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Emerson Fellow at New America, and most recently a Civil Society Fellow at Aspen. Betts holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, was a Liman Fellow in 2016, and has been an affiliated Liman Research Scholar since 2020.


Natalia Friedlander

Natalia Friedlander
Senior Research Affiliate

Friedlander ’18 was the first Resnik-Curtis Fellow and then a staff attorney with the Rhode Island Center for Justice. There, she founded the Center’s criminal justice team and challenged unjust conditions of confinement, denial of healthcare, and other abuses in the criminal justice system. Now a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law, Associate Research Scholar in Law, and Robert M. Cover Clinical Teaching Fellow at Yale Law School, her prior work includes Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School. Friedlander holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, which recognized her with the Stephen J. Massey Prize for client advocacy and community service, and a B.A. from Brown University. Before law school, Natalia worked for several years in the field of domestic and international public health.


Headshot of Brian Highsmith

Brian Highsmith
Senior Research Affiliate

Brian Highsmith’17 began work with the Liman Center as a Fellow in Residence in early 2020 at the end of a two-year Skadden Fellowship with the National Consumer Law Center that worked to challenge unaffordable financial obligations imposed on poor families as a result of their contact with the criminal system. He started a Ph.D. in government and social policy at Harvard in the fall of 2020, with a research focus on the fiscal pressures governments impose upon communities, and how those practices are often driven by local budgets that rely on regressive revenue sources such as fines and fees assessed through local policing and criminal systems. Highsmith has remained affiliated with the Liman Center, joining in organizing a series of Liman-hosted webinar sessions about the intersections of public finance and criminal punishment, as well as planning the 2023 colloquium, “Budgeting for Justice: Fiscal Policy and Monetary Sanctions.” For these projects, Highsmith has drawn on his experience working (both before and after law school) on domestic economic policy in Washington, D.C. — including as an advisor at President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the office of Sen. Cory Booker ’97. This fall, Highsmith began as an Academic Fellow with Harvard Law School’s new Program on Law and Political Economy. He remains an affiliate of the Liman Center and is writing his dissertation while preparing to go on the law teaching market.


Headshot of Jon Petkun

Jonathan Petkun
Senior Research Affiliate

Petkun ’19 is an Associate Professor of Law at Duke Law School, where he teaches civil procedure as well as a seminar on access to justice. In his research, Jon uses his training as an economist to empirically study the legal and economic organization of large public institutions, especially federal and state courts and the U.S. military. With respect to courts, Petkun is interested in how court rules and norms affect litigants’ access. His current projects include a study of federal judicial administration—with an emphasis on the diversity of judges’ administrative roles and the enormous “off-the-bench” influence they wield in policy matters unrelated to any adjudication—as well as a study of the uses and limits of empirical research on civil litigation and procedure. Petkun is a graduate of Yale Law School and holds a Ph.D. in economics from MIT. Prior to his start at teaching, Petkun served as a Senior Liman Research Affiliate (and continues that affiliation) and clerked for federal judges on the District of Connecticut and the D.C. Circuit. Before his academic career, Petkun served as a Marine in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Affiliated Faculty

Peter Brooks
Sterling Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature [full bio]
Yale University

Trattie Davies
Critic [full bio]
Yale School of Architecture

Gregg Gonsalves, PhD
Associate Professor of Epidemiology [full bio]; Associate (Adjunct) Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Co-Director, Global Health Justice Partnership; Co-Director, Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency

Elizabeth K. Hinton
Associate Professor of History & African American Studies and Professor of Law [full bio]
Yale Law School

Reena Kapoor
Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Associate Program Director, Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship [full bio]
Yale School of Medicine

Louisa Lombard
Associate Professor of Anthropology [full bio]
Yale University

Courtney Skipton Long
Associate Director for Membership Programs
Yale University Art Gallery

Jaimie P. Meyer, MD, MS
Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology [full bio]
Yale School of Medicine

Lisa Puglisi
Assistant Professor of Medicine [full bio]
Yale School of Medicine

S. Zelda Roland
Founding Director, Yale Prison Education Initiative at
Dwight Hall at Yale [full bio]
Director, University of New Haven Prison Education Program

Emily Wang
Professor of Medicine and of Public Health [full bio]
Yale School of Medicine

Howard Zonana
Professor of Psychiatry and Professor (Adjunct) of Law [full bio]
Yale School of Medicine


Fiona Doherty
Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization [full bio]
Yale Law School

Miriam Gohara
Clinical Associate Professor of Law [full bio]
Yale Law School

Lucas Guttentag
Senior Counselor to the Deputy Attorney General [full bio]
U.S. Department of Justice

Advisory Council

Emily Bazelon
Staff Writer, The New York Times Magazine
Lecturer in Law, Senior Research Scholar in Law, and Truman Capote Fellow
Yale Law School

Hon. Nancy Gertner
Judge, US D. Mass (Ret.)
Senior Lecturer on Law
Harvard Law School

Vicki Jackson
Laurence H. Tribe Professor of Constitutional Law
Harvard Law School

Doug Liman
Film Director and Producer

Melissa Murray
Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law
Faculty Director, Birnbaum Women's Leadership Network
New York University School of Law

Sia Sanneh
Senior Attorney, Equal Justice Initiative

McGregor Smyth
Executive Director, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest