Thursday, December 18, 2003

Grits for Breakfast Writer Bios

Here are brief bios of Grits for Breakfast writers.

Scott Henson, aka, Grits for Breakfast
Scott Henson is presently Policy Director at Just Liberty. A former journalist and political opposition researcher, Scott has labored for more than two decades in Texas' criminal-justice reform movement, having been involved in passing some of Texas' most celebrated 21st century reform legislation. He created Grits for Breakfast in 2004, having before then operated a criminal-justice reform site hand-coded in html beginning in 1997. After a brief but formative stint in journalism during and immediately after college, Henson worked for 14 years as a professional political opposition researcher for 68 campaigns, as well as performing technical writing and public-policy research for various attorneys, agencies and organizations. He began working on criminal-justice reform as a volunteer in response to a series of police shootings and brutality incidents in Austin, helping spearhead a years-long campaign which culminated in creation of the Austin Police Monitor's office in 2000. Henson served from 2000-2006 as Police Accountability Project director for the ACLU of Texas, helping pass numerous pieces of bipartisan criminal-justice reform legislation and spearheading a successful, five-year campaign to abolish Texas' system of regional narcotics task forces. From 2008-2015 he served first as Policy Director then Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Texas, helping secure legislation to provide compensation for exonerees, improve eyewitness identification procedures, and create a new avenue for habeas corpus relief in junk science cases. In addition, he has worked on decarceration and drug-policy campaigns for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the Drug Policy Alliance, as well as volunteering for groups like the Texas Fair Defense Project, the Austin Justice Coalition, and the Prison Justice League. See his longer bio.

Rebecca Bernhardt
Rebecca Bernhardt is Executive Director of the Texas Fair Defense Project. Before joining TFDP, she spent four years with Texas Defender Service working to ensure that individuals facing a death sentence received effective legal counsel and a fair trial. She helped draft and pass Texas’s 2013 criminal discovery reforms known as the Michael Morton Act and advocated for successful reforms of Texas’ prosecutorial accountability system. Becky is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Yale Law School. After graduating from law school, she clerked for the Honorable William Wayne Justice, Senior U.S. District Judge of the Eastern District of Texas.


Michele Deitch
Michele Deitch is an attorney with over 28 years of experience working on criminal justice policy issues with state and local government officials, corrections officials, judges, and advocates. She holds a joint appointment as a Senior Lecturer at the LBJ School and at the Law School, where she teaches graduate courses in criminal justice policy and juvenile justice policy. Her areas of specialty include independent oversight of correctional institutions, institutional reform litigation, prison conditions and management, prison and jail overcrowding, prison privatization, juvenile justice reform, and juveniles in the adult criminal justice system. She holds a J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, an M.Sc. in psychology (with a specialization in criminology) from Oxford University (Balliol College), and a B.A. with honors from Amherst College. See a longer bio.

Jennifer Laurin
Almost a decade ago, Jennifer Laurin was a civil rights lawyer in New York City, trying to figure out the right strategy in a case against the City of Houston for its stunningly, now infamously, inadequate crime lab. Jen started to depend on a little blog called Grits for Breakfast to send her the most salient Texas criminal justice dispatches from afar.  Six years later when Jen was a baby academic at UT School of Law, she assigned Grits posts to her first Criminal Law students.  Whether through Jen's inspired teaching or Grits's inspired blogging, one of those students - Amanda Woog - got a mean bite from the criminal justice bug. Now in another stage of the beautiful life cycle of teaching, Jen now gets to join forces with Amanda here at Grits.  For her other credentials, see https://law.utexas.edu/faculty/laurinje.

Eva Ruth Moravec
Eva Ruth Moravec is a news reporter well-versed in the art of covering crime, government and breaking news. She worked for the Associated Press covering the 2015 legislative session and before that was a metro reporter with the San Antonio Express-News for six years. She's presently a graduate student of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication, performs freelance work, and has had work published in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, the Houston Business Journal, Silicon Hills News and others. In September 2016, she launched Point of Impact, a year-long reporting series funded by the Charles Koch Foundation to perform in-depth investigations on police shooting episodes involving unarmed victims. Passionate about criminal justice, she loves telling stories about the intersection of government and reality. See her longer bio.

Sandra Guerra Thompson
Sandra Guerra Thompson, an award winning teacher and scholar, is the Alumnae College Professor in Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center. Before her teaching career, she served as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County DA's Office where she practiced both trial and appellate criminal law. Professor Thompson’s research focuses on the systemic irregularities that cause wrongful convictions, reduce public safety, and undermine public trust in the criminal justice system. She has authored numerous articles on eyewitness identification evidence and published a book in 2015 titled, "Cops In Lab Coats: Curbing Wrongful Convictions through Independent Forensic Laboratories." Here's her CV.

Amanda Woog, aka, The Wooginator
Amanda Woog is an attorney whose research interest is in Texas criminal justice policy.  She is currently a postdoctoral fellow with the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis at the University of Texas at Austin and served as Policy Director of the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence during the 84th legislative session. She is the creator of the Texas Justice Initiative, a research website compiling and analyzing data on deaths in custody and police shootings in Texas. Prior to her policy work, Amanda was a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, and served as briefing attorney to the Honorable Judge Cheryl Johnson of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  Amanda received her law degree with honors from The University of Texas School of Law and her B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Last updated January 25, 2017.