Human Rights Defense Center Staff
Executive Director: Paul Wright
Paul Wright is the founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center. He is also editor of Prison Legal News (PLN), the longest-running independent prisoner rights publication in U.S. history. He has co-authored three PLN anthologies: The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry (Common Courage, 1998); Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor (Routledge, 2003); and Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Imprisonment (New Press, 2008). His articles have appeared in over 80 publications, ranging from Counterpunch to USA Today. A former prisoner, Paul was imprisoned for 17 years in Washington state until his release in 2003. During and since his incarceration, he has successfully litigated a wide variety of censorship and public records cases against prison systems around the country, both as a pro se plaintiff and on behalf of PLN. Paul is a former military policeman, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Soviet history, and the former National Lawyers Guild Jailhouse Lawyer co-vice president (1995-2008). He is a 2005 Petra Fellow; the Freedom Fighter of the Month for High Times magazine in July 2006; a 2007 recipient of the James Madison Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government; the 2008 inaugural recipient of the National Lawyers Guild's Arthur Kinoy award; a 2011 recipient of the Distinguished Public Interest Service Award from the City of New York Law School; the 2017 recipient of the Julio Medina Freedom Award from Citizens Against Recidivism; and a 2017 recipient of a New York City Council Citation. In 2018 he received the Frederick Douglas award from the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington DC. He serves as the National Vice President of the National Police Accountability Project.
Litigation Director: Daniel Marshall
Daniel Marshall is an expert in criminal law, having defended over a thousand criminal cases, including dozens of jury trials. He is board certified in criminal trial law by the Florida Bar--a distinction held by only 7% of all Florida Bar members. Dan has focused his legal career advocating for criminal justice reform and its impact on prisoners, their families and the community. He has lectured on numerous issues, including Florida’s “Stand your Ground” law, medical marijuana, and issues concerning the elderly and criminal law, as well giving presentations in a number of schools in the community.
After earning his J.D. degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law, Dan worked at the Office of the Public Defender in West Palm Beach, Florida for nearly nine years handling felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile delinquency, and appellate cases. He was the chief of a felony division for several years before becoming the county court resource director, in charge of training more than two dozen new attorneys in the office. After leaving the public defender’s office, Dan went into private practice focusing on criminal defense and civil litigation.
Dan is admitted to practice in all Florida state courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Florida, the Eastern District of Michigan and the U.S. District Court for New Mexico. He is also a member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Police Accountability Project. In a prior life, Dan worked as a spacecraft engineer at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., as part of the team that controlled one of NASA’s science satellites. He graduated cum laude from Colgate University with a B.A. in physics and astronomy.
Staff Attorney: Jesse Isom
Before joining HRDC, Jesse Isom served as an assistant public defender in West Palm Beach, Florida. As both a trial and appellate attorney, Jesse defended the rights of thousands of indigent adults and juveniles. Jesse took over thirty cases to trial and won acquittals, including for clients facing life in prison. While in the appellate division, he succeeded in reversing two life sentences. Jesse advanced his trial skills through the National Criminal Defense College’s Trial Practice Institute. His final assignment was as a trial attorney assigned to handle serious crimes cases involving lengthy mandatory sentences, such as homicides, shootings, vehicular homicides, and child sex offenses. Throughout his time as a public defender, he used mitigation, motion practice, and other tools to ensure his clients were afforded the dignity and justice they deserved, and not discriminated against on the basis of race or socioeconomic status.
Jesse earned his JD, cum laude, from the University of Florida, where he was an executive board member of the Florida Moot Court Team. During law school, he interned as a summer law clerk for the Honorable Chris W. Altenbernd at the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Tampa, wrote briefs for state and federal appeals for attorney Sonya Rudenstine, and represented public defender clients in Levy and Miami-Dade counties as a certified legal intern.
Jesse earned a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from Columbia College, Columbia University, a graduate certificate in Chinese Studies from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford.
Prior to law school, Jesse wrote news and translated (Mandarin to English) for the Voice of America, did community development work in Tibetan areas of China, and taught English in China and India.
PLN Managing Editor: Ken Silverstein
Ken Silverstein is a long-time Washington-based investigative reporter, who has written for dozens of magazines and newspapers. Silverstein has held staff jobs at a number of publications, including the Los Angeles Times (D.C. investigative unit) and Harper's magazine (Washington Editor), and been a Contributing Editor at VICE and columnist at the New York Observer. He recently completed a term as "journalist in residence" at the Project On Government Oversight, the DC watchdog group, where he wrote a series of stories on the country's growing Immigration-Industrial Complex for Yahoo and New Republic. He is also the author of several books, including "The Secret World of Oil" (Verso) and "The Radioactive Boy Scout (Random House). Silverstein started his career as an AP correspondent in Brazil and over the years has written from Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Venezuela, Colombia and many other countries. He founded the muckraking publication CounterPunch and created WashingtonBabylon.com, an online political, satirical and investigative tabloid. Ken has over 30 years’ experience investigating and reporting on criminal justice issues for a variety of publications. His first Prison Legal News related story was in 1994 when he worked with HRDC founder Paul Wright to break the national news story that Jack Metcalf was using prison slave labor to campaign on his behalf for a seat in Congress on a tough on crime platform. A story the Washington state media declined to cover before the election. Metcalf was elected. Ken also wrote the introduction to Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America’s Poor, a PLN anthology on mass incarceration.
CLN Managing Editor: Richard Resch
Richard Resch is the managing editor of Criminal Legal News. Prior to joining the Human Rights Defense Center, he spent nearly a decade researching and writing about legal issues involving individual rights and liberties, free speech, and government accountability. Earlier in his professional career, he held various positions in higher education publishing with Thomson Learning and Pearson Education. Richard has a diverse legal background as well. He worked at Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as an international corporate tax attorney. Additionally, he has experience with immigration law while working at an immigration law firm located in New York City's Chinatown. He also spent time in New York City Family Court, where he worked on child-protective proceedings involving abused or neglected children. He earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from New York Law School, his LL. M. (taxation) from New York University School of Law, and his B.A. from Florida Atlantic University. He served as notes and comments editor on the New York Law School Law Review.
Senior Litigation Paralegal: Kathy Moses
Kathy Moses joined the Human Rights Defense Center as a paralegal in June 2016. Kathy is a graduate of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida and holds a B.S. degree in journalism. She also earned an A.S. in paralegal studies and an A.A. from Palm Beach State College. She has worked as an office manager, legal secretary, and copy editor. Kathy has been instrumental in managing HRDC's federal cases around the country and lending assistance to attorneys from pre-suit investigation and discovery through summary judgment and trial. Originally from the Boston area, Kathy has called South Florida home for over 30 years.
Editorial Assistant: Betty Nelander
Betty joined HRDC after a career in the newspaper business, most recently as a copy editor, religion columnist and editorial writer for the Palm Beach Daily News. A longtime Palm Beach County resident, she has volunteered for The Lord's Place, which works to break the cycle of homelessness, and at group homes for adults with special needs. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Office Manager: Frances Sauceda
Frances Sauceda joined the Human Rights Defense Center in 2013 as an office assistant. She was born and raised in Lake Worth, Florida, and her prior employment positions included researcher/supervisor at Bankrate.com and office manager for American Life & Health Group.
Advertising Coordinator: Judith Cohen
After graduating with a BA in English and secondary education, Judith joined the staff at MacMillan Publishing, writing the first dictionary aimed specifically at the high school level. She then moved to the editorial department at Booz, Allen, Hamilton management consultants, where she prepared top-security government reports for publication. Judith also worked at a New York law firm and spent many years in fund raising, and later in the IT field, before joining HRDC as the organization's office manager in June 2013.
Special Projects Coordinator: Panagioti Tsolkas
Panagioti Tsolkas joined the Human Rights Defense Center in November 2014, coordinating community outreach efforts and volunteer involvement. He also directs HRDC's Stop Prison Profiteering campaign, aimed at addressing prison services that financially exploit prisoners and their families, as well as HRDC's Prison Ecology Project, which maps the connections between mass incarceration and environmental degredation. Prior to working at HRDC, Panagioti was an editor for the Earth First! Journal. He also served as chairperson for the City of Lake Worth's Community Relations Board (tasked primarily with oversight of police conduct), as co-chair of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, and as an executive committee member of the Sierra Club's Loxahatchee Group.
Office Assistant: Shauna Coolican
Shauna Coolican is a graduate of Wells College and holds a B.A. in history and public policy. A former homeschool mom, she started her career at the Human Rights Defense Center as an enthusiastic volunteer, specializing in volume mailings. Originally from Syracuse, New York, she is surprised to find she has lived in Palm Beach County, Florida for over 30 years.