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Town Hall: The Role of Race In Our Criminal Justice System

July 1, 2020 @ 5:30 pm 6:30 pm

A Town Hall on the role of race in our criminal justice system. Join prosecutors and defense attorneys from across California who will discuss the role that race plays in our criminal justice system, and their experiences as attorneys of color navigating the complicated politics of race in the profession.

Speakers: Otis Bruce, Jr., Esq., Brooke Jenkins, and Lei-Chala I. Wilson

Otis Bruce, Jr., Esq. Marin County Deputy District Attorney

Otis was born and raised in the segregated South (small town – SoSo Mississippi – population approximately 600). He attended a segregated public school through 6th grade and experience the desegregation of his school during 7th through 12th grades. Otis dreamed of becoming a lawyer at the early age 14 with an interest in one day serving the people of his community in SoSo Mississippi. During his childhood, he recognized the need in his local community and vowed that he would one day be a lawyer serving the community. This vision eventually led him to law school. After high school, he moved to the Bay Area and started his college education at Merritt College and finished at San Jose State University, majoring in Criminal Justice Administration with a minor in Spanish. Otis initially planned to start a career as a police officer for the City of San Jose but decided instead to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer. He completed his legal education at New College of California School of Law. After law school, he decided that he could better fulfill his interest in public service and serve the community as a trial attorney with the District Attorney’s Office. He moved his family to Marin County in 1986 to pursue that goal.

Once in Marin, he discovered there were no African-Americans working in any Marin County government attorney positions. Determined to be an agent of change, he started his career in Marin County as a Volunteer Law Clerk with the Marin County Counsel’s office. He was literally a “walk-on county employee” with no family, connections or network in Marin County. He was later hired as a contract Legal Assistant with the Marin District Attorney’s Office in 1990. In 1995, he was hired as a full-time Deputy District Attorney by then District Attorney and made history as Marin County’s first Black Prosecutor. He became active in many Marin civic groups and organizations in order to get to know the community and be comfortable living in Marin with his family. He has continued his participation in local, state and national community service and professional legal organizations for the last 30 years. On January 3, 2011, he was sworn-in as Marin County Bar Association’s first African-American Bar President – the first ethnic minority President to lead the county’s professional bar association in its 76 year history.

In addition to his current work as a career Marin County Prosecutor, Otis serves as President and/or Director for several civic, nonprofit and government attorney organizations: President of Marin Athletic Foundation; Board Director for California District Attorney Association (CDAA) Foundation; 2019 CDAA Board Director; Board Director San Rafael Rotary Club and Advisor to the California Lawyer’s Association Criminal Law Executive Committee. Otis has received numerous awards and recognitions for his ongoing community work in the area of social justice and civic engagement while serving as a government prosecutor!

Otis’ personal motto: True Faith, Belief, Tenacity, Education, Networking and Commitment to Service-Above-Self are a few keys to success!

Brooke Jenkins

Brooke Jenkins is currently a prosecutor in the Homicide Unit at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where she has worked for the past 6 years. Ms. Jenkins received her undergraduate degree in Political Science with a minor in African-American Studies from U.C. Berkeley. She then attended law school at the University of Chicago Law School, graduating in 2006. She began her law career at a large corporate firm – King and Spalding LLP – in Atlanta, Georgia. After 7 plus years in corporate law, Ms. Jenkins joined the District Attorney’s office. She now exclusively handles homicide crime cases.

Marjaneh Maroufi

Born in England to Iranian Muslim parents.  Ms. Maroufi has lived in Iran until her parents had when the revolution broke in 1978.  They moved back to England and ultimately settled in the United States.  Her father worked at the United Nations and influenced her deeply in politics and advocacy. She went to community college then U.C. Berkeley followed by U.S.F School of Law in San Francisco.  She started at the Merced County Public Defender and then at the Solano County Alternate Public Defender’s Office for the last 15 years.  She has been in many caseloads including felonies, misdemeanors, drug court, mental health court, juvenile delinquency and dependency.

Lei-Chala I. Wilson

Lei-Chala I. Wilson received her Economics degree from SDSU in 1985 and Juris Doctor from U.C. Davis, King Hall, in 1989. At U.C. Davis, Wilson was the 1989 Western Regional Champion of the National Trial Competition.

Wilson was a deputy public defender with the Law Offices of the San Diego Public Defender for over 24 years. Wilson has tried over 120 jury trials to conclusion, including misdemeanors, serious and violent felonies, three strikes cases, sex offenses, and homicides. She has completed several hundred preliminary examinations and argued numerous motions. Wilson is now in private practice where she focuses primarily on criminal defense but has represented plaintiffs in the areas of personal injury and labor and employment cases.

Wilson currently serves as the Education Chair of the CLA Executive Committee of the Criminal Law Section and as is an Advisor. Wilson joined the section in 1996 and served as Chair 2000 – 2001.

Wilson has received numerous awards. She has been president of the following organizations/associations: Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (1998, 2006, 2007), California Association of Black Lawyers (2000- 2001), NCNW San Diego Section (2009), and the NAACP San Diego Branch (2009-2014).

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