Executive Board

Patricia Soung

Patricia Soung

Juvenile Justice Consultant

Patricia Soung is currently an independent consultant working with the W. Haywood Burns Institute to facilitate stakeholders in Los Angeles in transferring the county’s juvenile justice system out of the Probation Department into another agency, with the goal of creating a rehabilitative, health-focused, and care-first system. From 2016-2020, Patricia was the Director of Youth Justice Policy and Senior Staff Attorney at the Children’s Defense Fund-California, leading its work to reform juvenile and criminal justice systems, and increase investments in youth development and communities. Previously, Patricia worked at the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School, the National Center for Youth Law, and the Children and Family Justice Center, Northwestern University of Law as a Soros Justice Fellow. Throughout, she has represented youth in juvenile trial, appellate and post-conviction matters, and taught college and law students. Patricia earned her JD from Northwestern University School of Law and B.A. from Stanford University.

Laurel Arroyo

Laurel Arroyo

Vice President
Alameda County Public Defender's Office

Laurel Arroyo is a public defender for Alameda County Public Defender’s office, where she has worked for 15 years in both juvenile and adult courts. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Ms. Arroyo taught high school in Alameda County’s juvenile court schools and co-founded a school for expelled probation youth. She is an activist in several movements: to reform and reduce the use of GPS/ Electronic Monitoring in juvenile court, to prevent the criminalization of disability, to prevent out-of-home placement in congregate care, and to raise the age of juvenile court to 21. She is a certified JTIP trainer and has presented at statewide and nationwide conferences through PJDC and NJDC.  Ms. Arroyo received her undergraduate degree from Brown University, and holds a J.D. from University of San Francisco Law School.

Tony Cheng

Tony Cheng

Treasurer / Chief Financial Officer

Tony has practiced criminal and juvenile delinquency law for over twenty years, litigating cases in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the federal district court for the Southern District of California, San Diego County Superior Court and, most recently, Alameda County Superior Court. In addition to six years of experience as a juvenile defender, Tony also tried nearly forty criminal jury trials to verdict during his public defender career. A juvenile defense trainer certified by the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), Tony has presented at the NJDC Leadership Summit and has contributed to training and educational materials published by PJDC.  Tony is a graduate of the U.C. Davis School of Law (King Hall), where he served as chair of the Moot Court Board and on the board of directors of the King Hall Legal Foundation, was a graduate of the school’s Public Interest Law Program and a member of the winning team in the school’s annual trial practice and appellate advocacy competitions.  He also holds an A.B. in Architecture from U.C. Berkeley.


Ji Seon Song

Stanford Law School

Ms. Song has dedicated her career to changing the criminal and juvenile legal systems. In her past work as a public defender, she sought to tell her clients’ stories and reflect their humanity. Her practice and policy focus has been on improving the plight of young people in custody and on creating better ways to keep youth connected to their communities. She gives training and lectures nationwide on issues related to policing, racial justice, and trial practice. She is currently a Thomas C. Grey Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School where she writes in the areas of criminal and juvenile law. She previously worked as a senior policy advocate at the National Juvenile Defender Center and a Prettyman fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center. She also served as a clerk for the Hon. Deborah A. Batts in the Southern District of New York. Ms. Song received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and an LLM in Trial Advocacy from Georgetown. She holds a B.A. in East Asian studies with a Minor in Music from Columbia College, Columbia University. Ms. Song was a founding member of the Asian American Criminal Trial Lawyers Association and the Bay Area Public Defenders for Racial Justice. She has been on the Advisory Board and Executive Board of PJDC since 2013. Her involvement with PJDC began as the California liaison for the MacArthur Models for Change Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network. Ms. Song is a Bay Area native and a classically trained singer.

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Raúl Arroyo-Mendoza

Board Member
Contra Costa County Public Defender's Office

Raúl Arroyo-Mendoza is a Juvenile Reentry and Education Attorney at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office. He provides civil legal services to youth involved in the juvenile delinquency system. These services include representation in school expulsion proceedings and special education matters; representation in Extended Foster Care matters to ensure youth have access to stable housing financial assistance, and health care; and representation in juvenile record sealing and expungement matters.  Mr. Arroyo-Mendoza has also served as a National Juvenile Defender Center Post-Disposition Reentry Fellow, as well as a Pride Law Fund Tom Steel Fellow. He is a graduate of Tufts University and UC Berkeley Law.


Richard Braucher

Board Member
First District Appellate Project, Oakland

Since 1998, Mr. Braucher has been a staff attorney at the First District Appellate Project in Oakland, where he represents indigent clients in juvenile and adult matters on appeal. He also trains panel attorneys who are new to appellate practice. In addition to serving on the PJDC Board, he has been an active member of the organization’s Amicus Committee since its inception in 2006, moderating the committee’s monthly teleconferences and writing amicus briefs and training materials. He was appellate counsel in In re Elias V. (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 568, a seminal juvenile confession case where the Court of Appeal held that the Reid Techniques commonly used by law enforcement rendered Elias’ confession involuntary. Mr. Braucher has also been a leader in devising juvenile trainings for appellate attorneys handling delinquency appeals and is an expert in Eighth Amendment sentencing issues for youth in adult court.

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Elizabeth Calvin

Board Member
Human Rights Watch

Since 1995, Ms. Calvin has fought for the rights of children caught up in the juvenile justice and foster care systems, as well those denied their education rights. As a senior advocate at Human Rights Watch, she focuses on the rights of children in California, with a specific emphasis on children and youth in foster care and the criminal justice systems. Her work includes research and writing on human rights violations against children, policy and legal advocacy, and building partnerships with community groups. She is an author of three Human Rights Watch reports on juveniles serving life without parole, and works closely with a national campaign to end the use of extreme prison sentences for youth. In 2012, her leadership of a coalition-based effort resulted in the reform of California’s use of life without parole sentences for youth. She has also written on foster care and homelessness, and works closely with youth, faith groups, family members of youth sentenced to life in prison, crime victims, incarcerated individuals, advocates, and activists for youth rights.


Meredith DeSautels

Board Member
Youth Law Center

Meredith Desautels is a staff attorney at the Youth Law Center. Her work focuses on ending the criminalization of childhood and replacing youth incarceration with positive, developmentally-appropriate supports that are rooted in family and community. In partnership with the Young Women’s Freedom Center, Ms. Desautel’s work is grounded in movement-based legal strategies that seek to build power within directly impacted families and communities. Prior to joining the Youth Law Center, Ms. Desautel was a Leading Edge Fellow funded by the Rosenberg Foundation. As a Leading Edge Fellow, she worked at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and Bay Area Legal Aid, representing young people impacted by the juvenile delinquency system. Prior to that, she was a Skadden Fellow and staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and she served as a law clerk to the Honorable John T. Noonan on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Ms. Desautel received her J.D. from U.C. Berkeley School of Law, and her B.A. from Princeton University.



Francis “Frankie” Guzman

Board Member
National Center for Youth Law

Francis (“Frankie”) Guzman is the Director of the California Youth Justice Initiative at the National Center for Youth Law. Mr. Guzman leads a team of attorneys, policy advocates, and community organizers working to eliminate the practice of prosecuting and incarcerating children in California’s adult criminal justice system, reduce incarceration and justice system involvement, and increase developmentally-appropriate services in communities for youth.  Raised in a poor, mostly immigrant community plagued by crime and drugs, Mr. Guzman experienced his parents’ divorce and his family’s subsequent homelessness at age 3, the life-imprisonment of his 16-year-old brother at age 5, and lost numerous childhood friends to violence. At age 15, he was arrested for armed robbery and, on his first offense, was sentenced to serve 15 years in the California Youth Authority. Released on parole after six years, Mr. Guzman went on to graduate from U.C. Berkeley with a B.A., and received a J.D. from UCLA Law School.  He is an expert in juvenile law and policy with a focus on ending the prosecution of juveniles as adults.  Through partnerships with community organizations and advocacy groups, Mr. Guzman has helped lead California’s effort to reduce the number of youths prosecuted as adults and serving time in adult prisons by passing legislation that established Youth Offender Parole Hearings, reformed Juvenile Transfer Hearings, and eliminated prosecutors’ direct file authority. More recently, Mr. Guzman helped lead statewide efforts to eliminate California’s practice of prosecuting 14 and 15-year-olds as adults, prohibit the incarceration of children under age 12 in the juvenile system, and secure approximately $60 million dollars to expand pre-arrest diversion programs and developmentally-appropriate, culturally-relevant community-based services for youth in California.


Jonathan Laba

Board Member
Contra Costa County Office of the Public Defender

Mr. Laba has been with the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office since 1996. In addition to supervising the agency’s Richmond Branch, he directs the Office’s law clerk and internship programs and chairs the Office’s Training Committee. Outside of his public defender work, Mr. Laba focuses his advocacy efforts on juvenile justice issues. He has served as a member of PJDC’s Executive Board for over twelve years, and is currently the organization’s Vice President. From 2008 to 2011, Mr. Laba participated in the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, an initiative that engaged juvenile defenders, policymakers, judges and other key stakeholders in designing strategies to improve juvenile indigent defense policy and practice. Since 2006, he has co-authored the chapter on juvenile delinquency proceedings in California Criminal Law: Procedure and Practice which is published annually by the Continuing Education of the Bar. Mr. Laba has been an adjunct faculty member at Berkeley Law since 2011, where he teaches the Criminal Field Placement Ethics Seminar. He taught Children and the Law at Golden Gate University School of Law from 2007 through 2012. Mr. Laba is a 1989 graduate of the University of Virginia. Following graduation, he spent a year at the Stanford Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Yokohama. He received his J.D. from U.C. Berkeley School of Law in 1996.

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Erin Morgan

Board Member
San Francisco Public Defender’s Office

Erin Morgan is honored to serve as a Board Member for the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center.  Like many of her family members, Ms. Morgan has dedicated her career to social justice. Presently, Ms. Morgan advocates for juveniles as a deputy public defender in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.  In her free time, she mentors youth in the Brown Girl Surf program.

Before coming to California, Ms. Morgan was raised in the NYC/NJ Metropolitan Area.  Her interest in advocacy began in high school after she joined the Martin Luther King Jr. Social Action Committee, and the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law.  Ms. Morgan’s curiosity blossomed as she studied psychology, ethics, and Spanish language at Carnegie Mellon University.  Influential Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal decisions inspired her journey to the University of San Francisco School of Law where she earned her Juris Doctorate degree and concentrated in Public Interest Law.  Upon graduation, Ms. Morgan received the Pro Bono Publico Award.

Ms. Morgan prepared for her legal career with opportunities in the New Jersey Judiciary, USF Criminal Law Clinic, Contra Costa County Office of the Public Defender, and San Francisco Office of the Public Defender.  Meanwhile, cross-cultural travels led her to the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain.  After law school, Ms. Morgan represented “lifers” before the Board of Parole Hearings.

She joined the Charles Houston Bar Association, and Minority Bar Coalition.  Her position as Mentorship Chairperson for the Black Women Lawyers Association of Northern California led her to become the Chairperson for the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Commission.  Now, Ms. Morgan wants to empower fellow defenders with training and improve outcomes for youth of color.  In fact, the National Juvenile Defender Center selected Ms. Morgan to be a member of the Inaugural class of the Ambassadors for Racial Justice Program.


Maureen Pacheco

Board Member
Los Angeles Alternate Public Defender's Office

Maureen Pacheco is the Trainer for the Juvenile Division of the Alternate Public Defenders Office in Los Angeles.   Ms. Pacheco is also a NITA trainer and has been certified as a JTIP trainer by the National Juvenile Defender Center. She has spent the majority of her career representing youth, and has handled cases at the trial level, as a writ/appellate attorney, and in post-conviction proceedings.  From 2010-2013, Ms. Pacheco was the Assistant Director at Loyola Law School’s Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, where she co-founded the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic.  Prior to that, she worked in the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. Ms. Pacheco was the co-founder of PJDC’s Amicus group, and has served as the juvenile legislative liaison for the California Public Defenders Association since 2005.  She has testified on numerous occasions as a juvenile law expert before the California Legislature, and is a frequent speaker at juvenile justice conferences and events.  In 2015, Ms. Pacheco was honored as the Juvenile Defender of the Year by PJDC, and in 2017, she was named Criminal Defense Attorney of the Year by the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Ms. Pacheco holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. from the University of Michigan. She is also a licensed mixologist, and is the proud mother of three children.


Damian Spieckerman

Board Member
Solano County Public Defender's Office

Mr. Spieckerman works in the juvenile delinquency unit of the Solano County Public Defender’s Office. He has spent half of his 15 year public defender career handling juvenile delinquency cases. In addition to his juvenile delinquency caseload, he also handles Youthful Offender Parole Hearing (SB 9/261/Franklin) cases for his office.  Mr. Spieckerman is a commissioner on the Solano County Juvenile Justice Commission and frequently represents the Solano County Public Defender’s Office at county-wide and regional juvenile justice events.

Mr. Spieckerman is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and graduated with Honors from Pitzer College with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations.  Then, after graduating from UC Davis School of Law, King Hall, he began working as a deputy public defender in Mendocino County.  Mr. Spieckerman has been practicing in Solano County since 2005.  He lives in Alameda County with his amazing wife and their two rambunctious children.


Patricia Lee

President Emerita
San Francisco Public Defender’s Office

Ms. Lee has been a Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco since 1978 and has been practicing in the Juvenile Courts since 1981. She is currently the Managing Attorney for the Juvenile Division of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. She has undertaken a leadership role with PJDC since 2000, when she began to serve as one of the organization’s first Co-Directors. Ms. Lee led PJDC for nearly twenty years. She is on the Board of the National Juvenile Defender Center, the Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee of the Judicial Council, Center for Families Children and the Courts. She is a core member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, an interdisciplinary agency that bridges research, policy and practice for “at-risk” youth. She is also an appointed Committee member for the National Academy of Science on a Prioritized Plan to Implement a Developmental Approach in Juvenile Justice Reform.


G. Christopher Gardner

Board Member Emeritus
San Bernardino County Public Defender

On March 31, 2018, Mr. Gardner was appointed the Public Defender for the County of San Bernardino. Prior to that, he served as Assistant Public Defender and directed the internal operations of the entire agency. Mr. Gardner began working for the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office in 1997 shortly after his graduation from McGeorge School of Law. Later that year, he entered private practice at a firm that provided primary-level conflict representation to children and parents in the San Bernardino County delinquency and dependency courts. He became a partner at the firm in 2001. Mr. Gardner was appointed to PJDC’s Advisory Board in 2005. In 2006, Mr. Gardner returned to the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office as Chief Deputy of the Office’s Human Services Division. He changed the Division’s culture by directing attorneys to not only represent their individual clients, but to become immersed in the system as participants and collaborators whenever possible.

System-wide improvements implemented by Mr. Gardner and his team have included collaborating with the Probation and Behavioral Health Departments to obtain a Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant for assisting mentally ill clients in Juvenile Hall with the transition out of custody; and working with Probation to develop San Bernardino County’s award-winning GATEWAY program.  Mr. Gardner’s staff have also worked with San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health to assist with the development of its Transitional Age Youth Centers. Mr. Gardner sought grant funding to design and implement Alternative Approaches to Rehabilitation within the Community, an award-winning program that utilizes the services of social service practitioners to meet juvenile clients’ needs and to assist them with successful completion of their treatment plans.

PJDC Staff


Sue Burrell

PJDC Policy Director

For more than four decades, Ms. Burrell has fought to level the playing field for young people in the justice system and has worked for practices that allow them to move forward in their lives. As PJDC’s Policy and Training Director, she helps lawyers to assist youth through providing appellate case support, speaking and creating training materials, writing on juvenile law issues, and serving as a consultant on legal and policy matters. Ms. Burrell began her career as a public defender in Los Angeles, working on behalf of youth in the trial and appellate courts, and serving as an appellate/training attorney.  Shifting to policy work, she then spent 28 years at the San Francisco-based Youth Law Center, focusing on reducing the use of incarceration; stemming transfer to adult court; challenging institutional abuses; and assuring access to education, health and mental health care services. She played a leadership role in bringing to light abuses in California state institutional system, and in opposing legislative measures that vilified young people in the system. With colleagues, she wrote national standards for juvenile detention facilities and trained people all over the United States on juvenile institutional care.

At Youth Law Center, Ms. Burrell also reconnected with her juvenile defender roots, and for the past decade she has worked to improve the quality of legal representation for youth in juvenile court proceedings. She co-authored the first national study on quality of representation, led the California team in a multi-year MacArthur Foundation initiative to improve juvenile defense, and helped to write national standards for juvenile defenders. She has written dozens of articles and law reviews on juvenile law topics and co-edited PJDC’s manual on collateral consequences of court involvement. She has argued in the California Supreme Court, has written or co-authored many amicus curiae briefs, and has played a significant role in the enactment of more than a dozen laws affecting youth in the justice system. Ms. Burrell was a member of the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Workgroup in 2004-05, and is an appointed member of the Board of State and Community Corrections Juvenile Justice Standing Committee. Her work has been recognized in California and nationally. She was the 2010 Defender of the Year for the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, and in 2011, was awarded the American Bar Association’s Livingston Hall Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice Advocacy.


Eileen Manning-Villar

PJDC Grants and Projects Director

Ms. Manning-Villar is the Grants and Projects Director at Pacific Juvenile Defender Center. She also practices appellate law with an emphasis on juvenile delinquency appeals, taking appointed cases from the First District Appellate Project, Sixth District Appellate Project, and California Appellate Project – Los Angeles. She is a Member of the Board of the California Appellate Defense Counsel. Among Ms. Manning-Villar’s modest collection of published opinions, her favorite without question is In re T.F. (2017) 16 Cal.App.5th 202, a juvenile confession case [holding a 15-year-old youth did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights due to his age, learning disability, lack of experience in the criminal justice system and the manner in which his interrogators advised him of his rights and employed the now discredited Reid technique]. Over the past three years, she has been part of the team managing PCDC’s OJJDP funded project – developing a collateral consequences manual, a record sealing toolkit, and increasing the capacity of defenders in underserved parts of California. Ms. Manning-Villar is a graduate of Mills College and Hastings College of the Law and a certified Juvenile Training Immersion Program trainer.