Alan Ellis, a past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Fulbright Award recipient, is a criminal defense lawyer with offices in San Francisco and New York, and over 50 years of experience as a practicing lawyer, law professor, federal law clerk, and Fulbright Award recipient.
He is a nationally recognized authority in the fields of federal plea bargaining, sentencing, prison matters, appeals, habeas corpus 2255 motions and international criminal law. He has successfully represented federal criminal defendants and prisoners throughout the United States. Mr. Ellis is a sought-after lecturer in criminal law education programs and is widely published in the areas of federal sentencing, Bureau of Prisons matters, appeals and other post-conviction remedies, with more than 120 articles and books and 70 lectures, presentations and speaking engagements to his credit.
Federal Lawyer Magazine has described him as “One of this country’s pre-eminent criminal defense lawyers.” The San Francisco affiliate of ABC-TV has said that he is “The best in the business.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a published decision has described him as a “nationally recognized expert in federal criminal sentencing.” Verdict magazine quotes other legal commentators as saying that he is “the go-to guy in America if you’re in deep trouble with the feds.”
Among his publications are the highly acclaimed Federal Prison Guidebook, the Federal Sentencing Guidebook and the Federal Post Conviction Guidebook. Mr. Ellis also publishes “Federal Sentencing, Prison and Post Conviction News” and related Practice Tips.
In the area of international criminal law, Mr. Ellis was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Senior Specialist Award by the U.S. State Department to conduct lectures in China on American criminal law in the fall of 2007. He was the first practicing American criminal defense lawyer to have been invited to the Peoples Republic of China by both the Chinese and American governments to teach there. Fulbright awards are coveted and confer special status on winners during their year of foreign teaching as outstanding, officially-recognized representatives of the United States. It is one of the most prestigious award programs worldwide. More Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes than those of any other academic program.
Mr. Ellis is
- Past President, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
- Former contributing Editor, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Magazine, for whom he wrote a regular quarterly column on federal sentencing, Bureau of Prisons matters, and post-conviction remedies.
- AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell. An AV Rating is Martindale-Hubbell’s highest ratings for attorneys. It shows that a lawyer has reached the height of professional excellence. He or she has usually practiced law for many years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.
- Fulbright Senior Specialist. Visiting Fulbright Professor of Law, Jiaotong University School of Law, Shanghai, China.
- Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.
- Former member of the Board of Directors of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
- Past President to the ACLU of Central Pennsylvania.
- Former lecturer, Wharton School of Business and Finance, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At the forefront of critical issues facing the criminal defense bar, Mr. Ellis founded the NACDL Lawyers Assistance Strike Force, which has attained national prominence for its support of criminal defense lawyers who are prosecuted, subpoenaed and harassed as a result of their ethical and vigorous defense of their clients. He also founded NACDL’s Amicus Curiae Committee which, during his tenure, filed briefs in over 40 major state and federal cases throughout the United States. For his work in founding NACDL’s Strike Force and Amicus Committee, he was awarded the Association’s 1983 Robert C. Heeney Award for distinguished contributions to the criminal defense bar.
Mr. Ellis has been interviewed extensively by the national media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, USA Today, Forbes magazine ,“NBC Nightly News”, “ABC World News Tonight”, “CNN Prime News”, “CBS Radio News”, “National Public Radio”, Bloomberg News Television, and most recently CNBC.
He has been featured in the American Bar Association Journal, the San Francisco Recorder, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pacific Sun and profiled by the syndicated TV magazine show, “In America/The West”, as well as KGO TV, the ABC affiliate in San Francisco. Mr. Ellis has written numerous editorials on criminal justice issues which have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Constitution, San Diego Union, Oakland Tribune, Sacramento Bee, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune, Salt Lake City Tribune, Pittsburgh Press, and LaOpinión. Mr. Ellis authors a regular quarterly column on Federal Sentencing for the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Magazine.
He has served as a member of the editorial board of the Criminal Practice Manual published by the Bureau of National Affairs Inc.
A former law professor and federal law clerk to two federal judges, Mr. Ellis is a 1967 graduate of Villanova University School of Law and an editor of the Villanova Law Review.
MARK H. ALLENBAUGH
Mark H. Allenbaugh, a sentencing and mitigation consultant with the firm, is a nationally recognized expert on federal sentencing, law, policy and practice. He is a co-founder of Sentencing Stats, LLC, which provides attorneys and their clients with expert statistical analyses of federal sentencing data and trends. He has served as co-chair of the Sentencing Committee for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; chair of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Task Force for the D.C. Chapter of the Federal Bar Association; and as a non-voting member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s Practitioner’s Advisory Group, and a member of the ABA’s Corrections and Sentencing Committee.
Prior to entering the private sector, Mr. Allenbaugh served as a Staff Attorney for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. He has published numerous articles on sentencing policy and criminal justice, which have been cited over 100 times in the top U.S. law journals, and over a dozen times in published federal district and appellate opinions. His published articles include: Caught in the Web of the Criminal Justice System, “Tilting At Windmills, The Misplaced War on Child Pornography,” ch. 6, 151-174 (2017) (Dubin, Lawrence J., & Horowitz, Emily eds.); Sentencing in Chaos: How Statistics Can Harmonize the “Discordant Symphony,” 32 Fed. Sent. R. 128 (Feb. 2020); Unwarranted Disparity: Effectively Using Statistics in Federal Sentencing, The Criminal Law Reporter, 101 Cr.L. 71, (2017); Plea Bargain vs. Open Pleas: What the Data Reveal, 31 White Collar Crime Rpt. 1 (2017); The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s 2017 Amendment Cycle: Acceptance of Responsibility and Relevant Conduct, 12 White Collar Crime Rpt. 288 (2017); “Drawn from Nowhere”: A Review of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s White-Collar Sentencing Guidelines and Loss Data, 26 Fed. Sent. R. 19 (2013); Federal Sentencing Tips, 37 Champion 40 (2013); Trends and Practice Tips for Representing Child Pornography Offenders at Sentencing, 27 Crim. Justice 29 (2012); At a “Loss” for Justice: Federal Sentencing for Economic Offices, 25 Crim. Justice 22 (Winter 2011). He co-edited Sentencing, Sanctions, and Corrections: Federal and State Law, Policy, and Practice, 2nd ed., Foundation Press (2002).
Mr. Allenbaugh’s firm Sentencing Stats, LLC has access to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s sentencing datafiles from 2002 to the present. These datafiles contain thousands of variables for every defendant sentenced under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines nationwide, which report everything regarding the sentence imposed, to all pertinent offender traits. These data allow him to provide precise statistical and trend analyses for clients and counsel in support of the lowest sentence possible.
Finally, Mr. Allenbaugh frequently travels to, and occasionally resides in, China where he works with companies developing products for the U.S. legal market including video-conferencing technology for prisons and data-mining software for attorneys. Mr. Allenbaugh also was an honorary professor at Yanbian University’s law school in Yanji, Jilin Province in 2018, where he has lectured on the differences and similarities between China’s and the U.S.’s sentencing systems. He currently is co-authoring an article on the same with a People’s Supreme Court Justice. As a result, Mr. Allenbaugh has been able to cultivate an extensive network within the business, educational and government sectors in China, which can be called upon to assist foreign clients in a variety of situations.
Maureen Baird, formerly a high-ranking U.S. Bureau of Prisons’ official, is now consulting with our firm.
Maureen’s experience in federal corrections began in 1989 as a case manager with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons. Through her 28 years with the Agency, she continued to acquire positions of increasing responsibility. In 2009, Maureen was appointed to the position of Warden at the Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury, Connecticut, and was later promoted to Warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. There, she was appointed to Senior Executive Staff by the United States Attorney General and within two years, she was transferred to a position of greater responsibility as the Warden of the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. As warden, Maureen was responsible for the leadership and direction of 300 to 350 staff members and approximately 1,200 to 1,500 inmates. During her tenure as warden for seven years, she was responsible for staff development and various specialized inmate housing units, including a high security management unit which mainly housed international terrorists who were assigned maximum custody.
Maureen led staff through a mission change at the Federal Prison in Danbury where they housed female offenders for several years and then transitioned to male offenders in 2013. She oversaw all training required to ensure that staff were well-equipped with the skills needed to work with male offenders.
In her various positions through her 28-year career in corrections, there was a great emphasis on training of staff while simultaneously ensuring the safety of staff and inmates, managing multi-million dollar budgets, recruitment and retention of staff, staff discipline, labor management relations, as well as dealing with institution emergencies and providing guidance to the Special Operations Response Teams. Maureen worked extensively with other federal agencies, providing training to their staff. She was also a member of the Joint Terrorist Task Force, and a member of various other federal, state, and local groups. She was very active in joint training that involved, local, state, and federal law enforcement entities.
For the last several years, she held Top Secret Clearance, only issued to a small percentage of Wardens and Executive Staff.
Deborah Bezilla is the administrative assistant coordinating communications with court staff and Bureau of Prisons staff, correspondence, document preparation, federal court e-filing, and financial matters for the firm. She also handles distribution of the firm’s publications. Ms. Bezilla works out of the Lemont, Pennsylvania office, near State College. She holds degrees in accounting and history as well as a paralegal certificate from the Pennsylvania State University. She has been with the firm for more than 40 years. She was an early adopter of telecommuting, first in Pennsylvania and then east coast-west coast.
Jeff Carson, a federal prison consultant to the Law Offices of Alan Ellis, retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in January 2015, after 27 years of service. While employed by the BOP, Mr. Carson had wide ranging experience in Case Management, Sentence Computations, Inmate Classifications and most recently Inmate Placement and Designations. Mr. Carson served as Case Management Coordinator for nine years at which time he was involved in all aspects of inmate programming ranging from Inmate Discipline, Financial Responsibility, Central Inmate Monitoring, and Release Preparation Programming. Additionally, in his role as Case Management Coordinator at FCI La Tuna, he was the coordinator of the Treaty Transfer program and has extensive knowledge in this area. For the past nine years, until his recent retirement, Mr. Carson was an Operations Manager at the Designation Security Classification and Computation Center (DSCC).
The DSCC is the sole entity responsible for the computation of inmate sentences, classification and designation of all inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. As an Operations Manager, Mr. Carson was responsible for these tasks for the Central District of California, District of New Mexico and the Districts in Alabama.
He has extensive knowledge in all aspects of sentence computation including jail credit issues, state concurrency cases, nunc pro tunc, and old law cases. He was also the designated Operations Manager for all juvenile cases. He has expertise in the classification of inmates utilizing Pre-Sentence Investigations, Judgment and Commitment Orders (J&C), Medical Information and any other information necessary to ascertain a security level for designation purposes.
Mr. Carson has provided training seminars for the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the District of New Mexico Public Defender’s Office and the Western District of Texas Public Defender’s office.
Jonathan Edelstein, Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Alan Ellis in the firm’s New York office, has practiced criminal defense law for 22 years, with a focus on State and Federal appeals, post-conviction remedies, habeas corpus petitions and challenges to sex offender restrictions. A graduate of Fordham University Law School, he is admitted to the bar in the State of New York, the United States District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, Western and Northern Districts of New York, the United States Courts of Appeal for the Second, Third and Fourth Circuits, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Mr. Edelstein has authored or co-authored 15 law journal articles on various aspects of criminal law including “High Court Takes on Supervised Release Revocations” for Law360 (February 2019). He has appeared as an Outside Counsel columnist in the New York Law Journal daily newspaper. His work has been cited by numerous Federal courts as well as the highest courts of New York, Kansas, Maryland and Montana.
Notable cases litigated by Mr. Edelstein include United States v. Rosemond, 841 F.3d 95 (2d Cir. 2016) (murder-for-hire conviction reversed due to government’s improper use of proffer statement); People v. Cabrera, 169 A.D.3d 435 (1st Dept. 2019) (defendant’s counsel was ineffective for misadvising him concerning immigration consequences of plea); People v. Hernandez, 167 A.D.3d 936 (2d Dept. 2018) (vacating murder conviction due to insufficient evidence of depraved indifference to human life); People v. Hargrove, 162 A.D.3d 25 (2d Dept. 2018) (vacating murder conviction based on newly discovered evidence); People v. Singh, 139 A.D.3d 761 (2d Dept. 2016) (reversing murder conviction due to trial court’s refusal to give a justification instruction); People v. Hamilton, 115 A.D.3d 12 (2d Dept. 2014) (defendant wrongfully convicted of murder in 1992 was entitled to a hearing on actual innocence).
Michael Henderson, a federal prison consultant to the Law Offices of Alan Ellis, has over 23 years of experience working with the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). While employed by the BOP, Mr. Henderson had wide-ranging experience in Federal Corrections and Case Management, with expertise in inmate discipline; inmate programs; oversight in two of six Regional Offices for inmate programs, inmate Regional legal appeals, compassionate release applications, and Congressional and Judicial correspondence; Central Inmate Monitoring (special inmate placement and movement); staff training; security classification oversight and prison designations and transfers; and prison facility administration. Additionally, he was an E.E.O. Investigator for the BOP. Mr. Henderson served as the Regional Designator for the Western Region of the United States in the early ’90s and again from 1997 until his retirement in 2000. In that capacity, his duties included oversight of the Federal Bureau of Prisons classification of newly sentenced federal offenders in the western part of the United States.
Mr. Henderson worked at several prisons, including High, Medium, Minimum and Administrative Security. During his career, Mr. Henderson received numerous awards and recognition for his work. Noteworthy awards include an annual award from the inmate branch of the NAACP at FPC Allenwood, Pennsylvania and the Bureau of Prisons’ National Stanford Bates Award for outstanding contributions to improved Case Management. Mr. Henderson is the co-author of the Federal Prison Guidebook.
NELLIE TORRES KLEIN
Nellie Torres Klein, Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Alan Ellis, is a former U.S. Department of Justice Honors Attorney and Senior Counsel with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), with 20 years of prison litigation experience specializing in sentence computation, disciplinary hearings and sanctions, conditions of confinement, and cases brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
She has served at numerous federal prisons including Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC), San Diego, California; the United States Penitentiary (USP), Lompoc, California; and USP Allenwood, Pennsylvania.
Ms. Klein is a graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law. She is admitted to practice in the State of California, United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and Middle District of Pennsylvania.
She is the co-author of “The First Step Act of 2018: Recidivism Reduction and New Time Credits,” Bloomberg Law (2/15/19).
While with the BOP, Ms. Klein was involved in various activities including serving as the Federal Women’s Program Manager, Hispanic Program Manager, Co-chair of the Affirmative Action Committee and a member of the executive staff at both USP Lompoc and MCC San Diego.
Ms. Klein serves on the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion of the San Diego County Bar Association. A fluent Spanish speaker, she volunteers with local charities, helping resident aliens, asylum seekers, refugees and other members of the needy and otherwise underserved immigrant community.
HIRAM S. LICON, M.D.
Dr. Hiram S. Licon is now consulting with the firm for Bureau of Prisons medical issues. Dr. Licon has more than twenty-six years of experience working with the federal prison system as a medical care provider and a health services administrator. Most recently, he served for five years as a Bureau of Prisons medical designator, where he reviewed, evaluated, and designated inmates to a medical, surgical, or psychiatric referral center, or other suitable facilities. He monitored all facets of the designation and transportation process to make certain that the assigned care matched inmates’ medical and mental health requirements. In addition, he coordinated designation-related communications—memos, telephone calls, e-mail, etc.—with other entities such as INS, U.S. Attorneys, FBI, federal courts, public defenders, attorneys, other physicians, and family members.
From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Licon was the BOP health services administrator at FCI Texarkana, where he supervised a staff of 25 persons in activities ranging from providing inmate services to ensuring that space, equipment and supplies were adequate to serve the overall population. Prior to that assignment, he served as a health services administrator with Physicians Network Association in Chaparral, New Mexico, where he directed other health care professionals in delivering medical, dental, mental health, and allied health services to detainee populations.
At FCI La Tuna from 1990 to 2007, Dr. Licon was a physician assistant providing a wide range of inmate health care, including patient assessment and daily sick call, and primary care emergency services.
Dr. Licon received a medical degree from the University of Medicine, Juarez, Mexico, in 1987. Before joining the BOP, he supervised a municipal hospital in Juarez. His continuing medical education has included instruction in such areas as infectious diseases, geriatrics, orthopedics, and oncology. He is fluent in Spanish.
Doug Passon, Of Counsel to the firm, is a practicing criminal defense attorney, and President and Creative Director of D Major Films, LLC.
After over twenty years in the trenches, including 12 years with the Trial Unit of the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Phoenix, Arizona, Passon knows that in litigation, our stories are everything, and how we tell them can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
As an award-winning documentary filmmaker recognized by the Wall Street Journal as a pioneer in the use of video in sentencing mitigation, Passon understands that film/video can be the most compelling way to convey the true emotion of the story. He produces documentary films for use in and out of court, and brings an unmatched skill set to this process.
Passon received his law degree from Washington University School of Law, where he was Associate Editor of the Washington University Law Quarterly. He regularly authors and contributes to articles in criminal defense publications and has led nearly 70 training and workshop sessions.
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PHILLIP S. WISE
Phillip S. Wise was formerly BOP Assistant Director for Health Services. He received his B. A. from Emory University (Phi Beta Kappa), and his M. Ed. from Georgia State University. He has 25 years of experience with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. His most senior position was Deputy Director. In that position his responsibilities included national oversight for Health Services, Food Services, and Safety. He managed and had oversight for a $500 million budget. He directed or participated in the development of national policies related to corrections, correctional health care, public health issues and post release services. With the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the other members of the executive staff, he was responsible for the overall administration of the federal prison system.
Over his long career, his varied assignments included the following: Case Management; Drug Abuse Treatment Manager; Staff Training Academy Instructor; Regional Administrator for Correctional Programs; Regional and later National Administrator of Correctional Programs at the Central Office in Washington, D. C., where he later served as a Deputy Assistant Director and Assistant Director. He was a Warden at the Federal Medical Center for Prisoners at Rochester, Minnesota where he managed medical and surgical inpatient and outpatient programs and forensic mental health programs. He was also Warden at the Federal Prison Camp for female prisoners in West Virginia.
Mr. Wise was a member of the Senior Executive Service and has received numerous honors and awards. He has provided testimony and briefings to members of Congress and senior government officials. He has considerable experience as an auditor/evaluator of correctional institution operations.
Subsequent to his work with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, he served as Vice President of a national correctional health care company that provided specialty health care for inmates in federal, state, and local facilities.
Currently, he consults on medical issues focused on procedures of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. His primary areas of focus as a consultant are health care, mental health care, case management and female inmate issues. Mr. Wise is a member of the American Correctional Association.