Alan Ellis, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Fulbright Award recipient, is a nationally recognized authority in sentencing, prison matters, appeals, 2255 motions and international prisoner transfers for foreign inmates with offices in San Francisco and New York. He has been practicing law for 50 years.
Alan and his law firm endeavors to obtain for its clients the lowest possible sentence and if it is one of incarceration placement, the best prison possible with release at the earliest opportunity through prison programming, appeals, 2255 motions and international prisoner transfers for foreign inmates.
He is co-author of the Federal Prison Guidebook: Sentencing and Post-Conviction Remedies. He also publishes three quarterly e-newsletters with a combined readership of over 18,000 judges, lawyers, prosecutors and U.S. Probation Officers: Judicial Updates: Views from the Defense, White Collar Updates and Alan Ellis’s Updates. He 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 2255 motions, with more than 180 articles and books and 85 lectures, presentations and speaking engagements to his credit.
Alan has been described as “one of this country’s pre-eminent criminal defense lawyers” by Federal Lawyer magazine. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a published decision, identified him as a “nationally recognized expert in federal criminal sentencing.” KGO TV—the ABC San Francisco affiliate has called him “The best in the business.”
Alan was a Visiting Professor of Law, by way of a Fulbright award from the U.S. State Department, to conduct lecturers at Shanghai, China Jiaotong University School of Law on the protections afforded criminal defendants in America. He was the first American criminal defense lawyer ever to be invited by the Chinese and United States governments to teach in China.
In addition to serving as President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Alan also served as President of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Central Pennsylvania, the Board of Directors of the Prison Law Offices in California, the Board of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and is a unanimously elected Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers (ABCL).
Before entering private practice, Alan was an Assistant Professor of Law at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, and a Lecturer in Business Law at the Wharton School of Business and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He was also a law clerk to two federal judges.
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 served at numerous federal prisons including MCC San Diego, California, 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 United States District Court for the Southern District of California and the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
She is the co-author of “The First Step Act of 2018: Parts 1-4”, Bloomberg Law (2019-2020).
While with the Bureau of Prisons, Nellie was involved in various activities including serving as the Federal Women’s Program Manager and a member of the Executive staff at both USP Lompoc and MCC San Diego.
She serves on the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion of the San Diego, California 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, has been practicing criminal defense for nearly twenty-five years. He is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker who combines his passion for filmmaking and storytelling with his practice of law by producing short documentaries for use as mitigation at sentencing. He is the nationally recognized expert in the field of video sentencing advocacy, his work having been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Atlantic & Le Monde (France). He routinely speaks, teaches and writes on this and other topics.
Passon started his legal career as a public defender in Phoenix, AZ. He then joined the “White Collar & Special Matters” group at Quarles and Brady. In 2002, he left the firm to return to the world of public defense, becoming an Assistant Federal Defender in Phoenix.
In 2014, Passon left the FPD to create what may be the first of its kind, combination law firm and video production studio. He provides plea, sentencing and post-conviction mitigation films, day-in-the-life videos, and other story consulting for attorneys across the country.
In 2019, he began creating cutting-edge live and on-demand CLE content. His first offering is based on the blockbuster crime documentary, “The Staircase” and features the lead lawyer in the case, David Rudolf.
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.