Steve Downs was in the Peace Corps in India from 1964-66 and spent most of his legal career as the Chief Attorney for the NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct, disciplining bad judges. His job with the Commission brought him into contact with defense practices in New York State that seemed almost incomprehensible. He retired in 2003 and volunteered to work for a year with Mardi Crawford and the NY Defenders Association, trying to figure out why New York State provided such ineffective defense to many poor people. He was involved in preliminary efforts to sue the State of New York to provide adequate indigent defense. In 2006 he volunteered to work on the defense of Yassin Aref, an Imam accused of terrorism related charges. After Aref was convicted, Downs realized that the government had deliberately convicted an innocent man, and was in the process of convicting many other innocent Muslims all across the country. He became a founding member of Project SALAM, an organization dedicated to documenting these cases of "preemptive prosecution," and to advocating for the release of innocent defendants. Eventually Project SALAM joined with 20 other organizations to form the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF). Downs is presently the Interim Executive Director of NCPCF.
In Our Name Frank Zarro (518) 581 7933 Info@InOurName.org
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