RAPID DEFENSE NETWORK
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ABOUT

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DEPORTATION AND DETENTION DEFENSE

Rapid Defense Network provides rapid legal representation on a pro bono basis to immigrants facing unlawful and imminent detention or deportation. By leveraging partnerships with well-resourced leading law firms and law school clinics, mentoring their teams of attorneys on the successful legal techniques pioneered by Rapid Defense Network, we are able to efficiently and relentlessly address the soaring demand for our services.

 

OUR TEAM

Photograph by Ariel Zambelich/The Intercept

Photograph by Ariel Zambelich/The Intercept

Sarah Gillman, Legal Director

Sarah Gillman is a co-Legal Director of Rapid Defense Network. Sarah has been defending non-citizens who are detained and facing removal since 2007. She has an extensive background in defending detained non-citizens in proceedings before the Executive Office of Immigration Review and in the Federal Courts. Sarah was instrumental in the development of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, the nation’s first public defender system for detained non-citizens funded by the New York City Council. Sarah is a graduate of Earlham College and CUNY School of Law. Sarah also lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Photograph by Lauren Rock/The Intercept

Photograph by Lauren Rock/The Intercept


Gregory Copeland, Legal Director

Gregory Copeland is a co-Legal Director of Rapid Defense Network. Prior to RDN, Gregory worked as a Supervising Attorney in the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project and built a prominent rapid response Federal immigration litigation practice along with Sarah Gillman at a non-profit. He also worked as a litigator at the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. He left private practice following the announcement of racist and unlawful Muslim ban in 2017. He is a graduate of Brown University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Gregory has extensive experience litigating civil rights issues, with a particular focus on the writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. Districts Courts. He too lives in Brooklyn, NY.

 
 

OUR BOARD

Rapid Defense Network’s board members are:

  • Peter Cobb, Treasurer

  • Rachel N. De Chacon

  • Amy Drury

  • Katy Brodsky Falco

  • Philip L. Graham, Jr.

  • Sarah T. Gillman, Secretary

  • Arlene Keizer

  • Georgi Natalichvili

  • Gui Stampur, Chair

Peter Cobb, treasurer

Peter is the former Managing Partner and Chair of the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP. Previously, he has been employed as the President of The Legal Aid Society, Chief Financial Officer of the International Center for Transitional Justice, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress, and Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Fordham University. In recent years he served as Board Chair of the Correctional Association of New York, Board Member of the Shakespeare Society of New York and member of the Shakespeare Council at the Public Theatre.  He has a J.D. from Columbia Law School, a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the City University of New York and a B.A. from Pomona College. 

Rachel N. De Chacon

Rachael is a corporate partner in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Her practice focuses on the formation, operation and regulatory compliance of private equity funds and other investment vehicles. From 2016-2018, she worked for Blackstone in Real Estate Legal & Compliance. Rachael holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and a B.A. from Boston College.

Amy Drury

Amy is an investment-banking instructor with over 17 years of experience teaching analysts, associates and senior management within financial institutions how to be more effective at their jobs. 

 Based in New York, Amy’s client list includes recognized Wall Street names as well as educational institutions. Amy specializes in accounting, valuation, financial modelling and Excel training, all of which draw on her background in corporate finance. Amy’s classes are always practical, interactive and as close to the experience of working in a bank as possible. Tutorials and lessons are conducted at the computer, building models, using Excel and solving problems real-time and with real-company data.

Amy has been teaching continuing professional development classes as well as Exam Prep courses for the CFA qualification and she has taught in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and across the Middle East, and in more than 15 North American cities.

As well as teaching in the classroom, Amy is an accomplished author of academic texts, having written for a number of publications and contributed to accounting and investment banking textbooks. She also produces online e-learning content for leading industry on-line courses.

Amy started her finance career with Deloitte, gaining the ACA qualification to become a Chartered Accountant before moving into a corporate finance role focusing on re-financing and re-structuring mid-cap companies. Amy has a B.A in Architecture from the University of Liverpool.

Katy Brodsky Falco

Katy most recently served as Executive Director of Crime Lab New York, a non-profit criminal justice research organization that provides support to government partners free of charge and in real time. She launched the New York office of Crime Lab, where she managed a team of economists and computer scientists to build a body of rigorous evidence to show which interventions and machine learning algorithms really work to reduce crime. Prior to this, Katy served as the Executive Director of Assessments and Re-entry Services at the New York City Department of Correction (DOC), where she designed and operationalized a new re-entry services contract for the City of New York, the Individualized Correction Achievement Network (I-CAN), which implements evidence-based assessment tools to identify those inmates at highest risk of recidivism and only pays providers for services that target the individualized criminogenic needs of each participant. Prior to her work at DOC, Katy was Director of Advocacy and Associate General Counsel for Grameen America, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus’s non-profit microfinance organization. She also worked at The Legal Aid Society as a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division, and at the International Center for Transitional Justice in Cape Town and New York. Katy holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from New York University.

Philip L. Graham, Jr.

Philip was a litigation partner at the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP from 1977 through 2010 and is now Of counsel to the firm. He is the former managing partner of the firm’s litigation group.  In addition to his commercial litigation practice, he has been active in the firm’s pro bono practice, including work on asylum and SIJS cases and other immigration-related matters.  He is a member of Chief Judge Katzmann’s Study Group on Immigrant  Representation. He also serves as a mediator in the Southern District of New York’s volunteer  mediation program. He was formerly an adviser for The American Law institute’s Project on Transnational Rules of Civil Procedure and a member of the Southern District’s  Civil Justice Reform Act Committee.  He has a A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  

Sarah T. Gillman, Secretary

Sarah has been practicing in the area of immigration law for over a decade with a focus on the representation of individuals who are detained and facing removal from the United States. From 2007-2016, she was a staff attorney in the Immigration Unit of The Legal Aid Society. From 2017-2019, she was a Supervising Attorney in the Immigration Law Unit of The Legal Aid Society where she supervised and assisted in the implementation, building and advocacy for increased funding of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP).  From 2012-2014, Sarah was an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, Washington Square Legal Services where she taught and supervised students In the Immigration Rights Clinic (IRC) and the Advanced Immigrant Rights Clinic (AIRC).  She attended Earlham College and CUNY School of Law. 

 Sarah and Gregory Copeland met at The Legal Aid Society, where they built a prominent rapid response Federal Litigation practice beginning in 2018 and in January 2019-with a dream and determination-began Rapid Defense Network.

 Sarah lives in Brooklyn, New York and is the proud granddaughter of her maternal grandfather who was Armenian and paternal Grandfather who was from Lithuania. They both came to the United States to seek safety and stayed for the remainder of their lives.  

Arlene Keizer

Arlene is Chair and Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute, is a scholar, writer, and teacher whose work focuses primarily on African Diaspora literature and culture, engaging critical theory, feminist theory—especially black feminist theory—and psychoanalysis. The author of the monograph Black Subjects: Identity Formation in the Contemporary Narrative of Slavery, she has also published articles and essays in a range of professional and popular journals. Keizer holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. Her publications also include poetry, film reviews, and experimental criticism.

 Over more than 20 years of university teaching and mentoring, Keizer has developed courses and programs attentive to issues of social justice. She has created and taught undergraduate and graduate classes on global narratives of liberation, on African American writers’ use of the personal essay as a practice of freedom, and on the intersections between critical race theory and literature.

 As a faculty member at Brown University, Keizer served on the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, whose report on Brown’s historical complicity with American slavery won the Community and Justice Award from Rhode Island for Community & Justice (RICJ). Her other extracurricular labor for the universities where she has worked includes serving as an equity advisor to the School of the Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. There she also co-created, with colleagues in the UCI Law School, a year-long series of events on the long aftermath of the Scottsboro case in literature, visual culture, global activism, and the law. For this East Coast native, born to Trinidadian immigrant parents, moving to Brooklyn has been a complex form of homecoming; she is delighted to share a city with her siblings again. Skeins of yarn that will (one day!) be knitted or woven are hidden in the Senegalese baskets around her apartment.

Georgi Natalichvili

Georgi recently co-founded Riverhead Realty Group LLC, which specializes in the sale of residential homes and property.  Georgi has spent most of his career in the automotive industry, first in sales at Mercedes of Brooklyn before working his way up to finance manager at Potamkin GM. He is now transitioning from the automotive industry to residential real estate.

 Georgi was born in Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia, where he obtained a degree and business school certificate from the State Medical University. He first came to the United States in 1993 and spent three months at language school in Nashville, Tennessee.  Four years later in New York, Georgi founded the successful American Jewelry Design Company, which made and manufactured gold jewelry. However, in 2003, when most jewelry manufacturers moved production to China for cost reasons, he chose to close the business down. He then moved to automotive industry

 Georgi has experienced first-hand the difficulties of the U.S. immigration system.

Gui Stampur, Chair

Gui is a lawyer, social entrepreneur, and activist. He is the Co-founder of the Safe Passage Project, a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to undocumented youth. 

Gui is a proud New Yorker. He attended Columbia University where he was captain of the Men's Soccer team and an All-Ivy selection and Fordham Law School where he received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award.  Prior to law school Gui worked as a legal assistant at Skadden Arps. Upon graduation from Fordham Law School, Gui worked at The Door and Make the Road serving immigrant youth, before co-founding Safe Passage. At Safe Passage, Gui took on representation of the non-profits' first client, built the legal team, created Safe Passage in Schools to provide representation to undocumented students enrolled in NYC public school, launched its first satellite office in Long Island in response to the overwhelming shortage of services, authored practice manuals on Asylum, SIJS, and Representing Immigrant Youth, built its 400+ pro bono attorney army from scratch, and served as Co-Counsel in R.G.H. v. Sessions challenging aspects of the current administration's family separation policy. Today, Safe Passage provides full legal representation to almost 900 immigrant children each year, who would otherwise face the immigration process alone. 

Gui is also the proud father of Nico Hawk, partner of Tara, son of Donna and Bill, brother to Liana, and Uncle of Corina Bea. When Gui is not chasing Nico around town he can likely be found playing on one of New York City's soccer fields.

 

 
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“[O]urs is a government of laws, not of men,” and that personal liberty is guaranteed by the great writ of habeas corpus, which “secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume.”
— Lopez v. Sessions, 18 Civ. 4189 (RWS), at *2-3 (S.D.N.Y. Jun. 12, 2018) (citing John Adams, Novanglus Papers, No. 7 (1774) & Letter from Thomas Jefferson to A.H. Rowan (Sept. 26, 1798)).
 

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Rapid Defense Network

11 Broadway, Suite 615

New York, NY 10004

Email: info@defensenetwork.org