Helping Crime Victims Pursue Civil Justice

The NCVBA provides technical support to attorneys representing crime victims in civil actions, refers crime victims to lawyers in their local area, and works to increase general awareness about the availability of civil remedies for victims of crime.

    

Staff

 

 Jeff Dion

 Director, National Crime Victim Bar Association

Jeff Dion has championed crime victims' rights for more than two decades.  Jeff began advocating for victims in 1982, when his twenty-three year old sister, Paulette, was murdered by a serial killer. Only 14 years old himself, Jeff pressed   the police for information on his sister's case and, after it was solved, decided to   pursue a career in law to help other crime victims.

  In honor of his sister's memory, Jeff lobbied the Virginia General Assembly, resulting in 13 victims' rights bills being enacted into law.  These statutes established a victim's right to be present in the courtroom, the right to offer oral impact testimony at sentencing, the right to confer with the prosecutor, a civil cause of action for stalking, an expanded civil statute of limitations for victims, and an expanded legal definition of "victim."

In 1998, Jeff joined the staff of the National Center for Victims of Crime, where he currently serves as the Director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.  In that capacity, he lectures throughout the country to foster greater communication and understanding among crime victims and trial attorneys.  He trains victim advocates in the application of civil litigation and instructs fellow attorneys in crime victim issues and services. Having trained advocates and attorneys in 37 states, Jeff is a nationally recognized expert with strong ties to direct service providers and leaders in the field of victim services.  In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Jeff worked with more than 1,500 victims and surviving family members to help them understand their rights, and he helped train more than 2,000 attorneys on the dynamics of victimization and understanding the special needs of survivors.

He previously served as a Governor's Fellow in the Office of the Virginia Attorney General, a Law Clerk to the Judges of Virginia's 17th Judicial Circuit, and a civil litigator with the firm of Hudgins, Carter & Coleman.

In 2002, he was appointed by Governor Mark Warner and in 2006 was re-appointed by Governor Tim Kaine to the Virginia Criminal Justice Services Board, which distributes Victims of Crime Act and Violence Against Women Act grant funds to local programs throughout the Commonwealth.  Jeff serves on the Victim Services Grant Review Committee, and is the Chairman of the Victim-Witness Issues Advisory Committee.

Jeff, who is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, serves on the Board of Directors of his local rape crisis center, Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy Service of Prince William County, Inc., which serves nearly 500 victims each year. He is a former board member and current advisory council member for the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children.

In 2005, Jeff was presented the Allies for Justice Award by the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and was honored by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services as one of the individuals who has had the greatest impact on crime victims' rights in Virginia over the previous 10 years. In 2006, the Attorney General of the United States presented him with the Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award. This award honors an outstanding individual whose leadership, vision, and innovation have led to significant changes in public policy and practice that benefit crime victims, and is one of the prestigious National Crime Victims' Rights Week Awards, which are the highest honors in the field of crime victim services.

Jeff earned both his undergraduate and law degree at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.


Laura Cook, Director, Financial Crime Resource Center

Deputy Director, National Crime Victim Bar Association

Laura Cook

Laura L. Cook, Esq. is the Director of the Financial Crime Resource Center and Deputy Director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, programs of the National Center for Victims of Crime. In these capacities, she conducts trainings in taking action against financial fraud as well as attorney referrals to victims.  She has also coordinated multiple webinars on identity theft, mass marketing fraud, investment and securities fraud, mortgage and lending fraud, and elder financial exploitation. In addition, Laura has worked with many other programs of the National Center for Victims of Crime, including the Stalking Resource Center, the Victim Connect Resource Helpline, and the DC Domestic Violence Hotline. She is a graduate of The University of Pittsburgh and the Temple University Beasley School of Law, and spent a summer during law school in New Delhi, India, interning with the Human Rights Law Network.


Chafica Khodr Agha, Staff Attorney

Chafica Khodr Agha is the Staff Attorney for the National Crime Victim Bar Association, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime. Chafica has worked for the National Center since November of 2018. Chafica manages the Attorney Referral Service of the Bar Association. In doing so, she refers crime victims to civil attorneys nationwide and develops resources and materials for the Bar Association's civil justice trainings. Previously, Chafica was a Law Clerk for the Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Florida. She also worked with indigent clients in wage-theft and wrongful termination cases as a Student Attorney with the Civil Advocacy Clinic at American University Washington College of Law. Chafica also served as a Law Clerk for the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection where she worked with cases involving deceptive trade practices aimed at low-income and minority communities.

Chafica received her J.D. at American University Washington College of Law, her M.A. in International Affairs and MENA Studies at American University School of International Services, and her B.A. in International Relations, Political Science, and Central Asian Studies from Florida International University.


Christa Andersen, Membership and Trainings Coordinator

Christa Andersen serves as the Membership and Trainings Coordinator for the National Crime Victim Bar Association. Christa has been with the National Center since 2018 after previously interning there for a year during her time in undergrad. In her current role, she assists with the planning, marketing, and executing of trainings as well as marketing and membership development/retention for the bar.

Prior to joining the National Center, Christa previously interned at the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network and the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. Christa holds a Bachelor's in Justice and Law from American University with minors in Statistics and Public Policy.


Advisory Board

 

Michael A. Haggard, Esq., President

Michael A. Haggard, Esq., a Coral Gables, Florida native, distinguished himself in 25 trials working as an Assistant Public Defender before turning to personal injury law. After a year of practicing with a leading Miami personal injury firm, he joined Haggard & Parks, where he handles a broad array of cases, concentrating on pool drowning accidents, negligent security, wrongful death, unsafe premises, products liability, and insurance coverage matters. He has swiftly assumed positions of leadership in the Florida Justice Association and recently served as president of the Dade County Trial Lawyers Association. He is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association. He has gained a significant amount of national exposure after winning two back-to-back record setting $100 million verdicts in cases dealing with pool accidents involving children. He also obtained the first verdict in the nation dealing with the issue of cell phone distraction when he and his father, Wm. Andrew Haggard, won a $21 million verdict for Alicia Bustos in December of 2001. In 2001, Haggard was named partner of the firm.

Leto Copeley, Esq., President-Elect

Leto Copeley, Esq. , one of the founding partners of the firm Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC in Durham North Carolina, has been litigating cases for plaintiffs in state and federal courts since 1984. She has substantial experience representing adult and child victims of sex abuse and sexual harassment committed by clergy, medical professionals, teachers, counselors and employers.  She also handles cases of workplace injury and mistreatment, personal injury and wrongful death.   She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk to the Honorable James B. McMillan of the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.  She has taught in continuing legal education programs sponsored by, among other groups, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and the American Bar Association. She currently serves as co-chair of the CLE Committee of the Litigation Section of the North Carolina Bar Association and on the NCBA  Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section Council.  Leto is listed in the Best Lawyers in America and in North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine, where she is was recently recognized as one of the top fifty women lawyers in North Carolina.  Leto is an active member of the Hillsborough, North Carolina Rotary Club, which is devoted to improving educational opportunities for the children in its area.

Jeffrey Anderson, Esq. is a nationally known trial lawyer and a pioneer in representing victims of sexual abuse across the country.  He and his firm of dedicated professionals use the civil justice system and the crucible of the courtroom to seek justice for those abused by clergy and other trusted professionals by trial and through public advocacy for child protection.  Jeff, a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, was named a Top 100 Lawyer in Minnesota, 2003 Lawyer of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer, and in Top 40 Personal Injury Lawyers and was recognized by William Mitchell College of Law as among the 100 Who Made a Difference.  This year he received the prestigious Steven Sharp Public Service Award by the American Association of Justice and was a finalist for Trial Lawyer of the Year by Public Justice Foundation for his advocacy in representing hundreds of survivors in Southern California.  Jeff is honored and inspired by the courage of survivors breaking the silence, knowing that together, every time we speak and act, children are protected across this nation.

Benjamin Andreozzi, Esq. After handling complex litigation matters at a large Philadelphia based law firm, Mr. Andreozzi decided to pursue his dream of starting a law practice that was dedicated to improving the lives of those who needed help the most. As the founder of Andreozzi & Associates, Mr, Andreozzi now focuses his practice on representing victims of crime, including those who are victims of sexual assault and molestation. He is experienced in providing legal counsel to children and their families as they struggle through the difficult times that follow a catastrophic event. He represents clients from across the country and has handled several high profile cases. As of the date of publication, Mr. Andreozzi is one of only two Harrisburg based attorneys to be recognized as members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive organization reserved for attorneys who have obtained an award of over $2,000,000 in a single case.

Carmen L. Durso, Esq. is a member of the Massachusetts Bar, and is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court, MA, the U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been in practice for over 40 years, and has been an Assistant Attorney General, a Town Counsel in Boxborough, Tisbury and Medway, an Instructor at New England School of Law, a lecturer for the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, a Sustaining and Advisory Board member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, and a board member of Massachusetts Citizens for Children.  In 2003, he was the recipient of the Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award.

Brad Edwards, Esq.  is a nationally recognized Board Certified Civil Trial attorney who specializes in providing civil representation for children, victims of sexual abuse, and victims of violent crimes. 

While he focuses on representing children and crime victims, his range as a trial lawyer is much broader.  Brad has tried a broad range of cases before Judges and juries, from complex class actions to personal injury and wrongful death. Brad has represented victims of sexual abuse and violent crimes in state and federal courts across the country. Most importantly, he has passionately upheld the rights of crime victims throughout his legal career.

Before entering private practice, Brad began his legal career at the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, where he became a lead trial attorney prosecuting many violent criminals. After leaving the State Attorney’s Office, Brad has continued to devote his practice and his life to fighting for the rights of crime victims, oftentimes in complicated and hotly contested complex civil jury trials. Brad has built a reputation for successfully handling the “civil” litigation aspect of these types of cases and oftentimes producing valuable evidence and information to prosecutors, who then can pursue the criminal case on behalf of the victims. Brad is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, the highest designation of competence by the Florida Bar, and he has tried more than 75 jury trials.

Despite his busy trial schedule, Brad provides hundreds of hours of pro bono services and educational presentations each year to Victims Advocate Services and victims’ rights groups in Broward County, Palm Beach County, and throughout the country. Brad is currently pursuing a precedent setting case in Federal Court, on a pro bono basis, on behalf of young girls who were sexually molested by a well-connected billionaire, wherein he is litigating to uphold the rights of victims under Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

Brad has been profiled in The Best Lawyers in America, recognized by the National Trial Lawyers Association’s “Top 40 Under 40,” and by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorney’s Top 10 Under 40. In 2015, the National Association of Distinguished Counsel selected Brad as one of the Nation’s Top One Percent. In 2016, Brad was recognized for obtaining one of the Top 50 US Verdicts in all practice areas for a high profile sexual abuse case that he litigated in Federal Court in Chicago, Illinois. He was also recognized in the Daily Business Review Top Florida Verdicts & Settlements in 2011 and 2012 for separate elarge jury verdicts. Brad is rated AV by his professional peers through the Martindale-Hubbell © Peer Review Rating system. According to Martindale-Hubbell, the “AV” rating of “Very High to Preeminent” legal ability is a testament from peer legal professionals of the highest level of professional excellence and of unquestionable ethics. He has also been selected as a Top Rated Lawyer by ALM & Martindale-Hubbell. Brad has also been certified as a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Nicole Gorovsky, Esq is from Rochester, NY. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and was in the Honors College. Nicole attended law school at Washington University School of law. There she had a Scholar in Law Scholarship. Following law school in 2001, Nicole worked at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office under Jay Nixon. There, she was nominated for a David Dixon Award in Appellate Advocacy. Nicole then worked for the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office in Columbia, Missouri. She was an integral part in creating the Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force; she sat on the local Child Fatality Review Board; and she was active in the Rainbow House Child Advocacy Center and the local Domestic Violence Shelter.

In 2007, Nicole became a Federal Prosecutor for the Southern District of Illinois. She was presented there with multiple awards from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Department of Justice for her work. Nicole then switched to working in private practice. She went to the law firm of Chackes Carlson and represented victims of crime for six years.

Nicole has tried many cases and is excited to be at Burger Law. She sits on the Board of Directors of Your Words STL which is an organization dedicated to tutoring at risk youth. She also does pro bono work for the St. Louis County Family Court, and is active in the National Crime Victims Bar Association. 

Darrell L. Heckman, Esq. is a member of the Bar of the State of Ohio, as well as the Bars of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Heckman was Prosecuting Attorney of Champaign County, Ohio from 1989-1997, during which time he successfully prosecuted seven homicide cases and many other serious felonies including, felonious assaults, robberies and child sexual abuse cases. Darrell L. Heckman has been representing victims of sexual abuse for many years all over the State of Ohio.

Melvin Hewitt, Esq. concentrates his practice on premises liability cases dealing primarily with victims of assault, rape and murder.  He has been recognized as a security expert in cases involving issues of negligent security, and has been a guest speaker at the National Crime Victim Bar Association (NCVBA), National Organization for Victims Assistance (NOVA), Mealey’s Lexis-Nexis, the Georgia Criminal Justice Co-Ordinating Counsel, the Georgia Trial Lawyers and others.  He has appeared as a guest on Law Talk television, has made several appearances on radio programs dealing with victim issues, and has been accepted into the 'Million Dollar Advocates Forum'.  He has authored articles for Trial Magazine, Calendar Call and The Connection and has provided commentary for API on the rape shield law and the Kobe Bryant case.

Konrad Kircher, Esq. graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland in 1984 and then served five years as an Infantry Officer in the United States Marine Corps. Upon receiving an Honorable Discharge from the Marines as a Captain in 1989, Konrad attend the University of Dayton School of Law on a full scholarship. During law school, he served two years as a law clerk for Hon. John M. Meagher in Montgomery County. Konrad was admitted to the bar in Ohio in 1992 and in Kentucky in 1995. He has focused his practice in recent years on the representation of child sex abuse victims and other crime victims. Konrad has appeared in the Ohio Supreme Court in four separate cases on behalf of child sex abuse victims, administratively supported the landmark successful prosecution of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2003 for failing to report crimes against children, and was involved in monumental legislation in 2005-2006 which extended the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims. Konrad is on the Advisory Board of the National Crime Victim Bar Association and is Co-Chair of its Child Sex Abuse Section. He is also an active member of the Ohio Association of Justice and is on its Legislative Committee. But Konrad is most proud of his five daughters, ages 15 to 24, who constantly remind him that he will never retire.   

A. Laurie Koller, Esq. grew up in Tulsa and is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School (1984), Duke University (B.A. 1988) and Duke School of Law (1991). Laurie has been practicing law since 1991 and helping the injured and victimized since 2002. Laurie is an instructor and section leader for the Keenan Ball College, an organization dedicated to improving trial skills among trial lawyers. Laurie is licensed to practice in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri and is active in many professional organizations, including the National Crime Victims Bar Association.

Bruce Kramer, Esq. graduated cum laude from Washington & Lee University in 1966 and received his Juris Doctor degree with Honors from The George Washington University, National Law Center in 1969. After serving as law clerk to U.S. District Judge Robert M. McRae in Memphis, Mr. Kramer entered private practice and has served as lead counsel in many significant civil and criminal cases during the past 30 years. As an active member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. Kramer has challenged many actions of governmental authority. Mr. Kramer’s experiences have covered a broad range of activities from defending the rights of actors against the government’s efforts to include them as criminal “co-conspirators” in the distribution of allegedly obscene motion pictures, to challenging re-apportionment in voting rights cases, to obtaining the nation’s first permanent injunction against domestic surveillance of peaceful civil rights activities by law enforcement agencies. Mr. Kramer has served for many years on the ACLU’s National Board of Directors and in many capacities with the Tennessee affiliate.  In 2002, Mr. Kramer received the Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award, in recognition of his exemplary service to victims of crime.

John Elliott Leighton, Esq. is the managing partner of Leighton Law, P.A., a Miami and Orlando boutique trial law firm.  He is a board certified civil trial lawyer who specializes in catastrophic injury, Resort TortsTM, inadequate premises security/violent crime, motor vehicle, medical malpractice and product liability litigation.   A nationally recognized advocate for crime victims, Mr. Leighton has been a leader in the field of inadequate premises security litigation for over twenty years and is the author of the two volume book, Litigating Premises Security Cases (Thomson-West Publishing). It is the most comprehensive treatise on investigating, preparing, litigating and trying inadequate premises security cases and representing crime victims. He is the Chairman of the Inadequate Security Litigation Group of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America/American Association for Justice (AAJ), which he has chaired since 1996. He also sits on the Advisory Board of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, where he is a sustaining member.

His trial in Jeffery v. Publix Super Markets, a landmark violent crime security case in Florida, was the subject of an entire chapter in the book Persuasive Jury Communication: Case Studies from Successful Trials, Chapter 10 (Shepard’s/McGraw-Hill, 1995).  In addition to lecturing nationally to attorney and general public audiences, Mr. Leighton has led training programs for crime victim advocates and lawyers throughout the country. He recently received the “Advocate of Justice Award” from the National Crime Victim Bar Association for his work on behalf of crime victims. Mr. Leighton is an accomplished author, having published numerous articles, books and book chapters on a variety of personal injury and trial skills topics. His writings have been featured articles in Trial magazine seven times. He is a frequent national lecturer at legal programs and conventions and has spoken and taught at seminars, colleges and conventions in over a dozen states. 

Mr. Leighton regularly chairs trial skills colleges and seminars for the National College of Advocacy/American Association for Justice (formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America [ATLA]). He is a member of the National College of Advocacy Board of Trustees and past Chairman of ATLA’s Motor Vehicle, Highway and Premises Liability Section. He also currently serves as the Chairman of the Academy of Trial Advocacy, a national invitation-only organization of the country’s leading  catastrophic injury trial lawyers.  Having obtained some of the state’s largest verdicts and settlements in major personal injury and wrongful death cases, Mr. Leighton continues to represent families throughout Florida and selectively around the country. His verdict in Shoaf v. Geiling of $24.1 million was the largest verdict in Seminole County history.  The arbitration award of $8 million he obtained in Seetaram v. United Rentals is the largest known single death award in Broward County for a minor.  He is often called upon to handle serious violent crime/negligent security cases in other states, and has litigated and tried complex cases in Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Georgia, New York and North Carolina. Mr. Leighton’s victories on behalf of families who have lost loved ones to negligence have resulted in record setting wrongful death verdicts and settlements. 

Mr. Leighton has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, voted as one of the “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide for the last eight years, has been named a Florida SuperLawyer™ (and voted as one of the top 100 of all the state SuperLawyers), and has been elected to the Florida Trend magazine “Legal Elite” Top Lawyers in Florida by peer selection. He is rated as “10.0/10 - Superb” by AVVO.com and holds an AV rating (highest possible) by Martindale-Hubbell.  Mr. Leighton received his undergraduate and law degrees with honors from the University of Florida, where he was an editor of the Florida Law Review, competed on the Trial Team, and taught first year jurisprudence.

Paul Mones, Esq. has been a leading nationwide advocate for victims of child abuse for over thirty years, representing hundreds of people who had been sexually abused as children by their Boy Scout leaderspriestsministerscoaches, employers, teachers, guidance counselors as well as by their parents and guardians. He has been at the forefront of representing Boy Scout victims of sexual abuse. In 2010 he and his co-counsel obtained the largest verdict ever against the Boy Scouts of America – $19.9 million - against the Boy Scouts of America.  The trial represented the first time that the Boy Scouts’ ‘Perversion Files’ – confidential files maintained by the BSA on pedophiles – were admitted into evidence. The perversion files were finally publicly released in 2012 to national and international news coverage.

Paul has also represented numerous victims of Catholic clergy abuse throughout the nation. In 2000, he and his co-counsel tried the first sexual abuse case to a jury against the Archdiocese of New York (the case settled during trial).In 2007, he and his co-counsel obtained an $11.45 million award against the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York on behalf of two victims –the largest verdict rendered against a Diocese in New York.

David M. Ring, Esq. was named California Lawyer’s 2015 “Personal Injury Attorney of the Year” for his record-setting settlement of $14 million on behalf of two women who were sexually abused by their science teacher in the 1990s. The settlement is recorded as the largest per victim settlement paid by any school district in the nation. Also, in 2015, Vanity Fair referred to David Ring as “California’s go-to attorney for sexual abuse victims” in a detailed tell all of the horrendous negligence on behalf of Marlborough School, a prestigious all-girls school in Los Angeles, involving sexual abuse allegations against a former English teacher. David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff's personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations. He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. He also handles other major personal injury cases, including wrongful death, serious motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents, construction site accidents, product liability, premises liability, and employment actions involving discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination. David has consistently been included on the prestigious list of The Best Lawyers in America, and is named to the list of Southern California Super Lawyers as well as to its "Top 100 Lawyers in Southern California" list for several consecutive years.

Paul A. Slager, Esq. has been recognized by his peers as a forceful and ethical advocate. He has been listed by New England Super Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Attorneys in the six-state Northeastern region and by Connecticut Super Lawyers as one of the Top 50 Attorneys in Connecticut. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for the past five years and is rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell. Mr. Slager represents plaintiffs in cases stemming from catastrophic events involving medical malpractice, violent crimes, serious accidents, defective consumer products and sexual abuse. He also represents individuals pursuing whistleblower actions, where an individual or company has defrauded the government, and represents small businesses and individuals on a contingent fee basis in significant business disputes. His cases are designed to balance injustices and cause important institutional changes to improve public safety.

David Thiruselvam, Esq.  is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, and is an active advocate for victims of crime. Mr. Thiruselvam has been practicing law for the past twenty five years. After ten years of practicing criminal defense in Philadelphia, he represented insureds of a national insurance company. After working for a couple of private personal injury law firms, Mr. Thiruselvam started his own law practice in 2007,which is devoted almost exclusively to finding civil remedies for victims of crime in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Many of the clients he has represented have been victims of shootings, stabbings, beatings, rape and sexual assault. He has also represented many juvenile victims in assault and sexual assault cases. Mr. Thiruselvam’s practice aggressively pursues compensation for his clients and he has tried over fifty jury trials to verdict.

Past Presidents

Mary E. Alexander, M.P.H., J.D., San Francisco.  Principal, Mary Alexander and Associates, specializing in personal injury, products liability and business litigation.  J.D., University of Santa Clara; Master of Public Health, UC Berkeley.  Member: American Association for Justice (President, 2003); National Crime Victim Bar Association (President 2012); Roscoe Pound Institute  (President, 2005); Consumer Attorneys of California (President, 1996); American Board of Trial Advocates; College of Master Advocates & Barristers (Senior Counsel).  Prior to her legal career, she was engaged in scientific research in medical toxicology and was director of environmental health at the Stanford Research Institute.  Ms. Alexander has been repeatedly named one of the “Top 10 Trial Attorneys” in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle. The California Daily Journal named her one of the Top 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California and one of the Top 30 Women Litigators as well as one of the Top 50 Women Litigators.  She was named a Northern California Super Lawyer in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.  Most recently, she was elected to California State Bar Association’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.  She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Center for Victims of Crime. Ms. Alexander’s reputation for steadfast commitment to the protection of consumer rights is well-known throughout the United States and has an outstanding record of success and achievements.

Keith S. FranzEsq. is a Sustaining member and past President of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, has long been a crime victim advocate and is highly regarded for his compassionate representation in wrongful death and serious personal injury claims.  He has gained a national reputation in the field of complex injury litigation, and in particular airline crash litigation.   Consistent with his firm’s policy of taking on important victims’ rights causes, often without charge, Keith has provided substantial pro-bono assistance to victims’ advocacy groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Maryland Crime Victim Resource Center, and Bereaved Parents of the USA. Azrael, Gann & Franz has recently completed representation of several families touched by the horrors of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  Keith’s work on behalf of clients who died in each of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and on CBS, CNN, MSNBC and FOX networks and on numerous local broadcasts.  Keith has represented victims in many high-profile civil cases throughout the country, including multi-district complex litigation arising from aviation disasters.  His work has helped expand Maryland’s wrongful death statute.  Keith is regarded as a leading legal authority on victim’s rights and lectures frequently on the subject throughout the region.

Jeffrey P. Fritz, Esq., is a graduate of Widener University School of Law where he graduated cum laude in 1996.  He is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey with Soloff & Zervanos, located in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, Reading, PA & Cherry Hill, NJ.  He was named a "Rising Star" attorney by Philadelphia Magazine and Super Lawyers in 2005 & 2006 and "Best of the Best" (Reader's Choice) by South Jersey Magazine for crime victim representation. He is experienced in representing crime victims in civil litigation and is a charter member and advisory board member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association (NCVBA), a national organization of attorneys and professionals devoted to obtaining civil justice for crime victims.  He has authored articles on inadequate security published in Trial magazine, The Victim Advocate, & Victim Voice.  Mr. Fritz has lectured at the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Civil Justice Training for victim service providers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and at the National Crime Victims Bar Association’s National Conference in Washington, D.C. He has also lectured on civil justice for crime victims on behalf of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s statewide conference, "Pathways for Crime Victims", at the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Summit, and at the New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Board Training for Attorneys Representing Crime Victims.  Mr. Fritz has represented victims and survivors of assault, sexual assault, incest, false imprisonment and drunk driving and homicide victims in claims for negligent and inadequate security involving hotels, private homes, apartment complexes, retail stores, schools, nightclubs and bars. He is currently representing the victims of convicted pedophile Benjamin Schragger in a civil lawsuit pending in Philadelphia County against the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a medieval reenactment/educational group which employed Mr. Schragger. 

Philip M. Gerson, Esq. is a board certified civil trial lawyer who has practiced law in Miami, Florida for more than 47 years. He is a cum laude graduate of the University of Miami Law School, where he was a member of the editorial board of the Law Review, a Moot Court winner and student instructor in legal research and writing. Mr. Gerson is admitted to practice in all Florida Courts, the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Claims, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits, and the United States District Court for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida. Mr. Gerson is a sustaining member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Dade County Bar Association, and the Dade County Trial Lawyers Association. He is also an EAGLE patron of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and has served  on the Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Committee, Professionalism Committee and was chairman of a Grievance Committee. Mr. Gerson currently serves on the Board of Directors at St. Thomas University School of Law. He has been a Guest Lecturer on Responsibility and Remedies for Torts for School Administrators, Florida International University; American Society for Industrial Security, Liability for Crime Because of Negligent Security; an Instructor for Hospitality Security Officers Training Program, Barry University and other prestigious programs.  Mr. Gerson was the founding board president for the National Crime Victim Bar Association  Mr. Gerson is a partner at Gerson & Schwartz, PA and limits his practice to plaintiffs injury and death cases, with a focus on third party liability for criminal acts, maritime accidents, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, and other complex litigation.

Marc Lenahan, Esq. joined our Advisory Board in 2008, and has been practicing crime victims’ law since his law school clerk days. Over those years, he has helped victims of mass-murder, child molestation, rape, corporate fraud & malfeasance, insurance fraud, civil rights abuses, assault, robbery, DWI, regulatory torts and, most commonly, intentional & criminally negligent homicide. He has achieved million-dollar results under the laws of Texas, Kentucky & Florida, and has received a list of awards that he calls “nonsense,” instead taking great pride in the photos, notes, letters and reviews from his clients. Marc believes that practicing crime victims law requires and fosters multidisciplinary skills unmatched by any other area of law. He frequently attributes his successes on behalf of crime victims to his study of centuries-old poetry while at the University of Texas, and his successes in other tort cases to his practice of crime victims law. Marc’s clients span the globe, and he and his team litigate cases in all parts of Texas from the Firm’s office in Dallas.

Stan Marks, Esq., has been certified by the state of Arizona as a specialist in personal injury and wrongful death. Representing victims and survivors of crime has been his specialty since he began his legal career in 1965.  He is a founder and past chair of Arizona MADD, a founding member and past president of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.  He is a past president of the Arizona Trail lawyers Association, and a Charter Member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.  He presently serves on the Board and the Executive Committee of the Foundation for Burns and Trauma.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.  Stan is the managing partner of Begam, Lewis Marks and Wolfe in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jerry O’Neill, Esq. is a partner with the law firm of O’Neill Kellner & Green in Burlington, Vermont.  He currently devotes his practice exclusively to litigation on behalf of injured persons and their survivors, fraud and commercial matters.  He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney for District of Vermont before going into private practice. While with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he acted on behalf of the United States Department of Justice in using all remedies available under federal law to pursue wrongdoers whose conduct violated federal law. This included criminal cases, but also the use of civil forfeiture statutes to recover the proceeds of crimes and to deprive criminal defendants of the means they had used to commit crimes.  Since entering private practice he has used the civil justice system to purse individual and corporate criminals so as to obtain restitution from the wrongdoers for the injuries they have caused. This has included damages for physical crimes resulting in deaths or serious injuries caused by drunk drivers or the establishments that over served them as well as adult and child sexual abuse victims. He also has used the power of the civil justice system to recover losses brought about by wrongdoers who defrauded his clients.  He is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, the International Society of Barristers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, a past president of the Vermont Association for Justice, serves on its Board of Governors, is a member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice, serves as a Trustee of AAJ Education’s National College of Advocacy and as is a past co-chair. He is the chairman of the Vermont Supreme Court Evidence Rules Committee, serves as an evaluator for the Early Neutral Evaluation Program for the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont and is a member of the U.S. District Court Advisory Committee. He currently serves on the Commission on Judicial Selection to assist in selecting a U.S. District Judge for Vermont, a role in which served in 1994 as well.  He is recognized by the American Association of Justice as Diplomate of Trial Advocacy and is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocates.  He has served as the chairman of the Burlington Police Commission since 1999.

Erin K. Olson, Esq, a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, specializes in the representation of victims of child sexual abuse and elder financial abuse in both civil and criminal courts.  She has litigated dozens of clergy sexual abuse cases against the Archdiocese of Portland and various religious orders, as well as child sexual abuse cases against individuals, private secular organizations, and governmental entities such as school districts and the Oregon Youth Authority.  She often represents her civil clients' interests in the criminal prosecutions of their abusers, and occasionally is called upon to represent victims and witnesses in criminal cases when their constitutional or statutory rights are not being honored.  Erin spent the first ten years of her legal career as a prosecutor, working for the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon, and the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.  During her four years with the Massachusetts Attorney General in its Insurance Fraud Division, Erin was lead counsel in the prosecution of the principals, employees, and associated medical practitioners of the state's largest personal injury law firm, successfully defending a challenge to the prosecution before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court based on the defendants' assertion that the victims' funding of the Insurance Fraud Division through a statutory assessment against all insurers violated their constitutional right to a disinterested prosecutor.  More recently, Erin co-wrote an amicus brief filed with the Oregon Supreme Court by the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association and the National Crime Victims Law Institute in State v. David O. Burleson, arguing that a trial court judge's refusal to order a dental surgeon to disclose the identity of victims who were sexually abused by an anesthesiologist while sedated deprived the victims of their rights under Oregon law.  Erin was raised in Madras, Oregon, and has a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.S. in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, and a J.D. from the University of Connecticut.

Rebecca Roe, Esq. served as a Senior Deputy Prosecutor in the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Seattle from 1981 to 1994 prior to joining Schroeter Goldmark & Bender (SGB). Most of those years she was the Supervising Attorney of the Special Assault Unit. Rebecca is a nationally recognized leader in the prosecution of crimes affecting women and children. In 1993, she was the first public sector attorney to receive the King County Bar Association Outstanding Lawyer Award.  Since joining SGB in 1994, Rebecca has focused on personal injury cases for victims of violent crime and sexual assault as well as employment law with particular emphasis on wage and hour class actions, sexual harassment, and discrimination.  Rebecca is a Sustaining member and President-elect of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, which recognized her commitment to serving victims of crime by presenting her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.