NATIONAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE COLLEGE FACULTY
Attorney, Parrett Porto Parese and Colwell, PC
For over twenty-six years, Tamar R. Birckhead has represented individuals charged with criminal offenses in the state and federal court systems at both the trial and appellate levels. Licensed to practice in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina, Tamar has defended clients in a wide variety of criminal cases—from serious felonies in state court to alleged acts of terrorism in federal court. Among her clients was Richard Reid, the attempted “Shoe Bomber” prosecuted in the District of Massachusetts under the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
In her Connecticut practice, Tamar regularly defends clients facing serious criminal charges in Connecticut’s Superior Courts (both GA and Part A) located in Bridgeport, Manchester, Meriden, Middletown, Milford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, and Waterbury, although she has handled cases throughout the state. She also defends the rights of clients prosecuted in federal court in the Districts of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Tamar offers an aggressive criminal defense strategy and devotes substantial resources analyzing the government’s evidence against you, often working with leading experts, such as former law enforcement officers, toxicologists, forensic computer analysts, forensic psychologists, and forensic accountants.
For many years Tamar has also handled school discipline defense and appeals. She frequently represents college as well as high school students accused of violating their school’s code of conduct, which can result in suspension or expulsion as well as the initiation of criminal prosecution that arises from the same conduct. Code of conduct violations may include academic dishonesty, including plagiarizing and cheating; alcohol-related offenses; campus sexual assault and rape cases; fraternity, sorority, and athletic team hazing; and the possession, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs as well as the illegal use of prescription drugs. Tamar has represented students facing disciplinary charges at colleges throughout Connecticut, including the University of Connecticut, the University of New Haven, Quinnipiac University, Wesleyan University, and Yale University. She also represents high school students in the state’s public, private and boarding schools on matters ranging from assault and possession of a weapon to threats and bullying.
Tamar graduated cum laude from Yale University and Harvard Law School. After a decade as a public defender in Massachusetts, she taught criminal and juvenile defense as a tenured law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law where she also served as Director of Clinical Programs. Tamar is the author of more than a dozen law review articles on topics related to criminal defense as well as an editor and contributor to several juvenile justice-related books. She has written opinion pieces for major publications, including The Nation, New York Daily News, and Los Angeles Times and has provided legal commentary on the challenges of defending high-profile criminal suspects for CNN, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal, among many other television, radio, print, and web-based media outlets.
Tamar is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Federal Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and New Haven County Bar Association. She regularly volunteers in the New Haven County Bar Association’s Ask-a-Lawyer Legal Consultation Clinics and serves on the Board of Directors and as a volunteer judge for Project Youth Court, a diversionary program for adolescents in New Haven.
Tamar prides herself on the close, collaborative working relationships she has with her clients. She is available for a free consultation and often meets, speaks or texts with clients on evenings and weekends. Tamar understands that facing criminal charges can be a frightening experience, and she spends as much time patiently counseling her clients as she does rigorously advocating for them in the courtroom.
Tamar lives with her husband and their two teenage daughters in Guilford.
Director of Training and Education, Office of the Chief Public Defender
Alison Bloomquist was appointed Director of Training and Education for the Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services in 2016. As Director she coordinates training for attorneys, investigators, social workers and clerks in all aspects of criminal defense. She also tries cases in counties across Connecticut. Before moving to Connecticut, Alison served for over ten years as a staff public defender in greater Boston, and two years as Attorney‐in‐Charge of the Norfolk Superior Court office at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. She tried numerous felony cases to verdict across eastern Massachusetts, and has appeared before the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
She was chapter author for MCLE publications: Massachusetts Superior Court Criminal Practice Manual, Massachusetts District Court Criminal Defense Manual, and Trying Drug Cases in Massachusetts. Alison has been invited to teach federal and state public defenders all across the country, including Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Kentucky, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, as well as the Navy and Marine Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Alison is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, and Boston University College of Arts and Sciences. She lives in West Hartford with her wife, three children and their silver lab, Cooper.
Recent Teaching History: