NATIONAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE COLLEGE FACULTY
Attorney, Federal Defender Program, Inc.
Byron L. Conway Jr. is a criminal defense attorney with a passion for advocating for the most marginalized in our society – those who are often unheard, disregarded, and disrespected by a system that every day fails to see their basic humanity. Byron’s passion for the work he does comes from the environment he grew up in. The clients who Byron works so hard to zealously advocate for are more than just “bodies” to him. In every client he has, Byron sees his family members, his friends…his community, and he knows that many times these individuals have never had anyone really fight for them and tell their story. The front line of the fight for justice and equality requires dedicated soldiers, and Byron is proud to count himself one among them. Byron was born and raised in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan. Byron graduated from Charles F. Kettering high school in Detroit and matriculated through the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on a full academic scholarship. Byron graduated U of M with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and African American studies, with a particular focus on African American political ideology.
After graduating from U of M in 2010, Byron attended Boston University School of Law. Byron graduated from Boston University School of Law with honors in 2013. After graduating law school, Byron joined the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) as a staff attorney in the trial division. Byron’s practice primarily focused on defending indigent individuals charged with serious felony offenses in the District of Columbia Superior Court. While at PDS Byron was one of the charter members of the organization’s Mental Health Practice group, which specialized in litigating at the intersection of mental health and criminal culpability.
After nearly six years of working with the most amazing people at PDS, Byron transitioned from his role in DC in May of 2019 to Atlanta, Georgia, where he is currently an assistant federal defender with the Federal Defender Program, Inc. In his current role, Byron defends indigent individuals charged with felony matters in the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Georgia and handles appeals before the United States11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Byron also currently sits on the executive board of directors for the Black Public Defender Association.
Recent Teaching History
Denise de La Rue
Denise de La Rue lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is an attorney and trial consultant, specializing in jury selection, witness preparation, pre-trial research and trial strategy. She consults on trials throughout the United States, in both criminal and civil cases and was the jury consultant for the defense in State of South Carolina vs. Susan Smith, U.S. vs. Theodore Kaczynski , State of Georgia vs. Ray Lewis, U.S. v. Eric Rudolph, and U.S. v. Richard Scrushy, and U.S. vs. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. She is a faculty member of National Criminal Defense College, and has been on faculty at the Institute of Criminal Defense Advocacy at California Western School of Law, Western Institute of Trial Advocacy in Laramie, Wyoming, the Georgia Institute of Trial Advocacy and the Kessler Eidson Program for Trial Techniques at Emory University School of Law. She has been an adjunct professor at Georgia State University College of Law, and is a frequent lecturer at law schools, and continuing legal education seminars throughout the U.S.
Denise deLaRue has a B.S. Degree with Distinction in Psychology from Georgia State University and a J.D. Degree from Georgia State University College of Law.
She was Recipient of the 2001 Glenda Hatchett Volunteer of the Year Award, for
the Truancy Intervention Project, Fulton County, Georgia and is proud of and gratified
by her work as a volunteer lawyer with this remarkable project.
Owner, Sam Dennis Law
Sam Dennis is the owner and founder of Sam D. Dennis, P.C. in Valdosta, Georgia, a law firm representing injured people and citizens under attack by their government.
Sam is a lifetime resident of Valdosta, attending St. John Catholic School and Lowndes County High School. Sam graduated from Valdosta State University with a BS in Criminal Justice and a Masters in Public Administration. He also studied at the world-renowned Magdalene College in Oxford, England. He received his JD from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Sam began practicing law in 1995 and founded his law practice in 2001. He has won hundreds of cases for his clients, earning a reputation as one of Georgia’s top lawyers. He is passionately committed to justice and public safety.
Sam served as the President of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL) for two consecutive years 2014 and 2015. He has served as the Vice President of the GACDL off and on for many years and he is a Life Member of the association. Sam is also a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA). Sam has served as former Chairman of the Judicial Council of Georgia, Board of Court Reporting. He is a board member of the Board of Directors for the Community Defender Organization for the Eleventh Circuit District Court.
In addition to teaching with the Bill Daniel Program since its creation, Sam has been a member of the National Criminal Defense College faculty since 1998 and has lectured and taught nationally and internationally on the topics of Cross Examination, Impeachment, Voir Dire, Opening Statements, Scientific Evidence, Expert Testimony, and all aspects of trial advocacy.
Sam lives in Valdosta with his wife and four children. He is an avid hunter, angler, gun collector, and model airplane enthusiast. He is an active member at St. John’s Catholic Church.
Recent Teaching History
Partner, Perry & Walters, LLP
Pete Donaldson is a 1972 Juris Doctor graduate of the University of Georgia, Lumpkin School of Law, where he served on the Editorial Board of The Georgia Law Review, taught legal writing and bibliography to first year students and was active in other law related social and professional organizations.
Following Law School, and while beginning his practice, Mr. Donaldson served the United States Army Reserve (Military Police), reaching the rank of Captain before his Honorable Discharge in 1976.
Mr. Donaldson has successfully tried civil and criminal cases before juries in the Courts of Georgia from Atlanta to Macon to Columbus to Savannah and each of the twenty five counties in Southwest Georgia. His Federal experience includes jury and non jury litigation in the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Georgia and the Northern District of Florida. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, serves on the faculties of State and National Trial Practice Programs, has held numerous offices in local and State bar groups, and is a past president of the 1,600 member Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is listed among “Georgia Super Lawyers.” He has been appointed by State and Federal Courts to serve on various Commissions and Committees.
His trial experience includes criminal defense and civil litigation for individual and corporate plaintiffs and defendants, probate litigation and appellate practice, with over fifty reported cases in the Appellate Courts of Georgia and the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.
Recent Teaching History
2020 Online Cross (July Session)
2018 Trial Practice Institute in Macon (July Session)
Federal Defender Program, Inc
Mildred “Millie” Geckler Dunn has passionately represented indigent clients accused of federal crimes as a staff attorney with the Federal Defender Program, Inc. since April 1993. Millie has tried more than 30 cases and has successfully represented death row inmates in habeas corpus. Millie handles a variety of federal cases, ranging from racketeering offenses, drug distribution, bank and Hobb’s Act robbery cases, carjacking cases, firearms and explosives crimes, fraud and financial crimes, child pornography and enticement crimes, and immigration offenses. Millie continues her representation through sentencing and at appeal, proudly continuing her advocacy for her clients.
Millie was born and raised in Carol City, Florida. She earned a BA in English with High Honors in 1986 from the University of Florida, and a J.D. with honors from the University of Florida’s College of Law. While studying law, Millie clerked for Judge Robert Cates and was a research assistant for three professors. After graduation, Millie joined Vincent, Corey, Taylor and Feil’s complex commercial litigation section in Atlanta. Millie is on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College and has taught at numerous CLE programs, covering diverse topics such as cross-examination, ethical considerations in white collar crime cases, Constitutional challenges, the Rules of Evidence, guideline issues, challenging sentencing enhancements, and effective trial techniques.
Millie has also spent many years advocating for children, through her positions on the North Atlanta High School Local School Counsel, the NAHS Arts Counsel, and her service of the board of a local non-profit Theatre Conservatory. Millie is married to Tom Dunn, who has been a JAG Corps Officer, Executive Director of the Georgia Resource Center, and First Assistant Capital Defender for Western New York. Tom currently teaches Law and Social Justice at South Atlanta High School, as well as leading the Mock Trial Program, Skills USA Program, and Boys Making History mentorship program. Together Tom and Millie have 7 wonderful children and there is never a dull moment.
Recent Teaching History
Attorney, Findling Law Firm
Drew Findling’s practice, The Findling Law Firm, P.C., focuses exclusively on federal and state criminal defense and he tries cases ranging from matters involving complex white- collar crimes to serious violent felonies. Mr. Findling spent the first three years of his career as a Fulton County, GA public defender. Over more than 30 years, he has represented clients in state and federal courts across the country, as well as in international matters.
As a public defender, he was a leader in developing the battered woman syndrome defense. Nationally, Mr. Findling was the first attorney to successfully employ that defense based exclusively on verbal abuse. For his efforts, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL) awarded him their Indigent Defense Award. In recent years, he has successfully represented a string of well-known clients including: Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O’Neal, Grammy Award Winner Cardi B, Grammy Award Nominee Faith Evans, Emmy Award Winner actor/comedian Katt Williams, actor/comedian Mike Epps, Hip Hop superstars, Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff from the Grammy-nominated group Migos, Boosie, Trippi Red, Lil Baby, Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Jim Jones and Da Baby. Mr. Findling has also represented Morris Brown College President Dolores Cross, Fulton County Sheriff Jackie Barrett, and, in the highly publicized public corruption jury
trial of Clayton County, GA Sheriff Victor Hill, Mr. Findling won an acquittal of all charges in the 37-count indictment. For his effort on behalf of Sheriff Hill, Mr. Findling received the NAACP’s Civil and Human Rights Award and a commendation by the Legislative Black Caucus of Georgia. He also secured a non-prosecution agreement for the long-serving District Attorney of Douglas County, GA, David McDade.
Mr. Findling is a member of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the American Bar Association. Findling also serves on the Board of Advisors for the prestigious National Clearing House on Science and Technology of Law. Due to Mr. Findling’s success in jury trials, appeals, and post-conviction work, he has been named as one of Georgia’s Legal Elite in Georgia Trend Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Top Lawyers in Georgia, and as a Georgia “Super Lawyer” by Atlanta Magazine and one of the Best Lawyers in America© in the area of criminal defense.
Mr. Findling is a Past President and a Life Member of The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”). Mr. Findling joined the Association in 1988 and has served multiple terms on the Board of Directors. His commitment includes service as chair of multiple committees related to forensic science, chair of the Membership Committee, and as co-chair of the Discovery Reform Committee. He also served as a member of NACDL’s Nominating Committee and National Forensics Litigation College Advisory Board. Mr. Findling was the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award which is given to one criminal defense attorney in the country each year by NACDL.
In his more than 30 years of practice, Mr. Findling has published numerous articles and become a highly sought-after speaker, speaking in more than 40 states across the country. He has spoken extensively on topics as race in the criminal justice system, combatting collateral consequences of convictions, defending battered woman syndrome cases, jury selection in high profile cases, forensic preparation for a criminal trial, effective opening statements and closing arguments, professionalism, and advanced cross-examination. He has lectured at Emory Law School, Georgia State University College of Law, and the University of Georgia Law School. He has been on the faculty of the National Criminal
Defense College since 1989 and also teaches at NACDL’s White Collar Criminal Defense College at Stetson and Tulane University Law School’s Pre-Trial Criminal Litigation Boot Camp. Mr. Findling is also regularly invited to serve as a legal analyst on various respected national television news networks. Mr. Findling was recently profiled in a New York Times piece, “Atlanta’s #BillionDollarLawyer Is Looking Out for Your Favorite Rappers,” and he was a guest speaker at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival on “Hip-Hop Collision: Music Race and the Law.” In 2018 Mr. Findling was featured in a documentary by Mic.Com and a 2019 documentary on CNN’s “Great Big Story.” Mr. Findling was also recently named an R&B/Hip-Hop Power Player by Billboard Magazine and a Top-20 Hollywood Troubleshooter by the Hollywood Reporter
Executive Director, Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia
Christina L. Hunt is the Executive Director for the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc. She has been with that office since 2010, and before joining that office, was Senior Litigator with the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho where she had worked for 14 years. This year, she also began teaching again at Mercer Law School where she teaches the Public Defender Extern Clinic.…Read More
Christina L. Hunt is the Executive Director for the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc. She has been with that office since 2010, and before joining that office, was Senior Litigator with the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho where she had worked for 14 years. This year, she also began teaching again at Mercer Law School where she teaches the Public Defender Extern Clinic.
A graduate of Furman University and Mercer University Law School, since 1985 Tina has devoted her career to representing indigent people accused of crimes and training those who represent them. She began her practice in Macon, GA as a private practitioner who specialized in criminal defense after she did one, just one, divorce case. She learned she far preferred the stories of those accused of crimes. After eleven years in Macon, she picked up everything and moved to the Eastern District of Washington to become a career federal defender. Before moving to Washington, Tina taught Trial Practice and Georgia Criminal Practice and Procedure at Mercer Law School and was the Associate Dean of the National Criminal Defense College. She served as a member of the National Criminal Defense College Board of Regents and Faculty, is on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Federal Defenders and is a member of the Training Expert Panel for the Federal Defender Offices. She has a wealth of training experience and has taught at the Western Trial Advocacy Institute, the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy, the Georgia Institute of Trial Advocacy, the Federal Trial Skills Academy, the Colorado Alternate Defense Counsel Trial Skills program the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Litigation Persuasion Institute, fondly known as Faubush, as well as at the New York State Defender’s Association. She taught trial advocacy at Gonzaga Law School in Spokane, WA and has spoken at numerous seminars around the country on trial skills, persuasive sentencing stories and storytelling.
Beyond learning from other lawyers, which is the real reason she agrees to speak at seminars, her true passions are her new husband, Steve, their blended family of two dogs, Winston and MaddieDog, who were both clients in their former lives. (Those who have met them agree). She and her husband also have a well-behaved cat, MaddieCat, who was obviously a public defender in a former life as she has managed to put up with two dogs who think she may be an appetizer.
Recent Teaching History
Christine A. Koehler, Atty. at Law
Since graduating cum laude from Georgia State University College of Law in 1995, Christine has dedicated her career to vigorously defending people accused of crimes. Her unyielding dedication to her clients led to the three month halt of jury trials in Gwinnett County, Georgia, after she successfully challenged the compilation of Gwinnett’s jury system in a death penalty case.
For 17 years Christine’s peers have voted her a Georgia Super Lawyer. She has been named “Best of Gwinnett” by Gwinnett Magazine, multiple times. Christine is a founding member of the Georgia Innocence Project and a life member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Christine is the past President of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Stonewall Bar Association. She is the past Chair of the Investigative Panel of the State Bar of Georgia. She served on the State Bar Investigative Panel for eight years. Christine is a member of the Defense of Drinking Drivers Network of Georgia and she is a founding member of The DUI Defense Lawyers Association.
Christine has been an instructor with GACDL’s Bill Daniel Trial Advocacy Program since 2000. She is on faculty at the National Criminal Defense College and is a frequent lecturer at criminal defense seminars nationwide.
Senior Attorney, Capital Litigation Unit; Southern Center for Human Rights
Mark Loudon-Brown is a senior attorney in the Capital Litigation Unit of the Southern Center for Human Rights, where he represents people facing a death sentence at trial, on appeal, and in post-conviction. Prior to that, Mark was a public defender in the Criminal Defense Practice at The Bronx Defenders. While there, Mark served as a Supervising Attorney for two years and the Forensic Practice Supervisor, overseeing the office’s Forensic Practice Group and consulting on cases involving DNA evidence. After earning his J.D., he completed two years as a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown Law, representing indigent clients charged with crimes and supervised third-year law students doing the same. He teaches a forensic science seminar at Georgia State College of Law.
Recent Teaching History
Natasha Perdew Silas
Senior Litigation Attorney; Federal Defender Program, Inc.
Natasha Perdew Silas became the Dean of the National Criminal Defense College in August of 2017 along with new bestie Karen Smolar. Together they are the third Deans of NCDC. For the past two plus years, Karen and Tasha have worked tirelessly to honor the legacy of the College, to move it forward, and to help it in all ways fulfill its mission of pursuing justice by empowering defenders.
Tasha has twenty-five years of experience as a trial lawyer with the Federal Defender Program in the Northern District of Georgia, where she now serves as a Senior Litigation Attorney still representing clients before the district and circuit courts.
Tasha credits NCDC with helping her to find her voice and power in the courtroom and she has a passion for helping others in their quests to continually improve courtroom advocacy. Tasha has taught extensively in the State of Georgia, in various other states, and also internationally in the Republic of Georgia. She is a proud member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. She has received a number of awards for her work and advocacy including from the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Gate City Bar Association.
Tasha lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children.
Recent Teaching History
Ryan J. Swingle, Attorney at Law, LLC
Ryan is a criminal defense attorney based in Athens, Georgia who practices in both federal and state courts. Ryan is a former state public defender and state capital defender. Ryan began his legal career in 2001 as an Athens public defender. For 12 years, Ryan dedicated himself to defending indigent defendants in Athens on cases ranging from disorderly conduct to murder. During his five years as lead attorney for the Northeast Georgia Capital Defender Office, none of the office’s clients were sentenced to death. Ryan’s current private practice focuses 100% on criminal defense. Ryan is an experienced trial lawyer having tried all manner of misdemeanor and felony cases. Ryan is also a faculty member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Bill Daniel Trial Advocacy Program.
Recent Teaching History
Senior Assistant Public Defender
Brett Willis has been a Georgia Public Defender in Hall County since 2005. He is a member of the inaugural class of Gideon’s Promise. At present, Brett serves as an instructor for: the National Criminal Defense College, the Harvard Law School, Gideon’s Promise, and GACDL’s Bill Daniel Program.
He is the author of Georgia’s only practice guide on defending against the charge of failure to register as a sexual offender. In 2008, Brett successfully challenged the constitutionality of the sex offender registration law as applied to homeless persons in Santos v. State, 284 Ga. 514 (2008).
In 2010, Brett was selected as one of ten Georgia lawyers under forty “On the Rise” in a review by The Fulton County Daily Report. In 2011, he was recognized for securing a dismissal for a woman accused of poisoning her husband with arsenic; the case had been slated to appear on TruTV. In 2013, he was featured in the HBO documentary Gideon’s Army. Also in 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Foot Soldier award by Gideon’s Promise. In 2014 Brett was named the Georgia Assistant Public Defender of the Year. He earned his J.D. from the University of Georgia (2003) and his Master of Laws from New York University (2004).”
Recent Teaching History