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Ithaca, NEW YORK, January 21, 2014

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During her time as a Cornell Law student, Cristina Laramee has made the most of opportunities to gain insight and experience in criminal defense, from taking an array of courses in the field to performing intern- and externships in three public defenders offices. After graduating this spring, she will put that experience to work in the Bronx, as the Law School’s third H.T. Rhodes Public Interest Law Fellow.

Supported by the fellowship, Laramee will work with the Bronx Defenders, which provides innovative criminal defense, family defense, civil legal services, social work support, and advocacy to indigent people of the borough. Laramee’s goal is to reduce the number of Bronx Defenders’ clients who are re-incarcerated because of probation violations.

“My project will focus on the unique obstacles faced by Bronx Defenders clients on probation,” says Laramee. “Without access to services to help them succeed, individuals on probation in the Bronx, particularly people of color, too frequently find themselves in a constant cycle of punishment and supervision. Through the project, I will support and advocate for clients in order to help them overcome the obstacles to successful completion of their probationary sentence.”

Laramee currently serves as the notes editor of the Cornell Law Review and a member of its Diversity Committee, as well as a member of the Black Law Students Association and Latino American Law Students Association Professional Development Bootcamp Committee. In addition, during her final semester, she will work as a teaching assistant for the course Death Penalty in America, taught by Professors John Blume and Sheri Lynn Johnson.

Karen Comstock, assistant dean for Public Service, was a member of the Rhodes Fellowship selection committee. “We are thrilled to award the third Frank H.T. Rhodes Public Interest Law Fellowship to Cristina Laramee,” she says. “The committee selected Cristina because she has a real passion for and a proven track record in indigent criminal defense work. Her belief that all clients have the ability to turn their lives around, and her commitment to doing all she can to give them the best possible chance for success, is extremely compelling. Her project is creative, and it is supported by an organization known for its holistic, client-centered approach to indigent representation. This is a winning combination.” 

Funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and shared by the Law School and Cornell’s Population Program, the Frank H.T. Rhodes fellowships are named for Cornell University’s president from 1977 to 1995, who was also a former Atlantic board member and chair. The fellowships further scholarship and research in poverty alleviation, public health, human rights, and support for the elderly and disadvantaged children.

 —Owen Lubozynski

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