A native of Kansas City, Kansas, Judge Stephanie Mitchell earned her JD from the University Of Kansas School Of Law and a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She became the Chief Felony Prosecutor of the Gang Unit and during this time she announced her candidacy for judge. On January 1, 2015, Judge Mitchell was sworn in as the Presiding Judge of the 291st Judicial District Court, making her the youngest sitting District Court Judge in Dallas County. She also serves as the Presiding Judge of the Second Chance Community Improvement Program, SCCIP. This is the first and only felony community court in Texas. SCCIP focuses on transforming the lives of participants with pending felony and/or misdemeanor cases, by providing exposure, support and empowerment. She is also one of four Dallas County Judges that created the nationally recognized, Pipeline to Possibilities Program, P2P. P2P has partnered with Dallas Independent School District to educate young adults about the criminal justice system and the importance of making good decisions.
After graduating from the University of Florida College of Law, Lynn Pride Richardson earned her position as the Chief Public Defender for Dallas County. She has been practicing criminal law for 32 years and has been an Assistant Public Defender for the last 23 years. Lynn is actively involved in several Dallas County initiatives including the Dallas County Mental Health Steering Committee, Behavioral Health Leadership Team, the Jail Population Committee and the Dallas County Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB). Lynn and the staff of the Public Defender’s Office have been instrumental in helping to plan, initiate and operate several Dallas County Diversion and Specialty Court/Re-entry Programs including Mental Health Jail Diversion, ATLAS, the PRIDE and STAR Courts, South Dallas Drug Court, Outpatient Competency Restoration Court, STAC, DDC, 4C, AIM, SET and the SCCIP Court program. Her client centered approach to criminal defense also inspired her to create a special conditional dismissal docket for mentally ill offenders and to pursue numerous reformative justice initiatives.
John Creuzot is the elected District Attorney for Dallas County, as well as a retired Judge and an award-winning lawyer with more than three decades of experience in the criminal justice system. In addition to his trusted service on both sides of the bench, Creuzot has earned a national reputation for his innovative work on drug courts, criminal justice reform and evidence-based sentencing. He has lectured and taught courses at the National Drug Court Institute, the National Judicial College, and the National Center for State Courts and has taught drug court teams from across the country. After his retirement from the judiciary, Dallas County honored Creuzot by renaming its drug treatment facility the Judge John C. Creuzot Judicial Treatment Center in May of 2013. The center provides an intensive residential program as an alternative to incarceration for Dallas County probationers. The center works to ensure successful substance abuse treatment and reintegration into the community.
Audrey Garnett is the Deputy Chief of the Restorative Justice Division at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. In that role, she serves as the prosecutor for four pre-adjudication specialty courts: SCCIP, AIM (first time felony offenders, aged 17-24), MHJD (misdemeanor mental health diversion), and SET (felony mental health diversion). Prior to joining the District Attorney’s Office, Audrey was with the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office for 10 years, where she was assigned to a felony trial court docket and spent several years supervising other felony public defenders. Audrey has also been in solo private practice in the areas of criminal defense, juvenile defense, CPS litigation, and child support/family law. Audrey was a prosecutor early in her career at both the Dallas and Collin County District Attorney’s Offices. Audrey grew up in the Dallas area, graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and graduated from SMU School of Law. Audrey has one daughter, two dogs adopted from SPCA, and one rescued cat.
Paul Blocker has been a licensed attorney for nearly 20 years. He started his career with the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office in February 2002, first working in misdemeanor family violence court before being promoted to the felony division. Mr. Blocker was promoted to First Assistant in January 2009, serving under Chief Public Defender Lynn Richardson. As the First Assistant Public Defender, Mr. Blocker oversees the day to day operations for the largest public defender’s office in the state of Texas. Paul earned his undergraduate degree from UT Arlington, and his Juris Doctorate from the Thurgood Marhsall School of Law in Houston. He is a former Adjunct Professor for criminal law and criminal procedure at El Centro College in Dallas, as well as a frequent panelist at the Dedman School of Law at SMU. Mr. Blocker has received training from the Center for Court Innovation and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals on the application of the 10 Key Components of An Effective Drug Court and actively works in the Second Chance Community Improvement Program Court.
Marlo Obera, is an Assistant Public Offender at the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office where he serves as defense counsel for participants of the Second Chance Community Improvement Program (SCCIP). Marlo has a wealth of experience with the transformative justice model. He is a former prosecutor with the Dallas City Attorney’s Office before joining the Public Defender’s Office. He serves as prosecutor for various specialty courts such as the South Dallas Drug Court, South Oak Cliff Veteran’s Treatment Court and the City of Dallas Community Courts. Marlo is a graduate of West Michigan Cooley Law School and currently serves in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Yulise Waters is Deputy Director of Dallas County Programs for LSJA, where she oversees the programmatic, data, and community engagement aspects of the Second Chance Community Improvement Program (SCCIP). Prior to joining LSJA, Waters was an Assistant City Attorney and Community Courts Prosecutor for the City of Dallas where she co-founded SCCIP and secured one of ten 2016 Community Courts Grant Program grants awarded by the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Center for Court Innovation. An advocate for children, young adults, and families, Waters serves on the board of POETIC Trauma Therapy Center and Creative Arts Studio, ARK (Adults Relating to Kids) Group, and Family Gateway. She has been named to the Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” of young professionals representing “innovation and excellence in their fields.” Yulise earned her B.A. in English, Spanish and a B.B.A. in Organizational Behavior and Business Policy from Southern Methodist University where she graduated magna cum laude for all three degrees. She also earned her JD from the Dedman School of Law at SMU.
Rev. Gerald Britt served as pastor of the New Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Dallas, for 22 years. He led New Mount Moriah in a commitment to organizational growth and community engagement in the areas of education, housing, and neighborhood redevelopment and health care. In 2004, Gerald joined CitySquare and currently serves as Vice President of External Affairs. Since coming to CitySquare, he has worked to develop living wage job strategies, which focus on training for jobs across several disciplines. In the area of Public Policy, Gerald leads in constructing CitySquare’s advocacy agenda based on the organizations values and the implications learned from its service programs. He continues to be on the forefront of redevelopment efforts in South Dallas, leading organizations that resulted in the development of South Dallas Action Plan, a comprehensive strategic plan for renewal of the South Dallas economic infrastructure.
Molita Strong is a case manager at CitySquare and for SCCIP (Second Chance Community Improvement Program) in Dallas TX. Molita is a Michigander and has worked for CitySquare a non-profit for the last five years. Molita’s previous experience includes working with victims of domestic violence and women struggling with substance abuse. Molita is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with the plan of enrolling in the Master level social work program after graduation. Molita is a skilled listener and very passionate about social justice. Molita facilitates life skill groups, supports and guides participants through various walks of life and she believes that everyone deserves a second chance. Molita has developed knowledge of, and skills in assisting participants to identify needs and provide complete referral assessments, utilization of agency and community resources. She actively participates in committees, both inside & outside the organization.
Cherri Dickson is a New Jersey native and longtime Southern California resident, Cherri Dickson has an extensive executive level administrative background in medicine and in county government and as a corporate trainer. She served as a Quality Management Analyst for Kaiser Permanente, and, in this capacity, Cherri partnered with the chiefs of multiple hospital departments in the development and monitoring of performance indicators to ensure compliance and licensure by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organization (JCAHO). Cherri served in the Office of the Planning Director as liaison to the executive members of the County of Riverside’s Transportation Land Management Agency (TMLA). She has also served as a member of the Computer Based Training Unit for the Department of Public Social Services where she trained case workers and other staff. A former aerobics instructor, Cherri enjoys dancing and live music, is a licensed minister, and is the proud
mother of two grown children.
mother of two grown children.
Holly Packer graduated from Abilene Christian University with a B.A. in Ministry to Children and Families (magna cum laude). She is currently working on a Masters of Social Work at the University of Houston, with plans of achieving a LMSW in 2020 followed by a LCSW. Holly has worked in various roles at several different churches as a part of their family ministry teams. Prior to working with SCCIP, she was a Case Manager Intern at Hope’s Door New Beginnings Center, serving clients impacted by domestic violence. Holly was born and raised in the Dallas area and loves this city. She has a passion for social justice and a strong conviction to fight for equal rights for all people and hopes to contribute to making positive changes in the spaces she has been placed in. She is a pastor’s wife and is extremely involved in the local church. She is married to Collin Packer, and they have three children, Maddox, Addison, and Brooklyn.