I have ten years of research experience, much of it spent working on grant-funded multi-year, multi-site projects. Broadly, my research interests focus on the courts and legal decision-making; I employ multi-method approaches to studying issues surrounding plea bargaining, indigent defense, pretrial services, court and legal reforms, juvenile justice issues, policing, and program and policy implementation and evaluation.
While completing my doctorate, I was offered many opportunities to participate in diverse projects, and I have leveraged those opportunities to extend my repertoire of skills and knowledge. I accumulated extensive experience designing and conducting both theoretically grounded research and empirically informed policy and program evaluation. Those opportunities have entailed both qualitative investigations, of several types, and quantitative analysis of original and archival data. As my vita indicates, I am proficient in documentary research (legal, historical, and media research, case law coding and analyses), subject- and site-specific strategies (interviews, focus groups, surveys and court observations), and conversion of official data (police reports, court dockets, jail records, and state criminal history records) into useable quantified data. Because I have typically been engaged in projects from the beginning through the end, I have had the opportunity to develop dissemination products in the form of conference presentations (sponsored by both academic venues, such as the American Society of Criminology, and practitioner forums, such as NLADA symposia), topic-specific meetings (such as facilitated workgroups and webinars) and, of course, publishing in diverse outlets (peer-reviewed journals, law reviews, book chapters, magazines, and white papers).
I also excel in working on multiple projects, at various stages, and with diverse teams of senior and junior colleagues (as well as student interns). I find that I invest my energy in all aspects of research, from project design and grant writing to data collection and analysis to interpretation and publication of findings geared to lay, practitioner, policy, and research audiences. I find team-based research just as rewarding as my own solo projects.
During my time as a Ph.D. student at Albany, as a research assistant and analyst, I have worked on six grant-funded projects:
- The Counsel at First Appearance (CAFA) project is an NIJ-funded multi-year multi-site project that examines the implementation of individualized CAFA programs in six upstate NY counties, which include rural and urban jurisdictions. This project, a collaboration between the University and a state agency, assesses the impact of CAFA on direct and indirect legal and extralegal outcomes, as well as a process evaluation and cost reduction analysis of CAFA implementation;
- The Creating and Transferring Knowledge on Guilty Pleas project, which is part of the Modeling Decision-Making in the Legal System (MoDiLS) Lab, is an NSF-funded multi-year project that employed an experimental design to examine juvenile and young adult plea decision-making;
- The Research Coordination Network (RCN) on Understanding Guilty Pleas was funded by NSF to increase the understanding of the processes that generate guilty pleas by bringing together active scholars from across disciplines (economics, psychology, criminology, and law), focusing on understanding the decisions by each of the three cores involved in the process that generates guilty pleas (prosecutors, defendants and defense attorneys, and the entire courtroom workgroup), as well as attracting new scholars to the study of the processes generating guilty pleas;
- The Family Court Needs Assessment and Feasibility evaluation study, funded through a New York state-level grant, uses focus groups, court observations, surveys, interviews, and legal research to understand the needs of assigned counsel providers (attorneys, staff, and administrator) and indigent defendants when representing them in family court;
- The Police Interactions with Victims of Violence project, funded by NIJ, analyzes the nature of police-victim and police-citizen interactions by coding incident characteristics and citizen roles, including the behaviors of officers and victims in a sample of incidents based on in-car, dash cam recordings; and
- The Supervisory Coaching of Law Enforcement project, supported by a grant awarded from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, examines the potential of body-worn cameras to enhance the performance of the supervisory role; this project uses body-worn camera recordings to conduct systematic social observation coding of approximately 2,500 police-citizen interactions.
On two of these projects, CAFA and the MoDiLS lab, I should note that the longevity and complexity of the projects resulted in the Principal Investigators creating extensive opportunities for graduate and undergraduate experiential learning, in the form of research internships. In both cases, the PIs delegated to me primary responsibility for recruiting, training, and supervising more than twenty undergraduate and graduate students on research ranging from lab experiments, interviews, multi-site field research, and systematic social observation research. These experiences have taught me the value of creating and cultivating research experiences for the interns, and also the day-to-day (and overarching) responsibility that comes with supervision, coordination, and mentoring.
I have been fortunate to have been able to capitalize on national, community, and university opportunities to develop grant-writing skills. My dissertation research, funded by an NSF doctoral dissertation research improvement grant, examines plea decision-making and adjudicative processes through semi-structured interviews with 40 defendants, 30 defense attorneys, and 30 prosecutors in two counties, contextualized by court observations and field interviews with members of the courtroom workgroups (in county, city, and a sample of town and village courts in upstate New York). Following on my engagement with county indigent defense providers in connection with the CAFA project, a program director in one county contacted me to request my assistance in writing a state grant request for funding to expand his county’s program, which included designing the delivery of CAFA and drafting the budget for the proposal. The county employed me as a freelance grant-writer and consultant on that project, and the full amount of funding requested from the NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services was awarded. Two years ago, I received a University at Albany Initiatives for Women Grant to fund a study of New York’s recently adopted ‘yes means yes’ standard for New York colleges and universities, as established in state legislation on sexual assault. Based on these experiences, I am developing practical instincts about how funding is (and should be) sought at these levels, and I would enjoy assisting in the development of funding proposals.