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Tulane Health Policy Case Competition: Judges Bios

  Katherine Mattes, Senior Professor of the Practice, is Director of the Tulane Law School Criminal Justice Clinic and co-director of the Women’s Prison Project (focused on the intersection between domestic violence and criminal law). She teaches law students on criminal law practice at all levels: trial, appellate, post-conviction, and federal habeas practice. She also has specialized expertise in the intersection of criminal justice and mental illness, including mental competency to stand trial and the insanity defense. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Mattes was appointed to represent thousands of incarcerated people who had been evacuated to multiple and sometimes unknown facilities across the state of Louisiana. Mattes’ post-Katrina work became instrumental in the re-construction of the New Orleans criminal justice system following the disaster. More recently, Mattes has played a key role in bringing Louisiana law into conformity with the United States Supreme Court jurisprudence regarding the sentencing of juvenile homicide defendants. Through litigation, judicial training, and legislative advocacy, Mattes helped fashion and implement legal remedies for people serving life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles.
     
Jerome Morgan   Jerome Morgan, 44, was placed in foster care at the age of three due to both parents being incarcerated. He grew up in the historic Pontchartrain Park neighborhood. Morgan excelled throughout his childhood, and only needed 2 1/2 credits to finish high school by his senior year, but at the age of 17 he was wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced to life without parole in prison for a murder and shooting of two others that happened at a John McDonogh #35 "Sweet 16" party. After spending 20 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, he was released on bond, and in May 2016 had the charges “Nolle Passe,” availing heavy re-prosecution. Now Morgan is the Co-Founder/Poverty Expert Counselor/Prisoner Correspondent and Youth Advocate with Free-Dem Foundations.  He is also a guest member of Christian Unity Baptist Church, St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church and New Life Ministry Baptist Church. Morgan also is a Co-Owner/Licensed Barber with Real Gentlemen Barbershop, LLC (RGB), and a Graphic Designer/Writer with Park Roots Productions, LLC. He is a client of Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), a Social Justice Co-Facilitator at local schools, a Community Activist with Students At the Center (SAC), Justice & Beyond, The New Jim Crow Ministries and Kid’s Rethink New Orleans Schools, and served as a panelist for Criminal versus Gentlemen: What Defines The Black Male Image 1 & 2 and co-author of “Unbreakable Resolve: Triumphant Stories of 3 True Gentlemen,” published in 2017 and “Go To Jail: Confronting Systems of Oppression,” coming soon.
     
Antoine Saacks   Antoine M. Saacks, Jr. has 28 years of experience with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). He rose through the ranks from patrolman to assistant chief of police. During his tenure he was responsible for a budget of $80 million and supervised 1,500 police and civilian personnel. He has field experience with multiple facets of law enforcement including command, patrol, and investigation. Beyond his career with the NOPD, Antoine has successfully owned and operated two security companies which have been responsible for security at hotels, a hospital, and all movie productions in New Orleans between 1984 and 1994. He also founded AMS INC., a contracting firm which built and renovated residential properties around New Orleans. He also served six years in the Marine Corps where he was honorably discharged in 1972. Antoine holds a bachelor of arts in criminal justice from Tulane, and was elected to the honors society. Mr. Saacks was the only ranking officer chosen to attend the 108th session of the FBI National Academy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at the FBI National Academy, the St. Charles Ave. Business Association, and the NOPD Municipal Training Academy.
     
  Syrita Steib founded Operation Restoration (OR) in 2016 and serves as the Executive Director. She started this organization to eradicate the roadblocks she faced when returning to society after 120 months in federal prison. In 2017, Syrita, along with partners, wrote, advocated, and successfully passed Louisiana Act 276, which prohibits public post-secondary institutions in Louisiana from asking questions relating to criminal history for purposes of admissions, making Louisiana the first state to pass this type of legislation. Syrita is regularly speaks at conferences and facilitates conversations across the nation about the experiences of incarcerated women and the importance of true economic equity and what racial equity truly means. In 2018 she was a co-chair for the healthy families committee for New Orleans' Mayor Cantrell’s transition team. She was also a panelist on the Empowerment stage at Essence Festival in 2018 and 2019. Syrita was a policy consultant for Cut50’s Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign and worked tirelessly on the passage of the First Step Act. She was appointed by the Governor to the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment oversight council and is the Vice-chair for the Louisiana Task Force on Women’s Incarceration. She also helped create, and was featured in, the Newcomb Art Museum’s Per(Sister) exhibit, which shared the stories of currently and formerly incarcerated women. Recently, she was a keynote speaker at the Grantmakers for Education Conference. She is a 2020 Rubinger Fellow and a member of the second cohort of Unlock Futures (a collaboration between John Legend, Bank of America, and New Profit), and 2020 Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Angel Awardee.