Bertha SJI - Legal Fellowship Program

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Bertha Justice Fellowships at CCR

The Bertha Fellowship is for emerging lawyers (0-2 years out of law school) who are interested in gaining both practical experience working on CCR cases and a theoretical understanding of how legal advocacy can create social change. CCR hosts three Bertha Fellows, one to work alongside attorneys in each of our three docket areas: Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative, Government Misconduct/Racial Justice, and International Human Rights.

The Bertha Fellowship at CCR is sponsored by the Bertha Foundation which hosts emerging lawyers at several legal organizations across the world. In addition to gaining legal experience on CCR cases, Bertha Fellows at CCR will have opportunities to attend regional and international meetings, network with lawyers from around the world, and receive mentoring and non-traditional training in leadership, management, media and advocacy, activism and movement building.

Docket Descriptions

Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative (GGJI): GGJI attorneys are at the forefront in challenging extrajudicial detention, torture and abuse in Guantánamo and related domestic and international outposts of the executive branch’s “war on terror.” The Bertha Fellow assigned to this docket will work with CCR staff to continue and broaden CCR’s efforts – through litigation and advocacy – to challenge executive branch practices premised on expansive conceptions of wartime executive authority, as well as long-standing racism and xenophobia, including indefinite and preventive detention, military commissions, targeted killings and abusive interrogations.
International Human Rights (IHR) The IHR team focuses on litigation and advocacy in U.S. courts, foreign courts, and international fora to press the U.S. government, foreign government officials, corporations and other private actors to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law. Their work also includes providing support to international human rights activists.
Government Misconduct/Racial Justice (GMRJ): GMRJ attorneys develop creative litigation and advocacy projects in areas such as: racial justice; economic and social rights; the government’s criminalization of dissent; mass incarceration; immigrant justice; policing; national security; environmental justice; gender equality and LGBTQ rights.

Current Fellows

Zachery Morris
Zachery Morris is the Bertha Fellow for the International Human Rights Docket at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Zachery earned his law degree from Stanford Law School in 2014. While attending law school, Zachery investigated international and domestic human rights abuses through Stanford’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic. He worked as an Ella Baker Intern at CCR, and interned with Human Rights Watch's Business and Human Rights Division and its US Program. Prior to law school, Zachery graduated from Stanford University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy.

Somalia Samuel
Somalia Samuel is a Bertha Fellow in CCR’s Government Misconduct/Racial Justice docket. Somalia earned her J.D. from CUNY School of Law, where she served as Vice President of the Black Law Students Association; a moot court team member; and an editorial staff member on CUNY Law Review. Somalia interned at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS), where she worked alongside seasoned public defenders to provide holistic defense to indigent persons accused of crimes. As a component of her clinical experience, Somalia represented indigent clients charged with misdemeanors in Queens Criminal Court through the Criminal Defense Clinic, led by Professor Steve Zeidman. Somalia was a Thurgood Marshall Fellow at the New York City Bar Association, serving on the Committee on Civil Rights and working in the City Bar Justice Center’s Bankruptcy project and Immigrant Women and Children project, where she assisted clients with complex immigration issues. Somalia was the recipient of the Luis Sanjurjo Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to a student who will use their law degree “to advance the interests of civil rights and human rights.”

Prior to attending law school, Somalia earned her B.A. in Humanities in Justice Studies from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she was awarded the Undergraduate Research Incentive Scholarship for her senior thesis—a historical and philosophical critique of the Thirteenth Amendment’s slavery proviso and its impact on prison slavery.

Omar Shakir
Omar Shakir is a Bertha Fellow in CCR’s Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative docket. Omar previously was a fellow at Human Rights Watch, where he investigated abuses in Egypt and was lead researcher and author of “All According to Plan,” a 188-page report that documents the mass killings of protesters in Egypt in July and August 2013, including the Rab’a Massacre, where security forces gunned down at least 817 people in one of the world’s largest ever killings of demonstrators in a single day.

A former Fulbright Scholar in Syria, Omar holds a JD from Stanford Law School, an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Affairs, and a BA in International Relations from Stanford. At Stanford, Omar co-authored ‘Living Under Drones’, a joint Stanford-NYU report documenting civilian consequences of US drone practices in Pakistan, and served as president of the International Law Society, co-president of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program, and co-president of Students for Palestinian Equal Rights, a group he founded as an undergraduate. Omar has also worked with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the ACLU, and the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Officer, conducted human rights fieldwork in Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, the US, and the West Bank, and appeared on BBC, Aljazeera, Huffington Post Live, and NPR, among other outlets.

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