Denver Innocence Project's Leadership Team
Leah Gonzales serves as the Director of the Denver Innocence Project. Leah grew up in Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Colorado State University with two degrees in Political Science and Social Work and a minor in Spanish. Ms. Gonzales went to California Western School of Law in San Diego. During her time there, Ms. Gonzales was the Lieutenant Governor of Public Interest to the Ninth Circuit of the American Bar Association, President of Public Interest Law Foundation, Treasurer of the Student Bar Association and Student Animal Defense Law Foundation, and a member of La Raza Law Student Association and Pro Bono Honor’s Society.
Ms. Gonzales's career has been focused in immigration law and criminal defense law. Most importantly, Ms. Gonzales worked with the California Innocence Project. Through her work there, Ms. Gonzales worked to exonerate those with post-conviction claims of innocence. Ms. Gonzales developed a passion for this work, which was seen through the honor of receiving the 2015 Walsh Advocacy Award. Ms. Gonzales worked with Justin Brooks of the California Innocence Project to prepare a petition for the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of the first Latina on death row in Illinois. Ms. Gonzales continues to work on this case and find justice for this woman.
Ms. Gonzales externed for the Honorable Karen S. Crawford of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California specifically assisting in criminal matters and AEDPA habeas corpus review. Overall, Ms. Gonzales’s accomplishments earned her various awards from prestigious legal organizations, including the San Diego Lawyer’s Club, San Diego La Raza Lawyer’s Association, Josi Dixon Public Interest Foundation Grant, Equal Justice Works Grant, and the Alec L. Cory Scholarship for Pro Bono Service.
When she is not working, Ms. Gonzales enjoys karaoke night, paddle boarding, the Denver Broncos, and being pushed off her bed by her dog Ada.
Leslie Pugh, Esq.
Leslie serves as Vice President and Secretary of the Denver Innocence Project and also is a member of the Board of Directors. Leslie became an attorney because of her strong passion in advocating for civil rights and liberties, and for the abused, neglected, and those cast aside by society. Leslie’s has a strong background in immigration law and has represented clients before USCIS and the Immigration Court fighting for clients that are being persecuted in their home country, unaccompanied child arrivals that have been abandoned by their biological parents, and victims of violence. She also has experience representing clients in criminal proceedings .
Leslie is a Colorado native and received her J.D. from Regent University in Virginia Beach, and has a BA from Colorado State University. She is currently licensed to practice law in Colorado and Tennessee. Leslie strongly believes that attorneys have an obligation to give back and help those in need, and which is why she volunteers for Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMAIN), Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, and the Denver Innocence Project.
Community Outreach and Litigation Coordinator
President of the Board of Directors
Autumn Roberts serves as the Fundraising and Development Coordinator (?) for the Denver Innocence Project. She spent her childhood in Pennsylvania and relocated to Colorado after high school. She works as User Experience Designer, improving the usability of websites attends Colorado State University, working on her Psychology degree.
Autumn is passionate about helping those who have been wrongfully convicted and to give back to her community by supporting the Denver Innocence Project.
Click here if you have any interest in help the Denver Innocence Project coordinate, plan, or host any fundraisers.
Brittany serves as the Community Outreach and Litigation Coordinator of the Denver Innocence Project. Brittany was born in Texas City, Texas but spent the majority of her life in Littleton, Colorado. She graduated from Liberty University in 2014 with an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s degree in Western Legal Traditions with minors in Psychology and Sociology. During college, Brittany interned with the Public Defender’s Office as an investigative intern. While she was there, Brittany gained a passion for criminal defense and a desire to help the community.
Brittany went to Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia. During her time there, she was the President of the Criminal Law Society, a co-founder of the Child Advocacy Society, and Online Editor for the Legal Journal. Her article, entitled, “Is Zealousness Enough?” was published in 2017 and discusses the need for a holistic defense strategies to address criminal defendant’s human needs along with their legal needs. Brittany worked as a law clerk for a private defense firm all three years of law school where she helped indigent clients defend their rights against the state. This work was an eye opening experience for her, as she was able to truly see the flaws in the criminal justice system for the first time.
After taking the July 2017 bar exam, Brittany is currently licensed to practice law in Colorado. She has a passion for righting wrongful convictions and is excited to help make a difference in the state of Colorado. In her spare time, Brittany enjoys traveling, spending time with her friends and family, all things Disney, and her cat - Sam.
Kasey Mayle-Combs is the Denver Innocence Project's Investigations Coordinator. She has a degree in biology and is an avid visual artists and designer. The quote that inspires her the most to do this work is
"... prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business."
Scott Phillips is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Denver. He has taught a variety of courses at DU, including: Wrongful Conviction, Capital Punishment, Criminology, and Statistics. His research focuses on the administration of capital punishment in Texas and Colorado, using empirical data to examine whether the death penalty is imposed arbitrarily. Professor Phillips’ research on capital punishment has been featured by several media outlets, including the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio, the Death Penalty Information Center, Mother Jones, and the New York Times. He has also served as a member of the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Panel on Law and Social Science. A recent example of Professor Phillips’ research was presented at the 2016 Innocence Network Conference in San Antonio and is forthcoming in the Hofstra Law Review (Scott Phillips and Jamie Richardson. 2017. “The Worst of the Worst: Heinous Crimes and Erroneous Evidence”).