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Emily Spears

  • Hosted by Georgia Justice Project
  • Sponsored by Eversheds Sutherland, The Home Depot
  • Service location Atlanta, Georgia
  • Law school Emory University School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Economic Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2023
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Emily (she/her/hers) will enhance opportunities and liberty for low-income Georgians by preventing license suspension, probation, incarceration, and other consequences of non-serious traffic offenses.

Georgia’s traffic code exposes low-income Georgians to an increased risk of prolonged license suspension and being placed under correctional control because of their inability to pay a traffic ticket. Georgia drivers who are unable to afford to pay traffic fines are routinely placed on probation due solely to their inability to pay. Additionally, Georgia drivers routinely have their driver’s licenses suspended for reasons unrelated to unsafe driving. Both consequences mean millions of Georgians are at risk of a non-serious traffic offense leading to state supervision, loss of transportation, loss of income, or even loss of liberty.

Emily understands first-hand how hard it can be for low-income families to meet sudden expenses. Growing up in the South and spending almost a decade in Georgia, Emily is passionate about creating a community where low-income Georgians are not at risk of losing their liberty or livelihood because they cannot afford an unexpected expense.

Fellowship Plans

Emily will enhance low-income Georgians’ liberty by interrupting these collateral consequences of minor traffic offenses. Emily will represent individuals facing license suspension or potential loss of liberty in non-serious traffic cases. Emily will also develop clinics where Georgians facing license suspensions can receive assistance from pro bono attorneys. Through direct representation, data gathering, and community outreach, Emily will identify patterns to develop and pursue a policy agenda to create more equity and opportunity in Georgia’s traffic code.

I’m passionate about this project because of the practical, day-to-day implications it has for low-income Georgians. The idea that something as common as a traffic ticket can upend lives and curtail liberty motivates me to advocate for a better Georgia.

Emily Spears /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

Meet Other Fellows Like Emily

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Sarah True

Host: Root & Rebound

Sponsor: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Current Fellow

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KB White

Host: Legal Action Center

Sponsor: The Leonard & Robert Weintraub Family Foundation

Current Fellow

Stephanie Ciupka

Host: Lawndale Christian Legal Center

Sponsor: Latham & Watkins LLP

Andrea Woods

Host: American Civil Liberties Union Criminal Law Reform Project and Human Rights Program

Sponsor: Intellectual Ventures, The Ottinger Family Foundation