Karly Jo Dixon

  • Hosted by Texas Fair Defense Project
  • Sponsored by Friends and Family of Philip M. Stern
  • Service location Austin, Texas
  • Law school The University of Texas School of Law
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties
  • Fellowship class year 2016
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

It is illegal under the United States and Texas Constitutions to incarcerate indigent individuals for unpaid criminal justice debt. Individuals in Texas charged with Class C misdemeanors are not currently being appointed an attorney and over half a million Texans self-report that they have spent time in jail in order to pay off criminal justice debt. Almost 3 million Texans cannot driver legally due to criminal justice debt.

Those who plead guilty or default on Class C tickets that they cannot afford and face jail, warrants, and suspended driver licenses include many of the most marginalized members of our society: teenagers, single parents, the homeless, and those with disabilities.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Karly Jo has:

  • Provided advice to and represented hundreds of individuals facing incarceration, warrants, and suspended driver licenses for Class C criminal justice debt
  • Trained pro bono attorneys in best practices for Class C cases and referred individuals to these attorneys for representation
  • Held community education and assisted pro se clinics
  • Distributed know your rights and self advocacy educational materials to community groups and individuals
  • Developed and distributed a pro bono manual and tool-kit
  • Deployed teams of court observers to determine how courts are applying recent legislation changes

What’s Next

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Karly Jo plans to:

  • Continue her work at Texas Fair Defense Project
  • Expand community based Class C clinics
  • Represent individuals facing warrants and jail for criminal justice debt
  • Continue to train pro bono attorneys
  • Hold Judges accountable for unlawful practices related to fines and fees

Meet Other Fellows Like Karly

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Ifetayo Y. Belle

Host: New York Civil Liberties Union

Sponsor: Norflet Progress Fund

Michael Pope

Host: Youth Represent

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Andrea Jolliffe

Host: Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Sponsor: McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

Cody Cutting

Host: Southern Center for Human Rights

Sponsor: Lisa Foster and Alan Bersin

Current Fellow