Photo of Maya Chauduri

Maya Chaudhuri

  • Hosted by Texas Fair Defense Project
  • Sponsored by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
  • Service location Austin, Texas
  • Law school University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Racial Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Maya (she/her/hers) will bring strategic litigation to open Texas magistration hearings in order to provide public access to court proceedings and shed light on unconstitutional practices involving cash bail and incarceration for inability to pay fines.

Across Texas, people who are disproportionately Black or Latinx are jailed following magistration hearings solely because of their inability to pay traffic debt or a monetary bond. Most of these proceedings are closed to the public and undocumented. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to unearth illegal and unconstitutional court practices and vindicate low-income arrestees’ rights.

Maya’s time as an investigator working on advocacy and litigation around criminal courts in the South drives her commitment to open courts, which are an essential step toward empowering communities to enact change in local criminal legal systems. She is passionate about challenging injustices at the intersection of race and poverty in the criminal legal system.

Fellowship Plans

In coalition and coordination with local community organizations, Maya will bring claims under the First Amendment and the Texas Constitution on behalf of members of the public and organizational plaintiffs who have been denied access to magistration hearings. She will work to ensure these hearings are open and documented through this litigation. She will draft legislation and ordinances to ensure that magistration, and all other criminal hearings, remain public. Maya will also work with interested community members to start local court watching programs so community members can ensure litigation and policy successes are preserved.

Media

Using Waller to Uphold First and Sixth Amendment Rights Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fabulous Fellows: Students Earn Premier Honors in Public Interest Practice

By shining a light on the practices in magistration hearings, we can continue to work to end wealth-based detention across Texas.

Maya Chaudhuri /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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