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Ranit Patel

  • Hosted by The Bronx Defenders
  • Sponsored by Venture Justice Fund
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Ranit will end New York’s practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of individuals who cannot afford to pay traffic tickets, through direct representation, litigation, and legislative advocacy.

In New York, drivers who are unable to pay their traffic fines are punished by having their driver’s license suspended. The loss of a driver’s license can mean losing access to basic necessities and economic opportunity and many individuals have no choice but to continue driving in order to sustain their livelihoods. In over-policed neighborhoods, like the Bronx, this chain of events often means that individuals who are unable to pay their traffic fines are charged with the crime of driving on a suspended license, resulting in additional fines and fees, a criminal record, and even jail time.

As a fellow at the Criminal Justice Policy Program, Ranit helped train judges in more fairly imposing and enforcing fines and fees. She is excited to use that experience to work with the Bronx community and New York advocates towards fines and fees reform in New York.

Fellowship Plans

Ranit will work with The Bronx Defenders’ client base to provide representation for individuals who cannot afford their traffic fines, seeking to establish a right to an ability to pay hearing before a driver’s license may be suspended and to vacate unconstitutional suspensions. She will hold know-your-rights trainings and develop a pro se advocacy guide so that Bronx residents can advocate for themselves when they are unable to afford their traffic fines. Guided by these experiences, Ranit will build a campaign for legislative change to eliminate the State’s authority to suspend driver’s licenses in response to non-payment of traffic fines.

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Andrea Woods

Host: American Civil Liberties Union Criminal Law Reform Project

Sponsor: Intellectual Ventures, The Ottinger Foundation

Stephen Reba

Host: The Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic of the Emory University School of Law

Sponsor: FordHarrison LLP

Mani Nezami

Host: Earl Carl Institute

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation

LaTri-c-ea McClendon-Hunt

Host: Rhode Island Legal Services