Louisiana Capital Assistance Center


  A Non-Profit Law Office

Contact Us:

 636 Baronne Street
 New Orleans La 70113  USA
 Ph. +1 (504) 558 9867
 Fax. +1 (504) 558 0378




LCAC Staff

Richard Bourke is the director of the LCAC.  He graduated from the Melbourne University School of Law in Australia where he also gained a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology and Criminology.  Richard came to New Orleans to volunteer and then worked at the LCAC after pursuing a successful career as a criminal barrister in Australia.  Richard is certified as capital trial lead counsel in Louisiana and also represents defendants in state and federal capital post-conviction proceedings in Texas and Mississippi.  In 2007 Richard was awarded the Sam Dalton Capital Defense Award by the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  Before his legal career, Richard worked as a youth counselor and social worker with adolescent victims of physical and sexual abuse. Richard is licensed in Louisiana, Texas, federal court and the United States Supreme Court.

Elliott Brown is a staff attorney at the LCAC. He is a graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Law, and previously earned a B.A. in history and print journalism from LSU. While in law school he served as an intern for Innocence Project of New Orleans, the Capital Appeals Project, and the Baton Rouge Capital Conflicts Office. Elliott was a full time public defender in Lafayette, LA from 2011-2016 where he represented capital and felony clients. He has also served as a contract public defender in Ascension Parish. Elliott is admitted to the bar in Louisiana and is capital certified in Louisiana.

Linda Cortez is the Director of Litigation Support at the LCAC. Linda is responsible for litigation support services in the office, including supervision of LCAC’s interns and volunteers.  Prior to coming to LCAC, Linda worked as a social worker in child abuse and neglect cases. After obtaining a law degree from West Virginia University, she worked as an attorney in Maryland in the areas of administrative law and employment law.  Linda has also held numerous academic positions including a faculty position at Johns Hopkins University for many years where she developed and taught law-related courses. 

Britney Dugan is investigator for the LCAC. She is a California native who went to school for filmmaking. Britney worked in Los Angeles’ film industry before moving to New Orleans in 2013.

Molly Gordon is a mitigation specialist with the LCAC. She graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in American History, where she was a coordinator of the Columbia Literacy Advocacy Project (a group of tutors who work with high school aged youth at a juvenile detention center in the Bronx, NY). After moving to New Orleans in 2012 she served as an AmeriCorps member for two years at the St. Bernard Project focusing on disaster recovery and affordable housing. Most recently, she worked as a Field Supervisor and interviewer with the US Census Bureau throughout southeast Louisiana.  

Christine Lehmann is a senior capital attorney at the LCAC. Christine graduated from Yale Law School after previously completing a Masters in Theology at Harvard. Christine is certified as lead capital counsel in Louisiana and is on the federal CJA capital panel in the Eastern District of Louisiana. She clerked in the Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals before beginning work as a staff attorney at the LCAC in 2002. In October 2006, Christine left the office temporarily to help reform the Orleans indigent defender program. She became director of the Orleans Public Defenders in April 2007, and remained at that position through August 2008, during which time she oversaw tremendous structural reform. She returned to the LCAC in September 2008. Christine has a particular expertise in working with clients with mental illness and intellectual disabilities. Christine is licensed to practice in Louisiana and in federal court.

Steve Merlan is a mitigation specialist with the LCAC. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Tulane University. He is also involved in Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners, the annual Nola to Angola Bicycle solidarity ride, and plays in a country folk band called The Tintypes.  Steve is a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Spanish.  Before coming to LCAC full-time, he worked on studies of Latino migrant health in the New Orleans area, began the process of helping to restore a house in the 7th ward, and volunteered as a mitigation support intern at LCAC.

Gabe Newland is a Legal Fellow with the LCAC. He graduated with honors from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic and co-founded the Student Rights Project, an organization of law and social work students that provides holistic advocacy to children facing discipline in Michigan’s public schools. Also during law school, Gabe interned with the Bronx Defenders and the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Before law school, Gabe was a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan. After law school, he clerked for the Hon. Catharine Easterly on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Hon. Yvonne Williams on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Gabe is the author of A Solution to Michigan’s Child Shackling Problem, 112 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 161 (2014), and he is licensed to practice law in Louisiana.

Kate Purvis is a mitigation specialist with the LCAC. She was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales in 2007 after graduating from the University of Manchester with an LLB. Kate first came to New Orleans in 2009 to complete an extended internship at the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, during which she assisted with conducting mitigation investigation and drafting the relevant legal claims for post-conviction capital cases. Upon returning to New Orleans from the U.K., Kate worked as a mitigation specialist at NOLA Investigates on a number of capital cases, including post-conviction and state and federal trial-level cases for state capital defense agencies, the Federal Public Defender, and private attorneys. 

Milan Ray is an administrative assistant at LCAC. He graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a BA in Political Science, minoring in Criminal Justice. Milan is active in local community-based initiatives and has previously facilitated classes as an instructor at Samuel J. Green Charter School and Kipp Central City.  As a community organizer he has worked with groups such as The Isaiah Institute, Icons for Peace, and Justice and Beyond in event planning and program development.

Meghan Shapiro is a staff attorney at the LCAC. A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Meghan clerked for the Hon. Leonie M. Brinkema, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, and practiced capital defense at the Northern Va. Capital Defender Office as well as in private practice. Meghan has been involved in capital defense work since 2003, working for state and federal practitioners in a number of states. She has had been published in the American Journal of Criminal Law, the Champion, Virginia Lawyer, and How Can You Represent Those People, eds. Abbe Smith & Monroe Freedman (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). Meghan is admitted to practice in Louisiana, Virginia and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and is certified as a capital defense attorney in Louisiana and Virginia.

Stephen Singer is a senior capital attorney at the LCAC and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.  He was a public defender at the D.C. Public Defender Service from 1989-1997.  Prior to that he had been an investigator at the Public Defender Service.  Steve subsequently became a professor at the University of Wyoming College of Law and Loyola Law School in New Orleans where he directed criminal defense clinics and taught criminal law and procedure as well as ethics.  In between professorships at Wyoming and Loyola, Steve was a staff attorney at LCAC for about five years.  He is licensed to practice in Louisiana. 

Andrew Strenio is a mitigation specialist with the LCAC.  He is a graduate of Princeton University with an AB in Philosophy.  After two years in the Managing Attorney’s office at Paul Weiss LLP, he worked as a documentary TV producer for over half a decade. His work focused on underrepresented populations and subcultures, including incarcerated persons (both in the Georgia State Prison system and Nevada’s Clark County jail), domestic human trafficking, people undergoing gender transitions, and religious rituals around the world.

Joe Vigneri is a staff attorney at the LCAC. After graduating from James Millikin University with a B.A. in Political Science, he went on to obtain his law degree from St. Louis University School of Law. Following law school, Joe practiced law for a number of years in Illinois. While there, as a public defender he had the privilege of representing innumerable clients across the state at the trial, appellate and post-conviction levels, both in serious felony cases and death penalty cases. Joe eventually moved to Atlanta, where he worked in two different stints as a senior trial attorney for the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender. In between, Joe served as the Capital Defender for the Central Region of Virginia in Richmond. He is certified as lead capital counsel in Illinois (before abolition), Georgia, and Virginia. Although not currently licensed as an attorney in Louisiana, Joe is registered to sit for the July 2017 Louisiana bar examination.

Kim Watts is the LCAC's Office Manager, Personnel Director and Financial Manager. Kim manages an array of duties ranging from managing the daily affairs of the office to financial planning. Kim also deals with staff needs such as health plans, leave, work environment and equipment.  Kim earned a degree in Political Science from Xavier University while working her way through school. She has worked to organize a student forum on racism and campaigned for several political candidates. While at Xavier, Kim undertook an internship with the Loyola Death Penalty Resource Center and was later employed by it as a research assistant. Prior to her arrival at the LCAC, Kim was a legal secretary/paralegal for Loyola's Post-Conviction Defender Organization.

Carol Zikmund is the receptionist for the LCAC.  She graduated from the University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Arts and before joining the LCAC served as a legal secretary, legal assistant and office manager in a number of law offices for over a decade.


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