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Sun, 12 Dec 2021 19:47:00 -0600 text/html
Killexams : How Improper Drug Testing Punishes Minority Mothers and the Incarcerated

On Dec. 18, 2020, the day before she gave birth to her first child at a hospital in Middletown, N.Y., Crystal H. tested positive for opiates during the routine drug test administered to all pregnant women.

When the baby was born, hospital staff refused to allow her to nurse the infant. The positive result of the drug test made her an “unfit” mother, she was told..

But Crystal, a Latinx woman whose full name is withheld to protect her privacy, did not actually take the drug she tested positive for.

It was not the first time an erroneous drug test produced tragic consequences.

In 2019, 1,632 incarcerated individuals in New York State Corrections Facilities tested positive for buprenorphine, and were punished as a result—in what the state’s Inspector General at the time later called a “devastating” violation of due process.

The reasons for “positive” results can vary.

The testing methods can be faulty or the findings can be misinterpreted. In New York and elsewhere, some facilities use the lowest possible threshold cutoff amounts for drug positives, which can falsely label non-illicit drug substances as positive.

Many of those victimized by false positives are people of color..

According to a complaint filed Dec. 17, 2021 by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Black and brown women have been disproportionately affected by improper drug tests.

The complaint cites the case of Crystal H., along with a second case filed under the name of an anonymous “Jane Doe.” Both were filed against Garnet Health Medical Center, the hospital in Middletown where the two expectant mothers were tested.

Premised on the argument that the testing demonstrates a pattern of discrimination against Black and Latinx pregnant New Yorkers, the complaint is part of the evidence being marshalled to support a proposed state bill to halt all drug testing of pregnant women without informed consent.

These tests are largely conducted at the discretion of health care providers, and accordingly [are] subject to their unconscious bias,” says a legislative memo in support of the bill.

The memo asserts that “drug and alcohol testing disproportionately targets Black and Latinx pregnant people in public hospitals, despite similar rates of substance use by white patients in private facilities.”

[Public hospitals in New York City ended the practice in November 2020.]

A National Issue

Most addiction specialists agree that, administered correctly, drug tests are essential for addiction treatment.

But, as these examples above reveal, some corrections facilities and welfare protection agencies judge a positive finding as black or white, positive or negative, and mete out punishment.

Numerous other court cases and studies across the country have come to a similar conclusion.

A 2020 study by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Center for Justice Research and Evaluation found that “probation departments operate with lack of guidance on drug testing, as well as a lack of research on drug testing’s impact on reducing recidivism or improving behavioral health.”

 “Drug testing is really only just one piece of information when working with a patient,” explained Dr. Timothy Wiegand, vice president of the board of directors of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

man with red tie

Dr. Timothy Wiegand

“Yet it is often treated as the most important piece of information. Positive go this way, negative, then that’s the path. This is very not the way drug testing should be utilized.”

Wiegand, a specialist in medical toxicology and addiction medicine, helped develop the 56-page ASAM guide, “Appropriate Use of Drug Testing in Clinical Addiction Medicine.”.

Drug testing is supposed to guide discussion and potential treatment, and shouldn’t be used to determine punitive measures, Dr. Wiegand said.

But, he added, the procedures are complicated by the fact that doctors may not always understand drug test results.

“Decisions are made all the time by individuals who haven’t had proper training or education in drug testing,” he said.

The Case of Crystal H.

 The details of Crystal’s case show how poor medical decision-making can lead to tragedy.

On Dec. 18, 2020, when medical staff at the Garnet Health Medical Center asked her for a urine trial shortly after her water started to leak, she assumed it was a routine test for protein levels and a check for blood in her urine.

Then the nurse told her she had tested positive for opiates. She had not been told it was a drug test. Nor did she provide consent.

Crystal, and a second mother (the “Jane Doe” in the NYCLU complaint), who also underwent drug testing without consent by Garnet, received quick and cheap immunoassay scans.

The scans found Crystal had more than 300 ng/mL of codeine, the commonly used threshold cutoff for codeine on this “presumptive” screen.

However, presumptive screens have many limitations, including false positives due to cross-reactivity, according to Dr. Damon Borg, Chief Scientific Officer at Cordant Health Solutions.

Cordant, with more than 2,000 clients, is one of only 21 laboratories certified by the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

man with glasses

Dr. Damon Borg

“Confirmatory testing, by high accuracy and more expensive chromatography, is more definitive and can more accurately show the amount of the drug that is detected,” Dr. Borg, who is also an adjunct professor of forensic and clinical toxicology at the City University of New York, said in an interview with The Crime Report.

“And, the results of a confirmatory test are more likely to be legally defensible.”

But, despite measuring the exact amount, the confirmatory test can’t always reveal if the drug really was a drug. At least 119 medications and some foods can cause positives for the dozen most common classes of drugs.

The Poppy Seed Problem

Poppy seeds, for example, contain codeine and morphine which can produce a positive test.

Crystal remembered she had recently eaten a bagel with poppy seeds.

Hospital staff refused her requests for a confirmatory test, or for a test of her hair and blood. However, the obstetrician on duty did tell the nurse that poppy seeds can cause a false positive for codeine.

Despite that confirmation, Crystal felt mistreated by hospital staff during her stay.

“Garnet Health turned the joy of becoming a new mom into an absolute nightmare,” she was quoted as saying in the NYCLU complaint.

“Right after delivery, hospital staff didn’t permit me to nurse because of a false positive drug test. Those bonding moments with my newborn are moments I will never get back.”

Responding to Crystal’s concerns, a Garnet spokesperson wrote in an email statement on April 29, “Garnet Health appreciates our patients and their babies and it is our privilege to serve them We always strive to compassionately care for all patients.”

After a 60-day investigation by the Orange County (N.Y.) Department of Social Services, Crystal’s treatment, specifically her classification as “unfit,” was determined to be unfounded.

The record of her “positives” was expunged nine months later.

The Probationer

The problem of misleading test results is not confined to New York.

When the Sheriff’s Deputy walked into the Nicholas County Community Corrections Day Report center in the mountains of West Virginia on March 16, Bob Henry Baber freaked.

At the time, Baber, 71, a former mayor of Richwood, W.Va., had already served five months of a two-year probation sentence after being convicted of a fraud-related charge. Nearly every week, he had submitted to required drug testing; and nearly every week, he had seen a deputy handcuff and then lead a probationer off to the Central Regional Jail and Correctional Facility.

It was usually because the probationer had tested positive for drugs.

“This time,” he thought, “they are coming for me.”

Baber was worried because he had tested positive a week earlier for codeine. It was his third positive test—the first one occurred on Nov. 22—and he had been warned that a third positive test would lead to his arrest.

Baber did not use drugs. But he had eaten a lot of Everything Bagel Sabra Hummus with poppy seeds before the tests. When he tried to explain that to his probation officer, and even showed her a half-eaten container, she was still unimpressed.

Despite the positive third test, Baber was lucky. The center director, with whom Baber happened to share a doctor, had vouched for him.

 Otherwise, Baber would have been trapped by West Virginia’s use of the lowest possible threshold cutoffs for positive tests, even if he did not take drugs.

As he observed later, most of his fellow probationers at the Center had neither the resources nor the network connections to push back against the low threshold cutoffs, and false positives.

No National Standards

Usually, probationers have little legal recourse if they are the victims of improper drug testing.

Employee drug testing laws in some states, including West Virginia, require split trial urine testing, and allow a person who disputes test results to have the split trial retested. That doesn’t apply to offenders in the state.

In fact, there are no national standards for drug testing or cutoffs at corrections facilities.

State and local jurisdictions can ask labs for whatever threshold cutoff they think suits their drug addiction and crime problems.

These can be far lower than those the federal Department of Transportation uses for truck drivers. In fact, in 1998, in order to avoid poppy seed positives, federal workplaces set the 2000ng/mL level for opiates.

“It seems the industry is driving to lower and lower cutoffs,” said Dr. Borg. “That can be helpful if you really want to know about abstinence-based drug testing, where you want to detect any trace amount of the drug.

“But you need to be aware of the fact that you may start to detect things that are due to casual contact to substances in the environment.”

As a clinician, Dr. Wiegand is similarly concerned about punishment for very low cutoffs.

“Thresholds don’t tell us when the drug was used, where it came from, how much of the drug was used,” Dr. Wiegand explained.

“And it certainly won’t tell us if someone has impairment. It certainly won’t diagnose substance use disorder or addiction.”

Dr. Wiegand added that a low-level practicing of drugs in the system can be the result of a variety of reasons, such as second-hand exposure—for instance from someone nearby smoking cannabis.

False positives can also be caused by the impact of certain types of exercise.

And fat-soluble drugs such as THC or fentanyl can be detected for prolonged periods after cessation of use. A person could have a negative test one day, but test positive a few days later after exercise broke down some fat and concentrated urine.

“These really low levels of detection can be really problematic,” Dr. Wiegand said. “They require a nuanced interpretation and understanding of a variety of individual factors.”

 The Incarcerated

The case of the 1,632 incarcerated individuals in New York State Corrections Facilities who tested positive for buprenorphine, and were punished as a result, has been singled out as a “devastating” example of due-process violation by New York Inspector General Lucy Lang.

“The fact that incarcerated New Yorkers were further deprived of their liberty without cause or due process is devastating,” she said in her report, which revealed findings of a pattern of extreme drug testing mistakes in New York prisons.

The testing, perhaps not coincidentally, was performed by one contractor.

In January 2019, the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) had contracted for drug testing by Microgenics Corporation, a California-based subsidiary of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Immediately after the testing began, reports of false positives spiked.

The crucial confirmatory tests were not done, according to Lang’s report. Testing staff members were not adequately trained. Microgenics did not disclose that one of the two versions of the test was known to cause false positives from common medicines and multivitamins.

During the eight-months that DOCCS used Microgenics testing, 3,018 people tested positive for drug use; 2,199 of these individuals were positive for buprenorphine.

Of those 2,199, DOCCS charged and punished 1,632 people. Some 1,280 were placed in solitary confinement and the remaining 352 received other forms of punishment, including loss of privileges, loss of good time, and delays in parole eligibility.

On Nov. 5, 2019, the Inspector General recommended DOCCS immediately stop taking adverse actions based on test results. DOCCs released those wrongly punished and expunged their records.

 From Punishment to Treatment

This and other investigations have pointed the way to the need for critical changes in the relationship between addiction treatment providers and the corrections “industry,” as Cynthia Whiteman, Scientific and Operations Development Director at Cordant Health Solutions, puts it.

“About 17 years ago, when people thought about drug testing, probation and parole, it was talked about in a very different way,” said Whiteman, who works with Cordant corrections clients, including child protective services, probation, parole and rehabilitation.

smiling woman

Cynthia Whiteman

“What I’ve seen in this industry is a transition in how we talk about treatment and how we talk about addiction.

“One thing we are proud of here, is seeing the transition of clients that are sent to treatment facilities as part of their mandated program goal so they can be specifically treated.

“It’s a significant transition away from probation parole drug testing of the past, where a positive confirmed drug test meant immediate incarcerations for a drug addiction. It’s, really been, for me, a wonderful change to see people working together.

“We don’t call them offenders. We call them clients, we call them participants, (that’s) a little bit of my soapbox. Having that therapeutic relationship is so much more of an impact on a success story for individuals going through these programs.”

Whiteman pointed to the fact that her company’s training tools, webinars, briefs on myths and facts , and detection guides were available publicly to patients as well as doctors.

“Understanding what you are looking at is critical,” she said. “I go back to the change in the industry, it’s all about ‘let’s look at your treatment goals. Let’s have a conversation, what’s going in your life, what’s going on with your kids?’

“A drug test is a piece of the larger puzzle. It is a piece of information, but a lot more things should go into treatment decisions or decisions that affect the client.”

A Model West Virginia Program

A four-and-a-half hour drive and 289 miles from Nicholas County Community Center, where Bob Henry Baber barely escaped being sent to prison for a false drug positive, another probation center takes a very different approach.

In the city of Ranson, in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, an inconspicuous building houses the only Community Corrections Program to twice be judged best in the state, in 2019 and 2021.

There are no probation officers with guns at the Jefferson Day Report Center. Clients are not discharged from the program for a drug positive.

If a client says “no way” to a drug positive, a retest by a lab is conducted or a different modality of drug testing is performed, if requested by the medical provider.

“Even though we are a Community Corrections Program, clients feel a sense of comfort knowing the facility will assist with their substance-use disorder and any co-occurring disorders by providing in-house medical and mental health treatment,” said Executive Director Kelly Franklin.

The focus is on individualized mental health and addiction treatment of the approximately 250 clients a year. As the only nonprofit community corrections in the state, Jefferson has designed more creative approaches to drug and behavioral problems. The Center accepts both Medicaid and private insurance.

The process begins with a behavioral assessment.

“We ask, ‘How do you feel today? Are you sleeping?’” Franklin explained.

The Center can choose the appropriate clinician from a number who work with the Center: “We have high level providers, many at the doctoral level.”

Even drug testing is more inventive. Various labs are used, as well as various modalities of testing. Remote drug testing is an option, if ordered by the judge.

Clients play a big role in shaping their treatment plan. Recently, they completed  the fifth community rock ceremony. Clients paint rocks with things they want to forget forever, then bury them deep through a private ceremony that is funeral style.

woman with dark hair and glasses

Gabriella Larios

The Center offers tele-health services to Day Report Centers in Preston, Hardy, Mineral, Grant and Hampshire Counties. Six counties, mostly in southern parts of the state, don’t have Day Report Centers. So judges and district attorneys have accepted Franklin’s offer of tele-health treatment programs.

“Clients are so desperate there,” Franklin said. “They sit in their cars in Walmart parking lots to get internet connection for treatment.”

Meanwhile, back in New York, Crystal and the NYCLU hope passage of the proposed legislation—along with a resolution of their complaint—will save other woman from being drug tested without informed consent.

The bill has not yet gone past the committee stage, but Gabriella Larios, an Equal Justice Works fellow at the NYCLU, and an attorney, is optimistic.

“Non-consensual drug testing of pregnant patients is both sex discrimination and racial discrimination,” she said. “It’s time for the State Division of Human Rights to recognize that.”

 Penny Loeb is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

ADDITIONAL READING: NY Inmates Sue Over Incorrect Drug Test Results, Nov 21, 2019, The Crime Report  

Fri, 05 Aug 2022 02:35:00 -0500 Penny Loeb en-US text/html
Killexams : Labs' testing limitation casts doubt on some meth cases

Blood drawn from Candace Higar shortly after her 2018 traffic arrest in Baraboo came up positive for methamphetamine: 98 nanograms per milliliter, well above the 10 ng/mL at which the substance is considered detectable by the lab that ran the blood test.

Higar and her attorney, Andrew Martinez, never disputed that Higar was driving with that level of meth in her system. What could not be proven, they argued, was that the meth was illegal, and a Sauk County jury ultimately found Higar not guilty of third-offense driving with a controlled substance in her system.

Officials with the UW-Madison-based Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and the Department of Justice’s crime lab — which do the vast majority of toxicology tests used in state prosecutions — acknowledge that they don’t have the equipment needed to distinguish between two isomers, or forms, of methamphetamine.

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The first, known as dextro-methamphetamine, or d-meth, is commonly abused and illegal under state and federal law. The second, known as levo-methamphetimine, or l-meth, is found in at least one brand of over-the-counter nasal inhalers, and its legality varies depending on the situation, according to DOJ.

“Use and possession of pharmaceutical preparations of l-methamphetamine is legal under state and federal law,” DOJ spokesperson Gillian Drummond said in a statement. “Operating a motor vehicle with a detectible amount of methamphetamine, irrespective of its source, is a violation of Wisconsin law.”

Crime lab officials say that, in practice, legal meth is rare and appears in such low levels in over-the-counter drugs that it would be virtually impossible to take enough of it over a short enough period for it to show up in blood tests.

“It’s not an issue, particularly when you’re talking about toxicology,” said Amy Miles, forensic toxicology section director with the State Laboratory of Hygiene, which conducted the test on Higar’s blood.


At the same time, there’s little research addressing the question of how much l-meth one has to take before it shows up in toxicology tests, and a handful of criminal defense attorneys have seen some success in the courtroom by introducing the labs’ inability to distinguish between the two forms of meth.

They say taxpayer-funded labs have a duty to let the courts and the public know that the two forms can’t be distinguished once they’re in someone’s blood.

“The idea that the government that is prosecuting people to attempt to put them in a cage ... doing that without full, honest, complete disclosure,” said Mike Cohen, president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “That is something that should be concerning to the citizen.”

Miles said it was “unfortunate” that some defense attorneys feel the lab has “not been fair or forthcoming.”

Test cases

Before Higar’s case, there was the case of Lavern Schiffman, who in September 2017 was arrested and eventually charged with fourth-offense operating a vehicle — in this case a UTV — with drugs in his system in rural Grant County.

A trial of Schiffman’s blood was sent to the State Laboratory of Hygiene, which found it was positive for meth at the level of 130 ng/mL, according to his attorney, Jeremiah Meyer-O’Day. While he was not found with any drugs, he did have a Vicks nasal inhaler in his overalls pocket.


Meyer-O’Day said he only became aware of the inhaler’s possible connection to his case when he picked one up at a store, looked at its ingredients and noticed it contained l-meth. A bit of research later and Meyer-O’Day had a credible defense: If his client wasn’t found with d-meth, and the state can’t definitively say the meth in his blood was d-meth, how can it prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Schiffman is guilty of driving with illegal drugs in his system?

Nearly two years later, a Grant County judge granted the district attorney’s motion to drop the charge.

Meanwhile, in Dane County, the attorney for a man charged in a 2020 vehicular homicide case is taking a similar approach to get at least some of the charges against his client dismissed.

Walter L. Johnson is charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor in the death of Kyla Robinson, 15, the only passenger in his car when he lost control on South Stoughton Road in Madison on Sept. 4, 2020.

The case has drawn attention not just because of the girl’s death but because she was the sister of Tony Robinson, who was shot and killed by a Madison police officer in 2015 in a case that still has local activists seeking to get the officer, who was cleared of any wrongdoing, fired and prosecuted.

In a July 7 motion, attorney David Bolles argued the court should dismiss two charges accusing Johnson of killing or injuring a person while driving with a controlled substance in his system because the State Lab of Hygiene’s test of Johnson’s blood did not distinguish between l- and d-meth and because it has since destroyed the sample, making it impossible to test it again in an attempt to confirm which type of meth it was.

Bolles declined to comment for this story. A judge is expected to rule on the motion in the fall. Even if the two charges are dismissed, Johnson would still face felony charges of first-degree reckless homicide and driving with a suspended license in a crash that resulted in a person’s death.

Little research

Miles points to a 2008 study involving 12 subjects that found l-meth could not be detected in the blood of subjects who took up to four times the recommend dosage, as well as a 1985 World Health Organization report that found little evidence people were taking inhalers with l-meth in them to get high.

But as an expert witness from Miles’ lab acknowledged during a hearing in Higar’s case in January, the 2008 study did not specifically seek to answer the question of what level of l-meth consumption would show up in a blood screening.

“There are no publications that demonstrate it is possible to ingest enough l-methamphetamine at which point it would be detectable in blood,” Miles said, but she knew of no other studies that seek to address that question.

In a 2006 study, researchers found that intravenously administered l-meth can produce a high, but not one as strong as one produced by d-meth, and subjects had to take about twice as much l-meth as d-meth to achieve that high.

Testing limitations

Cohen said he’s known about the labs’ meth-testing limitations for several years, and that some more seasoned criminal defense attorneys do as well. That’s not the case with some prosecutors.

Sauk County District Attorney Michael Albrecht said his office wasn’t aware of the testing limitation until the Higar case, and that the strategy used in that case has become “increasingly en vogue” among defense attorneys.

“The inability of the lab to distinguish between these two substances is a problem for prosecutions of drugged driving generally,” he said. “Any detectable amount of methamphetamine is illegal to have in your blood while driving. But if we don’t have a lab test that says it is d-meth, then we have to point to other indicators that suggest methamphetamine was used.”

Such indicators can include a finding the drug on a suspect or the suspect admitting to meth use, he said.

Anthony Pozorski, who handled the Schiffman case for Grant County, similarly said that prior to that case he didn’t know the labs lacked the ability to distinguish between the two types of meth.

“I have not been made aware that this issue will affect our ability to hold offenders accountable,” Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said. “Meth has not historically been the main type of controlled substance this community has struggled with.”

Missing technology

Distinguishing between l- and d-meth would require putting blood samples through what’s known as a chiral analysis, and would require equipment neither the DOJ crime lab nor State Lab or Hygiene currently has.

Miles estimated the cost of that equipment starts at about $400,000, not including the “consumables, supplies, service contracts and other resources for the instruments and corresponding testing.”

She said there are few, if any, forensic toxicology labs in the United States that conduct chiral analysis to distinguish between meth isomers, although the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors declined an opportunity to confirm that.

“Every crime laboratory has different capabilities, policies, and procedures, and works in different criminal justice jurisdictions,” the organization said in a statement. “Crime laboratories use the most robust scientific methods that balance with their state and local laws.”

Even if Miles is right, Cohen said, it’s no excuse.

“Because someone does it wrong, it’s OK for you to do it wrong?” he said.

‘Bad faith’

Meyer-O’Day said if Wisconsin labs aren’t willing to buy the equipment and do the tests, they at least need to preserve samples so that the defense can have them analyzed at labs that do conduct chiral analysis.

In 2021, the state hygiene lab received 21,658 blood samples for testing, 10,739 of which were tested for drugs. Of that number, 1,422 came up positive for meth, Miles said. In addition to tests for intoxicated-driving cases, the lab also tests samples sent in by county medical examiners.

That same year, of 4,078 trial cases handled by the state crime lab, 146 were positive for meth, Drummond said.

Meyer-O’Day said the labs’ reluctance to “affirmatively” reveal their meth-testing limitations suggests the lab technicians courts often rely on for expert testimony are “partisan” actors working for the prosecution.

“They’ve known about this for a long time and in completely bad faith withheld it from everyone,” he said.

Fri, 29 Jul 2022 23:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : computerworld
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Today in Tech

iPhone 14: What's the buzz?

Join Macworld executive editor Michael Simon and Computerworld executive editor Ken Mingis as they talk about the latest iPhone 14 rumors – everything from anticipated release date to price to design changes. Plus, they'll talk about...

Wed, 27 Jul 2022 04:41:00 -0500 en text/html Killexams : Meet the Library Team

Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and Vice Dean, Library And Information Resources, Harvard Law School; Faculty Director, Berkman Klein Center For Internet And Society; Professor of Computer Science, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Professor, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government
Jocelyn Kennedy, Executive Director
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Photo of Jonathan ZittrainJonathan Zittrain

Vice Dean, Library And Information Resources, Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center For Internet And Society, Professor Of Computer Science, SEAS
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View faculty profile

Photo of Jocelyn KennedyJocelyn Kennedy

Executive Director

Jocelyn Kennedy is the Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Library, where she oversees the day to day operations and provides strategic leadership for the Library. The HLS Library combines tradition with innovation and is renowned for its unique and exceptional print and electronic collections, its deep historical and archival collections and its expert research and reference staff. In addition, the Library has built programs to assist with curricular support (the Case Studies program), tech development to solve complex information access issues (; H20; Caselaw Access Project), and in-house, large-scale digitization.

Jocelyn is an expert in legal research, management, and working in complex organizations.  She presents on courses related to management, mindfulness, and communication. Jocelyn is a member of the Law Librarians of New England; the American Association of Law Libraries, where she serves as the Chair of the Standing Committee on the Economic Status of Librarians and is a member of the Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section newsletter committee; and is a member of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS). Jocelyn is also a member of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Prior to joining the Library in 2016, Jocelyn served in leadership positions at UCONN Law and Michigan Law. She is a former clerk for the New Hampshire Trial Court, and worked for a US Congressman prior to attending law school. Jocelyn holds a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire, a J.D. from the University of New Hampshire-Franklin Pierce Law Center, and an M.L.I.S. from the University of Washington.

Lesliediana smiling at the beachLesliediana Jones

Associate Director for Public Services

Teresa Mosley

Financial Assistant

Photo of Gail Fagerstrom HarrisGail Fagerstrom Harris

Projects Manager

Gail Fagerstrom Harris is our Project Manager overseeing a variety of projects including the Library’s Professional Development Program that ensures our staff keep their skills and knowledge current. She also doubles as an event planner, organizing behind the scenes to make our events run smoothly.

Gail found a love of the law while working for a legal services nonprofit in Gainesville, FL. She holds an A.A. in Psychology, and is a Certified Professional in Training Management (CPTM). She loves to craft, garden, cook, and sing to her dog, Miles. She and her dog-trainer partner rescue dogs in their spare time.

Theresa Knapp

Executive Assistant and Event Coordinator

Jess Rios

Assistant Director, Digital Content & UX

Access Services

Brian Sutton

Access Services Manager

Melanie Evans

Access Services Coordinator

Ella Galinovsky

Collection Management Specialist

Michael Mellor

Access Services Coordinator

Ryan Miniot

Access Services Coordinator

Ryan Miniot, Access Services Coordinator, joined the Library in 2014. Ryan welcomes visiting library researchers who have questions about access and acquiring materials, answers queries about library access, handles Scan & Deliver services at the Library, and trains and oversees our student workers at the circulation desk. Ryan holds a B.A. in History from Trinity University (Texas), an M.A. in History, and an  M.L.S. from Simmons College. Outside of work, Ryan’s passions include basketball (Go Nets!) and punk rock music.

Nilesh Rana

Collection Management Specialist

Jayvanti Rana

Binding, End Processing, And HD Processing Coordinator

Case Studies

Rachel Gordon

Case Writer And Research Associate

Collection Development

Stephen Wiles on beach in WaikikiStephen Wiles

Collection Development Librarian For Foreign And International Law

Caroline Walters smilingCaroline Walters

Collection Development Librarian for U.S. & the Materials Budget

Caroline joined the HLS Library in 2012 as the Collection Development Librarian for U.S. Law and Materials Budget, responsible for the selection of U.S. law materials and managing the collections budget. She also leads negotiation for new electronic resources and serves as a coordinator for university-wide negotiations.
Caroline is passionate about consumer advocacy and building partnerships with vendors to create greater discovery of their materials, to ensure preservation of electronic historical legal research, to ensure digital accessibility, and to develop better business practices.
Prior to joining the HLS Library Caroline was the Acquisitions and Serials Librarian at Suffolk University Law Library for many years. Caroline holds a B.A. in English from Suffolk University and a M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College
She is an active member of AALL, LLNE and NELLCO.

Gayle Fischer

Librarian for Islamic Law

Photo of Mariko Honshuku

Mariko Honshuku

Librarian for Japanese Law

Mariko Honshuku, Librarian for Japanese Law is responsible for selecting and managing HLS Library materials for Japanese law and interdisciplinary subject areas in all formats. As a liaison librarian to the East Asian Legal Studies programs at HLS, she provides special research assistance to faculty, students, and visiting scholars including reference, research consultation, bibliographic instruction, and assistance with interlibrary loan. She is also responsible for creating library collection analysis reports using the Harvard Cognos Library Reporting System. Mariko has served on several committees and working groups for the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC) and the Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL). She holds an M.L.S. from Simmons Graduate School of Library & Information Science and an M.M. in Organ Performance from The New England Conservatory of Music. In her spare time, Mariko enjoys learning new programing languages.

Photo of Eve Lauria

Eve Lauria

Islamic Law Library Assistant

Eve Lauria is the Islamic Acquisitions Assistant, responsible for ordering, receiving, and cataloging Middle Eastern, North African, and Islamic Law, primarily in Islamic and Persian. Eve studied Psychology, Religion, and Women’s Studies at Oberlin College and holds an M.L.I.S. from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.  She is currently serving as a Board member and long-time volunteer at Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund, she sings in her church choir, and spends the rest of her free time reading.

Photo of Lori SchulsingerLori Schulsinger

Collection Development Coordinator

Lori joined the HLS Library in 2006 and is our Collection Development Coordinator. In her role, Lori supports two bibliographers, monitors the library materials budget, and co-administers the HLS Library wiki page. Lori holds a B.S. in Marketing from Syracuse University and actively participates in several library teams/committees. In her spare time, Lori volunteers at Food Link, a food rescue organization, and the Road to Recovery-American Cancer Society, where she provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer.

QingRong Wei

Library Assistant

Photo of Nongji ZhangNongji Zhang

Bibliographer For East Asian Law

Nongji Zhang, Ph.D., Bibliographer for East Asian Law, has been with the Library since 1990, first as a library assistant before moving into her current position. Before working for HLS, Nongji was a researcher at the Institute of Science and Technology Policy and Management at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. When in China, she did research on science and technology law and provided legal services to local high tech companies.

As an area studies librarian at HLS, Nongji provides research services to faculty members and research consultations to faculty, students, and other patrons. She selects and manages Chinese and Korean law materials for the Library. A 2004 Douglas W. Bryant Fellowship recipient, Nongji has published works on Chinese law and library collection development including Resources on East Asian Law in the United States (1 J. of East Asian & Int’l L. 311). Her forthcoming book, The Pioneer Legal Schools and Their Scholarship in the People’s Republic of China, will be published by the East Asian Legal Studies Program. Nongji received a Ph.D. in Law, Policy and Society from Northeastern University, a M.L.S. from Simmons College, and an LL.M. from Peking University. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, photographing, gardening, and crafting.

Continuing Resources & Acquisitions

Elke Piontek

Manager, Continuing Resources And Acquisitions

Erin Britt

Continuing Resources & Acquisitions Library Assistant

Erin Britt joined the library in 2014. In her role as the Continuing Resources & Acquisitions Library Assistant, she is responsible for the receipt and payment of continuing resources. Prior to joining the HLS Library Erin worked as an Assistant Catalog Librarian at a rare book library and prior to that as a Technical Services Project Coordinator at a software company. Erin holds an M.L.I.S. from Simmons College and a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from Saint Michael’s College. In her spare time, Erin enjoys teaching and practicing yoga.

Jennifer Burton

Library Assistant

Todd Moody

Library Assistant

Lori Ellen Rocha

Library Assistant

Patty Sutton

Acquisitions Assistant

Patty Sutton, Acquisitions Assistant, secures rush orders for our patrons, orders monograph and monograph series, communicates with vendors, and connects other departments with technical services. She holds a B.A. in French Language and Literature from the University of Washington, and an M.L.S. from Southern Connecticut State University. Patty is fluent in French, is familiar with Spanish, and can transliterate Cyrillic alphabets. Prior to her work at Harvard, Patty was a bank teller and taught French to middle school students. Patty grew up in Alaska, enjoys running marathons and rock climbing, and reads math history books in her spare time.

Maria Woods

Library Assistant

Digital Lab

Jessica Chapel

Librarian/Archivist for Digital Projects

Paul Deschner

Applications Developer

Chris Spraker

Archivist for Special Projects

Electronic Resources & Serials

Laura Morrison-Westphal

Electronic Resources Coordinator

Empirical Research Services

Photo of Arevik AvedianArevik Avedian

Director of Empirical Research Services

Arevik Avedian is the Director of Empirical Research Services (ERS). ERS provides empirical research support for the Harvard Law School faculty. Arevik is a Lecturer on Law at HLS, teaching quantitative methods. She holds a Ph.D. in World Politics and Methods, an M.A. in Economics from Claremont Graduate University, and a dual B.A/M.A., summa cum laude, in International Relations from David Anhaght University of Armenia. Before joining HLS, she taught courses on statistics and international relations at University of California, Riverside and California State University, Fullerton. Her research focuses on armed conflict, inequality and corporate governance. Some of her current methodological interests include geographic information systems (GIS), text mining and location analytics.

Historical & Special Collections (HSC)

KB Beck KB Beck

Manager, Historical & Special Collections & Rare Books Curator

KB Beck is the Harvard Law School Library’s Manager of Historical & Special Collections. “HSC” is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing historical materials in all formats with researchers around the world. KB contributes to the HLS Library’s social media, and helps plan and participate in outreach activities to connect students, faculty, and the broader community with the library’s collections and services. She has worked in academic law libraries in many capacities, including reference and research services, instruction, and collection development. KB is an active member of Harvard’s special collections community, and is a member of the American Association of Law Libraries, Law Libraries of New England, and the Rare Books and Manuscript section of the American Library Association. She has a BA in English from Pomona College, a JD from the University of Southern California, and a Masters in Library Science from UCLA. Away from the library, Karen loves to dance, kayak, visit museums, and walk through the Public Garden.

Edwin Moloy

Curator Of Modern Manuscripts

Photo of Mary PersonMary Person

Rare Books Cataloger / Reference Librarian

Mary Person, Rare Books Cataloger and Reference Librarian, catalogs rare books and early manuscripts, making them accessible to the world. Mary also provides research support and expertise to researchers in our Historical & Special Collections (HSC). She specializes in early English legal works, execution broadsides, French customary law, and early printing and publishing in general. She is also an expert on HSC’s byzantine system of call numbers and shelving arrangements. Mary was a pastry chef for several years before she joined HLS Library in 1987. She holds a B.A. in History and Anthropology from Marlboro College, an M.L.S. from Simmons, and has also taken a number of courses at Rare Book School at Columbia and University of Virginia. Mary reads French, Spanish, and some Latin. Away from the Library, Mary is a passionate gardener and walker, and loves being outdoors.

Lesley Schoenfeld

Public Services & Visual Collections Administrator

Sarah Wharton

Access Services Coordinator & Curatorial Associate

Library Innovation Lab

Jack Cushman


Catherine Brobston

Outreach and Support

Matteo Cargnelutti

Senior Developer

Rebecca Cremona

Web Developer

Liza Daly

Technologist in Residence

Harmony Eidolon posing with hand under chinHarmony Eidolon

LIL Program Coordinator
phone number coming soon

Sabelo Mhlambi

Technologist in Residence

Clare StantonClare Stanton

Communications and Outreach for

Clare joined the Library Innovation Lab (LIL) in 2018. She leads the way in exploring and expanding the user group of, a service that creates indelible links for web citation. Prior to joining LIL, Clare worked at The Forum for Growth and Innovation, a research community lead by Professor Clay Christensen at Harvard Business School. Clare holds a B.A. in Art History from Wake Forest University and is an M.S. student at Simmons School of Library and Information Science.

Photo of Ben Steinberg

Ben Steinberg

DevOps Engineer

Ben Steinberg, DevOps Engineer, joined our Library Innovation Lab (LIL) in 2016. Ben holds a B.A. in English from Amherst College and an M.S. from Simmons College. Prior to HLS, Ben worked at the Brookline Public Library and Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication.

Metadata Creation for Professional Schools

Thomas Ma

Cataloging Manager

Tom Ma, Cataloging Manager, holds an M.A. and an M.L.I.S. Tom first worked for Harvard libraries in 1999.

Dan Belich

Library Assistant

Sean Bustard

Technical Services Library Assistant

Noah Cohen

Library Assistant VI

Noah Cohen, Library Assistant VI, is responsible for cataloging and monograph receipts. Noah holds a B.A. in Classical Languages from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.A. in Classical Philology from Harvard University, and knows ancient and modern Greek, Latin, and German.

Photo of John HostageJohn Hostage

Senior Continuing Resources Cataloger

John Hostage, Senior Continuing Resources Cataloger, joined the Library in 1982 and is responsible for cataloging serials, loose-leaf publications, various electronic resources, training catalogers in the creation of authority records and reviewing their work, as well as solving cataloging problems.

In addition to his work at the library, John is actively involved with the American Library Association (ALA), the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), is a former chair of AALL Cataloging and Classification Committee, formerly served on the International Federation of Library Archives (IFLA) Cataloging Section, and IFLA Classification and Indexing Section.

John holds a B.A. from Columbia University, and M.A.s in German and Library Science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He received the Renee D. Chapman award from AALL in 2014. John speaks German fluently, as well as French, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian.

Olga Strakhov

Library Assistant

Preservation, Conservation, & Digital Imaging

Terri Messina

Library Assistant

Reference & Research Services

Faculty Research & Scholarly Support Services

Photo of Debbie GinsbergDeborah Ginsberg

Manager, Faculty Research & Scholarly Support Services
LinkedIn |Twitter

Debbie Ginsberg, Faculty Services Manager, oversees faculty research and support for the Library.  She supervises FRIDA and three research librarians.  She came to Harvard in 2021.  She likes questions about legal technology and blockchain.  Debbie holds a B.A. from Brown University, a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a J.D. from the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), and an M.L.S. from Dominican University (River Forest).  She is an inactive member of the Illinois Bar.  Debbie has studied Russian, French, Japanese, German, and Latin but has pretty much forgotten them.  Debbie has served as chair of CS-SIS (now LIT-SIS) and was actively involved in CALL. She currently is technology co-chair for LLNE.  She previously was Educational Technology Librarian at Chicago-Kent, where she worked since 2002.  She also was the AIDS advocacy attorney for the (now defunct) Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation and clerked for Justice Warren Wolfson of the Illinois Appellate Court.  Debbie has two teens who at this point probably know more about tech than she does, two photogenic cats, and way too much yarn.  Debbie likes drawing on her iPad while listening to as many free audiobooks as she can get from the public library.

Photo of Deanna BarmakianDeanna Barmakian

Faculty Research Librarian
Make an appointment

Deanna Barmakian, Faculty Research Librarian, provides research and reference support to our faculty, students, and staff. Deanna holds a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University, a J.D. from Boston University and an M.L.I.S. from Simmons. Deanna first joined the Library in 1997, left in 2006, and happily returned in 2017. She gets a charge out of helping researchers find sources they might not have found otherwise. She has learned (and mostly forgotten) French, Italian, and Spanish and is currently trying her hand at Korean. She has participated in law librarian professional organizations at the local and national level, chairing and serving on many committees. Outside of work, she’s hanging out with her retired HLS librarian husband and her two over-scheduled sons.

Maya Bergamasco smilingMaya Bergamasco

Faculty Research & Scholarly Support Librarian

Maya Bergamasco, Faculty Research & Scholarly Support Librarian, provides reference and research support to the Harvard Law School community. She is the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Diversity Resident Librarian for 2019-2021. Maya holds a B.A. in English literature with a concentration in creative writing. She received her M.L.I.S. with a concentration in user instruction from Simmons University, where she was an American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholar. Maya’s research interests include critical data studies, digital scholarship, and community outreach and engagement. She has intermediate proficiency in Spanish, and has studied Russian and Korean. In her free time, she works as a community organizer, plays ultimate Frisbee, and visits local bookstores.

Alethea Jones

Faculty Research & Information Delivery Assistant

Rachel Parker

Faculty Research & Information Delivery Assistant

Rachel Parker supports the Faculty Research and Information Delivery Assistance (FRIDA) service, providing research support to Faculty and SJD students. She also supports the Faculty Bibliography Project and helps coordinate Faculty Book Talk events. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Mount Holyoke College and an M.L.I.S. from Simmons School of Library and Information Science. Prior to her work as FRIDA Assistant Rachel worked at Houghton Library and the Harvard Botany Libraries.

Lisa Lilliott RydinLisa Lilliott Rydin

Faculty Research Librarian

Lisa Lilliott Rydin, Faculty Research Librarian, provides research support to library patrons, teaches research skills and strategy to students, and serves as Library Liaison to designated faculty members, clinics, and journals. She specializes in business, corporate, and tax-related research.  Lisa holds a B.A. in Economics and Government from Colby College, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.L.I.S. from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Lisa joined the Reference & Research Services team full-time after three years serving in a variety of roles at Harvard including Reference, Faculty Services, and Scholarly Communications, while completing her M.L.I.S. Before librarianship, Lisa had a career as an ERISA/Employee Benefits attorney. She began her career at Goodwin & Procter (now Goodwin Procter) and Hale & Dorr (now WilmerHale) and then moved in-house, spending the majority of her career in the financial services industry focusing on qualified and non-qualified retirement plans. Lisa is a member of the Massachusetts Bar, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Law Librarians of New England, and the Special Libraries Association. Lisa likes to unwind with a good mystery book and currently recommends Louise Penny and Tana French as her authors of choice.

Student & Instructional Services

Photo of Mindy KentMindy Kent

Manager, Reference & Student & Instructional Research Services
Make an appointment
Mindy Kent, Manager, Research Services, manages our team of research librarians and enjoys helping faculty and students with research questions herself. She particularly likes questions about legal history. Mindy holds a B.A. in History from Yale College, a J.D. from Boston College Law School, an M.L.I.S. from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and she is a member of the Massachusetts Bar. She has some practicing knowledge of French and has done coursework in Russian, Latin, Attic Greek, and Old English. Mindy is involved with the American Association of Law Libraries and the Law Librarians of New England, of which she is a past president. Prior to joining the HLS Library in 1998, Mindy practiced corporate law in Boston. Her second, concurrent career is Chief of Staff for an extremely busy terrier. Her hobbies include genealogy, hiking, knitting, sewing, and restoring vintage toy sailboats. Mindy’s super power is walking and practicing (usually murder mysteries) at the same time.

Jennifer Allison smilingJennifer Allison

Librarian for Foreign, Comparative, & International Law & Instructional Designer
Make an appointment

Jennifer Allison has served as a Librarian for Foreign, Comparative, and International Law at the Harvard Law Library since 2012. She specializes in German-language jurisdictions, and has responsibilities for both research and collection development. She earned her J.D. from Pepperdine Law School in Malibu, California in 2007 and is admitted to the California bar (inactive status). She also holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science (San Jose State University, 2010), and an LL.M. from the University of Würzburg in Germany (2018). The subject of her LL.M. thesis was the protection of fundamental rights in cases of privatization of public functions and services under the German Basic Law. She returns to Würzburg regularly as a visiting lecturer to teach substantive courses in U.S. law, including criminal procedure, administrative law, remedies, and alternative dispute resolution. Her scholarly interests include social justice, correctional law, critical legal studies, the intersection of law and language, and the navigation of the acculturation process by foreign students. In her spare time, she likes to watch and play ice hockey.

Catherine Biondo

Student Services Research Librarian
Make an appointment

Catherine Biondo, Research Librarian, provides research and reference support to Harvard’s students, faculty and staff, with a concentration on student services.  She also teaches legal research as part of the first year LRW program.  Prior to becoming a librarian, Catherine practiced law in New York and was a research law clerk for the Connecticut Superior Court. Catherine holds an A.B. in Government from Cornell University, a J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law, and an M.S. in Library Science from Simmons College. She is a past president of the Law Librarians of New England, and is currently co-chair of the organization’s Government Relations Committee.  She is also actively involved with the American Association of Law Libraries, and is a member of its Government Relations Committee.  She is admitted to the New York and Connecticut bars.

Photo of AJ BlechnerAJ Blechner

Student Services Research Librarian & Instructional Designer
LinkedIn | Make an appointment

AJ Blechner is the Library’s Research Librarian and Instructional Designer. They coordinate and participate in teaching legal research, lead the design and development of instructional materials and assess our teaching and educational needs and offerings. AJ’s research specialties include Disability Law, Gender and Sexual Minorities Law, Cyberlaw, Intellectual Property, Health Law, Administrative Law, Political Communication, and Instructional Design.

AJ holds a B.A., cum laude, from Emerson College, a J.D. from Villanova University School of Law, and an M.L.I.S. with a Special Certificate in Law Librarianship from the University of Washington. They also received a certificate in Learning Design and Technology from the Harvard Extension School. AJ is an active member of the American Association of Law Libraries, chairing the SR-SIS Standing Committee on Disability Issues and serving on the Government Relations Committee. AJ publishes and presents on library instruction, sexuality and gender, and disability and inclusion. In their spare time, AJ participates in volunteer work and community activism. They hike, ski, and camp in the New England woods, and are an avid board gamer and Marvel movie enthusiast.

Juan Andres Fuentes

Photo of Juan Fuentes Librarian for Foreign, Comparative & International Law

Juan Andres Fuentes serves as a Librarian for Foreign, Comparative & International Law.  He earned a Bachelor of Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, a Master of Law from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and a M.S. in Library Science from the University of North Texas. He is a member of the Lima Bar and practiced international law prior to becoming a librarian. While in practice, he received the National Order of Merit of the Peruvian Diplomatic Service “Jose Paz Soldan” in the Degree of Commander.  He is the 2021 AALL George A. Strait Scholarship & Fellowship Award Recipient and serves as chair of the AALL Latin American Law Interest Group.  Juan Andres is fluent in English, French & Spanish, and he has a strong interest in Consumer Law and Public International Law.

Anna Martin

Research Services Assistant

Michelle Pearse

Senior Research & Data Librarian
Make an appointment

Michelle Pearse, Senior Research and Data Librarian, focuses on research assistance generally and data-related research. She has a wide range of library experience across subject areas and functions (often including emerging areas of library activities), and has growing expertise on finding and working with data.  Throughout her career, Michelle has been active in professional organizations. She is currently co-chair of the Communications and Technology Committee and a member of the Government Relations Committee in Law Librarians of New England. She has chaired American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) committees, including the Indexing and Placements and Grants Committees. She served on the Local Arrangements Committees the last two times that the AALL annual meeting has taken place in Boston. In addition, she co-chaired an AALL Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section task force that write a report on scholarly communication issues in libraries. Michelle is also involved in government relations including advocacy and education around the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA).

In addition, Michelle serves on university committees and task forces, most recently those related to data acquisitions, accessibility of web archives, and e-resources selection. She co-founded the Data Discussion group at Harvard Library.  Michelle has published in the Michigan Law Review and Law Library Journal. In addition to her own presentations on courses related to collection development, open access, and data, she has helped organize programs such as Implementing the Durham Statement: Best Practices for Open Access Law Journals and  Michelle joined the Library in 2003. Her previous positions at HLS include Research Librarian for Open Access & Scholarly Communication, Bibliographer for Anglo-American Law, and a stint in our collection services department in the late 1990s. She has worked for the Boston Public Library, Emmanuel College Library, Northeastern University School of Law Library and the University of Connecticut School of Law Library.

Michelle holds an M.L.S. and J.D., and is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts. She has a dual B.A. in English and Political Science, and studied abroad at Oxford University during her undergraduate years. She has practicing knowledge of French. Follow her on Twitter at @aabibliographer.

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