Iris is a founding board member and the CEO of PEP. Iris has been a fierce advocate for a just criminal legal system both in and out of the courtroom for nearly 30 years. Iris went to law school to ensure the vulnerable and unrepresented people with mental illness locked in mental health institutions, jails and prisons were treated humanely and provided adequate mental health treatment. Iris did just that, following her passion and in a pro-bono capacity sued the State of Colorado Department of Human Services starting in 2008. After ten years, the State signed an extensive 10-yr Consent Decree, requiring Special Masters oversee a highly detailed plan to remedy the broken system while also requiring the State to pay up to 10 million in fees a year for 10 years into a fund to be used to help people with mental illness.
While Iris was in pursuit to reform the State Mental Health System, she practiced criminal defense at the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office, and then in private practice.
Iris has earned tremendous respect as a criminal defense lawyer. She has represented thousands of people in the criminal legal system, has had her share of high profile trials, and handled many sensitive cases obtaining nearly impossible results so her client’s would not have to face the risk of proceeding to trial.
The last five high profile cases Iris has handled where Iris obtained acquittals or dismissals before trial have all involved prosecutorial misconduct, ranging from concealing evidence of innocence, making improper statements at trial, and defending and/or refraining to confess law enforcements destruction of evidence.
Iris studied the causes and remedies for this decades long problem. The most revered legal scholars and in depth studies have reported that prosecutors who break the rules do so because there is no consequence for them when they do – and they obtain professional benefits when they do. The best way to put “just” back in the justice system is to hold prosecutors accountable just like every other professional in this country.
Iris is devoted to PEP and to bringing reforms to the criminal legal system. As Iris has been her whole life, she is passionate to make these reforms and cannot stand idly. It’s time.