Team

Sean Garcia-Leys

Co-Director and Board President

sgarcialeys@pjlawcenter.org

Sean Garcia-Leys is a civil rights attorney and public safety advocate who works to end law enforcement’s counterproductive gang suppression strategies.

He has successfully fought gang injunctions in LA, Orange, and Ventura counties; was instrumental in reducing the number of people in the CalGang database from 200,000 to 60,000 and ending LAPD’s participation in CalGang; and has testified as a gang expert in immigration court where he has successfully helped stop deportations.

His research has been published by Oxford University Press, in white papers by the UC Irvine Law School and the Urban Peace Institute that are widely cited in academic publications, and he is a frequent source for the news media regarding gang policing.

He is the recipient of the 2017 Chicano Hero award from Chicanxs Unidxs and the 2018 Equal Justice award from the ACLU of Southern California.

Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Garcia-Leys worked as a high school teacher in Watts and East LA, and as a labor organizer. In addition to his work with the PJLC, Mr. Garcia-Leys is also a Commissioner of the Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commission.

Ameena Qazi

Co-Director and Board Member

ameena@pjlawcenter.org

Ameena Mirza Qazi's work focuses on police misconduct, First Amendment and policing, and open government issues.

Ameena has extensive experience as an attorney and community advocate in Southern California. As Executive Director of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Ameena worked on protecting our rights to political protest and dissident speech, as well as movement building after the Presidential Election in November 2016.

Formerly the Deputy Executive Director and Staff Attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations—Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter (CAIR-LA), the largest American Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, cases she worked on include co-counseling a wrongful death action and §1983 claim against LAPD that resulted in a $1.7million verdict (Chaudhry v. LAPD), and co-counseling a class action lawsuit with the ACLU of Southern California and Hadsell, Stormer and Renick, LLP against the FBI for unlawful surveillance of the Southern California Muslim community.

A member of the California State Bar, Ameena graduated with Cum Laude honors from Wayne State University School of Law, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a BA in Political Science. She has also proudly served on the boards of the ACLU of Southern California, the Public Law Center, and the National Lawyers Guild Orange County.


Patrick Palma

Board President

Patrick Palma grew up in Venice, California surrounded by gangs, surfers, skaters, artists, and musicians in a culture that promoted free thinking and inclusion. After college, Mr. Palma embarked on a life-long career of public service within Los Angeles County government. He is currently a Senior Network Systems Administrator, and has served on numerous LA County strategic planning committees and interdepartmental technology initiatives where he has provided consultation, analysis, and management of enterprise-level integrated solutions.


Belinda Escobosa

Board Secretary


Belinda Escobosa is principal counsel of Escobosa Law. Belinda has established herself as one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice by representing and amplifying the voices of the most marginalized communities. Belinda’s achievements in impact litigation have led to: changes to the electoral systems in Anaheim and Fullerton, CA; the restoration of rights for immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, the incarcerated, and other marginalized communities; and the near erasure of the use of gang injunctions in the state of California.


Jody Vallejo

Board Member


Jody Vallejo is Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. She is also Associate Director of USC Equity Research Institute and Co-Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology. She also co-edits (with Blanca Ramirez), the USC Equity Research Institute Blog. Her research areas include immigration, immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, and inequality, poverty, and mobility.