Sean Garcia-Leys

Co-Director and Board President

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 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.

Sean Garcia-Leys is also a Visiting Scholar and MTO Fellow at the Criminal Justice Clinic of UCI Law School and a Commissioner of the Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commission.

Ameena Qazi

Co-Director and Board Member

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.

Jesse Engel


Jesse Engel is a founding director of the Peace and Justice Law Center. He is a historian and screenwriter who brings to the Center a wealth of knowledge regarding mental health and substance abuse recovery.

Patrick Palma


Patrick Palma is also a founding director of the Peace and Justice Law Center. He is a musician and information technology specialist.