Criminal Law; Civil Rights; Civil Impact Litigation
Attorney-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer at The Legal Aid Society NYC
Twyla Carter (she/her) serves as the Attorney-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of The Legal Aid Society, becoming the first Black woman and first Asian American to lead the organization in its 146-year history. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Carter was the National Director of Legal and Policy at The Bail Project (TBP), a national nonprofit organization that pioneered a national movement to bring free bail assistance and pretrial support to thousands of low-income people every year. At TBP, Carter created the department’s strategic mission and directed the legal, policy, and advocacy efforts at the federal, state, and local levels. Carter has also served as a senior staff attorney in the Criminal Law Reform Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national office, where she litigated local and state bail inequities and right-to-counsel protections in the federal courts and designed alternative bail and representation policies and procedures for targeted jurisdictions. Prior to working at the ACLU, Carter was a public defender for ten years. She was the Misdemeanor Practice Director for the King County Department of Public Defense in Seattle, where she oversaw all misdemeanor casework across the four divisions of the department. As a Staff Attorney at The Defender Association, Carter handled felony and misdemeanor trial caseloads, represented juveniles, and appealed misdemeanor convictions. She won a published decision from the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One, in State v. Green, which affirmed the due process rights of parents accused of trespassing in public schools. Against the backdrop of the legislative attacks against the teaching of white supremacy and anti-Black racism in schools, Carter serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of The Who We Are Project. Founded by Jeffery Robinson, a renowned expert on the role of racism in the criminal legal system, the project aims to correct the social, legal, political, and economic aspects of racism in the United States through educational materials, including through a feature-length documentary entitled Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. Carter is admitted to practice law in New York, Washington State, and numerous federal courts. She is a nationally recognized expert on bail reform and is a frequent speaker on all aspects of the criminal legal system, including police reform, right-to-counsel issues, and how to incorporate race and culture into criminal, death penalty, and civil cases. Carter received an associate degree from Seattle Central Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Seattle University, summa cum laude, and a J.D. from the Seattle University School of Law.