Special Litigation Counsel
Susannah Karlsson is a Special Litigation attorney that works with BDS lawyers to identify and strategically litigate systemic criminal justice deficiencies and constitutional issues affecting the rights of BDS clients.
Karlsson brings experience in criminal justice reform litigation and criminal defense. She represented non-violent offenders serving unjust life sentences under California’s “three strikes law” in state and federal courts, ultimately reversing several clients’ life sentences and garnering a published opinion that changed the law in the Ninth Circuit. As a law student Karlsson worked as a judicial intern to the Hon. John R. Fisher of the D.C. Court of Appeals and as an intern for the ACLU Racial Justice Program during summers, and spent her final year of law school working on major felonies as an extern public defender before joining the New York affiliate of the ACLU upon her graduation. At the NYCLU, Karlsson’s impact litigation practice focused exclusively on criminal justice reform, and included cases opposing the arrests of schoolchildren for minor misbehavior at school, ensuring poor peoples’ right to competent defense counsel at all critical stages, and exposing and reforming illegal interrogation tactics among other issues.
Karlsson graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University and received her J.D. with pro bono distinction from Stanford Law School.