Staff Attorney, Criminal Defense Practice
Catherine Peña joined Brooklyn Defender Services in September 2015. She was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to New York City at the age of nine. Ms. Peña received her Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University, and her Juris Doctorate degree from Pace University School of Law, where she graduated cum laude.
Growing up in Harlem, New York, Ms. Peña personally experienced the legal needs of underserved communities – directly witnessing the ripple effects in the lives of people who had any contact with the criminal justice system. Ms. Peña’s involvement in criminal defense work began while she was pursuing her undergraduate degree at NYU, and blossomed during law school. While at NYU, Ms. Peña interned at a criminal defense firm in downtown Manhattan, assisting with all aspects of the firm’s representation of detained individuals in state and federal court appointed cases. She also volunteered with the NYU Law Immigrant Rights Clinic.
As a first year law student, Ms. Peña volunteered with the Pace Community Law Practice (PLCP), a public interest law practice housed at Pace University School of Law that provides legal representation to the underserved communities of the Westchester County and Hudson Valley areas. Ms. Peña’s work with the PCLP brought to light for her the importance of quality, affordable legal services and highlighted the urgent need for zealous advocacy on behalf of New York’s diverse underrepresented communities.
During law school, Ms. Peña participated in the Neighborhood Justice Clinic, which focused on issues surrounding workers’ rights and other matters affecting low-income communities in Westchester County. She also worked at the Law Office of Craig Relles – a low-bono and pro-bono firm in White Plains, New York – whose practice is focused on immigration defense.
Ms. Peña is honored to be a part of Brooklyn Defender Services, where she believes, that through zealous advocacy, she can contribute to the organization’s tireless efforts for the betterment of the lives of underrepresented communities.