177 Livingston Street 7th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718) 254-0700 info@bds.org

Civil Justice


Caroline joined Brooklyn Defender Services as an attorney with the Civil Justice Practice in March of 2019. Caroline is thrilled to be in a position to address the often overlooked civil collateral consequences for low-income clients who have had interactions with the family, immigration and criminal systems.

Prior to law school, Caroline spent a few years exploring her career options. She suffered as a corporate paralegal for ages (less than a year) and then, after quickly realizing the corporate world was not for her, she moved to rural Tanzania for a year and volunteered with an organization whose goal was to establish and support small farmers’ cooperatives.

While in law school, Caroline was actively involved in public interest focusing on criminal defense and asylum law. She interned at various organizations including Human Rights First and the Juvenile Services Division of the DC Public Defender. During her final year of law school, Caroline participated in the CALS clinic where she represented a detained individual facing deportation.

Following law school, Caroline worked as a housing fellow at Sanctuary for Families and most recently, she worked as staff attorney with the Tenants’ Rights Project at the New York Legal Assistance Group.

Caroline currently lives in Brooklyn but originally hails from the exotic isle of Manhattan. She received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. in Anthropology from Bates College.


Tamara joined BDS’ Civil Justice Practice Team in February 2019, after three years as a Staff Attorney with CAMBA Legal Services where she represented Brooklyn residents at risk of eviction. Prior to working as a Staff Attorney, Tamara was a Divorce and Family Law Attorney for a boutique law firm in Manhattan and worked as a Volunteer Attorney with Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyer’s Project.

Tamara is a 2013 graduate from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While at Southern University Law Center, Tamara worked in her school’s Divorce Clinic representing low-income clients seeking uncontested divorces and surrounding child custody and support agreements. She also interned with Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services and is a Public Interest Law Initiative Alum. Tamara also graduated with a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Alexandra Dougherty joined BDS’s Civil Justice Practice as a Staff Attorney in September 2017. Prior to joining BDS, Alex was a staff attorney and Poverty Justice Solutions fellow at CAMBA Legal Services where she defended Brooklyn tenants facing eviction.

Alex is a 2015 graduate of New York University School of Law. While at NYU, she was a student advocate in the NYCLU civil rights clinic, where she worked on 1983 litigation regarding police misconduct. She also conducted housing policy research as a research assistant at the Furman Center, and interned at South Brooklyn Legal Services and the Legal Aid Society defending tenants in Brooklyn and Queens.

Alex graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Brandeis University where she was a Justice Louis D. Brandeis merit scholar. Prior to law school, she worked as a campus organizer for CalPIRG’s Energy Services Corp where she organized students in an environmental justice community service group.



Brooklyn Defender Services strongly supports the City’s efforts to reduce the number of people who await trial on Rikers Island. In 2015, 67,672 people were admitted to New York City jails, with an average daily population of 10,240.[1] During this period, approximately 13,100 people arraigned in Brooklyn courts spent time on Rikers Island, 89% of who were identified as “African-American” or “Hispanic.”[2] Roughly 75 percent of people on any given day at Rikers Island are there in pretrial detention – presumed innocent under the law and ostensibly waiting for their day in court. Yet the reality is that judges and prosecutors are just waiting for them to plead guilty.




Never before in the history of our organization has police accountability been so prominently an issue of popular national importance. Just four years ago drag-net Stop & Frisk was being defended as an essential policing tactic, responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives despite research that questioned this causality and obvious constitutional concerns. While we welcome the national, progressive attention on these issues, to which our clients are often at the receiving end, we must acknowledge how we got here: long-standing police abuses coming into the light due to lawsuits, civilian documentation and protest. The deaths of Eric Garner and Ramarley Graham at the hands of the New York Police Department, and the public’s perception of a lack of accountability for the officers involved, especially as compared to the extensive punishment regimes for civilians in criminal court, have driven a significant interest in this topic both locally, nationally, and even internationally.  More



Nella was struggling with an issue with her landlord, but had no idea how to go about handling it. Having moved not long ago from Houston, Texas, she doesn’t have a large network of people to call upon for help and her job at a non-profit doesn’t exactly pay her enough to hire a high-powered attorney. She didn’t know what to do.

Then, as she was walking down Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, she was handed a flyer from somebody at the Brooklyn Defender Services.

“The timing really couldn’t have been better because I was going through this issue with my landlord and I didn’t know how I was going to handle it,” said Nella, who wanted her last name withheld due to said legal issues. “Coming here really helped because I got to speak with someone that understands what I’m going through and knows exactly what my rights are. I’m definitely feeling a lot better about my situation.”

The Brooklyn Defender Services, an organization that helps to provide criminal, family and immigration legal defense to over 40,000 people annually, hosted a Community Law Program Initiative at the Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday

The event featured 15 different groups that provided everything from legal advice, to job training, to assistance finding a home, assistance for the drug addicted, domestic violence support and a lot more.

“Brooklyn Defender Services is a criminal defense organization, but often we deal with clients that are in need of other services as well,” said Jamie Burke, a Domestic Violence Case Supervisor at BDS who organized the event. “We might help someone facing criminal charges, but also needs drug treatment, a domestic violence shelter or even a parenting skills class and we constantly have to refer out for that.

“We thought that we could help a lot of people get the services that we need by inviting all of these organizations to come to this event so we had everything under one roof,” Burke said. More