Joan Politeo, Deputy Federal Public Attorney, Central District of California

Joan Politeo is a Deputy Federal Public Defender from the Central District of California.  She has been with the Office of the Federal Public Defender since 1990, assigned to the branch offices located in Santa Ana and Riverside, California. Joan has been assigned to the trial unit and has also handled matters before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and has represented non-capital habeas clients before the district court.

As part of her responsibilities since 2012, Joan has served as one of the defender representatives for the Convictions and Sentence Alternatives Program (CASA), an innovative post-guilty plea diversion program.  After successful completion of the CASA program, a participant’s case is either dismissed or a probationary sentence is imposed.  CASA was one of the first collaborative court programs in the federal courts and has been a model to others throughout the nation interested in establishing programs which present alternatives to incarceration.  

Before she joined the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Joan was a staff attorney for the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington D.C. where she represented indigent clients in housing litigation before the courts and administrative agencies.

​Joan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Ubong E. Akpan, Attorney Advisor, Defender Services Office, Training Division

Ubong E. Akpan is an Attorney Advisor at the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Defender Services Office, Training Division in Washington, D.C. Her work focuses on criminal defense, immigration consequences of crimes, and trial and appellate advocacy. Prior to joining the Training Division, Ubong served as a trial attorney at the New Jersey Public Defenders Office Camden Region, one of the busiest criminal trial courts in New Jersey. Ubong also served as a Research and Writing Attorney for the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and was the immigration resource attorney for the office, providing in-depth immigration analysis and research in the defense of non-citizen clients. In this position, Ubong challenged illegal reentry prosecutions through motions to dismiss and on appeal to the Third Circuit. Prior to government service, Ubong was a trial and appellate attorney, practicing criminal and immigration law, representing clients before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Ubong began her legal career as a litigation associate at two large law firms and as a judicial law clerk at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.


Mark Fleming, National Litigation Coordinator, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).

Mark Fleming is the National Litigation Coordinator for the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). Mark focuses on strategic litigation and public policy related to immigration enforcement and detention. He is currently co-counsel in Jimenez Moreno v. Napolitano, Case No. 11-cv-5452 (N.D. Ill.), a class action challenging the lawfulness ICE’s use of detainers on Fourth and Tenth Amendment grounds, as well as in excess of the agency’s statutory arrest authority. NIJC’s work on enforcement issues was recognized with the 2014 Daniel Levy Award of the National Immigration Project. Prior to joining NIJC, Mark was a staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights focused on migrants' rights in the western hemisphere. In that capacity, he coordinated the Inter-American Commission's investigation into human rights concerns with U.S. immigration enforcement, detention, and due process detention's impact on due process.


Trina Realmuto, Litigation Director, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).

Trina Realmuto is the Litigation Director at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild in Boston. Her work primarily focuses on removal defense, accountability, and transparency litigation before the federal courts. Previously, Trina worked for the American Immigration Council and the law firm Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, where her work concentrated on removal defense and complex federal court litigation. In addition, she has worked abroad representing noncitizens applying for visas at U.S. embassies and consulates. Trina has litigated and argued several precedent immigration decisions, written numerous practice advisories, and is a frequent presenter on immigration issues. In 2015, the American Immigration Lawyers Association awarded her the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for Excellence in Litigation. .


Claudia Valenzuela, Detention Project Director, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).

Claudia Valenzuela is the Detention Project Director at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). Claudia’s work at the NIJC focuses on due process issues impacting noncitizens detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Claudia oversees NIJC’s provision of legal services to individuals in ICE custody, as well as NIJC’s Defenders Initiative, which provides technical support and litigation assistance to criminal defense attorneys across the country representing noncitizen defendants. Claudia joined NIJC in 2002 as an Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellow. Since that time, Claudia has represented hundreds of individuals before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the federal district courts, courts of appeal and the United States Supreme Court.