Episode 13 – Part Two: What Does Independence Look Like in 2021?



We celebrate the 4th of July every year without spending time to think about what Independence actually means. Hosts Jonathan Rapping and Ilham Askia explore the true meaning of independence by diving into the topic of immigration. They sat down with two immigration public defense experts that teach and educate our immigrant brothers and sisters on their rights within this U.S. criminal legal system. This week’s featured guests are Criminal and Immigration Clinician and Gideon’s Promise Faculty member, Professor Violeta Chapin; and Managing Attorney at Stern Law, Jessica Stern. Listen to this episode today!




Professor Violeta Chapin teaches the Criminal and Immigration Defense Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, CO. She joined the Colorado Law faculty in August of 2009 after serving seven years as a trial attorney with Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). At PDS, Professor Chapin represented both adult and juvenile indigent defendants charged with serious felony offenses at all stages of trial. Prior to her work as a public defender, Professor Chapin had clinical experience performing appellate litigation in a capital case on behalf of a death row inmate, working together with attorneys at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Professor Chapin also worked with incarcerated youth in Louisiana and monitored the state’s compliance with a consent decree to provide a safe and rehabilitative environment to children imprisoned in detention centers across the state. Professor Chapin brings a wealth of experience of working with indigent populations outside of the United States as well, as she previously worked with poor farmers and families in rural El Salvador in an internationally funded water project.



Jessica Stern is the managing attorney for STERN Law. Her CrImmigration practice commits 100% to non-U.S. citizens. She focuses on their defense throughout an entire criminal case with protection from deportation consequences, fights against deportation in Immigration Court, and secures lawful status through applications for immigration benefits. Jessica brings her courtroom experience to her client-centered law firm, supported by a carefully selected team.

Jessica is admitted to the Bar in the State of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the Georgia Supreme Court. Jessica is also admitted to practice before the United States District Court in the Northern District of Georgia. Jessica was  appointed in 2014 to the Bar’s Judicial Selection & Tenure Committee, and sat on the City of Atlanta Board of Ethics through 2018.

She is the former Chair of the Atlanta Bar Association’s Criminal Law Section Board (2014-2015) and served on the Board of the Women in the Profession Section from 2012-2014.  She’s an active member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), serving on the chapter’s ICE liaison committee for the past few years. She is also a frequent commentator on CNN.



  • What is CrImmigration?
  • How has mass deportation contributed to mass incarceration within the U.S.?
  • Does immigration law and public defense ever intersect?
  • How to help defend immigrant’s rights?

Gideon’s Promise: The Podcast can be found on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud,  YouTube and on the Gideon’s Promise website.



Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice (2020) by Jonathan Rapping.