About the BPDA Summer Fellowship Program

The purpose of the BPDA Fellowship is to advance diversity in the criminal defense community by giving underrepresented populations an opportunity to gain experience in a criminal defense law practice. Each Fellow receives a summer stipend and is paired with an experienced public defender member of BPDA who will serve as their mentor. This fellowship was made possible due to the financial contributions of our members and supporters. Through a steady stream of giving campaigns we raised enough funds to provide six students with a BPDA fellowship.

Meet the Fellows

Damon Davis
University of Cincinnati College of Law
Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit

Damon R Davis, born and raised in Newark, NJ, is a long-time resident of the Central Kentucky area. After graduating in 2019 from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in Psychology and Minor in Hebrew Studies, Damon entered the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Focused on community and racial equality, Damon recently completed a rewarding fellowship with the Ohio Innocence Project. In Spring 2021, he completed his term as Attorney General for the Midwest Black Law Students Association, all while finding time to participate in local policing policy improvement committees as well as pursuing his entrepreneurial passions. Upon graduating Spring 2023, Damon plans to practice in the fields of civil rights and criminal law. 

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Jeanmarie Elican
George Washington University Law School
Arlington Public Defenders

Jeanmarie Elican is from Philadelphia and is a rising 3L at the George Washington University Law School. Jeanmarie graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s in the Arts and Sciences, majoring in Political Science and Africana studies, and is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. While at GW Law, Jeanmarie clerked for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, is the Executive Diversity Editor of the International Law Review, and is the Alumni Chair of the Black Law Students Association. Jeanmarie is grateful for the opportunity to learn from and represent the BPDA and to serve marginalized populations zealously.

Melvin Hydleburg
Notre Dame Law School
Bronx Defenders

Melvin is from the Bronx, New York, and is a rising 3L at Notre Dame Law School. During law school, he has externed at the federal public defender office in Indiana and the National Immigrant Justice Center. Before law school, Melvin worked as a paralegal at the Federal of Defenders of New York in Manhattan. He spent his 1L summer at the Center for Appellate Litigation, an appellate public defender office in New York City, and is interning at The Bronx Defenders this summer.

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Danielle McCoy
Georgetown University Law Center
Bronx Defenders​

Danielle McCoy is a rising 3L at Georgetown University Law Center. After graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelors in Political Science and African American Studies, Danielle joined Teach For America as a 2014 New York Corps Member. She taught 8th-grade literature for 5 years before finally deciding to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an attorney. While at Georgetown Law, Danielle clerked for the Detroit Justice Center, New York State Court, and the Public Defender Services of D.C. She is also a 3L Delegate for the Student Bar Association, a Public Interest Fellow, a Gideon Fellow, and a Lexis Nexis Associate. Currently, Danielle is spending her summer clerking with the Bronx Defenders. Her personal ties to the Bronx as a native have always been the inspiration behind her passion for criminal defense. Danielle is honored to be a BPDA fellow and looks forward to learning, growing, and serving her community.

Jemia Merritt
University of Arkansas School of Law
Federal Public Defender, Little Rock Arkansas

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Jemia Merritt holds a B.A. in Political Science from the illustrious Clark Atlanta University.  Jemia currently has just completed her first year of law school at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Her particular interest is in Criminal Law. So far, she’s held 2 leadership positions and maintained membership to other organizations as well. Jemia served as the 1L representative for the Women’s Law Student Association, the Departmental Student Organization Representative for the Law School on the Graduate-Professional Student Congress, and also held membership for the Criminal Law Society and the Black Law Student Association.

During this summer, Jemia interned with the Federal Public Defender in Little Rock, Arkansas and upon graduating hopes to continue her interest in criminal law as a criminal defense attorney. 

Niya Young
University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law​
Black Public Defender Association

Niya Young is a rising 3L at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. Born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, Niya received her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Long Island University in 2019. Niya is President of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and Moot Court Director for Mizzou Law’s Board of Advocates. Last summer, Niya studied criminal justice with the University of Western Cape and researched the strengths and weaknesses of indigent defense systems in both South Africa and the United States. During her 1L winter break, Niya interned for the Honorable Jeannie J. Hong in Baltimore City. Niya plans to begin her practice as a Public Defender upon graduation and passing the bar.

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