Emily Baxter, Director

Emily Baxter is the executive director of the North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. In 2012, Emily founded a media-based advocacy project and organization that seeks to challenge perceptions of crime, criminality, privilege, and punishment, called We Are All Criminals (WAAC). WAAC is a nonprofit with a national reach, helping to shape criminal justice policies from coast to coast. Emily has also served as the director of public policy at the Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice and as an assistant public defender representing members of the Leech Lake and White Earth Bands of Ojibwe charged with crimes in state court. Emily is a former fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School’s Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice and is an Archibald Bush Leadership Fellow.

You can reach Emily at emily@nccadp.org


Jessica Turner, Board President

Jessica Turner is a community organizer with years of regional experience, most recently as a field manager at the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

Jess works to strengthen grassroots support in local chapters and within faith communities to build relationships and coalitions around numerous justice issues with a special focus on reproductive justice. She received her bachelor’s degree from Elon University and worked with faith-based advocacy groups in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., before receiving her Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia.

Prior to joining the ACLU of North Carolina, Jess organized in faith communities to abolish the death penalty, advocated for workers’ rights, and led racial justice workshops. In her free time, Jess enjoys running and volunteering in the community. She got involved in the death penalty around the execution of Kelly Gissendaner in 2015. The execution galvanized her to work so no one else dies at the hands of the state.


Dawn Blagrove

Dawn Blagrove is the Executive Director of the Carolina Justice Policy Center, a nonprofit that works to make North Carolina’s criminal justice system more humane and equitable.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in political science with a minor in Secondary Education, cum laude from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, where she also obtained a Master’s Degree, magna cum laude, in Applied Social Science. She is a proud graduate of North Carolina Central School of Law.

After graduating law school, Dawn worked for eight years as a post-conviction staff attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc. In this position, she co-managed the jail credit team, made up of five paralegals dedicated to jail credit issues. As a post-conviction attorney, Dawn evaluated and prioritized requests for criminal post-conviction representation from inmates incarcerated in North Carolina’s Department of Correction. On their behalf, she litigated motions for appropriate relief and petitions for writs of habeas corpus in N.C. trial and appellate courts. Dawn also litigated federal habeas actions in U.S. District Courts in N.C.; the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA.; and the Supreme Court of the United States. She is proud of helping reach positive outcomes through negotiations and non-litigious avenues.

Dawn is also an adjunct professor for the Criminal Justice Department of Fayetteville Technical Community College and is a co-sponsor of the Capital City Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, an organization that is dedicated to nurturing future African American leaders through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving, and civic duty.


William Durham

William Durham is an Assistant Director at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, a nonprofit law firm that represents people on death row in North Carolina and works to educate the public on systemic injustices of the death penalty.

He attended East Carolina University and Georgetown University School of Law. He is licensed in Hawaii, Oregon, and North Carolina. From 2004 to 2008, William represented indigent persons in child welfare, domestic, and housing cases with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. In 2007 and 2008, he helped create and grow Lawyers for Equal Justice, which now exists as the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. There, William won multiple large scale class actions against the State of Hawaii on issues of public housing conditions and access to education for homeless children.

In 2008, William joined the Fair Trial Initiative in Durham, first as a J. Kirk Osborn Fellow and later as a staff attorney representing capital defendants at the trial level. Since 2011, William has represented capital defendants at the trial level and in post-conviction proceeding at CDPL. He is committed to permanently ending the death penalty in our time.


Jennifer Watson Marsh

Jennifer Watson Marsh is a member of the Executive Staff at Self-Help, where she helps advance their mission of ownership and economic opportunity for all.

She works on projects including reducing pretrial incarceration of people who lack the cash to post bail in North Carolina, immigration bonds, increasing the N.C. minimum wage, and other wealth building issues. She also assists partner organizations in executing their missions while disrupting practices that harm vulnerable populations.

Jennifer served as the Senior Staff Attorney and Project Manager for North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act Study before going on to work with many social justice organizations including, Disability Rights NC, Democracy NC, North Carolina NAACP, and the UNC Center for Civil Rights. Jennifer currently serves on several boards including North Carolina Advocates for Justice and the ACLU of North Carolina. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1993 and UNC School of Law in 2009.


Dick Taylor

Dick Taylor is the retired president of the N.C. Advocates for Justice, a nonpartisan association of legal professionals dedicated to protecting people’s rights.

He grew up in Asheville and received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina. In 1975, he became the founding Executive Director of Orange County Legal Services in Hillsborough, which grew to be North State Legal Services. In 1983, he became Executive Director of Legal Services of North Carolina. In 1996, Dick became Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, now known as the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. He also served as President of the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives.

Dick retired in June of 2017 and remains active in the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, and various non-profit organizations.


Mark Pickett (term begins 2020)

Mark Pickett joined the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in 2013. Mark graduated from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 2009, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003. After graduating from law school, he worked as a J. Kirk Osborn Fellow with the Fair Trial Initiative, where he assisted with trial-level death penalty cases throughout North Carolina.

Before joining CDPL, Mark spent two years conducting research for the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Due Process Review Project.


Erica Washington (term begins 2020)

Erica Washington joined the Center for Death Penalty Litigation as a staff attorney in 2017 after graduating from New York University School of Law. Prior to law school, Erica spent two years working on issues of fair housing, disability rights and police misconduct with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. In law school, she worked with the Equal Justice Initiative to provide post-conviction legal support to prisoners on Alabama’s death row.

Erica is on the coordinating committee for Restorative Justice Durham, a diversionary program aimed at restoring relationships hurt by wrongdoing and repairing the harm caused by crime.