Meet Our Staff

Elie Zwiebel | Program Director Education First
Elie Zwiebel is a juvenile civil rights attorney based in Denver, Colorado. Prior to attending law school, Elie taught a variety of subjects to a diversity of students in the Detroit Area, Chicago, Portland, Shenzhen, and Nanjing. Through these experiences, Elie developed a passion for student and family advocacy–specifically for fighting the school to prison pipeline. In addition to working with CJDC to support families and students facing harsh school disciplinary actions, Elie investigates and evaluates educational and mental health history of young people facing charges, builds service plans, and advocates for community based solutions and mitigation. Elie has written successful federal clemency petitions for men sentenced to life for low-level nonviolent drug offenses, has contributed to federal investigations of patterns and practices of discrimination in local police departments, and has performed legislative analysis for the Southern Poverty Law Center. He proudly does whatever he can to help support people who have been traditionally and personally disenfranchised and marginalized.
Emma Mclean-Riggs | Program Director Believe in Youth
Emma Mclean-Riggs is a 2019 Skadden Fellow, representing people placed on the sex offender registry as juveniles. Before coming to CJDC, Emma spent two years as a law clerk, first for Judge Carlos F. Lucero of the Tenth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals and then for Justice Monica M. Márquez of the Colorado Supreme Court. She received her juris doctorate from the University of California Berkeley School of Law. While there, she worked with several student groups to defend the rights of incarcerated youth, and was active in the National Lawyers Guild chapter, Queer Caucus, and the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law and Justice. Before attending law school, she received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Reed College. Emma is committed to defending individuals and communities impacted by interpersonal violence from violence perpetrated by the state.
Meet Our Interns

Maddie is a Colorado native and a 3L at the University of Minnesota Law School. This summer she is interning with the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center to build upon her understanding of the criminal justice system in the juvenile division. During the course of her first year of law school, she grew interested in criminal justice and pursued an internship with the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, MN. There she was able to assist in criminal defense representation to indigent adults in the Minneapolis metro area. This experience solidified her interest in serving her community and providing legal resources to individuals with limited access.


Neil Sandhu is a 3L at the University of Colorado Law School, and a summer intern with the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center. Neil is dedicated to protecting the rights of all citizens, especially those facing the machinery of our criminal-justice system. He is a teaching fellow with the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project where he teaches juvenile justice to high-school students. He previously worked for a renowned civil rights firm where he focused on protecting clients’ constitutional rights. He has also worked for Judge Collyer of the U.S. District Court for D.C., and Judge Eid of the Tenth Circuit.