2023 Summer Law Interns

Felony Team 1 Intern: Shiva Moghadasian

Shiva graduated from the University of Houston where she received a B.S. in Political Science and spent a summer abroad in Tajikistan as a recipient of the Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship. She is a rising 3L at the University of Houston Law Center. As a law student, she has previously interned with Judge Genesis Draper at the Harris County Criminal Court at Law No. 12. As a lifelong Houstonian, she is honored for this opportunity to intern with the Harris County Public Defender's Office - Felony Trial Division.

Felony Team 1 Intern: Lora Morgan

I’m a native Texan, and I’ve also lived in Florida and Virginia. My primary interest is in social justice and civil rights. Participating in LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights activism at the Capitol in Austin with groups such as the "Austin Handmaids," while living there in 2017, inspired me to finish my undergrad degree in Political Science (minor in Women’s and Gender Studies), and ultimately come to law school. This desire to better serve my community has propelled me through the last 5.5 years of school. While in undergrad, I participated in a lot of “Get Out the Vote” and BLM activism as the President of Young Dems BCS and a Deputy Volunteer Voter Registrar, worked closely with the local Democratic Party as an appointed Precinct Chair on the County Executive Committee in Brazos County, and served as a State Delegate at the Democratic Convention in 2020. I graduated with Departmental Honors from Texas A&M in 2021 and moved to Houston to attend South Texas College of Law.

Last semester I participated in the Criminal Defense Clinic through my school with the Public Defender’s Office, and I loved it and am very excited to be interning here with the Public Defender’s Office this summer. Economic justice is an essential part of social justice, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the indigent community here in Harris County.

Felony Team 1 Intern: Cesar Sanchez

Cesar Sanchez was born and raised in Brownsville, a city on the southernmost tip of Texas. Inspired by stories of his grandmother’s fervent activism in the community, Cesar grew to have a deep passion for public service. With a passion for music as well, at Texas A&M, Cesar was President of DJ’s of Aggieland for two years, where he helped donate over ten thousand dollars in DJ services towards non-profits and philanthropic events in the Bryan-College Station area. Cesar also represented Texas A&M in an intercollegiate DJ competition where he had the opportunity to open for acts such as Fetty Wap and T-Pain. Now at the University of Houston Law Center, Cesar is a member of The Advocates and recently participated in the Hippard Open Mock Trial, where he affirmed his passion for advocacy. He is excited to participate in this internship and continue his commitment to public service. Outside of law school, Cesar enjoys hiking, DJing, and practicing martial arts.

Felony Team 3 Intern: Alyssa Craze-Awbrey

Alyssa is a Texas native who is an incoming 3L at the University of Houston Law Center. She grew up in Spring, then moved to San Antonio and received her BA in Political Science in 2020. Alyssa currently serves as the President of the Association of Women in Law, President of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, and Vice President of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Last summer, she worked as a legal intern at the Texas Innocence Network, where she assisted clients on Death Row with their state and federal habeas corpus appeals. Last fall, she was a student lawyer in the Immigration Clinic, where she met with clients regarding numerous issues, including asylum and naturalization. Alyssa hopes to work full-time with the PDO after graduation. When she's not on campus, she likes to explore different parks with her husband and dog, draw and paint, and work with clients for her photography business.

Felony Team 3 Intern: Jordan Schuck

Jordan is a passionate advocate. He grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. During college, Jordan began volunteering with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada as a Court-Appointed Education Advocate. In this role, he defended foster-care children from criminal punishment and fought to protect their educational rights. In recognition of his dedication to clients, Jordan was selected as the Legal Aid Center’s 2021 “Advocate of the Year.” He continued advocating for others as an intern at Wooldridge Law, where he helped defend clients in multiple jury trials. Jordan is currently attending The University of Texas School of Law. In his first year, he helped free a prisoner who had been incarcerated for 6 years. He was also recognized for his writing and research skills by receiving UT Law’s “Best Memo Award” which is reserved for the top 5% of students. He is continuing to fight for people’s freedom as a student attorney in the UT Law Criminal Defense Clinic and intern at the Harris County Public Defender’s Office.

Felony Team 4 Intern: Kylie Evans

Hi, my name is Kiley Evans, and I just finished my 1L year at UHLC. I was on the Dean’s List for Fall 2022, and I placed as a semi-finalist in the Lorance-Thompson Negotiation Competition. I am on the Career Development Office’s Student Advisory Board, and I recently was awarded a Legal Writing Fellowship for the upcoming school year.

I did my undergraduate studies at UT, where I majored in Biology and minored in Philosophy. I was part of the Freshman Research Initiative, Phi Delta Phi Pre-Law Society, and Not On My Campus. I was also a TA and Mentor in the Vertebrate Interactome Mapping Lab. After graduating, I spent a year working at Wright and Greenhill, P.C. in Office Services and Reception.

I’ve been a volunteer for organizations like Save Our Companion Animals and St. David’s Medical Center. I started dancing at the age of 4, and I’ve studied ballet, contemporary, jazz, and hip-hop ever since. I’m an avid reader and hope to write my own book someday.

Felony Team 4 Intern: Sarah Whitehead

Sarah Whitehead is a law student at South Texas College of Law Houston. Prior to law school, Sarah earned a B.A from Texas A&M University, where she served as a Research Assistant and Judicial Intern for the 361st District Court. During her undergraduate studies, Sarah was a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association and devoted four years to studying American Sign Language (ASL). Her passion for sustainability and ASL proficiency remain important to her. During law school, Sarah participated in the Criminal Defense Clinic, which exposed her to procedural aspects such as bail hearings, pre-trial motions, plea negotiations, and trial proceedings. Her clinical experience solidified her decision to pursue a career in public defense.

Outside of her academic pursuits, Sarah's passion for service led her to work as a caregiver and volunteer/foster for the Humane Society. Now, she is honored to join the Harris County Public Defender's Office, where she looks forward to serving the community.

Felony Team 5 Intern: Jacob Lanni

Jacob holds a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Missouri Kansas City and is working on his J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. Prior to working with the PDO, Jacob was in the United States Air Force for 8 years as a crew chief and is proud to continue his association with the military serving as the Vice President of the UHLC veterans society. In his free time, Jacob enjoys traveling and cooking.

Team 5 Intern: Trae Mauricio

Trae Mauricio was not born in Texas, but has lived here since 2005 and considers herself a Texan by heart. Trae is a proud double cougar; She is currently expecting a JD from the University of Houston Law Center in December 2023 and received a B.A. in Liberal Arts in fall 2021 from the UH Honors College. Trae is looking forward to returning to the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, where she interned in spring 2023. Trae is an intern for the Center for Children, Law, and Policy at the UHLC and writes for the center’s Children and the Law Blog. She participated in the center’s Street Law program, teaching practical law and rights to incarcerated youth. One of Trae’s favorite law school memories is when her students earned 3rd place in their mock trial competition. Last summer, she interned for the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. Trae has also worked with the Juvenile and Children’s Advocacy Project at the UHLC. In her free time, Trae enjoys gardening, playing piano, and taking naps with her cat.

Team 6 Intern: Olivia Barton

Olivia recently moved to Houston after nearly ten years in Los Angeles, CA.  She is currently a law student at Syracuse University College of Law, where she serves as an Associate Note Editor on Syracuse Law Review and a Senator on the Student Bar Association.  Olivia has experience in sync licensing, negotiating placements for artist’s music in film, television, commercials, and video games at a major record label.  Olivia earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Oklahoma and her Master of Entertainment Industry Management from Carnegie Mellon University.  In her spare time, Olivia enjoys exploring her new neighborhood and trying any outdoor activity (the newest being golf at Memorial Park!).  She is excited to learn from the Harris County Public Defender’s Office and honored to be serving Harris County.

Team 6 Intern: Umar Zaidi

Umar is a Florida native turned Texan. He attended Florida State University where he received a bachelor's degree in economics. After graduation, he worked as a financial compliance analyst with a focus on transaction monitoring and due diligence for Ernst & Young LLP. He later worked as an environmental compliance analyst for Circle K, in which he helped oversee all sites in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. Following both careers, he moved to Houston in order to pursue a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center.

Umar enjoys listening to hip-hop, playing table tennis, and trying new restaurants. He always had an interest in criminal justice and knew that being a public defender would provide the most fulfillment in that field.

Team 7 Intern: Elise Patel

Elise Patel grew up in Denton, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University with her bachelor’s degree in economics. While in school, Elise worked as a legal assistant to several criminal defense attorneys. She was the president of her undergraduate moot court team. She also participated in student government as a senator and judicial court justice, performed spoken word poetry at local coffee shops, and volunteered her time with the local family homeless shelter. Elise hopes to practice criminal law with a focus on indigent defense.

PDO Legal Internships