Nora Benavidez is a civil and human rights attorney. She works at the intersection of law, tech, and democracy as an ‘urgency incubator’ to elevate interdisciplinary solutions to complex threats facing our society.
In all her work, Benavidez fights to eliminate barriers -- legal, technological, or political -- that may diminish the ability for communities to engage in democracy and with each other. Benavidez consults with policymakers and other entities to minimize online manipulation, maligned operations, and other digital harms which affect civic engagement.
Benavidez serves as Senior Counsel and Director, Digital Justice & Civil Rights at Free Press. She leads the organization’s efforts to protect against digital threats to democracy and to push for media and platform accountability. She develops winning policy and regulatory reform solutions that blunt disinformation, hate, and other maligned online practices while protecting digital civil rights, privacy, and equitable speech. She collaborates with and build support from Congress, the White House, and government agencies to advance digital justice while working with and pressuring technology companies to adopt corporate interventions that mitigate harms caused by their services. She has appeared before the House Oversight Committee and the Federal Trade Commission.
Benavidez serves as Faculty Associate at Arizona State University’s Cronkite Institute where she teaches a course on freedom of expression in the digital age. In 2021, she won the Society of Professional Journalists-Los Angeles Chapter Freedom of Information award for her work defending truth and free expression.
Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tech Policy Press, and other publications. She has been a regular guest on NPR’s The Takeaway and interviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC, Newsweek, NPR’s Here & Now, Teen Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, AJ+, Vox, Columbia Journalism Review, and more.
Previously, Benavidez served as the director of U.S. Free Expression Programs at PEN America, where she guided the organization’s national advocacy agenda on First Amendment and free expression issues. She managed PEN America’s domestic fight for freedom of speech, the right to protest, robust local news, and its disinformation defense program.
She has also worked in private practice and at the ACLU of Georgia, litigating significant cases representing victims of voting rights violation
Gerry Weber is principal in The Weber Law Offices and focuses on constitutional, civil rights, libel and media law and general litigation. http://www.constitutional-litigation.com Gerry Weber served for seventeen years as Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. He also currently serves as a Senior Staff Counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, and is an Adjunct Professor at Emory University School of Law and Georgia State College of Law in constitutional litigation, media law and the first amendment. Gerry clerked for the Honorable Carolyn Dineen King, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He was named one of the “21 Young Lawyers Leading Us Into the 21 Century” by the American Bar Association and “Top 40 st Achievers under 40" by Georgia Trend Magazine. Gerry Weber has litigated against federal, state and local governments and agencies and some of the largest corporations in the United States. He has successfully struck down numerous laws ranging from state restrictions on the internet to state laws barring fornication and sodomy. He also has chalked up one of the largest monetary awards in the history of the State of Georgia – a $440 million dollar judgment in an international human rights case against a Serbian government torturer.
Samantha Funt serves as Partner at Mitchell Shapiro Greenamyre & Funt LLP and is dedicated to zealous advocacy on behalf of victims of wrongdoing. An experienced litigator, Samantha focuses her practice on wrongful death and catastrophic injury in the areas of civil rights, negligent security and medical malpractice – providing counsel at the most critical times. Representative civil rights cases include excessive force, wrongful arrest and prosecution, first amendment violations, prison and jail violence, and medical neglect while in custody.
Samantha has secured life changing multi-million-dollar settlements for her clients in a variety of matters. This includes her work as lead counsel in a carbon monoxide brain injury case, a medical malpractice case for the overdose of a disabled child, and in numerous civil rights matters for constitutional violations at hands of government officials. Samantha co-counsels with attorneys across the country and values the energy and impact of a varied litigation team. Samantha has been recognized by her peers through selection to the Georgia Trial Lawyer Association’s LEAD Program and also as a Super Lawyers Rising Star.
Her background stems from years of experience representing defendants in negligence and wrongful death actions, giving her intimate knowledge of the way these cases are defended. Prior to joining MSGF, Samantha was a trial attorney in a large national law firm where she handled an expansive caseload in state and federal courts and represented domestic and international clients in areas including premises liability, negligent security, construction defects, products liability, commercial litigation and intellectual property rights.
A trial lawyer at heart, she began her career as a criminal defense attorney with the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office. There, Samantha represented hundreds of clients in juvenile, domestic violence and felony courts. She has litigated criminal charges ranging from misdemeanors to life felonies including murder, drug trafficking, sexual battery, aggravated battery, and robbery, has tried 25 jury trials and has litigated constitutional and evidentiary motions. She has fought against excessive and illegal uses of force, unconstitutional arrests, and police and prison abuses including collaborating with the ACLU. Samantha passionately brings these experiences to her work at MSGF, fighting for those whose rights have been violated by law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
A graduate of the George Washington University Law School, Samantha served as a GW Writing Fellow, VP of the GW Mock Trial Board, and as a student attorney for the GW Public Justice Advocacy Clinic.
Samantha is a multifaceted leader and valued friend in her community. With a degree in music performance from Emory University, she has played as a cellist in community orchestras and enjoys being an active part of the Atlanta music community.
She loves spending time outside and exploring nature with her husband, Eric Funt, and their two young daughters. You can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clare R. Norins is an assistant clinical professor and director of the University of Georgia School of Law's First Amendment Clinic. Her scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law and the George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal. Previously in private practice at Beldock, Levine & Hoffman, LLP, Norins focused on issues of police misconduct and employment discrimination. She also served as an assistant attorney general for the State of New York, receiving the Louis J. Lefkowitz Award for outstanding performance. Norins graduated law school from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and clerked for Judge Michael H. Dolinger in the Southern District of New York.
Ken is a founding partner of Jarrard & Davis law firm in Cumming. His firm specializes in local government representation, and is the retained counsel for the Counties of Barrow, Cherokee, Dawson, Forsyth, Georgetown-Quitman, Greene, Newton, Screven, and Pickens, and the Cities of Alpharetta, Fayetteville, Milton, and Stone Mountain. His firm also provides litigation and specialty services on a case-by-case basis to governments and authorities throughout the state. In addition to legal representation, Ken provides numerous training classes throughout the year for Georgia elected and appointed officials, including attorneys and judges, in all areas of local government law including ethics, open government, contracts, emergency management, civil rights, zoning, and governmental immunities. Ken received his Master of Public Administration and law degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Jeff Filipovits has emerged as a distinguished lawyer specializing in police and government misconduct cases. With a stellar track record, Jeff has handled ten appellate oral arguments and four federal jury trials. Recognized for his strategic approach and attention to detail, and unwavering commitment to securing justice. Jeff's commitment to justice is not confined to the courtroom; he has actively contributed to legal education by sharing his insights and experiences at numerous seminars and classes. In 2020, Jeff formed Spears & Filipovits with his parter, longtime civil rights attorney Brian Spears. The firm specializes in federal civil rights litigation and often partners with other attorneys who recognize the specific expertise needed to litigate civil rights cases. Jeff is a 2009 graduate of GSU College of Law.
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