About Nyssa Gesch

Nyssa Gesch Articles written 49

Articles written by Nyssa Gesch

From Liberia to Liberty

The Gibbons environmental lawyer arrived in America from Liberia to follow her dreams

As a young girl growing up in Liberia, Uzoamaka Okoye was influenced by the many challenges her mother faced, including divorcing her Nigerian husband and living through civil unrest, which forced her family to immigrate to the U.S. Through it all, Okoye was inspired by her mother’s resolve and adaptability. “I saw my mother lose everything, but importantly, she was able to immigrate to the U.S., go through the medical licensing process and re-establish her career,” Okoye says. “She …

The Letter of the Law

Former Morristown postman Sal Simeone strives to make a difference for families

For nearly 11 years, from Washington Street to Fairview Place, Sal Simeone delivered the mail in Morristown. When a hard day’s work was done, he changed out of his postman uniform—and got ready for school. “When I saw people working in the post office and raising families of three and four—I think a full-time salary at the time was like $43,000 to $44,000—I could only imagine how they struggled,” Simeone says. “I wanted to try to do better for my family.” All of his …

Back Pay

Ruth D. Kahn works with Holocaust survivors

In 2011, Ruth D. Kahn, awaiting a new trial motion in a toxic tort case that had consumed her practice for months, agreed to do 25 hours of pro bono work through Bet Tzedek Legal Services to help a Holocaust survivor obtain a pension for work she performed in the ghettos.   Then she heard the survivor’s story.   Ann was born in Czechoslovakia and as a young child taught herself to sew. During World War II, she used her sewing talents to survive, mending torn articles of clothing. The rest …

Property Before People?

IP attorney Peter Afrasiabi seeks change in immigration courts

Since clerking on the 9th Circuit after law school, Peter Afrasiabi, currently a busy IP partner at One LLP, has worked many immigration cases pro bono. Not all of them have happy endings. One client, Bobby Flores, virtually grew up in the immigration system. His parents came to the U.S. to escape the Shining Path, a Peruvian guerrilla organization. Because they were found to have entered the country without authority, the family was put into deportation proceedings. However, because Flores’ …

Access to Justice

David Ettinger fights for fee waivers

When the Los Angeles Superior Court denied Nylonda Sharnese fee waivers for her case, she soon found herself, through a referral by a Public Counsel attorney, in the capable hands of Horvitz & Levy partner David Ettinger. “Fee waivers are fundamental to access to the courts for poor people,” says Ettinger. “Because if they can’t afford to pay a fee, a filing fee, and if that fee is not waived, then they can’t even start a case.” The appellate attorney has worked with clients on …

Soft Heart, Steady Hand

Family law attorney Marcia H. Armstrong, partner at Armstrong & Armstrong, on the importance of patience and mentoring, and how being a lawyer isn’t like the TV shows

Q: What inspired you to choose law? A: I was a double major in history and modern foreign languages and really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. To be honest with you, it just seemed like an exciting path to take. We had a mock, simulated, summit type thing with one of our political science professors in college and we had to negotiate a treaty. I enjoyed doing that; I was the ambassador to the United States in that summit. That might’ve sparked the interest.   Q: How did you end up …

The Kid Who Didn’t Sit Down

Pat Cremin took a chance on law school after a career in journalism

Pat Cremin, a Tulsa native, knew he’d regret it if he didn’t try law. Now 67 and a partner at Hall Estill, Cremin says that making the switch was the right choice—and has no plans to retire anytime soon.   Q: What inspired you to choose law? A: I was working in the war on poverty, one of [former President] Lyndon Johnson’s programs to try to make things better for impoverished people, chiefly minorities, and I got totally frustrated ‘cause we were unable to do anything. My …

IP Man

J. Christopher Jensen talks Muppets, the Internet, and freeing a man on death row

There were no eyewitnesses to the murder of Dorothy Edwards of Greenwood, S.C. The 75-year-old widow’s body, stabbed more than 50 times, was found in her bedroom closet on Jan. 18, 1982, by her neighbor, who pointed his finger at her handyman, Edward Lee Elmore. Within three days, the 23-year-old was arrested and charged with rape and first-degree murder. Fewer than 90 days later, after an eight-day trial in early April, Elmore was sentenced to death. During the next five years he would be …

The Environmental Division

Denise Dragoo has been in the environmental practice since the regulation boom in the ’70s

Denise Dragoo, partner at Snell & Wilmer, began working in environmental law when the Clean Water and Clean Air acts were enacted. She talked with us in February about starting out in government agencies, practicing before the state Supreme Court, and dealing with polarization in her field.   Q: What drew you to the law? A: I was interested in environmental matters, and environmental law looked like an exciting and challenging field. That was in the 1970s and all the new laws were just …

Saltwater in His Veins

Allen E. “Teeto” Graham uses his background in shipbuilding and the seafood business in his maritime practice at Phelps Dunbar

Q: Your name is Allen, but you go by Teeto. How did you get that name? A: Teeto is a nickname that I’ve had since forever, as long as I can remember. There are a couple of stories about how I received the nickname, but I think that it boiled down to: I wanted to be “Tonto” on The Lone Ranger when I was a baby, and I mispronounced it “Tee-to.” My father was in the seafood and shipbuilding business at the time and he built a boat and named it “The Little Teeto,” and of course the …

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