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Ellise Nicholson


Ellise Nicholson is a social justice lawyer who currently focuses her practice on court-appointed indigent criminal appeals and habeas petitions.  Since graduating from UC Berkeley School of Law in 1998, where she served as a production editor on the California Law Review, she has focused her work in the areas of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LGBT) rights; equal justice; anti-discrimination law; and criminal and capital defense.  At the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, she investigated, negotiated and mediated employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination complaints, monitored and enforced San Francisco’s equal benefits and local business enterprise ordinances, and staffed the LGBT Advisory Committee.  In 2004, the Human Rights Commission honored her with a resolution commending her as an advocate for justice, a strong voice for civil rights and a leader in the struggle for LGBT equality.  As a staff attorney at the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, she represented indigent, death-sentenced individuals in their post-conviction defense and worked on the clemency case of Donald Beardslee, the eleventh person executed in California after the reenactment of the death penalty in 1977.  Her volunteer activities include teaching writing at a young men’s prison, working with the ABA death penalty representation project on a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, serving on BALIF’s Amicus Committee from 2000-2002, and assisting in the representation of an incarcerated domestic violence survivor through the Habeas Project.

She was raised in Claremont, California and has lived in the Bay Area since 1995.  She received a BA in Women’s Studies from Earlham College and an MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University.  She lives in Oakland with her two French bulldogs, Jimmy and Chomsky, and spends free time at local farmer’s markets, in her kitchen attempting DIY cooking projects, and hiking in the east bay hills.

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