Sarena Townsend, Partner and the Head of TMU's Civil Rights Litigation practice, brings over 15 years of litigation and investigatory experience to the firm. She is a fierce advocate, a revered leader of criminal justice reforms, and a feared adversary in the courtroom.
Prior to joining TMU, Ms. Townsend was the Deputy Commissioner of the Intelligence, Investigation & Trials Division at the New York City Department of Correction for over 5 years. There, she oversaw thousands of investigations and trials, primarily involving DOC staff misconduct. Ms. Townsend was specifically chosen by a Federal Monitor to be the DOC's Disciplinary Manager. In doing so, the Monitor noted that Ms. Townsend "has expertise in all of the following subject matters: the Department’s use of force guidelines, investigation protocols, settlement options, the Department’s Trials procedures, and OATH procedures." Ms. Townsend's unmatched knowledge of the inner workings of law enforcement agencies gives her an advantage in litigating civil rights infractions by police and corrections officers, particularly matters of excessive use of force and constitutional violations.
Prior to her position at the Department of Correction, Ms. Townsend was a Deputy Bureau Chief at the Kings County District Attorney's Office, where she prosecuted crime throughout Brooklyn for 10 years. With a stellar conviction rate, Ms. Townsend handled some of the office's most high-profile and complex cases. Ms. Townsend specialized in sex crimes prosecutions, including rape and predatory sex assault, but also achieved top count convictions in cold cases, homicide, robbery, burglary, DWI, narcotics, and gun possession matters. She has presented expert testimony on DNA collection and testing, Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits, fingerprint lifting and comparison, firearm operability, and chemical analysis of narcotics. Ms. Townsend also trained and supervised prosecutors in the busiest trial bureau in the County. She has conducted or supervised countless hearings and trials, achieving favorable jury verdicts and settlements.
Ms. Townsend received her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 2006 and graduated, with honors, from New York University in 2003, with a B.A. in Psychology.