Professor Cynthia E. Jones teaches Evidence, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure at the American University Washington College of Law. She also serves as the Director of the law school’s Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program. Professor Jones received the prestigious American University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2011, and received the “Teaching with Technology Award” from the American University Center for Teaching Excellence. Annually, in her honor, the Washington College of Law awards the Professor Cynthia E. Jones Scholarship to an aspiring public defender. Professor Jones has written numerous articles and co-authored publications in the areas of criminal law, wrongful convictions, criminal discovery reform, cash bail reform, and eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Professor Jones has also produced two educational short films, “Fighting Evidence with Evidence,” and “Bail in America: The Color of Pretrial Justice.” Professor Jones also has developed a series of interactive, multi-media lectures on the Federal Rules of Evidence that are well-received at federal judicial training conferences and numerous other regional and national bench and bar conferences across the country. Prof. Jones is the President of The Sentencing Project Board of Directors and Chair of the Board of the Civil Rights Corps. Professor Jones served as a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), and later served as both the Executive Director of PDS and the Chair of the PDS Board of Trustees. Professor Jones is also the former Deputy Director of the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency.
Associate Director of Advocacy Training and Student Competitions
Joe Lester is the Associate Director of Advocacy Training and Student Competitions at American University Washington College of Law. In this role, he oversees ADR, Moot Court, Mock Trial, and Transactional competitions and competition teams. Before coming to WCL, Lester was the Hiram H. Lazar Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Southern Illinois University School of Law. Lester previously taught evidence, criminal procedure, gaming law, and trial practice at Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law. During his twenty-year tenure at Faulkner, he also served as the school’s Director of Advocacy Programs for more than a decade, overseeing Moot Court, Mediation, and Trial Advocacy. During this time, he coached more than 30 teams to regional championships and qualified 20 teams to national finals. He also created and ran national trial competition the Mockingbird Challenge.
An active member of the national law school advocacy community, Lester maintains a website to track national trial competition results, which are then used to formulate the Trial Competition Performance Rankings. Lester has been a trial consultant for a wide variety of cases in state and federal court. Author of Thomson Reuters’ Alabama Practice, Alabama Evidence series, he also serves on the Alabama Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee for the Alabama Rules of Evidence. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and received his law degree from the University of Kentucky.
Senior Program Coordinator, Advocacy Training and Student Competitions
Victoria Castillo is the Senior Program Coordinator for Advocacy Training and Student Competitions. Victoria graduated from Boston University's Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies with a BA in International Relations. She is passionate about equitable access to higher education. She managed several international scholarship programs as a Scholarship Specialist at the Organization of American States. She then began working with the LL.M. in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at WCL where she managed the online, hybrid and in resident programs, both in English and Spanish. She has experience coordinating international events, coordinating, and negotiating international bilateral agreements on education.
In her role, she works closely with students, honor societies and organizing student competitions.
coordinator, curriculum & adjunct Faculty
Yolanda is the Curriculum and Adjunct Faculty Coordinator at American University Washington College of Law. In this capacity, she is responsible for supporting the Advocacy Program. She is the point of contact for program adjuncts and students, providing course materials and related information. She also tracks the LL.M. program applicants.
Yolanda joined WCL in 2019 with an extensive background working in academia. She previously worked in both development and alumni relations as the lead for coordinating all events, receiving and processing all funds. She is from New York, relocated to the Washington, DC area in 1990.
Adjunct Faculty & Coaches
Success of the program is due, in large part, to the more than 100 legal professionals who teach, coach, and volunteer to support our mission. Area practitioners and judges impart their vast expertise as they teach a wide range of advocacy courses. The Advocacy Program also welcomes the expertise of faculty and other skilled practitioners, who have coached student competition teams to more than 25 national championships over the last 8 years. Adjunct faculty and competition team coaches act as invaluable resources for students and come together to build a formidable network of practitioners to support Advocacy Program students.