Advisory Board

      Dean R. Alexander Acosta

R. Alexander Acosta is the Dean of the College of Law at Florida International University.  A native of Miami, Dean Acosta earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his law degree from Harvard Law School.  After serving as a law clerk to Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., then a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Dean Acosta practiced law at the law firm of Kirkland and Ellis and taught at the George Mason School of Law.

Dean Acosta returned to public service as a Senate-confirmed Member of the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency responsible for administering and interpreting the National Labor Relations Act, the principal federal statute that regulates private-sector labor relations.  As a Board Member, he participated in or authored more than 125 opinions.  Dean Acosta was again confirmed by the Senate to be the first Hispanic to serve as Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights, at the Department of Justice.  While there, he reopened the investigation into the murder of Emmett Till.

Most recently, Dean Acosta became the longest serving U.S. Attorney in South Florida since the 1970s, sitting as the senate-confirmed United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, which carries one of the busiest trial calendars in the nation.  Under Dean Acosta, the Southern District prosecuted a wide variety of historic matters, including the prosecutions of Jack Abramoff for fraud, of Jose Padilla for terrorism, of Charles Taylor Jr. for torture, the first torture case of its kind in the U.S., and of Cali Cartel founders Miguel and Gilberto Rodriquez-Orejuela for importation of 200,000 kilos of cocaine, which resulted in a $2.1 billion forfeiture.  Dean Acosta also targeted white collar crime, overseeing several bank-related prosecutions including that of Swiss Bank UBS, which agreed to pay $780 million and, for the first time in history, to provide the United States with the names of individuals that were using secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid payment of U.S. taxes.  Dean Acosta additionally focused on creating an innovative approach to prosecuting health care fraud, including the first Health Care Fraud strike force in the nation.  These efforts made South Florida the top district in the nation for health care fraud prosecution.

Dean Acosta has received several professional recognitions, including the American Bar Association's Council on Legal Education's Legacy Award for efforts on diversity; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund's Excellence in Government Award and the D.C. Hispanic Bar Association's Hugh A. Johnson Jr. Memorial Award.  In addition to his leadership role at the College of Law, Dean Acosta has a special interest in framing the national policy debate on infrastructure investment in education.

 

  Jerry Berry, Esq.

Jerry Berry started Berry, Day & McFee as a sole practitioner in 1989.  Mr. Berry's work in the field of criminal law dates back to 1979, when he completed law school.

He first received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Florida in 1976 (magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa).  He then attended law school at Florida State University, where he received his juris doctorate in 1979.

Following law school, Mr. Berry worked as a prosecutor in Lakeland, Florida, and in Naples, Florida.  In 1984, he went into private practice and has been defending the Constitution and the wrongfully accused ever since.

Mr. Berry is AV-Rated® by Martindale-Hubbell® peer-review ratings, the highest recognition an attorney can receive for excellence in practice and ethics.  He is a past president of the Collier County Bar Association, past president and founder of the Collier County Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, past chairman of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers - Criminal Section, and past president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Mr. Berry has been listed for three consecutive years as a "Legal Leader" by Florida Trend Magazine, which recognizes the top 2% of attorneys in their fields as named by their peers and is presently one of Florida's "Super Lawyers."

 

Betsy Biben      Betsy Biben-Seligman

A Forensic and Clinical Social Worker, Betsy serves as the Chief of the Office of Rehabilitation and Development (“ORD”) for Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (“PDS”) where she has been employed since 1982.  She has prepared sentencing reports and/or testimony before courts in Washington, D.C. (local and federal), Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama and has trained judges, attorneys, law and social work students on a national and local basis since 1976.  She is a founding member of the National Association of Sentencing Advocates, renamed NASAMS (National Alliance for Sentencing Alternatives & Mitigation Specialists), a consultant for The Sentencing Project, and a former consultant at the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA).  Betsy is a former chair of the NLADA Social Service Section and has been a board member of the Southern Center for Human Rights since 1992.  She is a member of the board for Visitors’ Services Center since 2003.  She has worked in the criminal justice system since 1974.  Betsy received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut in 1982, and a postgraduate certificate from the Washington School of Psychiatry in 1986.  She is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) and is a licensed social worker in D.C. (LICSW) and Maryland (LCSW).