Areas of Focus
Amir H. Ali is Deputy Director of the Supreme Court and Appellate Program at the MacArthur Justice Center and oversees the organization’s Washington, D.C. office. He also directs the Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic at Harvard Law School.
Amir briefs and argues important civil rights and criminal justice issues in federal appeals courts across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court’s most recent term, Amir argued and won Garza v. Idaho, holding that a criminal defendant has the constitutional right to an appeal where his defense attorney improperly forfeited it, and that this right applies even where the defendant agreed to waive his right to appeal. Amir also successfully argued Welch v. United States, which provided hundreds of people across the country with relief from unconstitutional mandatory minimum sentences, and is the most cited decision by the Supreme Court from that term.
Amir has also obtained major Supreme Court victories for people condemned to death sentences. For example, Amir represented former death-row prisoner Corey Williams, filing a petition for certiorari which caused prosecutors to agree to Mr. Williams immediate release from prison after they had defended his wrongful conviction for twenty years. Amir also represented death-row prisoner Kevan Brumfield in a string of victories before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, leading to the permanent reversal of Mr. Brumfield’s death sentence.
In addition to his criminal justice work, Amir has been involved in challenges to executive policies that seek to oppress and punish minorities and people of color. Amir’s brief documenting President Trump’s record of hatred toward Muslims was cited by Justice Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion concerning the President’s travel ban. Amir has appeared on television and published pieces discussing the legal challenges to the Orders, including in The Guardian and on Take Care Blog.
Amir is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, serves on the Legal Advisory Council for the Fair Punishment Project, and is a member of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court. Before joining MJC, he was a member of the Supreme Court and Appellate practice at Jenner & Block LLP. He previously clerked for Judge Raymond C. Fisher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Marshall Rothstein on the Supreme Court of Canada. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.