The Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C. Welcomes Claude Heffron as Inaugural Fellow


Hackensack, NJ (December 6, 2023) - The Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C. is pleased to announce the arrival of Claude Heffron as the Stein Center’s inaugural Stein Public Interest Fellow. Heffron will serve as a Fellow for a two-year, full-time term, working with the Stein Center’s Director CJ Griffin on pro bono amicus curiae work on criminal justice cases pending in the New Jersey Supreme Court, as well as fee-shifting work relating to police transparency, open government, and civil rights, and will appear before New Jersey state and federal trial and appellate courts. Established in 2019, the Stein Center is dedicated to a broad range of public interest impact litigation and appellate advocacy that advances social, racial, and economic justice.

“Just as the establishment of the Stein Public Interest Center was a ground-breaking initiative, so too is the creation of the Stein Public Interest Center Fellowship,” remarked Michael S. Stein, firm Chair and Managing Partner. “Our firm was recently named the 2023 Law Firm of the Year by the New Jersey Law Journal, due in part to our impactful work through the Center, and the tremendous advocacy of our Director CJ Griffin. Claude’s background as a public defender brings additional perspective to the many important social issues that are the focus of the Center’s work, and we welcome her contributions toward the protection of civil liberties and constitutional rights, as well as an open and transparent government.”

Heffron joins the Stein Center from the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (OPD), where she worked as an assistant deputy public defender for six years. In her position, she represented clients facing felony charges through every stage of the criminal justice process, from detention motions through plea negotiations, trial, and sentencing. Among her successes, Heffron won the release of a client who spent 31 years in prison pursuant to State v. Comer and secured another client’s release from a psychiatric hospital where he had been civilly committed for 34 years.

In welcoming Heffron, Griffin stated, “Claude has earned a reputation as a creative and zealous trial advocate. Her court experience, along with her demonstrated interest in and deep commitment to social, racial, and economic justice, made her the perfect choice for our inaugural Fellow. We could not be more thrilled that she has decided to join the Stein Center and serve in this integral role, and I look forward to shaping the Center’s vision with her.”

“As a public defender, I’ve witnessed the grave injustices facing poor, mostly Black and brown New Jerseyans ensnared in the criminal legal system,” Heffron said. “I am excited for the opportunity to serve clients through appellate advocacy and impact litigation, and I’m thrilled to learn from and work alongside CJ Griffin.”

In addition to managing a full trial caseload, Heffron served as a founding member of the OPD’s Parole Advocacy Working Group which produced a report that documented statewide needs of clients in parole hearings and advocated for individuals at parole hearings. She also volunteered with the State Prison Crisis Team to file applications for the release of vulnerable clients during the pandemic.

Heffron holds a juris doctor from New York University School of Law, a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College.

About The Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center

Established in 2019, the Stein Public Interest Center is dedicated to a broad range of public interest impact litigation and appellate advocacy that advances social, racial, and economic justice, protects civil liberties and constitutional rights, and promotes an open and transparent government.

The Center is named after retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary S. Stein in recognition of his distinguished career of dedicated public service and contributions to the legal profession. During his remarkable 17-year tenure on the Court, Justice Stein helped shape the law for generations to come. In honor of his legacy, the Center is dedicated to advocating for the rights and liberties of all individuals.

Under the leadership of Director CJ Griffin, the Center partners with local, regional, and national organizations to promote and advance justice. Since the Center’s launch in 2019, Pashman Stein Walder Hayden attorneys have participated in more than 50 cases that have resulted in published opinions by the New Jersey Appellate Division and New Jersey Supreme Court. These cases involved public access to police internal affairs reports, violations of Miranda warnings, the rights of medical cannabis users to receive workplace accommodations and to have their medication covered by workers’ compensation programs, the standards to obtain a sexual assault protection order, and racial discrimination in the jury selection process. More information about the Center’s work can be found at

About Pashman Stein Walder Hayden P.C.

Named “Law Firm of the Year” by the New Jersey Law Journal as part of its 2023 Legal Awards, Pashman Stein Walder Hayden a full-service law firm with a reputation for professional excellence. Headquartered in Hackensack, New Jersey, the firm has offices throughout the region in Holmdel, New Jersey; New York, New York; Purchase, New York; and Wilmington, Delaware. The firm serves a diverse client base including Fortune 500 companies, emerging growth entities and entrepreneurial businesses, professional athletes, law firms, judges, lawyers, governmental entities, non-profit organizations, and individuals. As a member of Interlaw, the firm has access to an internationally recognized network of law firms, comprising 8000+ lawyers throughout the world. Additional firm honors include being named Litigation Department of the Year-finalist (2023) and, for five years in a row, awarded Appellate Litigation Department of the Year (2018-2022), by the New Jersey Law Journal; and named 2020 Pro Bono Law firm by the New Jersey State Bar Association. For more information, please visit The New Jersey Legal Awards are published by the New Jersey Law Journal. A description of the selection methodology can be found at  No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

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