PrEMAL Dharia 

Premal comes to Civil Rights Corps after nearly fifteen years of representing people charged with crimes in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and the military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She began her career as an attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), where she practiced for nine years. While at PDS, Premal represented hundreds of people charged with a wide variety of offenses, tried many of their criminal cases, and closely supervised trial attorneys at all levels of practice.  She served as a member of the Forensic Practice Group and specialized in working with experts and the litigation of forensic issues.  Premal also represented multiple clients on direct appeal. From PDS, Premal went to the Federal Public Defender (FPD) in the District of Maryland, where she represented people charged with a broad range of crimes in federal court. At the FPD, Premal litigated dispositive pretrial motions, conducted jury trials and engaged in complex sentencing advocacy and litigation.  Most recently, Premal was defense counsel in the military commission at Guantanamo Bay, where she represented clients actively charged with alleged terrorism and law of war offenses, including those brought as capital offenses.  Prior to becoming an actual attorney, Premal was a college intern at the Neighborhood Defender Service in Harlem and a law student intern at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Public Defender in Philadelphia, and PDS.  


Premal has organized and led trainings on various aspects of litigation, strategy and criminal defense practice for the indigent defense bar in Washington, D.C., as well as law firms, bar associations, and other legal groups.  She has served on the faculty of the Trial Advocacy Workshop at Harvard Law School and the Bronx Defenders’ litigation training program, the Defenders Academy. In the fall of 2014, she was selected for a three-month fellowship to train and supervise three new public defender offices in Palestine. She lived in Ramallah and worked with Palestinian lawyers in the West Bank, and also conducted broader trainings for the Palestinian Bar Association.  


Premal received a B.A. from Brown University in History, with Honors, and African-American Studies, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.   She grew up in southwestern West Virginia, but has called Washington, D.C., home for nearly 15 years. 


You can reach Premal at or 202-600-4823.