Liz Porter-Merrill has served as the public defender representative on the Colorado Restorative Justice Council since 2015. liz grew up in a rural town on Colorado’s Western Slope, graduated as a double Buff from the University of Colorado undergrad and Colorado Law, and clerked for two Colorado state judges. After ten years advocating for her incarcerated clients in the appellate courts, liz transitioned into a position focusing on restorative justice at the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office. She supports public defenders, prosecutors, judges, victim advocates, and RJ practitioners navigate the intersection of restorative justice law, principles, and practices.
Liz aspires to cultivate a paradigm grounded in supportive accountability, healing, and transformation for all. She regularly facilitates high-impact dialogues (aka HR-VOD), community group conferences, as well as circle process for community-building, for racial justice learning, and to support people impacted by the criminal legal system – both harmed people and people responsible for harm. In her view, restorative and transformative justice offer a way forward to reckon with violence (interpersonal & structural) and oppression (racial, patriarchal, & beyond). liz seeks to grow restorative practices and accountability in Colorado through The Circles Project, www.circlesproject.org, and in her personal life & while parenting her amazing adventure-loving, boundary-pushing daughter.