CHICAGO, IL - Lindsey Crittle was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for his role as the getaway driver in an armed robbery that resulted in the deaths of two store clerks in 1991. He was 17-year-old during the occurrence of the offense; although, he didn’t even enter the store, under Illinois law,
She, along with a law school classmate who worked as a partner in a Chicago law firm, and other colleagues, represented Crittle in his resentencing proceedings. They spent years getting to know the client and learn about his childhood, events surrounding the offense and years that he had spent in prison.
Talking to IJ, Mahadev took the first chance of talking about the special case, “I was inspired by his dedication to try to better himself, to learn and to seek employment even in prison--even during the many years when he had no hope that his sentence would be reduced. At his hearing, we were able to present witnesses who could discuss the difficult circumstances of his childhood and his exceptional record while incarcerated. Watching him walk out of prison after 25 years will always be one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I consider it a privilege to have been a part of his second chance at life.”
A major in Environmental Sciences from U.C Berkeley and now a Clinical Assistant Professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Mahadev is passionate about her beliefs and fiercely independent at times. Her inspiring work is hard to fit in words- she is an attorney, activist, philanthropist and much more. In her own words, “I am mostly a lawyer although, depending on the day, I am also part social worker, part teacher, part policy expert, part advocate, and part friend. In some ways, I think of myself as an activist of sorts.” She credits her college life to the strong foundation for somewhat rebellious/activist career path she chose in life. “I thought that I could follow in my parents’ footsteps as a scientist and also do something positive for our planet. However, I found myself drawn to being a lawyer and potentially using the law to help others. While I came to learn that I couldn’t change everything in their lives, I knew I had the power to assist them in at least one part of their lives and to stand by their side when others would not.”
After law school, she went to work for a law firm where she concentrated on honing her litigation skills and also working on important public interest cases, including representing a client facing the death penalty.
Elaborating for IJ, she states, “In that case, we represented a man who had been convicted and sentenced to death based on charges that, in 1982, he had killed two individuals, following a night of using various drugs and alcohol. Based on documents and petitions filed by my colleagues, the Illinois Supreme Court had ruled that the death sentence was improper because the trial attorney had failed to properly investigate and present evidence that the client suffered brain damage that may have had an impact on his actions.”
“When I joined the team, we learned that a witness, who was present at the scene of the crime and who had testified against our client, was now saying that the client had not killed one of the individuals and had only killed the other in self-defense. We raised a claim arguing our client’s innocence, but, unfortunately, lost that claim,” she adds.
She lost the case but her fight was only beginning. “Through my work, I see both ends of the spectrum--young people, who are often themselves the victim of abuse, neglect, violence and trauma--and who then turn around and become involved in committing crimes themselves, but then, years later, become adults in their 30s and 40s, who have now grown and matured and can reflect on and express remorse for the crimes (often violent, including murder) they committed decades ago,” she further states.
Talking about choices that propel her to take charge in difficult situations, Mahadev melancholicly adds, “I tend to believe that most people, especially children and adolescents, want to do the best they can to lead healthy, productive lives.”
However, her work is not easy and can be quite challenging at times. “But, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything,” she points. Emotionally mentioning about growing up in the Cerritos area, Mahadev concludes, “I grew up as an only child of my parents. I was surrounded by my culture and spiritual heritage, learned Bharatanatyam and music and attended Balavihar. I was fortunate to grow up around a large and loving network of extended family and community. My parents--who were and are part of Chinmaya Mission --instilled in me a profound sense of spirituality, emphasizing the values of service, compassion and the oneness of all human beings. I think it was these values that drove me to the work I do. I have watched my parents spend their lives in the service of others. It is a hard act to follow, but I am trying.”