The sense of security and equanimity only comes from within

Over the course of my life, I’ve called almost forty places home. Dirty farmhouses, midcentury-modern boxes, muggy warehouse spaces, and suburban homes with beautiful bones.

My mom and I moved a lot when I was a kid. Not my father — he left us when I was only two years…

Excerpt from Almost Innocent: From searching to saved in America’s criminal justice system by Shanti Brien (Amplify Publishing, 2021)

The author, a criminal appellate attorney, whose husband’s company became embroiled in a criminal investigation. Photo credit: Lindsay Barstow Photography

I knew the bleak path through the criminal justice system. In my work as a criminal appellate attorney, I witness hope and resilience; I see gratitude and self-awareness. But mostly, I…

The graduation ceremony has never been more important than during these uncertain times.

Deveonte Joseph wore his high school graduation robe to protests in St. Paul because he wanted to spread positivity. Photo cred: CNN

“My dear terrified graduates, you are about to enter the most uncertain and most thrilling part of your lives.”

-Lin-Manuel Miranda

In 2016, Lin-Manuel Miranda, of Hamilton fame, spoke at the graduation ceremony at the University of Pennsylvania, expressing the conflicting emotions the gowned graduates most likely felt. Only four…

My fifth grader having fun as a unicorn.

Last week, when I asked my fifth grader what he wanted to be for Halloween, he said “a unicorn” without hesitation.

Apart from the non-traditional gender thing which I so appreciate about that choice, I also loved the fact that I wouldn’t have to buy another costume; my son has…

Governor Northam’s blackface Michael Jackson in the 1980s was insensitive and ignorant (I have my own epic 80s fail) but I believe it’s what’s happening now that should matter.

I warn my teenager daughters that their snaps, texts and tweets — the modern-day equivalent of the handwritten notes I passed across high school physics class –are so much more dangerous than their predecessors because texts and social media posts last forever. …

Oshay Johnson and I meeting on the “outside”

Last year I represented Oshay Johnson — a 46-year-old man, convicted of attempted murder and serving a sentence of 15-years-to-life — in a parole suitability hearing at Folsom State Prison. He’s been in the California prison system for 26 years and this was his fourth trip to the parole board…

This is a pencil drawing of me done by my father. He obviously has a highly romanticized, quasi-princess thing going on.

I sat in a community workshop last week — in a molded linoleum chair in the Veteran’s Hall — talking about race and identity and inclusion. The presenter brought up a slide on the demographics of my small Northern California town of 11,000 people. Nineteen Native Americans live here. Not…

Shanti Bright Brien

Author of Almost Innocent. Lawyer to criminals, mother of mayhem, daughter of cowboys and Indians. Champion of equity and fairness.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store