Mr. Downer brings to the Committee 15 years of experience litigating civil rights cases, primarily focusing on criminal legal system reform and economic justice. Prior to WLC, he served as director of litigation at Civil Rights Corps, where he oversaw cases challenging the criminalization of poverty, particularly in the areas of prosecutor misconduct and wealth-based pretrial detention. Mr. Downer’s direct casework at CRC included a challenge to the New Orleans’ district attorney’s use of fake subpoenas; a lawsuit targeting Maricopa County’s blatant wealth discrimination in its marijuana diversion program; and CRC’s efforts to protect detainees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Downer also previously served as counsel at Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC in Washington, D.C. and as associate counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (LDF) in New York. At Relman and LDF, Ryan litigated in the areas of fair housing, employment, environmental justice, and public accommodations at the district court and appellate level, including two of the first cases to challenge blanket criminal records bans imposed by private housing providers.

Mr. Downer began his career as a clerk for The Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


  • D., cum laude, New York University
  • A., cum laude, Harvard College

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • New York

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