When 26-year-old Oakland, California native Ryann Gray, is not cheering on her future husband, Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman Jurrell Casey, she is in the courtroom changing the way others think and respond to the justice system, and ensuring they understand the importance of good, quality criminal defense attorneys.
During her journey at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, Ryann was actively involved in many organizations, including Project for the Innocent. This project provided for her second realization of the differing impacts the criminal justice system had on certain types of people.
- When and where did you and Jurrell first meet?
- We met at The University of Southern California and became close friends after taking a class together. From the beginning, we always had a solid friendship.
- When did you decide you wanted to practice law? What inspired you to pursue this journey?
- I realized discrepancies existed throughout the criminal justice system between the ways people were treated in my hometown. Many individuals (mainly of color) struggle to properly articulate their rights, which sadly yields same crimes and extremely different punishments. As an attorney, I desire to make the playing field more equal, this includes defending people accused of crimes to the best of my ability. I often hear criticisms from family and friends about defending people that are (or may be) guilty of crimes. For me, I am more concerned with ensuring that their constitutional rights are maintained and that prosecutors are abiding by proper rules.
- Secondly, my goals include changing the way others think and respond to the justice system, and ensuring they understand the importance of good, quality criminal defense attorneys.
- What are your ultimate career goals?
- My ultimate goal in life is to have a private criminal defense firm, that caters to and provides quality legal counsel to both the privileged and underprivileged. I also desire to create a resource center that works directly with incarcerated men and women. Oftentimes, the recidivism rates for former inmates are so high, because they are not provided with the proper resources when they get out of jail. Instead, they find themselves back in the same environment and susceptible to the same troubles. The goal of this center would be to allow former inmates to bounce back into “outside society” through the use of already procured schooling, training, jobs, training, and housing.
- How do you balance supporting your future husband and supporting your dreams? Is there ever any guilt, frustrations, added stress when juggling both your hectic schedules? How do you both insure to carve out time for your relationship?
- Throughout Law School, maintaining a long distance relationship, especially with a professional athlete was extremely stressful. We were both extremely busy, but I made it a priority to travel to Nashville multiple times throughout the year, especially during football season, to provide extra support to him. However, often, our schedules did not match. When he was getting out of practice, I was just getting into the groove with my homework. Honestly, because of my school schedule, I missed out on a lot of Jurrell’s events and even more importantly, some of his accomplishments. I had to rely on pictures instead of being there myself. This led to a lot of frustration within both of us, and even more guilt within me. I had to remind myself that I had to be concerned with not only his happiness, but my continued success. Sometimes, this thought process provided some solace for me, but other times my frustration and guilt remained unchanged. My last year of law school was especially frustrating. Jurrell and I were growing closer, which only made the distance and time between seeing each other seem even further and more spread apart.
- To combat these feelings, Jurrell and I regularly prayed with each other and had Bible study’s together. Also, we constantly sacrificed for one another. Sometimes, this meant Jurrell staying up a little later or sometimes me getting up a little earlier in the morning. I am blessed to have a man that is not only patient, but supports my dreams. I am truly grateful for him.