Profile: jani.maselli.wood

Jani Masselli Wood, Assistant Public Defender, joined the Appellate Division of the Public Defender Office in February 2011. Prior to joining the PDO, Ms. Wood was an attorney in private practice for thirteen years specializing in state and federal appeals and post-conviction matters. Before her private practice career, she was staff attorney to the Honorable Charles F. Baird at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals from 1997 to 1998. From 1996 to 1997, she was a staff attorney with Inmate Legal Services with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division. Ms. Wood has been an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center since 1999. She is on the Boards of Directors of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association (TCDLA), the Innocence Project of Texas, and the Harris County Criminal Lawyers’ Association. In October 2011, her article on state writs of habeas corpus was published in TCDLA’s magazine, Voice for the Defense. Ms. Wood has argued numerous cases at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as well as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and other state appellate courts. In 2013, Ms. Wood was awarded the HCCLA Lawyer of the Year award and the TCDLA Pro Bono Lawyer of the year award. Ms. Wood has been licensed to practice law since 1994. She received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. She received her Master’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Albany and her Bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, graduating magna cum laude. She is Board Certified in Criminal Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.




On March 18, 2017 - the 54th anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainright decision - NAPD published its Foundational Principleswhich are recommended to NAPD members and other persons and organizations interested in advancing the cause of equal justice for accused persons.  


On March 2, 2017, NAPD released its Statement on Reducing Demand For Public Defense: Alternatives to Traditional Prosecution Can Reduce Defender Workload, Save Money, and Reduce RecidivismThere are more than 2 million people in jail and prison in the United States. This is a four-fold increase since 1980. This increase and the racial disproportionality among incarcerated people has led to alliances across the political spectrum to address the impact on people and on budgets.  As the new Coalition for Public Safety has put it, “Our country has an ‘overcriminalization’ problem and an ‘overincarceration’ problem — and it’s getting worse." NAPD authored this statement because there is a great opportunity to make transformative changes that can improve justice and save money.  A variety of organizations representing a wide spectrum of political views have joined together to end the systematic problem of overcriminalization and narrow the net of incarceration by reforming criminal codes.