On March 24, 2018, more than five hundred men and women marched through Memphis Tennessee. Most of them had spent a large part of their lives in prison– a combined 3,501 years among them– for crimes they did not commit.
The march was the closing event for the 2018 Innocence Network conference, a gathering of exonorees and lawyers working on behalf of those wrongfully convicted. Exonorees came from every state in the country and from countries across the globe. They marched with attorneys and advocates and family. They held signs demanding change in the system that had wronged them. Demanding accountability. Demanding, at least, public recognition that innocent men and women were being arrested and convicted by agents acting on the public’s behalf.
Today Ru-El Sailor is a free man, after spending 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Over the years, Sailor continuously maintained and fought to prove his innocence. Then, finally, on March 28, 2018, the Cuyahoga County Court vacated his sentence.
How Sailor got Wrongly Convicted
In November 2002, Sailor was hanging out with his friends at a bar on the East Side of Cleveland. Across town, Nicole and Cordell Hubbard got into a dispute with Omar Clark . The matter got out of hands – threats, guns, and then shots rang out, leaving Clark dead. Cuyahoga County prosecutors roped in Sailor who Cordell Hubbard’s best friend at the time, wrongly believing that Sailor was the second man in this fatal shooting. Sailor testified that he was not the shooter nor was involved in this violent outburst. However, after a trial that included shady eye witness testimony that could not place Sailor at the scene, a jury still convicted Sailor. The court sentenced him to 28 years to life with the possibility of parole.
These are only a few words Professor Janet Moore used to describe the Honorable Shira Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (ret.), this year’s Judge-in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
I had the pleasure to attend her lecture on Race and Policing, and have lunch with her the following day. As a law student, I’ve always told myself that I will be the change I want to see to paraphrase Mathama Gandhi. But, like many other law school students, I get bogged down by the environment at the law school. I stress out most of the time. I don’t get enough sleep. I find myself comparing me to other people making me insecure. I constantly fight the urges to lash out because of insecurities. In just two years, I forgot why I wanted to be a lawyer. However, Judge Shira Scheindlin reminded me why I made that choice.
We’re excited to host Judge Shira Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (ret.) as our Jugdse-in residence the week of February 26, 2018. While in law school, only 10% of Judge Schiendlin’s class were women. Judge Schiendlin was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Recently, she wrote an article about women in the legal professions. In this article, she not only shares her personal experience as a federal judge but also other women’s experiences. Continue reading “Judge Shira Scheindlin”
David Wovrosh, Cincinnati Law 2L, summarizes Berthaiume v. Smith for the National Association for Public Defense. The case, decided by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, involves LGBT litigants and jury member bias. David writes:
In Berthiaume v. Smith, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that jury members may be questioned during voir dire regarding latent bias predicated on sexual orientation. Relying on its decision in United States v. Bates and the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Rosales-Lopez v. United States, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that, where matters of sexual orientation are “inextricably bound up” with the facts of the case, LGBT litigants are entitled to constitutional protections against jury bias.
University of Dayton Sociology Professor Dr. Jamie Longazel recently published Undocumented Fears, which examines immigration and the racialization that occurs in small towns. Berkeley Law Prof. Ian Haney Lopez says
Jamie Longazel brings into sharp focus the anti-Latino racism at the heart of national politics today. Even as we as a society struggle to build solidarity across racial divisions, powerful forces seek advantage in tearing us farther apart. The concentrated focus of Undocumented Fears helps us understand not only why this occurs but also how we might help replace fear with friendship, social division with a sense of shared humanity.
Looking for the next binge-worthy program? Netflix’s Dear White People is absolutely relevant and important. And, it’s being renewed for second season!
Speaking of television, BBC just announced that 13 is the charm–the next Dr. Who will be a woman.
Does it ever appear that racial vigilantes — for example, George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin–are presumed innocent? Race and the Law Prof Blog takes on that topic.
And, in the “can’t wait!” category:
Director Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters March 9, 2018! Can’t come soon enough.
Senator Sessions’ consistent opposition to civil rights makes him wrong for Justice.
As confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions begin today, some Senators may be tempted to dismiss objections to his elevation as a smear campaign based on ancient history. But, when it comes to Sen. Sessions, the past is prologue. Sessions is the wrong person to be the nation’s top law enforcer. Continue reading “Equal Opportunity Offender”