Monday Morning Message 12.3.2018: Living Justice

Posted 2018-12-03 9:11am

"I want you all to imagine what it was like for me to talk to an 11-year-old dark-skinned boy by the name of Michael, with a scar on his face, who knew to take his pain and suffering of his long eleven years of living - and use it to be a blessing in someone else's life. That broke me down....  It struck a fire in my gut.  And that fire was called:  never again." – Michael K. Williams Actor, Producer, “Raised in the System.”

"When I had difficult times in prison ….where I was housed with 2200 men for every crime you could probably think of …. I said to myself that I want to be a light in this dark place. I understood that I couldn't get over this, I couldn't get under it, I had to go through it." – Dominic Dupont, whose 25 year-to-life sentence was commuted by Governor Andrew Cuomo

"A long time my kids asked me, ‘How can you believe in the criminal justice system that did that to you?’  I said, ‘it wasn't the criminal justice system, it was individuals.... If I didn't believe in the criminal justice system, I wouldn't be able to help people get out of prison who don't belong there’." – Derrick Hamilton, exonerated after 20 years in prison

"I'm asking all of you in this room - be it judges, or prosecutors, or defense attorneys, legal aid society, or service providers - to think of justice as a value and not as a system."  - Dana Rachlin, Founder, NYC Together

"We, as judges, those of us involved in the criminal justice system, we've got to get off the bench. I have a hashtag that I use and I call it #beyondthefourwalls. And so I come off the bench, I come out of my robe, I go into the schools." – Judge Michael Ryan ‘96

“I feel indebted to C|M|LAW and the alumni community for giving me a chance to join this profession, for giving me the skills and the support to do the work I care about, and for joining me in my mission. I look forward to carrying these efforts upward and onward with you!”  -Kim Corral ‘12

We are a law school without walls. Every week throughout the year, we foster a culture where our students learn not only in the classroom but also through forums that inspire honest engagement and respectful discourse and dialogue on society’s most challenging legal issues.

Thanks to the impressive efforts of Kim Corral '12, on Thursday, November 29, the C|M|LAW Alumni Association, led by Judge Michelle Paris ’84, partnered with our C|M|LAW Criminal Justice Center and the ACLU of Ohio to bring HBO star Michael K. Williams (The Wire/ Boardwalk Empire) for a packed day of social justice programing. See Cleveland-Marshall Alumni Association Hosts Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion.

The day started when Williams screened his documentary, Raised in the System, with a small group of boys age 9-17 at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center. See HBO Star Visits Cuyahoga Juvenile Detention CenterJoining Williams were Derrick Hamilton and Dominic Dupont. Hamilton was exonerated in 2015 after serving over 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Dupont, Director of the Youth Assistance Program, was recently released from prison after serving 20 years of a 25-to-life sentence. His sentence was commuted by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in recognition of his leadership in anti-violence programs for youth.

Each of these men gave a heartfelt talk to the boys about their own experiences. The response by the young boys was remarkable; they responded by talking about the pain they have experienced throughout their lives. It was a revealing and compelling experience.

On his way to the law school, Michael Williams met with CSU President Harlan Sands. At noon, Williams, Hamilton, and Dupont, joined by Victor Seltzer and Dana Rachlin, spoke to a group of our students about police reform and community development. Seltzer is the CEO of Making Kids Win. Rachlin is the founder of NYC Together.

In the afternoon, the Moot Courtroom was packed for a screening of Michael K. William’s Raised in the System HBO Documentary. After the screening, Kim Corral '12 introduced Williams. Together they announced the creation of the C|M|LAW Alumni Association Live Justice Scholarship which will go to a first year C|M|LAW student who has demonstrated a strong commitment to social justice. Over $19,000 was raised for the new scholarship in just one day, including a contribution from Michael K. Williams.

Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich then moderated an inspiring panel discussion with Williams, Seltzer, Hamilton, Dupont, and Rachlin. All of the panelists volunteered their time, woke up at 4 a.m. to fly to Cleveland, and spent a full ten hour day inspiring, educating, and challenging their audiences to engage in the important, collaborative work of justice reform. See Photos from C|MLAW Event with Michael K. Williams.

This was another example of fulfilling our mission: Learn Law. Live Justice.

Happy Chanukah.

Have a great day. Have a great week.

My best,

Lee

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My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our Law School or our University.

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