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Shon R. Hopwood

About Shon R. Hopwood

Shon R Hopwood’s unusual legal journey began not at law school, but federal prison, where he learned to write briefs for other prisoners. Two petitions for certiorari he prepared were later granted review by the United States Supreme Court, and the story of his legal success was the subject of articles in the New York Times, the Saturday Evening Post, and Above the Law. His work has been published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties and Fordham Law Reviews. He is a consultant at Cockle Law Brief Printing Company, and a student and Gates Public Service Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law. In August of 2012, Crown/Random House will publish his memoir entitled “Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Cases and Finding Redemption.” Through a decade of letters, Shon convinced his kind and beautiful wife, Ann Marie, to marry him. He has one cute but incredibly ornery son, Mark Raymond, and a precious and beautiful baby girl, Grace. Shon enjoys liberty, the writing of the Apostle Paul, Amy Hempel, and Raymond Carver, the music of Radiohead, and watching the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. Follow me at: @shonhopwood
15 Jun, 2013

The Voting Rights Act Is Living On Borrowed Time

2019-03-18T18:47:41+00:00June 15th, 2013|Tags: , , , |

On Monday, the Supreme Court will announce some opinions, one of which could be Shelby County v. Holder, the case questioning whether the Voting Rights Act is constitutional. This is not a case that I paid great attention to, until I enrolled in a Supreme Court decisionmaking class at my law school. In class I sat [...]

1 May, 2013

How To Write Prison Grievances

2019-03-18T18:47:42+00:00May 1st, 2013|Tags: , |

I recently learned about a new book on how prisoners can write grievances complaining about their conditions in prison. The book, written by Terri LeClercq, is called "Prison Grievances: When to Write, How to Write." The reason why this book is so good for prisoners is because it is written in a simple, and easy [...]

18 Apr, 2013

The Need for Prosecution Clinics in Ending Mass Incarceration

2019-03-18T18:47:42+00:00April 18th, 2013|Tags: , , , , |

There is a debate fermenting at my law school, the University of Washington, over whether the school should fund a criminal prosecution clinic. I weighed in on the debate, and to the surprise of many, I said that I favor a prosecution clinic. I favor it because I think such a clinic, [...]

11 Apr, 2013

How to Write An Effective Appellate Brief: Lessons from Judge Richard Posner

2013-04-11T18:49:56+00:00April 11th, 2013|Tags: , , , |

Judge Richard Posner, of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, recently laid out his view of appellate briefs (you can read the article on the ABA website here). Judge Posner writes: So, my essential advice to the appellate brief writer is to put yourself in the judge’s shoes all the way, as it were. That [...]

14 Mar, 2013

The Long Life and Now Death of the Virginia Sodomy Statute

2019-03-18T18:47:42+00:00March 14th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , , |

Even though the Supreme Court invalidated this country’s sodomy laws ten years ago in Lawrence v. Texas, the State of Virginia has continued to press forward with prosecuting a few people for consensual sex acts. That is until yesterday, when a panel of the Fourth Circuit held the Virginia statue is unconstitutional [...]

16 Feb, 2013

Yale Kamisar’s Interactive Article on Miranda

2019-03-18T18:47:43+00:00February 16th, 2013|

The Washington Law Review recently published an interactive article written by Professor Yale Kamisar entitled, The Rise, Decline, and Fall (?) of Miranda. The article provides hyperlinks to source documents, including key cases, memoranda, and recordings of Supreme Court oral arguments. You can find the article here. For those of you unfamiliar with Kamisar's work, he is widely [...]

18 Jan, 2013

How Having a Legal Background Helps and Hurts in Law School

2013-01-18T17:13:39+00:00January 18th, 2013|

I often receive the question of whether 10 years of prior legal experience helps or hurts in law school. I think the answer is both. Having a legal background helps in that the learning curve in year one is not so steep. Because I'm used to reading and analyzing cases, I think, as a general [...]

14 Jan, 2013

Cockle Printing And My Second Chance

2013-01-14T01:12:42+00:00January 14th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , , |

This past week, the Seattle Times published an op-ed I wrote about the need for prison reform. In the article, I talk about how I caught a big break following my release from federal prison. I was released in October of 2008, during the heart of the recession, and everyone found it difficult to obtain [...]

2 Jan, 2013

What’s New on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Criminal Docket for the Rest of the 2012 Term

2019-03-18T18:47:43+00:00January 2nd, 2013|Tags: , , , , , |

The Supreme Court’s 2012 Term started big and it will finish big. The finish to this Term will include decisions regarding same-sex marriage, affirmative action, and the Voting Rights Act cases. And if that wasn’t enough, there are a number of interesting criminal cases that the Court will decide before the end [...]