From Prisoner to Professor: Shon Hopwood Joins Georgetown Law Faculty
I’m probably the only law professor in the country who has seen prison from the inside.
* * * *
When something positive happens in my life and people are quick to give me praise, I always remember the people that showed me kindness and the work they did to get me to this point. And I try to pass that kindness onto others.
— Shon Hopwood
If you have yet to hear the news, it’s now official: Shon Hopwood has accepted a position as an associate professor at Georgetown University Law School. Your can read about it in a news story by Katherine Long published recently in the Seattle Times. Here is the title of that story:
“Former bank robber helped by Gates fund now professor at Georgetown Law School“
It is a remarkable story of how a man turned his life around — a metaphorical turn-around jump shot to score big in the game of life (see video interview with Shon Hopwood, Bank Robber Finds Safer Way to Challenge the Legal System, CBN, 2013).
That story is vividly recounted in Hopwood’s Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption. Some of those who made this dream-come-true are:
- Robert & Rebecca Hopwood (Shon’s parents who “never gave up on me”)
- Ann Marie Hopwood (a remarkable woman who graced Shon with unselfish and unending support . . . and then married him) (Shon on Ann Marie : “She gave me a second chance when few others would, and she saw something in me that nobody else did.”)
- Seth Waxman (the former United States solicitor general who worked with Shon to win a Supreme Court case — Fellers v. United States (cert. petition prepared by Shon Hopwood here) (Seth Waxman: “It was probably one of the best cert. petitions I have ever read. It was just terrific.”)
- Andy Cockle & Trish Billotte (the folks at the Cockle Law Brief Printing Co. who hired Shon after his release from prison)
- Adam Liptak (the reporter who brought Shon’s story to national attention)
- Eric Schnapper (the University of Washington Law professor who urged Shon to apply to law school) (Shon: “I decided to apply to the University of Washington School of Law after Professor Eric Schnapper called me.”)
- Kellye Testy (the University of Washington Law School dean who worked to get Shon into law school, replete with a scholarship from the Gates Public Service Law Program)
- and Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown (who believed in redemption — and excellence — enough to hire Shon as one of her law clerks) (Shon: “She never once treated me any differently from anyone else. If it’s not completely obvious, I adore her. I miss working for her.”)
To be sure, there are others, including some very special people at Georgetown who astutely realized Shon’s enormous potential, enough so as to invest in him even when lesser schools declined to interview him.
Shon is a terrific addition to the Georgetown faculty. He’s a great teacher, a top flight appellate advocate, a valued colleague, and a promising scholar. We’re delighted he’s joined our faculty.
— David Vladeck
I confess: I’m biased — Shon was one of my former students at U.W.
Bottom line: Keep your eyes on this guy and don’t be surprised if he moves a few more mountains . . . and with Ann Marie by his side!
- Crouse v. Town of Moncks Corner (4th Cir., 2017) (argued by Shon Hopwood for Appellants)
- Shon Hopwood, I Got a Second Chance After Robbing Banks—and Others Should, Too, The Atlantic, December 21, 2012
- Shon Hopwood, Slicing rough the Great Legal Gordian Knot: Ways to Assist Pro Se Litigants in Their Quest for Justice, Fordham Law Review (2011)
- United States v. Hopwood, 122 F.Supp.2d 1077 (Dist. Ct., Neb., 2000)
* * * *
- Q&A with Shon Hopwood, Washington Independent Review of Books, September 20, 2012
- Katherine Long, Former bank robber in 2nd year at UW law school, Seattle Times September 27, 2012
- Tony Mauro, Unusual Law Clerk Hire for D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Legal Times, August 7, 2013
- William Baude, Reflections of the Judge Who Sentenced Future-D.C.-Circuit-Clerk Shon Hopwood, The Volokh Conspiracy, August 8, 2013
- Adam Liptak,The Robber, the Judge, and the Case for Leniency, New York Times, August 26, 2015
- Mark Memmott, The Incredible Case of the Bank Robber Who’s Now a Law Clerk, NPR, September 5, 2013