Trayvon Martin and Beyond: A Forum on Race, Media, and Criminal Law
APRIL 19, 2012—On April 18, 2012, the Law School and the University of Minnesota Criminal Justice League presented a panel discussion entitled "Trayvon Martin and Beyond: Vigilante Justice and the Criminalization of Color." As Lina Houston (’14) explained in her introduction, the forum's intent was to discuss the social and legal issues of the Trayvon Martin case, not debate its merits.
Panelists addressed questions such as: What are the underlying race dynamics that affect criminal law? In what ways do media present issues of race and law—appropriately, and inappropriately? How can lawyers and courts ensure that their work does not promote racial inequality? How can lawyers work to counter media influences? The speakers were:
Judge Pamela Alexander (’77) - A former criminal defense attorney, prosecutor, and district court judge, and Alexander is currently the president of the Council on Crime and Justice. She spoke on race and the criminal justice system and initiatives to eliminate racial bias in the criminal justice system in Minneapolis.
Professor Michele Goodwin - The Law School's Everett Fraser Professor, who has written extensively on the cognitive bias surrounding the images of people of color. She spoke on the development of cognitive bias connecting criminality with communities of color, and how its fallout affects youth of color.
Professor Perry Moriearty - An associate professor at the Law School and co-director of the Child Advocacy and Juvenile Justice Clinic. She discussed the interaction of media, bias, color, and the juvenile justice system.
Professor Carl Warren (’75) - A clinical professor teaching in the Law School's Civil Practice Clinic and former manager of the Human Rights Division of the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. He spoke on the historical foundations of current patterns of race in the criminal justice system and their influence on ongoing civil rights concerns.
Moderator: Shy Cunningham (’13) - An NAACP LDF Warren Scholar, Fredrikson & Byron Minority Scholar, and Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers McGee Scholar in her second year of studies at the Law School. She is currently conducting research on the Trayvon Martin case and its broader implications.
For further discussion of this topic go to http://mnjusticeleague.blogspot.com.