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Prof. Perry Moriearty to Receive Top Clinical Teaching Award

April 23, 2016

The Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Clinical Legal Education has selected Professor Perry Moriearty as the recipient of its 2016 Shanara Gilbert Award. The award, the nation’s most prestigious honor for clinical teachers, is given annually to an “emerging clinician” (one who has specialized in clinical education for 10 years or fewer) who has demonstrated, among other qualities, “a commitment to teaching and achieving social justice, particularly in the areas of race and the criminal justice system; a passion for providing legal services and access to justice to individuals and groups most in need; and service to the cause of clinical legal education.” Moriearty, who joined the Law School faculty in 2008 and holds the Vaughan G. Papke Clinical Professorship in Law, teaches and writes in the areas of juvenile law and justice, criminal law, and race and the law. She co-directs the Child Advocacy and Juvenile Justice Clinic.

“Perry earned this award through her unmatched commitment to social justice and clinical teaching,” Dean David Wippman commented, and, in nominating materials submitted to the AALS Clinical Section, Moriearty’s colleagues and students called her career “an archetype for how a clinician can combine teaching, scholarship, and law reform advocacy.”

Over the past three years, Moriearty has led her clinic in cutting-edge work related to the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision Miller v. Alabama, in which the court ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole were unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. In a widely cited 2015 article, Moriearty argued that Miller should apply retroactively; in January 2016, in Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court held that Miller is, indeed, retroactive. Moriearty has also done critical work examining the media’s 1990s-era preoccupation with juvenile “superpredators” and the corresponding increase in racial disparities in juvenile confinement. Since her arrival at the Law School, Moriearty has been a catalyst for significant growth and change in the clinical program, and she has helped the school make tremendous strides in improving the status of clinicians and achieving a closer integration of doctrinal and clinical faculty. Her students are nearly unanimous in their praise for her teaching, calling her “inspiring, engaging, constructively challenging, and always available to help, in every sense.”

Moriearty will receive the Shanara Gilbert Award during the AALS Annual Conference on Clinical Legal Education, to be held April 30-May 3 in Baltimore.

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