Meet a convicted felon who became a Georgetown law professor … – CBS News

Jailhouse lawyers are prisoners who manage to learn enough about the law while incarcerated to help themselves and other inmates with legal problems.  We get letters from them every week. Tonight, we are going to introduce you to Shon Hopwood, who is arguably the most successful jailhouse lawyer ever—having had one of his cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court while serving a 12-year sentence for armed bank robbery.  Since his release he’s built a resume as a legal scholar, and been published in top law journals. We met him at one of the nation’s premiere law schools where he’s become its newest professor — a tale of redemption as improbable as any you’re likely to hear.

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Professor Shon Hopwood teaches criminal law at Georgetown University.

CBS News

Shon Hopwood: Question one is: Was there a constitutional violation?

In his first semester at Georgetown University, Professor Hopwood is teaching criminal law.

Shon Hopwood: Were the first statements unlawfully obtained? Yes. 

The irony isn’t lost on him or his students who know that he’s a convicted felon and that less than a decade ago was an inmate at the federal correctional institution in Pekin, Illinois. 

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Shon Hopwood’s prison identification

CBS News

Steve Kroft: You’re a professor at one of the finest law schools in the country. Is that something that you thought you would be able to do?

Shon Hopwood: No. It’s– it makes me laugh hearing you say it out loud because there are days where it doesn’t make sense to me, and I’ve lived it. So I can see why it doesn’t make sense to hardly anyone else.

“I wanted to live an exciting life. And shoveling cow manure in small-town Nebraska and living in my parents’ bedroom wasn’t quite cutting it.”

Steve Kroft: It’s easier for me to imagine you as a Georgetown law professor than it is for me to imagine you as a bank robber.

Shon Hopwood: Well, that’s because the bank robber’s long been dead and gone.

Hopwood was born here 42 years ago in the small farming community of David City, Nebraska, surrounded by cornfields and cattle. He was a bright, cocky, stubborn kid from a solid family and he hated rules; a good athlete and miserable student who won a basketball scholarship to Midland University and partied his way out of it in one semester. He drank himself through a two-year hitch in the Navy. Then added drugs to the mix when he returned to David City working in a feedlot.

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Hopwood’s hometown of David City, Nebraska.

CBS News

He was broke, unrepentant and frustrated that things weren’t going his way.

Shon Hopwood: I wanted to live an exciting life. And shoveling cow manure in small-town Nebraska and living in my parents’ bedroom wasn’t quite cutting it.

One night he got a call from a friend asking him to come down to the local bar for a drink and listen to what turned out to be a very bad idea.

Shon Hopwood: He said, “What do you think about robbing a bank?” And most people would have laughed that off or said– “Maybe we need another beer,” or anything other than, “That sounds like a great idea,” which is what I ended up saying.

Steve Kroft: Really?

Shon Hopwood: You know, I don’t think either one of us thought that night that we were gonna actually do it.

Steve Kroft: It sounded exciting.

Shon Hopwood: It sounded exciting. Sounded like easy money that we didn’t have to work for, something that fit with where my mind was at, at the time, which was a reckless, immature, foolish 21-year-old.

It wasn’t until months later when they started scouting locations that Shon realized they might actually do it.  

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Bank in Gresham, Nebraska.

CBS News

Steve Kroft: So this is one of your banks?

Shon Hopwood: It is. This is the third bank.

The idea was to stick up very small banks in tiny towns like Gresham where there was no police presence and little risk of armed confrontation.

Shon Hopwood: We wanted to get in and out of the bank as quickly as possible, not hurt anyone, grab as much money as we could, and run. And that’s basically what we did in all five bank robberies.

Steve Kroft: Were you any good at it?

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Shon Hopwood

CBS News

Shon Hopwood: No. I did 11 years in federal prison for stealing $150,000. I don’t think that’s good.

Eventually the FBI put out a composite sketch and began closing in. In July 1998, he was apprehended in this Omaha hotel 10 months after his first robbery.

Shon Hopwood: When they arrested me they searched my car and found $100,000 in cash that was directly traceable to the bank I had just robbed, and multiple guns, and a scanner, and binoculars.

Steve Kroft: They had ya?

Shon Hopwood: They had me.

And they would have him for a long time.  When he entered the federal penitentiary in Illinois in May of 1999, he was 23 years old.

Steve Kroft: Was it dangerous?

Shon Hopwood: Of course. In part because there’s not a lot for the inmates to do.

He doesn’t talk about the things that he witnessed and experienced in federal prison. He doesn’t want his family to know and he sees no value in reliving them, except for the job he landed in the safety of the legal library, which every federal prison is required to have.

Shon Hopwood: And for the first six months I worked at the prison law library I didn’t hardly touch the books. They were big, they were thick, they were intimidating.

Steve Kroft: What was the spark that got you to start opening the books and looking at them?

Shon Hopwood: Self-motivation.

It all started with a Supreme Court ruling that Shon thought might help him get his sentence reduced and it ended with him assisting other prisoners with all sorts of cases. 

Shon Hopwood: I spent two months working on my own case, researching and I was never able to get any legal relief for myself the entire time I was in federal prison.

Steve Kroft: But you were for other inmates?

Shon Hopwood: I did. Lawyers had made really bad mistakes, and it really cost their clients sometimes, you know, a decade or two in federal prison.

Inside the walls at Pekin he won the respect of fellow inmates, and discovered that he had an aptitude for something: the law.

Shon Hopwood: I would be sitting in my cell reading a federal reporter, which is a compendium of federal court of appeals cases, and I would just read that cover-to-cover as if it was a novel, just for fun.

Steve Kroft: Was it fun?

Shon Hopwood: Oh, I think the law is fascinating.

Steve Kroft: In what way?

Shon Hopwood: It was like a big puzzle for me.

Three years into his prison term he got an opportunity to show just how much he’d learned when John Fellers, a friend and fellow inmate asked Shon to appeal his drug conviction to the highest court in the land.

Shon Hopwood: He came to me and said, “Would you take the case and would you file this petition to the Supreme Court?”  I said, “No absolutely not.” 

Steve Kroft: Why?

Shon Hopwood: His case was very complex and I didn’t think I could do it. But John was very persistent.

He would spend months working day and night on the petition. It required him to master the facts of the case, understand the statutes and legal precedents, identify the errors made by lawyers and judges in the appeal process and then craft an argument in the language of the court before mailing it off to Washington.

Steve Kroft: Did the Supreme Court know that the brief had been written by a prisoner?

Shon Hopwood: The first hint would’ve been the fact that it was typed on a typewriter. I don’t think law firms in 2003 were using typewriters to knock out Supreme Court briefs.

Four out of nine Supreme Court justices must agree for a case to be heard. That year more than 8,000 petitions were filed, 74 were accepted, one of those was written by Shon Hopwood.

Shon Hopwood: And one morning, a friend of mine came running and screaming my name “Shon, Shon, Shon.” And, what he had was a copy of the USA Today and I read the article and it said the court had granted John Fellers’ case.

Steve Kroft: What went through your mind?

Shon Hopwood: I was shocked. I was shocked that the court had granted the case and that I had done something that, you know, lawyers wait their whole lives to do and done it the first time.

Seth Waxman: It’s not that unusual for prisoners to file their own petitions. What is freakishly unusual is for one of those petitions to be granted.

Seth Waxman, a prominent appellate lawyer and the former solicitor general of the United States is not easily impressed. But when he was asked to argue the Fellers case before the Supreme Court, he said he would do it only if Shon Hopwood would work from prison as part of the team.

Seth Waxman: I wanted him to be involved, because I was really curious. It seemed actually almost inconceivable that somebody with his level of education and his level of exposure to the life of the law could actually write a much better than average cert petition.

Steve Kroft: So this woulda been good for a Washington lawyer?

Seth Waxman: Even for a licensed, appointed lawyer representing a federal prisoner, you would say, “Wow.”

Waxman won the Fellers case before the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision, and became Shon’s mentor during his final six years in prison.

Shon Hopwood: When a former solicitor general of the United States says that you did a good job writing a brief that has an impact– especially when you’re surrounded in this environment where prison guards are telling you every day that you’re worthless and that you don’t amount to anything.

Steve Kroft: Did you win some more cases?

Shon Hopwood: I did. I won another case on the Supreme Court, I won a case on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and I won cases– mostly on resentencing motions for federal prisoners and federal district court cases kind of all over the country.

He found a purpose in life and when Ann Marie Metzner, who’d once had a high school crush on Shon began writing letters and paying him visits, he started to think he might have some kind of future when he got out. But he knew there were huge obstacles ahead.

Steve Kroft: Did you decide you wanted to be a lawyer while you were in prison?

Shon Hopwood: I did, but I didn’t think I could. I had had countless number of lawyers tell me I could not go to law school, and even if I could I would never get licensed by any of the state bar associations, given my crimes.

When he was released to a halfway house near Omaha in 2008, he had never seen an iPhone, never been on the Internet and was computer illiterate. But as if by miracle he saw an ad for a document analyst at Cockle Legal Printing one of just a few companies in the U.S. that helps attorneys assemble briefs for the Supreme Court. Andy Cockle and his sister, Trish Billotte, remember that Shon showed up for his interview in ill-fitting clothes, with a rumpled letter from Seth Waxman and an 11-year gap in his resume.

Andy Cockle: We work with attorneys everyday, all week long that are trying to get their case granted. And none of ’em do. And this guy comes out and says I had–

Trish Billotte: Two.

Andy Cockle: Two of ’em granted. Oh yeah—

Steve Kroft: Did you believe him?

Andy Cockle: No. I thought he was delusional.

But his story checked out and they gave him the job.

 Steve Kroft: You’re glad you hired him.

Both: Oh yeah.

Trish Billotte: It was sad to see him go.

He spent three years with the Cockles in Omaha, completing the undergraduate degree he’d begun in prison, and continuing to impress the lawyers he worked with. With their help and against all odds the University of Washington law school took a chance on him.  He won a full scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and upon graduation was admitted to the bar.

Steve Kroft: How did you do in law school?

Shon Hopwood: Surprisingly well.

Steve Kroft: You were already a lawyer?

Shon Hopwood: Well, I mean, it was a new experience, doing well in school.

He did well enough to land a prestigious clerkship with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the second most important court in the country.

Seth Waxman: The idea that a convicted bank robber was gonna go work for Janice Rogers Brown, you know, a very conservative judge on a very important court. Surprising in the absolute sense? Yes. In the context of who Shon Hopwood is and where, what he was setting out to do, not that surprising. 

A year later it led to a highly competitive teaching fellowship at Georgetown Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic, where he did so well, the faculty awarded him a position as a professor of law.

Steve Kroft: How hard is it to get a job teaching law at  Georgetown?

Steven Goldblatt: It’s very hard.

Professor Steven Goldblatt is the faculty director for the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law.

Steven Goldblatt: To have somebody who’s a credible voice who actually lived the experience, who understands what it’s like to spend a day in prison, much less 11 years, is highly unusual. So I think this was a unique opportunity to get somebody for whom there are no others out there, and that the potential was enormous.

Along with his other accomplishments, Shon Hopwood also got to marry that girl from David City, Annie Metzner, who is now a law student herself. They have two children.   

Steve Kroft: Are you surprised how this has turned out?

Annie Metzner: Yeah. Yeah. I had no– no idea of what the future would hold for us. Neither one of us had any clue that this would– all these wonderful things would happen.

Hopwood’s main interest now is criminal justice reform. He is an advocate for shorter prison sentences for most crimes, and more vocational training, drug treatment and mental health counseling, which are often non-existent.

Shon Hopwood: Prison is not the place for personal growth. We warehouse people and then we kick them out into the real world with very little support and hope that a miracle happens.

Steve Kroft: But somehow, all the things stacked against you, you were able to do it?

Shon Hopwood: Yeah. It was people that helped, that went out of their way to provide grace to me. That made the difference.

Produced by Maria Gavrilovic. Michael Kaplan, associate producer.

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Harvey Weinstein Adds Criminal Lawyers to Team | Hollywood … – Hollywood Reporter

Blair Berk, an attorney who has previously represented Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan, is hired by the embattled movie mogul.

Harvey Weinstein continues to prepare for fallout from published reports about his conduct toward women over many decades. He’s now added criminal defense attorney Blair Berk to his legal team.

Although many of the accusations of harassment and sexual assault detailed in The New York Times and The New Yorker stretch back many years, there’s no statute of limitations on rape in New York. So far, law enforcement authorities in New York and Los Angeles haven’t indicated any open investigation into the movie mogul’s behavior, but as the scandal continues to unfold with more and more women coming forward, Weinstein is apparently bracing himself for whatever might come.

Berk is a West Hollywood-based attorney with a track record of representing famous stars in trouble. Her past clients include Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan, Kiefer Sutherland and Kanye West. Despite representing famous individuals, the Harvard-trained attorney prefers to stay under the radar. She once told CNN, “In my 20 years of practice, I have never once found it in my client’s best interest to have media coverage of their criminal case.”

On the other hand, she pays attention to what’s in the media. In a 2013 profile here, she was quoted as saying, “You’re not doing your job unless you have a very high degree of sophistication about how these cases are covered and how the different parties in the case will approach publicizing their position in the case.”

Weinstein has also reportedly retained a second criminal attorney, David Chesnoff, but The Hollywood Reporter hasn’t yet been able to confirm that engagement. Chesnoff is based in Las Vegas and has his own list of past star clientele, including Bruno Mars and Britney Spears. The attorney also represented Starz chief Chris Albrecht when the entertainment executive was running HBO and was fighting a domestic violence charge.

It’s been a roster churn of lawyers for Weinstein in the past week. He’s lost Lisa Bloom and Lanny Davis, but brought aboard Patty Glaser to deal with his termination from The Weinstein Company. Also by Weinstein’s side is Charles Harder, who has said a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times is in the works.

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Criminal lawyer CP Udayabhanu to be made seventh accused in … – The News Minute

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of Veeranparambil Rajeev, on Monday, informed the Kerala High Court that noted criminal lawyer CP Udayabhanu will be made the seventh accused, reports Deccan Chronicle.

The prosecution while opposing the anticipatory bail plea of the lawyer, submitted that there was ample evidence to implicate him. However, the SIT is yet to file the report arraigning him in the magistrate court for HC intervention.

Akhil VR, son of Rajeev, submitted that Udayabhanu was the kingpin of the crime.

When the case came up for hearing, the court asked about the progress in the investigation. Prosecution submitted that six accused have been arrested and Udayabhanu will be made the seventh accused, reports Times of India.

Akhil argued that facts of the case revealed Udayabhanu’s complicity and he does not deserve any sympathy.

The prosecution filed the report in a sealed cover. It submitted that the lawyer had contacted real estate broker Chakkara Johny and his accomplice Ranjith, 29 times on the day of the murder.

The court said that its earlier interim order will not stand in the way of investigation. It adjourned the hearing to October 23.

S Shamsudeen, Special Branch DySP (Thrissur Rural), who is heading the SIT, said he was confident of a favourable order from the High Court on October 23. He told DC that the team doesn’t intend to summon the lawyer by issuing a notice for questioning till then.

The 46-year-old Rajeev was found strangulated to death in a deserted building near Chalakudy in Thrissur in the last week of September.

He had complained to the DGP, three months back, about a threat from Udayabhanu and Johny.

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What are the Responsibilities of a Criminal Lawyer? – TG Daily (blog)

  • Criminal lawyers play a pivotal role in the lives of those who hire them because their possible future depends on the actions taken by the lawyer. A competitive criminal lawyer will do whatever it takes to get you as his/her client out of trouble in the swiftest manner possible, and will be an expert in making a convincing case.

    This article will identify what responsibilities a criminal lawyer has towards the person who hired him/her, which are as follows.

    Legal Representation Everywhere

    This is an important point to grasp; a criminal lawyer becomes the face of the person in front of the legal authorities and in front of the media (in case the person accused is a famous personality). It comes as the responsibility of the attorney to make sure that no side of the case tries to harm the client, and save the client from their paparazzi and predatory questions.

    This can obviously not be done until the lawyer listens to what the client has to say in his/her defense and conclude the possibilities of taking the case out of the hands of the prosecution.

    Penalty Minimization

    The entire motivation behind hiring a criminal lawyer is to save oneself from state imposed penalties that can go on for a number of years and potentially ruin your chances in the world of business and careers later on. Despite of whether you are guilty or innocent, there are chances that you can subject to financial, community service based, or other forms of penalties which can result in you not being able to pursue your personal and professional life.

    Depending on the degree of the crime you are accused of, a capable criminal attorney will try to do his/her to make sure that the penalty you are subjected to is as lenient and light weighed as it can be, and in some really great cases the penalties can even be nullified.

    The Support Mechanism

    Being convicted of a crime and knowing that your date of hearing in the court is within a month’s time is a very depressing situation, because perplexity is cast over all the plans you ever had for life.

    In these times the one person who can act as your support mechanism is your criminal lawyer not because he/she is as close to you as your family, but because the consolation you get from your lawyer is based on experience and legal possibilities in your favor which can come true.

    Dealing with the Paperwork

    When a person is accused of a crime, it falls on the criminal attorney to make sure that all evidence is documented and any photographs are saved in appropriate media. We condense these acts under the term of paperwork, and it should be understood that a person accused of crime cannot manage all of this with such a sensitive state of mind.

    So in exchange for the money given by you, these are a number of important responsibilities fulfilled by a criminal attorney.

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Meet a convicted felon who became a Georgetown law professor – CBS News

Jailhouse lawyers are prisoners who manage to learn enough about the law while incarcerated to help themselves and other inmates with legal problems.  We get letters from them every week. Tonight, we are going to introduce you to Shon Hopwood, who is arguably the most successful jailhouse lawyer ever—having had one of his cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court while serving a 12-year sentence for armed bank robbery.  Since his release he’s built a resume as a legal scholar, and been published in top law journals. We met him at one of the nation’s premiere law schools where he’s become its newest professor — a tale of redemption as improbable as any you’re likely to hear.

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Professor Shon Hopwood teaches criminal law at Georgetown University.

CBS News

Shon Hopwood: Question one is: Was there a constitutional violation?

In his first semester at Georgetown University, Professor Hopwood is teaching criminal law.

Shon Hopwood: Were the first statements unlawfully obtained? Yes. 

The irony isn’t lost on him or his students who know that he’s a convicted felon and that less than a decade ago was an inmate at the federal correctional institution in Pekin, Illinois. 

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Shon Hopwood’s prison identification

CBS News

Steve Kroft: You’re a professor at one of the finest law schools in the country. Is that something that you thought you would be able to do?

Shon Hopwood: No. It’s– it makes me laugh hearing you say it out loud because there are days where it doesn’t make sense to me, and I’ve lived it. So I can see why it doesn’t make sense to hardly anyone else.

“I wanted to live an exciting life. And shoveling cow manure in small-town Nebraska and living in my parents’ bedroom wasn’t quite cutting it.”

Steve Kroft: It’s easier for me to imagine you as a Georgetown law professor than it is for me to imagine you as a bank robber.

Shon Hopwood: Well, that’s because the bank robber’s long been dead and gone.

Hopwood was born here 42 years ago in the small farming community of David City, Nebraska, surrounded by cornfields and cattle. He was a bright, cocky, stubborn kid from a solid family and he hated rules; a good athlete and miserable student who won a basketball scholarship to Midland University and partied his way out of it in one semester. He drank himself through a two-year hitch in the Navy. Then added drugs to the mix when he returned to David City working in a feedlot.

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Hopwood’s hometown of David City, Nebraska.

CBS News

He was broke, unrepentant and frustrated that things weren’t going his way.

Shon Hopwood: I wanted to live an exciting life. And shoveling cow manure in small-town Nebraska and living in my parents’ bedroom wasn’t quite cutting it.

One night he got a call from a friend asking him to come down to the local bar for a drink and listen to what turned out to be a very bad idea.

Shon Hopwood: He said, “What do you think about robbing a bank?” And most people would have laughed that off or said– “Maybe we need another beer,” or anything other than, “That sounds like a great idea,” which is what I ended up saying.

Steve Kroft: Really?

Shon Hopwood: You know, I don’t think either one of us thought that night that we were gonna actually do it.

Steve Kroft: It sounded exciting.

Shon Hopwood: It sounded exciting. Sounded like easy money that we didn’t have to work for, something that fit with where my mind was at, at the time, which was a reckless, immature, foolish 21-year-old.

It wasn’t until months later when they started scouting locations that Shon realized they might actually do it.  

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Bank in Gresham, Nebraska.

CBS News

Steve Kroft: So this is one of your banks?

Shon Hopwood: It is. This is the third bank.

The idea was to stick up very small banks in tiny towns like Gresham where there was no police presence and little risk of armed confrontation.

Shon Hopwood: We wanted to get in and out of the bank as quickly as possible, not hurt anyone, grab as much money as we could, and run. And that’s basically what we did in all five bank robberies.

Steve Kroft: Were you any good at it?

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Shon Hopwood

CBS News

Shon Hopwood: No. I did 11 years in federal prison for stealing $150,000. I don’t think that’s good.

Eventually the FBI put out a composite sketch and began closing in. In July 1998, he was apprehended in this Omaha hotel 10 months after his first robbery.

Shon Hopwood: When they arrested me they searched my car and found $100,000 in cash that was directly traceable to the bank I had just robbed, and multiple guns, and a scanner, and binoculars.

Steve Kroft: They had ya?

Shon Hopwood: They had me.

And they would have him for a long time.  When he entered the federal penitentiary in Illinois in May of 1999, he was 23 years old.

Steve Kroft: Was it dangerous?

Shon Hopwood: Of course. In part because there’s not a lot for the inmates to do.

He doesn’t talk about the things that he witnessed and experienced in federal prison. He doesn’t want his family to know and he sees no value in reliving them, except for the job he landed in the safety of the legal library, which every federal prison is required to have.

Shon Hopwood: And for the first six months I worked at the prison law library I didn’t hardly touch the books. They were big, they were thick, they were intimidating.

Steve Kroft: What was the spark that got you to start opening the books and looking at them?

Shon Hopwood: Self-motivation.

It all started with a Supreme Court ruling that Shon thought might help him get his sentence reduced and it ended with him assisting other prisoners with all sorts of cases. 

Shon Hopwood: I spent two months working on my own case, researching and I was never able to get any legal relief for myself the entire time I was in federal prison.

Steve Kroft: But you were for other inmates?

Shon Hopwood: I did. Lawyers had made really bad mistakes, and it really cost their clients sometimes, you know, a decade or two in federal prison.

Inside the walls at Pekin he won the respect of fellow inmates, and discovered that he had an aptitude for something: the law.

Shon Hopwood: I would be sitting in my cell reading a federal reporter, which is a compendium of federal court of appeals cases, and I would just read that cover-to-cover as if it was a novel, just for fun.

Steve Kroft: Was it fun?

Shon Hopwood: Oh, I think the law is fascinating.

Steve Kroft: In what way?

Shon Hopwood: It was like a big puzzle for me.

Three years into his prison term he got an opportunity to show just how much he’d learned when John Fellers, a friend and fellow inmate asked Shon to appeal his drug conviction to the highest court in the land.

Shon Hopwood: He came to me and said, “Would you take the case and would you file this petition to the Supreme Court?”  I said, “No absolutely not.” 

Steve Kroft: Why?

Shon Hopwood: His case was very complex and I didn’t think I could do it. But John was very persistent.

He would spend months working day and night on the petition. It required him to master the facts of the case, understand the statutes and legal precedents, identify the errors made by lawyers and judges in the appeal process and then craft an argument in the language of the court before mailing it off to Washington.

Steve Kroft: Did the Supreme Court know that the brief had been written by a prisoner?

Shon Hopwood: The first hint would’ve been the fact that it was typed on a typewriter. I don’t think law firms in 2003 were using typewriters to knock out Supreme Court briefs.

Four out of nine Supreme Court justices must agree for a case to be heard. That year more than 8,000 petitions were filed, 74 were accepted, one of those was written by Shon Hopwood.

Shon Hopwood: And one morning, a friend of mine came running and screaming my name “Shon, Shon, Shon.” And, what he had was a copy of the USA Today and I read the article and it said the court had granted John Fellers’ case.

Steve Kroft: What went through your mind?

Shon Hopwood: I was shocked. I was shocked that the court had granted the case and that I had done something that, you know, lawyers wait their whole lives to do and done it the first time.

Seth Waxman: It’s not that unusual for prisoners to file their own petitions. What is freakishly unusual is for one of those petitions to be granted.

Seth Waxman, a prominent appellate lawyer and the former solicitor general of the United States is not easily impressed. But when he was asked to argue the Fellers case before the Supreme Court, he said he would do it only if Shon Hopwood would work from prison as part of the team.

Seth Waxman: I wanted him to be involved, because I was really curious. It seemed actually almost inconceivable that somebody with his level of education and his level of exposure to the life of the law could actually write a much better than average cert petition.

Steve Kroft: So this woulda been good for a Washington lawyer?

Seth Waxman: Even for a licensed, appointed lawyer representing a federal prisoner, you would say, “Wow.”

Waxman won the Fellers case before the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision, and became Shon’s mentor during his final six years in prison.

Shon Hopwood: When a former solicitor general of the United States says that you did a good job writing a brief that has an impact– especially when you’re surrounded in this environment where prison guards are telling you every day that you’re worthless and that you don’t amount to anything.

Steve Kroft: Did you win some more cases?

Shon Hopwood: I did. I won another case on the Supreme Court, I won a case on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and I won cases– mostly on resentencing motions for federal prisoners and federal district court cases kind of all over the country.

He found a purpose in life and when Ann Marie Metzner, who’d once had a high school crush on Shon began writing letters and paying him visits, he started to think he might have some kind of future when he got out. But he knew there were huge obstacles ahead.

Steve Kroft: Did you decide you wanted to be a lawyer while you were in prison?

Shon Hopwood: I did, but I didn’t think I could. I had had countless number of lawyers tell me I could not go to law school, and even if I could I would never get licensed by any of the state bar associations, given my crimes.

When he was released to a halfway house near Omaha in 2008, he had never seen an iPhone, never been on the Internet and was computer illiterate. But as if by miracle he saw an ad for a document analyst at Cockle Legal Printing one of just a few companies in the U.S. that helps attorneys assemble briefs for the Supreme Court. Andy Cockle and his sister, Trish Billotte, remember that Shon showed up for his interview in ill-fitting clothes, with a rumpled letter from Seth Waxman and an 11-year gap in his resume.

Andy Cockle: We work with attorneys everyday, all week long that are trying to get their case granted. And none of ’em do. And this guy comes out and says I had–

Trish Billotte: Two.

Andy Cockle: Two of ’em granted. Oh yeah—

Steve Kroft: Did you believe him?

Andy Cockle: No. I thought he was delusional.

But his story checked out and they gave him the job.

 Steve Kroft: You’re glad you hired him.

Both: Oh yeah.

Trish Billotte: It was sad to see him go.

He spent three years with the Cockles in Omaha, completing the undergraduate degree he’d begun in prison, and continuing to impress the lawyers he worked with. With their help and against all odds the University of Washington law school took a chance on him.  He won a full scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and upon graduation was admitted to the bar.

Steve Kroft: How did you do in law school?

Shon Hopwood: Surprisingly well.

Steve Kroft: You were already a lawyer?

Shon Hopwood: Well, I mean, it was a new experience, doing well in school.

He did well enough to land a prestigious clerkship with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the second most important court in the country.

Seth Waxman: The idea that a convicted bank robber was gonna go work for Janice Rogers Brown, you know, a very conservative judge on a very important court. Surprising in the absolute sense? Yes. In the context of who Shon Hopwood is and where, what he was setting out to do, not that surprising. 

A year later it led to a highly competitive teaching fellowship at Georgetown Law’s Appellate Litigation Clinic, where he did so well, the faculty awarded him a position as a professor of law.

Steve Kroft: How hard is it to get a job teaching law at  Georgetown?

Steven Goldblatt: It’s very hard.

Professor Steven Goldblatt is the faculty director for the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law.

Steven Goldblatt: To have somebody who’s a credible voice who actually lived the experience, who understands what it’s like to spend a day in prison, much less 11 years, is highly unusual. So I think this was a unique opportunity to get somebody for whom there are no others out there, and that the potential was enormous.

Along with his other accomplishments, Shon Hopwood also got to marry that girl from David City, Annie Metzner, who is now a law student herself. They have two children.   

Steve Kroft: Are you surprised how this has turned out?

Annie Metzner: Yeah. Yeah. I had no– no idea of what the future would hold for us. Neither one of us had any clue that this would– all these wonderful things would happen.

Hopwood’s main interest now is criminal justice reform. He is an advocate for shorter prison sentences for most crimes, and more vocational training, drug treatment and mental health counseling, which are often non-existent.

Shon Hopwood: Prison is not the place for personal growth. We warehouse people and then we kick them out into the real world with very little support and hope that a miracle happens.

Steve Kroft: But somehow, all the things stacked against you, you were able to do it?

Shon Hopwood: Yeah. It was people that helped, that went out of their way to provide grace to me. That made the difference.

Produced by Maria Gavrilovic. Michael Kaplan, associate producer.

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Police seek clues in killing of top criminal lawyer | News … – Kathimerini

Police investigating the killing of prominent lawyer Michalis Zafeiropoulos in his Athens office on Thursday night are seeking to determine whether the crime had been premeditated, Kathimerini understands. 

Investigators have determined that two men entered the building on Asclepiou Street at around 7 p.m. had had an appointment with Zafeiropoulos.

According to the latter’s associate, the two men were aged between 30 and 40 and spoke good Greek but with a foreign accent that suggested they might be Albanian.

Initially the four men had a conversation in the lobby before the pair were led to Zafeiropoulos’s office. Once they were alone with him, one of them shot him in the chest at close range, killing him instantly.

As Zafeiropoulos’s office has no surveillance cameras, police are focusing on footage from the cameras of shops in the area in their bid to identify the killers.

The police investigation was focusing on recent cases undertaken by the 52-year-old criminal lawyer as investigators believe one of these may have provoked the perpetrators.

Among the cases handled by Zafeiropoulos are the defense of a suspect in the Energa-Hellas Power embezzlement affair (which has been linked to an attempted contract killing), the defense of the publisher of Parapolitika in a case against Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the defense of arms dealer Thomas Liakounakos as well as theft and drug cases.  

However, investigators are also considering possible links with suspected members of a cannabis racket that Zafeiropoulos had been set to defend on Monday. The racket’s activities were uncovered in September last year and linked to a large ring of Albanian cannabis smugglers which was broken two months later.

Legal professionals on Friday expressed their respect for Zafeiropoulos, a well-known criminal lawyer and the son of former New Democracy MP Epaminondas Zafeiropoulos. 

The president of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, Nikos Sakellariou, called for a minute’s silence at the beginning of the court’s plenary session in the morning, expressing “deep sorrow” at the lawyer’s death.

The Athens Bar Association also held a minute’s silence, while several cases that had been planned for Friday were postponed after the association called a week-long strike, starting on Thursday night. 

As the investigation into the murder intensified on Friday, the leader of main opposition New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his concern at “a prevailing climate of total lawlessness, even in central Athens.”

In a dig at the government, Mitsotakis referred to the “unjustifiable tolerance that some display toward violence and lawlessness.”

“Citizens feel less and less safe,” he said, adding that such a situation “should not be tolerated in a state that abides by the rule of law.”

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Police seek clues in killing of top criminal lawyer – Kathimerini

Police investigating the killing of prominent lawyer Michalis Zafeiropoulos in his Athens office on Thursday night are seeking to determine whether the crime had been premeditated, Kathimerini understands. 

Investigators have determined that two men entered the building on Asclepiou Street at around 7 p.m. had had an appointment with Zafeiropoulos.

According to the latter’s associate, the two men were aged between 30 and 40 and spoke good Greek but with a foreign accent that suggested they might be Albanian.

Initially the four men had a conversation in the lobby before the pair were led to Zafeiropoulos’s office. Once they were alone with him, one of them shot him in the chest at close range, killing him instantly.

As Zafeiropoulos’s office has no surveillance cameras, police are focusing on footage from the cameras of shops in the area in their bid to identify the killers.

The police investigation was focusing on recent cases undertaken by the 52-year-old criminal lawyer as investigators believe one of these may have provoked the perpetrators.

Among the cases handled by Zafeiropoulos are the defense of a suspect in the Energa-Hellas Power embezzlement affair (which has been linked to an attempted contract killing), the defense of the publisher of Parapolitika in a case against Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the defense of arms dealer Thomas Liakounakos as well as theft and drug cases.  

However, investigators are also considering possible links with suspected members of a cannabis racket that Zafeiropoulos had been set to defend on Monday. The racket’s activities were uncovered in September last year and linked to a large ring of Albanian cannabis smugglers which was broken two months later.

Legal professionals on Friday expressed their respect for Zafeiropoulos, a well-known criminal lawyer and the son of former New Democracy MP Epaminondas Zafeiropoulos. 

The president of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, Nikos Sakellariou, called for a minute’s silence at the beginning of the court’s plenary session in the morning, expressing “deep sorrow” at the lawyer’s death.

The Athens Bar Association also held a minute’s silence, while several cases that had been planned for Friday were postponed after the association called a week-long strike, starting on Thursday night. 

As the investigation into the murder intensified on Friday, the leader of main opposition New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his concern at “a prevailing climate of total lawlessness, even in central Athens.”

In a dig at the government, Mitsotakis referred to the “unjustifiable tolerance that some display toward violence and lawlessness.”

“Citizens feel less and less safe,” he said, adding that such a situation “should not be tolerated in a state that abides by the rule of law.”

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Edmonton criminal lawyer suspended after domestic assault conviction – CBC.ca

The Law Society of Alberta has suspended an Edmonton criminal lawyer from practice for a year after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to domestic assault charges.

Ravi Prithipaul admits he repeatedly abused his wife Shannon Prithipaul for 17 years over the course of their marriage.

Shannon Prithipaul is an Edmonton criminal lawyer and the former president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association. She told CBC News she is in the process of divorcing her husband and former law partner.

Shannon Prithipaul

Shannon Prithipaul told CBC News she is in the process of divorcing her husband. (CBC)

Ravi Prithipaul was committed to stand trial after a preliminary hearing held in July 2016.

The trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 2. Ravi Prithipaul entered guilty pleas on Oct. 3 and was sentenced Oct. 6.

A Crown prosecutor was brought in from Calgary to prosecute the case, which was heard in Edmonton by Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Glen Poelman.

Prithipaul will not spend any time in jail. He was given a $200 victim fine surcharge and one year of house arrest.

For the first six months, he must remain in his home around the clock. For the second half of his sentence, he’ll have an overnight curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The court also ordered a 10-year firearm prohibition.

More to come.

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Well-known criminal lawyer murdered in central Athens office – Kathimerini

Lawyer Michalis Zafeiropoulos was murdered in his office in central Athens on Thursday night.

According to authorities, two armed men entered the building on Asklipiou Street and shot Zafeiropoulos in the head and chest.

An associate of the 52-year-old lawyer, who was in the office at the time, was locked in another room by the assailants, according to initial reports.

Zafeiropoulos was a well-known criminal lawyer and the son of former New Democracy MP Nondas Zafeiropoulos. His murder prompted a reaction from Greece’s political parties.

“I express my disgust at the cold-blooded murder of M(ichalis) Zafeiropoulos,” tweeted New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted. “(He was) A good lawyer, distinguished ND member and very good friend.” 

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Harvey Weinstein Adds Criminal Lawyers to Team – Hollywood Reporter

Blair Berk, an attorney who has previously represented Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan, is hired by the embattled movie mogul.

Harvey Weinstein continues to prepare for fallout from published reports about his conduct toward women over many decades. He’s now added criminal defense attorney Blair Berk to his legal team.

Although many of the accusations of harassment and sexual assault detailed in The New York Times and The New Yorker stretch back many years, there’s no statute of limitations on rape in New York. So far, law enforcement authorities in New York and Los Angeles haven’t indicated any open investigation into the movie mogul’s behavior, but as the scandal continues to unfold with more and more women coming forward, Weinstein is apparently bracing himself for whatever might come.

Berk is a West Hollywood-based attorney with a track record of representing famous stars in trouble. Her past clients include Mel Gibson, Lindsay Lohan, Kiefer Sutherland and Kanye West. Despite representing famous individuals, the Harvard-trained attorney prefers to stay under the radar. She once told CNN, “In my 20 years of practice, I have never once found it in my client’s best interest to have media coverage of their criminal case.”

On the other hand, she pays attention to what’s in the media. In a 2013 profile here, she was quoted as saying, “You’re not doing your job unless you have a very high degree of sophistication about how these cases are covered and how the different parties in the case will approach publicizing their position in the case.”

Weinstein has also reportedly retained a second criminal attorney, David Chesnoff, but The Hollywood Reporter hasn’t yet been able to confirm that engagement. Chesnoff is based in Las Vegas and has his own list of past star clientele, including Bruno Mars and Britney Spears. The attorney also represented Starz chief Chris Albrecht when the entertainment executive was running HBO and was fighting a domestic violence charge.

It’s been a roster churn of lawyers for Weinstein in the past week. He’s lost Lisa Bloom and Lanny Davis, but brought aboard Patty Glaser to deal with his termination from The Weinstein Company. Also by Weinstein’s side is Charles Harder, who has said a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times is in the works.

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