L-R: Professor Elaine Chiu, Jennie Miller, Professor Rosa Castello, and Jillian Fitzpatrick
Last night, the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development (JCRED) celebrated the winners of its 2019 Best Notes Award: Jennie Miller ‘19 and Jillian Fitzpatrick '19. The annual award recognizes outstanding scholarly research and writing by JCRED members.
Miller’s first-place note, “Save a Friend’s Life or Risk Your Freedom: The Dilemma Too Many People Face When Witnessing an Overdose,” considers the chilling effect when states prosecute individuals for giving illicit drugs to friends and family members who then overdose and die. Noting that more than half of America’s opioid addicts get their drugs from friends and family, Miller rejects this drive towards punishment. Instead, she urges states towards Good Samaritan laws that provide immunity from prosecution so that the friends and relatives of addicts who are overdosing will seek medical assistance without worrying about criminal repercussions. Saving lives, Miller asserts, should be the priority.
Runner-up Fitzpatrick also tackles an important issue in the national spotlight in her note, “Reframing the Monuments: How to Address Confederate Statues in the United States.” Taking a fresh look at the controversy around Confederate monuments, Fitzpatrick examines several approaches to rectify the harmful message these monuments convey. Ultimately, she proposes a path to a middle-ground solution to “reframe” the monuments with a plaque that educates the viewer about the complete and accurate history of the person commemorated in stone.
Established in 1985 as the Journal of Legal Commentary, JCRED’s name was changed officially in 2010 to better reflect its mission and its content as the official student publication of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights. Throughout its 30-plus-year history, it has offered a vital forum for illuminating and discussing critical issues of the day, such as child advocacy, criminal justice, race and the law, national security, and diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and in law schools.
Guiding JCRED are its faculty advisors, Professor Elaine M. Chiu, faculty director of the Ron Brown Center, and Professor Rosa Castello ’06, the Center’s assistant faculty director. In addition to working on the publication, JCRED members participate in the affiliated Perspectives on Justice course taught by Professors Chiu and Castello. In the class, they have an opportunity to write notes, blog posts, and op-eds on social justice topics. Together with the Center, the students help to host special events at St. John’s Law, including annual school-wide dialogues on climate change, #MeToo, free speech, the crisis at America’s borders, and more. They have also helped to organize and run conferences and symposia presented by the Center on a range of timely issues, such as:
JCRED expands the reach of these important events by publishing articles authored by the symposia and conference presenters.
“JCRED has always been, and will continue to be, a resource for exploring issues that impact our society and its citizens deeply,” says Professor Chiu. “In their diverse journal-related activities, Jennie, Jillian, and all our student scholars work hard throughout the year to foster an open and ongoing conversation about freedom, civil rights, equality, and social justice, among other topics that go to the heart of our identity as individuals, as communities, and as nations. Our Best Notes ceremony celebrates their outstanding contributions to this vital conversation.”