Shon R. Hopwood - A Top Jailhouse Lawyer



A former bank robber, Shon R. Hopwood emerged from more than a decade in federal prison as a skilled Supreme Court practitioner. At his home in Omaha, his wife, Ann Marie, held their six week old son Mark.


A Mediocre Criminal, but an Unmatched Jailhouse Lawyer

"Shon R. Hopwood was not a particularly sophisticated bank robber.

“We would walk into a bank with firearms, tell people to get down, take the money and run,” he said the other day, recalling five robberies in rural Nebraska in 1997 and 1998 that yielded some $200,000 and more than a decade in federal prison.

Mr. Hopwood spent much of that time in the prison law library, and it turned out he was better at understanding the law than breaking it. He transformed himself into something rare at the top levels of the American bar, and unheard of behind bars: an accomplished Supreme Court practitioner.

He prepared his first petition for certiorari — a request that the Supreme Court hear a case — for a fellow inmate on a prison typewriter in 2002. Since Mr. Hopwood was not a lawyer, the only name on the brief was that of the other prisoner, John Fellers.

The court received 7,209 petitions that year from prisoners and others too poor to pay the filing fee, and it agreed to hear just eight of them. One was Fellers v. United States.

“It was probably one of the best cert. petitions I have ever read,” said Seth P. Waxman, a former United States solicitor general who has argued more than 50 cases in the Supreme Court. “It was just terrific.”

Mr. Waxman agreed to take the case on without payment. But he had one condition.

“I will represent you,” Mr. Waxman recalled telling Mr. Fellers, “if we can get this guy Shon Hopwood involved.”

Mr. Fellers said sure. “It made me feel good that we had Shon there to quarterback it,” he said.

The former solicitor general showed the bank robber drafts of his briefs. The two men consulted about how to frame the arguments, discussed strategy and tried to anticipate questions from the justices.

The case was about whether the police had crossed constitutional lines in questioning Mr. Fellers, who had been convicted of a drug conspiracy. Mr. Hopwood said he thought persuading Justice Sandra Day O’Connor would be crucial.

In January 2004, Mr. Waxman called Mr. Hopwood at the federal prison in Pekin, Ill. They had won a 9-to-0 victory. Justice O’Connor wrote the opinion.

The case took some more turns in the lower courts, but in the end Mr. Fellers’s sentence was reduced by four years.

No one was hurt in Mr. Hopwood’s bank robberies, but he and his accomplices “scared the hell out of the poor bank tellers,” Judge Richard G. Kopf of Federal District Court in Lincoln, Neb., said in sentencing him to prison in 1999.

The judge was skeptical about Mr. Hopwood’s vow that he would change. “We’ll know in about 13 years if you mean what you say,” Judge Kopf said.

The law library changed Mr. Hopwood’s life.

“I kind of flourished there,” he said. “I didn’t want prison to be my destiny. When your life gets tipped over and spilled out, you have to make some changes.”

He was a quick study, but he had a lot to learn.

“In 2000,” he said, “I couldn’t have named a right in the Bill of Rights.”

By 2005, the Supreme Court had granted a second petition prepared by Mr. Hopwood, vacating a lower court decision and sending the case back for a fresh look. Mr. Hopwood has also helped inmates from Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska get sentence reductions of 3 to 10 years from lower courts.

Mr. Hopwood was released from prison in the fall of 2008. Mr. Fellers was out by then, and he owned a thriving car dealership in Lincoln.

“Here,” Mr. Fellers said, presenting his jailhouse lawyer with a 1989 Mercedes in pristine condition. “Thank you for getting me back to my daughter.”

Mr. Hopwood now works for a leading printer of Supreme Court briefs, Cockle Printing in Omaha.

“What a perfect fit for me,” he said. “I basically get to help attorneys get their briefs polished and perfected.”

His boss at Cockle, Trish Billotte, said she had some misgivings about hiring Mr. Hopwood. It was hard to believe his story, for starters, and it struck her as curious that an aspiring paralegal was driving around in a Mercedes.

But she called Mr. Hopwood’s references, including the former solicitor general. “You don’t get through to Seth Waxman,” Ms. Billotte said. But she did, and Mr. Waxman confirmed the facts and offered his endorsement.

“We did take a risk, but we have no second thoughts,” Ms. Billotte said. “Zero regrets.”

Mr. Hopwood, who is 34, said he hoped to apply to law school next year. Richard Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan who worked with Mr. Hopwood on the briefs for a recent Supreme Court case, said that he had already talked to the admissions office there about saving a spot.

Mr. Hopwood’s personal life is looking up, too. He married in August, and he and his wife had a son on Christmas Day.

Mr. Hopwood takes nothing lightly, Professor Friedman said.

“His gratitude for the quality of his life,” the professor said, “is that of someone who has come back from a near-death experience.”

Mr. Hopwood continues to work on Supreme Court petitions. The latest one was filed in December, for a prisoner in Virginia who said his Miranda rights had been violated.

Last month, the solicitor general’s office, led by Elena Kagan, a former dean of the Harvard Law School, asked for and received an extra month to try to rebut the arguments of the paralegal from Omaha."

SOURCE:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/us/09bar.html By ADAM LIPTAK Published: February 8, 2010








HOME    ABOUT THE JAILHOUSE LAWYER
Natural Cures Website They Don't Want You To Know About
Freedom    History of Corporate Rule    Netwars    Ron Paul Speaks Out
Population Control Agenda     Gibson Guitars Raid Story    Rights of the Accused
Bookshelf    Liberty    Building Permits    Waco    Caselaw Collection    ProjectGreenLife   
Habeas Corpus     Legal Research    Justice    Legal Quotes    More Quotes    Reality Zone
Rights    Jurisdiction    Parens Patriae    Free    "Person"    State Citizenship    Blog
Jailhouse Lawyer - defined    Tribute to Gerry Spence    Andrew Meyer Story
Links     Site Awards    Notice To Public Servants     Marbury v. Madison
Pro Se Litigation    Jurisdictionary - HOW TO WIN ... Without a Lawyer!
The Battle For Liberty    The Abraham Cherrix Story    Liberty Award
Are We Doomed to be a Police State?    Best Free Autosurf Programs
Spiritual Anthology    The Drug Story     Jordan Page
Your Rights: Use 'Em or Lose 'Em




To obtain a video tape of THE JAILHOUSE LAWYER'S 4 hour Seminar ($75) or a copy of THE JAILHOUSE LAWYER'S Criminal Self Defense Manual ($85) please send a postal money order only to: Scott Thurston, C/o P.O. Box 373, Juliaetta, Idaho 83535. THE JAILHOUSE LAWYER'S Seminar Video and THE JAILHOUSE LAWYER'S Criminal Self Defense Manual will give Pro Se litigants and legal laymen valuable and useful knowledge that will help equip them to do strategic battle in the courts. Learn how to demand your rights and defend yourself when you are falsley and/or wrongfully accused.




Jailhouse Lawyers & Pro Se Law

 

9th Circuit Feels Pro Se Pressure

Pro se litigants have created a logjam in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has seen a 39 percent increase in the last few years in cases filed by those who represent themselves.

 

Murderer Victorious on Appeal

He shot 17 years of his life away and then made a name for himself on the inside. "He's rude, abrasive, hyperbolic and wildly emotional. In other words, a born lawyer. The most effective jailhouse advocate I've ever met. He also may be the last true believer in the fairness of the American criminal justice system."

 

A Jailhouse Lawyer Story

"The best person I ever tried a case against wasn't a real lawyer. He was a jailhouse lawyer."

 

On the Process of the Court

There is to be ONE interface between the people and the state, and that is the ONE lawful court and ONE lawful process NOT a representative manipulating the case and the record, in violation of the public trust. SEE through the deceptions.

 

Convict fires lawyer, wins acquittal on murder charge

A felon who fired his lawyer and represented himself won an acquittal in a murder case that could have kept him in prison for life.

 

Overcoming The Absurd: Legal Struggle As Primitive Rebellion

When conditions of existence become unsatisfactory, people may either acquiesce or resist. One reform strategy that has come into vogue since the social activism of the 1960s has been the use of law. Are those who use law in attempts to change the conditions of social existence rebels, revolutionaries, or merely ineffective idealists? Drawing upon themes in existential literature as a heuristic guide, we address this question by looking at one category of active litigants, prison jailhouse lawyers (JHLs).







How to Win in Court ... Step-by-Step!
How to Win in Court ... Step-by-Step!




Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health & Harmony Com




Natural Cures Book - Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About by Kevin Trudeau
(NEW UPDATED 2ND EDITION!)
" Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About "
~ by Kevin Trudeau ~

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THIS INCREDIBLE BOOK !
(The Natural Cures Book As Seen on TV)
BOOKS ARE IN STOCK & READY TO SHIP !




ENTER
"THE REALITY ZONE"



StumbleUpon
My StumbleUpon Page



Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com





Search Engine Optimization and SEO Tools