Personal Statement

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I learned from the high school class I taught that two people can be looking at the same thing but each see something very different. The teacher (me) was white, privileged, and coddled throughout my suburban childhood and adolescence. Most students in my class were black or brown, poor, and grew up mostly on their own, living on the unforgiving urban street. They opened my eyes (often against my will and certainly against my “druthers”) to their alternative society. I learned that this hidden society exists unseen and mostly ignored within the larger normal American society of laws, schools, careers, and families; it comes to the attention of general society’s gatekeepers only at points of conflict. I tried as best as a newly minted college graduate and youthful idealist could to teach them the language usage and history skills called for by Florida’s state education standards that are enforced through annual tests that rate the school’s proficiency—and funding. Most of them paid little heed to the school system’s priorities: they had their own matters to attend to which were important to them within the realities of their alternate society. I did come to understand that they and our legal system are at odds. Often they encounter it only at an instance of violation: too often because of selective enforcement, and usually with minimal representation and maximum adjudication. They perceive laws to have been made by legislators whose aim is to protect society and the status quo, and enforced to keep them from even thinking of disturbing the status quo. I saw that their profoundly antinomian perspective pervaded their attitudes about school, career, and family. I became so intrigued by the counter-positioning of our... ... middle of paper ... ...inality. The urge to live beyond the boundaries of law seem to be ubiquitous and timeless, as exemplified in the story of the Garden of Eden. Recently I collaborated with one of my professors in a book he is writing on ways in which new media creates new instances of copycat crime. I did original research on the impact of You Tube as the main means by which ghost riding (the driver gets out of a moving vehicle on a public highway and sits on the hood of the car or in the bed of the pickup for a time before getting back into the vehicle) spread suddenly from the San Francisco Bay area across the nation. Law is both fixed and fluid. I am both disciplined and open. Stetson Law is both the oldest law school in Florida and on the cutting edge of Caribbean Basin criminal/commercial/civil law in an evolving region. These three are good and productive combinations.

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