Lessons from a Bank-Robbing Law Professor..

Well a bank robber first and is currently a law professor at Georgetown University. Thy name is Shon Hopwood.

Here is his unbelievable story via his interview (a really long but worth it):

Sample these answers:

Aaron Powell: How do you end up robbing a bank?

Shon Hopwood: Well, you mix [00:01:30] in some immaturity, no purpose. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, some depression, some alcohol and drugs and a bunch of other young, stupid, immature 20-year-old men and you combine that and what came out was five armed bank robberies and me and five or six people robbing all of these banks together over the scope of a year.

Aaron Powell: Were these banks near where you lived?

Shon Hopwood: [00:02:00] No, they were … Well, yes. They were all in eastern rural Nebraska, but they were all banks that were so small and the towns were so small that they didn’t have any local police departments, which is the reason we went there. Rather than going to a big, huge office in a big city, whereas soon as you hand over a note or walk in with a gun, the police are going to be there in two or three minutes, we decided to go to these rural [00:02:30] towns.

Trevor Burrus: You did have a gun?

Shon Hopwood: I had guns on all five robberies.

Trevor Burrus: They were fired?

Shon Hopwood: No.

Trevor Burrus: That probably helped with your sentencing maybe a little bit?

Shon Hopwood: Yeah. Helped a little bit. If they had been fired, I think that I would still be in federal prison.

Trevor Burrus: You discuss how your friend, Tom, he only did the first one. He was a very old childhood friend of yours.

Shon Hopwood: Yep.

Trevor Burrus: Then you kept going, and it seemed like you had more [crosstalk 00:02:56]

Shon Hopwood: I was an overachiever.

And then this:

Aaron Powell: Your path after prison has been pretty interesting.

Trevor Burrus: [00:37:30] So?

Shon Hopwood: Yes.

Aaron Powell: What happened after you got out?

Shon Hopwood: I’m just a normal law school student.

Trevor Burrus: Absolutely, yeah. What year did you get released?

Shon Hopwood: I got released to a federal halfway house in October of 2008, height of the recession. No one finding work, let alone the guy that just did 11 years in federal prison. I quickly realized not a great need for knowledge of the US Supreme Court in Omaha, Nebraska even [00:38:00] amongst lawyers. They just aren’t filing many briefs to the Supreme Court. I couldn’t get a job with lawyers or law firms, but I found this job for a document analyst at Cockle Legal Briefs, which is this company that prints Supreme Court brief for lawyers all over the country.

Trevor Burrus: Something we are familiar here with at Cato. We work with it all the time.

Shon Hopwood: I know, I know. That’s where I first learned about Cato, was working at Cockle. I worked there and I worked on a case with a professor from Michigan, [00:38:30] Rich Freedman, who was litigating a confrontation clause case and he asked me one day and said, “You know an often lot about the confrontation clause. You must be a lawyer because this isn’t something that one studies for fun.” I said, “Well, I’m not a lawyer, Rich, and I’ll tell you some day about my story, but don’t freak out.”

I wrote him a really long e-mail and told him, and he did freak out, but in a good way. After he argued his case in the Supreme Court, he told Adam Liptak at the New York Times about my story.” [00:39:00] Adam wrote the story in February of 2010, and life hasn’t been the same for me ever since.

Trevor Burrus: You did end up going to law school.

Shon Hopwood: I did end up going to law school at the University of Washington and got a full-ride scholarship through the Gates Public Service Law program there, and then after that, I went to go clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown here in DC on the DC circuit.

Trevor Burrus: It’s a shock. Every turn [00:39:30] in the story just gets crazier and crazier. Having lived it, it must feel that way.

Shon Hopwood: It feels that way to me. It really does. There are moments I wake up and feel like, “I can’t believe this is happening,” and I’m the one living it, and it’s unbelievable.

Trevor Burrus: There’s even a love story in it. It’s all. It’s unbelievable.\

In the middle there is also a discussion on whether the prison terms are fair given the level of the crime.

Just fascinating..


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