NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The man who has previously represented a number of Black families whose loved ones were unjustly murdered had harsh comments for law enforcement officers as he and other Black lawyers launched an investigation into the death of a man who was killed by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies earlier this year.
“We do not feel there was transparency,” said attorney Ben Crump in Downtown Elizabeth City, North Carolina as the family of Andrew Brown and hundreds in the community demanded answers on why deputies shot and killed Brown outside his home as they worked to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants. Those attorneys have since filed civil litigation after officers were cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
From police reform to civil rights and voter suppression, citizens across the country are calling on minorities to represent them in a court of law.
But according to the American Bar Association, only 5% of the nation’s lawyers are Black. In a matter of a few years, that number could change.
Norfolk State University and Appalachian School of Law Friday signed a three-plus-three agreement for NSU students. Three years on the campus at NSU and three years at ASL in the southwest corner of the state equals one law degree at substantial savings.
“It’s a way of bridging eastern and western Virginia; it’s a way of bridging different areas,” said former Gov. George Allen, a trustee at ASL.
President and Dean B. Keith Faulker estimates the compressed program will produce a $10,000 saving in the cost of a law degree.
“They will attend Norfolk State for three years, then they will gain admission to ASL and they will do their additional three years there. So, it accelerates the program and it reduces their debt,” said Faulker.
NSU is proud of the partnership, and the school is proud of former Miss NSU Stephanie Morales, the commonwealth’s attorney for the City of Portsmouth.
The William & Mary Law product is making headlines across the country for her style of law and order. Morales was a guest speaker for the governor in a recent appearance at the state capital.
“The people who come to the court system are at their lowest point and they need compassion and they need people who are willing to see their humanity,” said Morales as she expounded on criminal justice reform in a bill signing ceremony in Richmond.
Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, president of Norfolk State University, says Morales is one example of the role Historically Black Colleges and Universities play in producing leaders in the field of law and other professions.
“She’s wonderful and we’re really excited to have that type of support and experience. What that tells us is that HBCU Norfolk State University is a place where people grow to become their best selves,” said Adams-Gaston.