Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shon Hopwood

Shon Hopwood is a law school student at the University of Washington School of Law who, prior to law school, served over ten years in federal prison for a string of bank robberies he committed as a young adult. While in prison, he learned the law and he wrote legal briefs for other prisoners, two of which were granted by the U.S. Supreme Court—the equivalent of winning the legal lottery. His book Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption is the story of his prison term, legal successes, and the romance of his now wife while he was still incarcerated.

From his Q & A with Tim Challies:

One of my favorite themes in the book is the quiet work of Christians in the background of your life, whether that was your mother sending you books, people in your town praying for you, or fellow prisoners who were serious about studying the Bible. How do you interpret all of that, looking back on it now?

If you look back at how things unfolded, you can really see God’s design in everything. At the time, I didn’t realize the cumulative effect of what people were doing. I realize now that every little thing, from my mom sending me A Purpose Driven Life to my next-cell neighbor in prison turning from drug dealer to Christian, was all a part of God’s plan to show me his love and grace. And it made me understand that I had a choice about what my life would be like moving forward. I could keep trying to punch God away or I could hug him closer. Hence the James Weldon Johnson quote in the front of the book: “Young man, young man, your arm’s too short to box with God.”

When in prison you read a lot of law books and then prepared a petition for the Supreme Court that was accepted. Honestly, that doesn’t sound all that impressive to me, but I think that’s because I just don’t understand how unlikely it was that anyone would pay attention to that kind of a petition. Can you give me a little context or give me an analogy that helps me understand what this means?

Getting the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case is one of the most difficult things to accomplish in the legal field. The Court receives around 8,000 petitions a year and only hears around 80 of them. So the odds are low even for attorneys. When you add in the fact that this was the second legal brief I had ever written and it was filed by an indigent prisoner, not an attorney, the odds of us winning that case were astronomical. The fact that I was able to have it happen twice while I was in prison is...[read on]
Learn more about Law Man at Shon Hopwood's website, blog, and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Law Man.

The Page 99 Test: Law Man.

--Marshal Zeringue