Sunday, August 6, 2006
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law Crimprof Sean O'Brien has been named the winner of the American Bar Association Journal’s Ross Essay Contest.
Sean O’Brien won for his essay titled “Finding Redemption,” which retraces a final conversation the professor had with Doyle Williams, a death row inmate facing the final hours of his life. O’Brien, who teaches criminal law, has represented countless death row inmates since working his first death penalty case in 1983. O’Brien hopes his essay will help humanize death row inmates.
“It’s way too easy to judge people and there’s a human tendency to consider yourself superior to others,” O’Brien said. “We should resist that as lawyers.”
O’Brien first met Williams in 1990 when he became director of the now defunct Missouri Capital Punishment Resource Center and, while not serving as his attorney, O’Brien had a close working relationship with Williams. In a self-deprecating tone, the essay brings to life the human side of one of this nation’s most contested issues. [Mark Godsey]