Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Posted by Alan Childress
Tulane's Jelani Jefferson will start at the University of Kansas in the fall, teaching Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Race and American Law. She is currently a Forrester Fellow teaching legal research and writing. I sort of discovered her and told her that the academy was for her, though just how hard is it to "discover" a Harvard J.D. formerly clerking for Judge James Dennis of the Fifth Circuit and Judge Eldon Fallon of the E.D. La.? Anyway, I was certainly the one to open her envelope, and I called her [as she says] "so quickly." Other faculty who reviewed her record and met her also seemed to act quickly, as I observed, and I recall Ray Diamond mentoring her about various opportunities in law teaching.
But all of this, though interesting to me, is not her most noteworthy claim to fame. Jelani is one of three former Fifth Circuit law clerks who were acknowledged in a published footnote: by a Judge. in a Fifth Circuit concurring opinion. in the en banc court. I had never heard of that before--nor had How Appealing's Howard Bashman, who commented on it here. It says a lot about Jelani and Judge Dennis, whose opinion discussed how he had come to change his conclusion from his panel opinion. Capital Defense Weekly noted the "shout-out" here and also wrote: "The lead opinion of Judge Carl Stewart is among the best dissections of Fifth Circuit & SCOTUS capital sentencing law I have seen. Judge Dennis’s pointed concurrence is a great read for his openness & judicial modesty in admitting he has made a mistake."
Congratulations to Jelani on this unusal feat and on her new position, and don't forget the little people.