Jailhouse lawyers are prisoners who manage to learn enough about the law while incarcerated to help themselves and other inmates with legal problems. We get letters from them every week. Tonight we are going to reintroduce you to Shon Hopwood, who is arguably the most successful jailhouse lawyer ever, having had one of his cases argued before the U.S. Supreme court while serving a 12-year sentence for armed bank robbery. Since his release he’s built up an extraordinary resume as a legal scholar, and has been published in top law journals. We first met him last fall at one of the nation’s premier law schools where he’s become its newest professor. A tale of redemption as improbable as any you’re likely to hear. Professor Shon Hopwood teaches criminal law at Georgetown University. CBS News Shon Hopwood: Question one is: Was there a constitutional violation?
In his first semester at Georgetown University, Professor Hopwood is teaching criminal law.
Shon Hopwood: Were the first statements unlawfully obtained? Yes.
The irony isn’t lost on him or his students who know that he’s a convicted felon and that less than a decade ago was an inmate at the federal correctional institution in Pekin, Illinois.
Shon Hopwood’s prison identification CBS News Steve Kroft: You’re a professor at one of the finest law schools in the country. Is that something that you thought you would be able to do?
Shon Hopwood: No. It’s– it makes me laugh hearing you say it out loud because there are days where it doesn’t make sense to me, and I’ve lived it. So I can see why it doesn’t make sense to hardly anyone else. "I wanted to live an exciting life. And shoveling cow manure in small-town Nebraska and living in my parents’ bedroom wasn’t quite cutting it."
Steve Kroft: It’s easier for me to imagine you as a Georgetown law professor than it is for me to imagine you as a bank robber.
Shon Hopwood: Well, that’s because the bank robber’s long been dead and gone.
Hopwood was born here 42 years ago in the small farming community of […]