College of Law hosts Great Legal Storytellers event

Funmilayo Ikunika / Contributing Writer

Benjamin L. Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin, described the late teen’s case as, “The case that introduced the world to Stand Your Ground and the controversy of Shoot First Laws,” during FIU’s College of Law’s fifth annual “Great Legal Storytellers’ event.

The event occurred this past Thursday, March 3, in the ceremonial courtroom.

It featured Trial Attorney Benjamin L. Crump. Crump is the attorney for Trayvon Martin, the attorney for the Oklahoma City Police Rape victims, as well as President of the National Bar Association.

“Great Legal Storytellers” was sponsored by the Trial Advocacy Program and Passionate Principal Advocacy with the purpose to give students the opportunity to experience firsthand some of the greatest trial lawyers in the criminal field and the legal field of America.

Professor H.T. Smith, director of the FIU College of Law Trial Advocacy Program, introduced Attorney Crump. They are dear friends and colleagues.

Professor Smith has been practicing law for about 43 years and was the president of the National Bar Association 20 years ago. Smith also helped mentor Crump out of law school.

According to Smith, this event is important because he wants students to see themselves in great legal storytellers that they see on TV and read about in the newspaper.

He said, “They are flesh and blood just like you. It is a way to motivate the students, educate the students and confirm that their dream is not too big a dream.”

He believes this event presented three important key points.

“One, you have to care about your community. Two, caring is not enough; you have to do something for your community. Three, You need to have the courage to do what is right event if it makes people angry and makes you a target of criticism and bad publicity because you will be criticized anyways,” Smith says.

During the presentation, Crump acknowledged Rashaad Perry-Patterson, the education and enrichment chair for BSU, in the audience.

Crump could not help but notice a shirt that Perry-Patterson wore listing all the names of unarmed black lives that were murdered.

As Rashaad stood up, the list included names such as Sandra Bland, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.  

Perry-Patterson attended Great Legal Storytellers on behalf of the Black Student Union. He serves as their Education/Enrichment Chair for 2015/2106 Academic year.

When asked about what he gained from the event, he said, “I learned the value of lawyers, specifically the morals and ethics that make a good lawyer. Our job is to enforce equality and due process for all, regardless of gender and ethnic background. Those citizens that Crump fought for like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, were owed justice.”

Anabel Miguelez, a member of the FIU Trial Team and Trial Advocacy Program is a second year law student. She was in attendance and currently works for an insurance defense firm.

When asked how students can make an impact she responded, “Each individual person has the power to makes the impact they want to make. If you don’t do it, who else will do it. We all have the responsibility to make the world a better place and to do what we can for people who do not have the same opportunities.”

Miguelez continued, “When you see the images and injustices occurring, you think about what you can do to help and make a change. As Crump stated, you can have all the influence in the world but it doesn’t matter if you don’t use it when it matters.”

FIU college of Law has a pro bono office to support cases of people that live below the poverty line. According to Crump, it is important that students are a valuable resource to our community.

Attorney Crump gave a presentation that emphasized the responsibility students have as their brother’s keeper to use be a moral compass in seeking justice.

He explained this by showing graphic clips of unarmed black citizens killed by the hands of police, referencing MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and detailing his own experiences as an attorney.

As Benjamin L. Crump said in his presentation, “We all have a moral obligation, as good minded people, to take a stand for just laws.”  

 

[Image from Flickr]

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