Human Rights Workshop: Paula C. Johnson and Janis L. McDonald, "The Past is Not Past: Seeking Justice for Unsolved Civil Rights Era Murder Cases"

Thursday, October 24, 2013
4:15 PM - 5:45 PM
Faculty Lounge
Event Type
Law-Int'l + Homepage
Barbara Mianzo

Paula C. Johnson is Professor of Law at Syracuse University College of Law.  She co-directs the Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI), at Syracuse University College of Law.  CCJI investigates unsolved racially-motivated killings during the civil rights era.  She is a co-founder of the Syracuse University Haiti Support Committee (SUHSC), which was formed after the 2010 earthquake and helps to coordinate the Syracuse University-State University of Haiti student exchange program.  She is faculty advisor to the Syracuse University College of Law Black Law Students Association.  She previously served as co-chair of the Syracuse University Senate Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Concerns.  Prof. Johnson was co-director of the Sierra Leone UN War Crimes Tribunal Project at SU College of Law, and was the founding director of the Syracuse University Law in Zimbabwe Program.  She is a former co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT).  Her teaching includes criminal law, criminal procedure, voting rights & electoral processes, women in the criminal justice system and professional responsibility.


Janis L. McDonald is a Professor and the Co-Director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative (“CCJI”). The CCJI was established in early 2007 by Professor McDonald and Professor Paula C. Johnson to assist the families of those killed by acts of racial hatred and violence in the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s. Over fifty law students have volunteered to investigate long buried information that might help persuade the FBI, The U.S. Department of Justice or local law enforcement officials to prosecute these long neglected murders. She and Professor Johnson also co-teach a unique new interdisciplinary course, “Investigating and Reopening Civil Rights Era Murders,” with graduate students from the SUCOL and other graduate schools at S.U. The course received the 2008 Syracuse University Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship in Action. Professor Johnson and McDonald work to help other law schools adopt the model of the CCJI to assist other families who seek justice.

Before joining the law faculty, Professor McDonald was a member of the law firm of Hirschkop & Grad, P.C. in Alexandria Virginia where she litigated cases in the federal and local courts in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Several of her cases established new sexual harassment and medical malpractice laws. She taught at Ohio Northern University College of Law and Yale Law School.


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