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Dickinson Interim President Speaks at Global Anti-Hate Summit

John Jones at the conference

Interim President John E. Jones III '77, P'11, (left) discusses the court's role in responding to and preventing hate crimes at a global summit in Pittsburgh. Photo by Savanna Butler, Savvy Shots Photography.

Interim President John E. Jones III '77, P'11, draws on his experience as a federal judge to discuss how courts can respond to extremism

Dickinson’s interim President John E. Jones III '77, P'11, recently joined a panel of legal experts to discuss how the courts can respond to and prevent acts of extremism. Their conversation, “Improving the Ability of the Judicial System to Address Extremism,” was part of the Eradicate Hate Global Summit, and it addressed many facets of extremism and how to address it in the courts.

Examining a recent case in which a man shot and killed several workers in a Georgia massage parlor—mostly Asian women—Jones said the law needs to go deeper than the surface to advance a hate-crime prosecution.

“These are tough cases. You really have to investigate the case and try to find some extrinsic evidence—things he said, things he did, an electronic trail that he left, statements to third parties,” said Jones, previously chief judge of the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania, who presided over such landmark cases as Kitzmiller v. Dover School District and Whitewood v. Wolf. “And if you don’t have that, if you can’t find that, then you’re not going to be able to prosecute it. … You’re not going to prove that case just based on the nationality of the victims.”

The panel discussed risk factors for extremism, new court structures that can facilitate the effective disposition of hate-crime cases, procedures that can reduce recidivism and provide greater support for victim families and the pros and cons of using predictive analytics for sentencing. Jones was joined on the panel by activist Richard Collins; Chief Judge John Tunheim of the U.S. District Court of Minnesota; Arusha Gordon, associate director of the James Byrd Jr. Center to Stop Hate, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and Ann Claire Williams, of counsel at the international law firm Jones Day and former judge in the U.S. Northern District Court of Illinois.

The summit brought together experts from government, academia, law, the nonprofit sector, corporations and journalism to discuss and actively work toward effective strategies to globally eradicate violent acts spawned by hate.

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Published October 21, 2021

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