Defendant to Defender

Theo Shaw, a member of the accused group infamously known as the Jena 6 was sworn into the DC bar last month. The Jena 6 were a group of Black students who were accused for charges as serious as attempted murder for getting into a fight with a white student at their school in Jena, Louisiana, amid racial tensions at the school. There were even reports of nooses hanging from trees, signaling that the white students wanted to hang the Black students, similarly to the way Blacks were executed in the past in this country.


Shaw spent 7 months in jail, despite being innocent. He was held for attempted murder, which is a felony, but the charge was lowered to a misdemeanor, simple battery. The treatment of Theo and the other 5 students gained national attention from protests, leading to an expungement of his record after working with lawyers.


He went to college and then decided to attend law school. Shaw received a full scholarship to attend the University of Washington, School of Law and upon graduating, he delivered the commencement address. He said, “I think when you’ve been as close to the system as I’ve been, as far as being in jail, and being in jail all day talking with people, being there when people are crying — grown men, kids ... I think it’s hard not to care when you’ve been as close as I’ve been,” Being in the system and improperly charged definitely had a hand in his career path.



Image Source: NOLA.com

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