Letters to the Editor

Cold Case Justice Initiative co-directors respond to letter from law dean

We are pleased to hear that Dean Craig Boise is now stating that the Cold Case Justice Initiative will not be terminated as a Syracuse University College of Law project despite his previous direct statements to the contrary to us. In our last meeting with the dean, which we requested to report on our fundraising efforts, he stunned us by stating, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the chancellor and I have decided to close CCJI.”

The reasons suggested in Dean Boise’s letter for his actions do not reflect what had already happened. Interim Dean Banks arranged last year for our return part time to traditional course teaching and a full teaching load for the following year. We had also agreed to raise our own funds so the reasons raised by the dean in his letter had already been resolved before he informed us of the intent to close CCJI. Since July 1, 2016 when SU ended its operational funding CCJI has existed on funds the co-directors raised from generous outside donors (as part of almost $500,000 we raised over the years based on our reputation and work).

The fact that the Department of Justice has not pursued these cases when they occurred nor after passage of the original Emmett Till Act emphasizes the need for the Cold Case Justice Initiative to hold the agency and the those who committed these heinous acts of racial hatred accountable for their crimes. Indeed, upon the recent recantation of Carolyn Bryant that 14-year-old Emmett Till did not say or do any of the acts that perversely were used to justify his murder, the new Department of Justice already has announced it may reopen the case to pursue charges against others who may have assisted in his death.

We welcome a meeting to create a memorandum of understanding that recognizes the Cold Case Justice Initiative as a Syracuse University College of Law project and as such enables us to raise funds and provide opportunities for law students and others to engage in this Initiative. Concrete terms are needed concerning the university, the College of Law and the Cold Case Justice Initiative to ensure the future of this educational racial justice project at Syracuse University.

Paula C. Johnson & Janis L. McDonald

Professors of Law & Co-Directors, Cold Case Justice Initiative

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