Making Room for Ignored Citizen Narratives of Police Encounters

The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute

13 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2023

Date Written: March 1, 2021


In the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a police officer in May 2020, conversations about police brutality found their way to dinner tables and coffee shops. At that time, in the midst of the pandemic, the public outcry in response to these stories reached new dimensions. In recent years, police killings and assaults on black people, often recorded on smartphones and streamed to huge audiences on social media, had ignited sizable and extended protests. But that summer’s protests took place in more cities across the United States and in more countries around the world; protests were larger and sustained for longer periods of time, with words of support expressed by institutions that had previously remained silent.

This moment impact so many of us. This essay discusses my own personal journey and what I discovered in the midst of the pandemic and this moment of political unrest. It talks about how this moment changed how I look at my own role as a professor, what I teach, and how I teach it. This essay explores teaching legal writing with a deeper understanding of our responsibility as legal educators to help students prepare to be able and ethical advocates and make the connection between what they learn in the classroom and what they will do one days as lawyers. This article encourages law professors to lean into teaching with an eye toward social justice in order to make students more aware of inequities in the law and the tools they can use to help promote the ideals of a fair and unbiased system.

Keywords: Legal Writing, Disruption, Social Justice, Curricular Reform, Fourth Amendment

Suggested Citation

Keene, Sherri Lee, Making Room for Ignored Citizen Narratives of Police Encounters (March 1, 2021). The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Available at SSRN:

Sherri Lee Keene (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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