04.02.12 — Chris Bridges '12, Chikaelo Ibeabuchi '12 and John Warren '12 won the grand prize in the Excellence in Scholarship category at RISE:2012, a Northeasern University expo that showcases the breadth and depth of innovative thinking at the university. The competition involved nearly 400 poster submissions, including the law team's "Georgia Roots: Lives Lost to Lynching and the Ongoing Need for Restorative Justice." In addition to the Scholarship category, prizes were awarded in three other areas: Research, Innovation and Enterpreneurial.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Research Innovation (CRI) and the Office of the Provost. President Joseph E. Aoun presented the RISE Awards, which were accompanied with $1,000 grants. Aoun lauded the students’ efforts and recognized their faculty and industry mentors who have helped cultivate their innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. “What we are doing here is not only not divorced from reality. It’s going to change reality,” he said. 

The three law students, whose poster submission was a result of their work with the law school's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice (CRRJ) Clinic focused on three lynching cases in Georgia. Together, the students traveled to Georgia to investigate their cases. One case involved Robert Mallard, who was lynched in 1948. A state prosecution attracted world-wide attention and resulted in the acquittal of the accused. John Warren '12 located long-buried records in the case and found family members. He has written a law review article and an entry for the New Georgia Encyclopedia about the case. 

Isaiah Nixon was also lynched in a nearby county in 1948 as he returned home from attempting to vote.  A state trial resulted in acquittals. Chris Bridges '12 scoured county records, located Nixon’s abandoned gravesite, and met with the victim’s relatives in Georgia. He is also writing a piece for publication about his investigation.  

In the Caleb Hill case, a lynch mob broke the man out of the county jail and killed him. A grand jury was convened but did not pursue the case. Chike Ibeabuchi '12 collaborated with a local investigator to recover long-buried law enforcement records, the papers of a New York photojournalist who covered the case, and reached out to family members.

The three students' research and papers formed the basis for creating the poster they submitted in the RISE competition.

"Restorative justice is not just one lawsuit or one event and there's no moment in which justice has been 'restored,'" said Warren. "It's on ongoing process that requires research, public awareness, publication, assessing any legal and policy recourse that may be available, working closely with the families and discussing today's concerns with a historical awareness.  We've done some good work but we still have a lot to do."