Law Professor Julie Jonas is the recipient of the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (MACDL) 2022 Ronald I. Meshbesher Distinguished Service Award. Each year, MACDL honors a Minnesota attorney for a lifetime of achievement and devotion to the practice of criminal defense. Jonas received the award at the organization's annual celebration on Sept. 16. Past recipients include some of the most influential criminal defense practitioners in Minnesota.
Jonas joined the St. Thomas Law faculty in 2022. Her research and scholarship focus on wrongful convictions, and she also works on legislative policy issues. Prior to becoming a full-time professor at St. Thomas, Jonas was the legal director for the Great North Innocence Project at the University of Minnesota.
Respected trial attorney Barry Scheck, a partner with NSB Civil Rights in New York, recorded a video message to introduce Jonas and congratulate her on her award at the MACDL ceremony. Scheck, along with NSB partner Peter Neufeld, co-founded and co-directs The Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
"[Julie] is a tireless supporter of factually innocent clients and their loved ones," he said. "However, her work has always been about more than innocence. … [S]he has seen racial and social inequality and she has called it out. As an adjunct professor, she spoke out about racial inequality to her students long before the murder of George Floyd. She knows that as important as innocence is, it is equally important that all people caught up in the criminal legal system get the best representation possible, get due process of law and that everyone be treated with fairness and respect. I know that she hopes to instill those values in the next generation of law students."