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Authors Connect Over ‘Gideon’—Fifty Years Apart

Lewis Rosenberg inspires a young scholar.


This is a story about the long reach of BC Law alumni—some fifty years long, in fact. It begins in 1963, the year that the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright required states to provide legal counsel to indigent defendants charged with a felony. Lewis Rosenberg and the late Brian Moran were BC Law 3Ls when the decision came down and later that year published an article in Massachusetts Law Quarterly on how Massachusetts could implement the new requirements. They titled it “The Indigent Defendant in Massachusetts and Gideon v. Wainwright.

Fast forward fifty years to the anniversary of Gideon. Rosenberg thinks it would be interesting if a current law student could study how the ruling played out in the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. He mentions the idea to the dean, who passes it along.

Enter Samuel Jockel, a second-year student, who is working on a somewhat related paper under the supervision of Professor Sharon Beckman after spending the summer at the New England Innocence Project. He takes up the challenge and uses Rosenberg and Moran’s piece as a springboard to write his own. In it he argues that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court should interpret the state constitution to guarantee Massachusetts prisoners a right to counsel in post-conviction proceedings. The Boston University Public Interest Law Journal publishes Jockel’s “Fulfilling the Promise of Gideon in Massachusetts: Providing Post-Conviction Right to Counsel for Prisoner Asserting Innocence” in 2017.

Jockel says his article was informed by his experiences at BC Law, its tradition of service to others, and those long-ago colleagues, Rosenberg and Moran. “Mr. Rosenberg has been an inspiration to me as a recent graduate and now a federal trial lawyer at the USDA,” Jockel says. “My article is a testament to what makes BC Law so unique—a dedicated faculty and an inspiring community of alumni.”

For his part, Rosenberg is thrilled that such a connection was made over Gideon. “So, here you have a collaboration between BC Law graduates fifty-plus years apart,” he says.