2002 Founders' Celebration Events

Homophobia in the Halls of Justice: Sexual Orientation Bias and Its Implications Within the Legal System

March 26, 2002

Despite canons of ethics and local court rules that prohibit discriminatory conduct on the basis of sexual orientation, lawyers, judges, and court personnel often express homophobic attitudes in open court.

In this day-long symposium, panelists and audience members explored the existence of homophobia in the legal system, the use of sexual orientation as a tool for prosecutorial misconduct in criminal cases, the tension between an attorney's duties as a zealous advocate, and an attorney's ethical duties as an officer of the court. Further, the panelists examined previous studies of race, gender, and ethnic bias in the judicial system.

The symposium presented an important opportunity to advance the discussion of this issue and to strategize about ways to address this problem through academic studies of antigay bias, the use of ethical canons, and judicial education.


8:30 am
Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:00 am
Welcome Address
Michael Shortnacy
J.D. Candidate 2003, Washington College of Law

9:15 am
Panel One
Setting the Stage and Learning from the Experience of Our Predecessors


Brenda Smith, Associate Professor of Law, Washington College of Law


  • Amelia Craig Cramer, Deputy County Attorney, Pima Co., AZ

  • Todd Brower, Professor of Law, Western State College of Law

  • Emilio Cividanes, Partner, Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe LLP

  • Hon. Inez Smith Reid, District of Columbia Court of Appeals

10:30 am

10:45 am
Panel Two
The Use and Abuse of Sexual Orientation in Criminal Cases - The Death Penalty and Beyond


Pamela Bridgewater, Associate Professor of Law, Washington College of Law


  • Steve Presson, Appellate Attorney for Wanda Jean Allen

  • Steven Hawkins, Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

  • Abbe Smith, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

12:00 pm
Luncheon & Keynote Speaker
Darren Hutchinson Assistant Professor of Law, Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law

1:15 pm

1:30 pm
Panel Three
Professional Implications: Canons of Ethics and Codes of Professional Conduct


Susan Carle, Associate Professor of Law, Washington College of Law


  • Jennifer Gerarda Brown, Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law

  • William C. Duncan, Acting Director, The Marriage Law Project, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America

  • Muneer Ahmad, Assistant Professor of Law, Washington College of Law