University of Chicago Clinical Professor of Law Randolph N. Stone, who has devoted his career to advocating for the underrepresented, was among six legal professionals honored with a Heman Sweatt Award at the 38th Annual National Bar Association Mid-Year Conference in Chicago earlier this month.
The prize, which was presented on April 20, honors “trailblazers in the legal profession who exemplify the spirit of civil rights activist Heman Marion Sweatt.” Sweatt was best known for successfully challenging the “separate but equal” doctrine of racial segregation in the 1950 US Supreme Court case Sweatt v. Painter after he was refused admission to the School of Law of the University of Texas. The case was influential in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.
Stone and Clinical Professor Herschella Conyers direct the Law School’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic, which provides legal representation to poor children and young adults accused of delinquency and crime. For 10 years beginning in 1991, Stone served as director of the Law School’s Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Before that, he was the Public Defender of Cook County for three years, during which time he increased hiring of women and minorities.
Stone serves on numerous boards and committees, including Youth Advocate Programs, Inc., the Federal Defender Program, and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. He is a past chair of the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section and served on Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force.
His work has been acknowledged with dozens of awards. In January, Stone was among three members of the UChicago community to receive a Diversity Leadership Award, which recognizes University faculty and staff members who “display leadership in fostering diversity both on campus and within the surrounding community.” In May 2016, Stone received the Safer Foundation’s annual Spirit of Safer Award, which acknowledges significant contributions to criminal justice reform in the Chicago area, and in December 2015, the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association honored Stone and Conyers with the Kathryn Smith Matkov Award. The Matkov Award is presented annually to an attorney or judge who has demonstrated a commitment to excellence and accuracy in defining, illuminating, and informing the public on critical issues to American society, particularly in the areas of children, the aged, and minorities.
“The Heman Sweatt Award is a terrific and well-deserved honor for Randolph. For many years he has been at the forefront of law reform efforts around issues of juvenile justice and sentencing, policing, and reentry for ex-offenders,” said Clinical Professor Jeff Leslie, the Law School’s Director of Clinical and Experiential Learning. “He is a talented litigator, advocate and educator who has inspired students and colleagues alike in his commitment to justice and civil rights.”
Other 2018 Heman Sweatt honorees include Kim Foxx, Melody Spann Cooper, Justice Cynthia Cobbs, Victor Henderson, and Anne Fredd.