The acceptance of Mitchell Hamline College of Law’s most recent student was these types of a huge deal that Dean Anthony Niedwiecki required to provide the news in-particular person previous 7 days — on the grounds of the state women’s prison in Shakopee.
Maureen Onyelobi, who is serving a existence sentence for murder with no prospect of parole, will be the initially incarcerated college student in the place to show up at a regulation school accepted by the American Bar Association.
“Probably the highlight of my career,” Niedwiecki stated of their pay a visit to. “She was just so shocked and just so excited she did not even know what to say at first.”
Onyelobi, 36, aspired to go to regulation school right before she was arrested in 2014. Very last yr, she grew to become the initially girl to get the LSAT — the regulation school admissions exam — even though incarcerated.
To confess her, St. Paul-dependent Mitchell Hamline experienced to get a variance from the ABA that will permit her attend lessons completely on the internet. Beneath that variance, the college can confess up to two incarcerated pupils each and every of the up coming 5 several years.
Niedwiecki mentioned Onyelobi “exceeded our least specifications of receiving into law faculty, so it was not a near simply call.”
And whilst Onyelobi may hardly ever get out of jail, the dean is self-confident her instruction will profit herself and many others.
“Knowledge is electric power. If you can give them that awareness, then they can be far more successful advocates,” Niedwiecki said. “I also think this is wonderful for our pupils, because the students that are in the classroom are likely to be equipped to listen to from somebody who’s a portion of the method currently.”
Donors and Mitchell Hamline scholarships will protect her tuition, the university said.
Onyelobi had been marketing heroin with her boyfriend, Maurice Wilson, and a further man, David Johnson, when Wilson was arrested on federal drug charges in March 2014, according to court docket documents.
Wilson later positioned a phone connect with from jail to Onyelobi and Johnson, in which he urged them to “take treatment of” Anthony Fairbanks, who was Wilson’s co-defendant in the federal situation.
Later on that day, Onyelobi lured Fairbanks outside the house his Minneapolis dwelling, where Johnson shot and killed him.
A Hennepin County jury convicted Onyelobi as an accomplice to very first-diploma murder, which carries a obligatory sentence of existence in jail with no probability of parole.
Johnson pleaded responsible to next-diploma murder and acquired a 40-calendar year jail sentence.
Onyelobi later argued she did not know Johnson was likely to shoot Fairbanks, but the Minnesota Supreme Court docket upheld her conviction.
“A whole lot of periods I’ll replay that evening, but there is almost nothing I can do. All I can do is move ahead,” Onyelobi instructed WCCO-Television set last year. “Everyone deserves a next opportunity.”
OPENING THE Door
The Minneapolis nonprofit All Square, which supports incarcerated people today, helped make Onyelobi’s legislation college admission happen. Its subsidiary, the Lawful Revolution, facilities the knowledge of individuals most impacted by the regulation and permits them to turn into agents inside it.
“From an absence of liberty comes an interest in mastering the legislation not out of curiosity, or as an academic exercising, or strictly in pursuit of a career,” Elizir Daris, a previous inmate and co-founder of the Authorized Revolution, wrote in a column in the Hennepin County Bar Association’s publication. “Learning the rudiments of regulation is a essential car or truck for freedom.”
Mitchell Hamline, which is identified for its on-line, night and weekend lessons, also has led various initiatives that help the incarcerated, together with a clinic that helps people today as they’re unveiled from custody.
“This may perhaps only be 1 human being, but this is just one man or woman opening the doorway for so lots of other people,” Niedwiecki claimed. “That cumulative impact is going to be significant for our justice system in Minnesota, and I hope we’re not the final faculty that does this.”