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Spring 2022 Law Office of Shane R. Kadlec Public Service Scholarship Winner

Brady Cole Miller

Brady Cole Miller

Brady’s scholarship essay showcases his passion for making a difference in the criminal justice system. As someone who has always dreamt of becoming a lawyer, Brady hopes to use his higher education to pursue a career as a criminal public interest lawyer. Brady demonstrates his commitment to public service through his immense desire to bring positive change to the criminal justice system.

Read Brady's Essay:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to become a lawyer. I’m always asked why and how that started. There have never been any lawyers in my extended family. I’m not even sure I knew a lawyer growing up. Nevertheless, anytime anyone asked, I always said I wanted to be a lawyer. I may not be able to pinpoint where it started, but I certainly know what is driving me now. I played football in high school on a team dominated by Black players with an overwhelming majority of White coaches. At practice, it wasn’t abnormal to hear coaches use terms like “monkey” and “coon” when talking about black players on the team. For all its faults, that football team is how I met my best friend to this day. Marcus’ family history is complex, to say the least. His drug-addicted mother left him when he was in elementary school. When Marcus was in middle school, his father was arrested and put in prison for crimes he and Marcus deny were ever committed. He was given a public defender who was inexperienced and overworked. After three minutes, his lawyer told him that the plea deal in front of him would be better than going to trial. His lawyer didn’t care that he might be innocent or that he had a family at home that needed him.

Marcus’story is just one of the reasons I want to become a lawyer. There is so much to do to reform the carceral system enough that it serves “equal justice”. It’s going to take thousands of people coming together and deciding that “they’re going to put the system on trial” as Van Jones would say. So many people have dedicated their lives to working in this space, and I want to be a part of their movement. I want to help defend those who can’t pay to defend themselves. I want to help overturn convictions that were wrongful and shameful in the first place. I want to change the system that Bryan Stevenson says “treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent”.

This isn’t a problem we can just retroactively fix; it is continuing to propagate today. Just this summer, Texas passed a bill into law eliminating personal bonds in a great number of cases, only increasing Texas’ already heavy reliance on cash bail, which we know disproportionately affects the poor and people of color. This is not a problem of the past that we simply have to resolve, this is a problem for now and in the future that we must continue to actively fight and defend. Four hundred years of racism and unequal treatment have directly contributed to deep systemic issues with every institution in America today. I want to do my part in helping turn the tide toward real, equitable, and impactful justice.

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