A Message from the Dean: UW Law’s Unshakeable Commitment to the Rule of Law

Dear UW Law Community: 

This afternoon brought a measure of relief after the anguish, pain and stress our community has been facing over the last year caused by the far-too-common examples of racial violence and the global pandemic.

I was satisfied to see that due process and the justice-seeking virtues of our legal system were upheld. I was also relieved that the jury’s finding that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is guilty on all counts, including murder, in the death of George Floyd was consistent with how so many lay observers have viewed these events. My thoughts are with Mr. Floyd’s family and loved ones. I hope they are now able to grieve in peace.

A guilty verdict in a single case does not erase centuries of injustice that BIPOC members of our community have faced at the hands of law enforcement. However, I am hopeful that today will mark the start of a new era in which we are able to reimagine forms of public safety that truly protect and serve. I am optimistic that the outcome in this case will empower police to continue to come forward to address bias and brutality within their ranks.

In the trial, we saw examples of excellent litigation, the importance of jury service, and the role the justice system can play in vindicating the rights of all persons. While these illustrations reflect well on the crucial importance of our profession to righting horrible wrongs, I also look forward to the day when episodes of police brutality are a thing of the past.

UW Law’s commitment to ensuring the rule of law serves all communities is unshakeable. Our efforts to ensure anti-racism, foster diverse representation at every level of the justice system and dismantle racist power structures are more important than ever.

In this moment, I am rededicating myself to this crucial work. Please join me. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read UW President Ana Mari Cauce’s message, I invite you to do so. It is available on her blog.

Together we can combat the racism and inequities that persist in society. We stand with you in the pursuit of equity and justice.

In solidarity,

Mario L. Barnes
Toni Rembe Dean and Professor of Law
University of Washington School of Law