Professor Jonathan Rapping Named MacArthur Genius Fellow

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Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is honored to announce that Professor Jonathan Rapping was named a 2014 MacArthur Genius Fellow for the impact his non-profit organization, Gideon’s Promise, has made on society. The MacArthur Fellow Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Dean of the law school, Malcolm L Morris, expressed to the entire John Marshall community, “This is a momentous honor and his dedication should serve as an inspiration to us all.”

In 2007, Rapping created the Southern Public Defender Training Center, subsequently renamed Gideon’s Promise. Named after the landmark 1963 Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, Gideon’s Promise teaches public defenders to work more effectively within the judicial system by providing coaching, training, and professional development as well as a supportive network of peers and mentors from around the country. The growth Gideon’s Promise has experienced since its founding is due to the vision and dedication of Professor Rapping. The organization has grown from a single training program for 16 attorneys in two offices in Georgia and Louisiana, to a multi-tiered enterprise with over 300 participants in more than 35 offices across 15 states.

While Professor Rapping’s work with Gideon’s Promise has been revolutionary in training and improving the nation’s public defenders, the MacArthur Foundations insists that the fellowship “is not a reward for past accomplishments, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential.” The MacArthur Genius Fellow Program is intended to encourage recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

“I can’t imagine a greater personal honor, nor a more significant validation of the work mission of Gideon’s Promise and the amazing work of everyone in this community,” says Rapping.

This year, Professor Rapping established a partnership with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, marking the first time the Gideon’s Promise model will be integrated into a statewide defender system. The MacArthur Foundation states that “Rapping’s effective and replicable model of teaching, mentorship, and professional networking is an innovative prescription for equitable legal defense and is safeguarding the essential democratic right of every American to high-quality legal representation regardless of ability to pay.”

Professor Rapping shares this accomplishment with poets, mathematicians, musicians, computer scientists, filmmakers, and more from around the world. For additional information on Rapping and the other 2014 MacArthur Genius Fellows can be found on their website. Once again, congratulations to Professor Jonathan Rapping for inspiring and impacting the world in such a meaningful way.