The Pandemic, Prisoners, and the Commonwealth: Cruel and Unusual?

Today I am hosting a guest blog from third-year student Eric Jepeal.


This past August I was fortunate to be appointed to serve on the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee (SAC) to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). USCCR is a federal agency established by Congress to advance “civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.” USCCR is Congressionally mandated to have SACs in each state and the District of Columbia. The members of these SACs advise and facilitate the work of the USCCR, and are colloquially referred to as the “eyes and ears” of the USCCR. 

Prior to my time at Boston College, I interned for the USCCR and worked on various projects related to solitary confinement, bail reform, and fair housing. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our SAC released a statement of concern regarding incarcerated persons. As you may be aware, the Supreme Judicial Court recently issued an opinion regarding litigation in Massachusetts brought by prisoners’ rights advocates and organizations to provide relief to incarcerated persons in the Commonwealth (CPCS v. Chief). Unfortunately, the SJC found it lacked authority to provide relief to prisoners who are more than sixty days into serving their sentences. 

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And May It Please The Court…

I’m pleased to host a guest blog from 3L Jenny Moore, one of the winners of last year’s Grimes Moot Court Competition, describing her experience in the competition and on a moot court team.

Around BC Law, the dawn of Spring means the annual Grimes Moot Court Competition is reaching its conclusion: two teams vying to be champion in front of three distinguished judges. Grimes is BC Law’s internal moot court competition. Pairs of 2Ls spend a month writing a brief on a hypothetical appellate dispute, and over a month facing off once a week at oral arguments. Last year, my partner, Brooke Hartley, and I took it all home.

Participating in Grimes was one of my favorite parts of law school. Preparing for argument and arguing in front of the judges was unlike anything I had ever done before. I had always enjoyed public speaking but never felt the nerves beforehand until Grimes. Each week I was incredibly nervous right before my argument, but as soon as I got going and received questions from the judges, my nerves would turn into straight adrenaline. I enjoyed the challenge of being on my toes and trying to answer difficult questions in the most effective way possible to win the argument.

Brooke and I were pretty surprised each week when we would advance, and it was always exciting to see how the next round of judges would put us to the test. The day of the finals was one of the most nerve-wracking days of my life, but it will always be a special memory that we got to argue in front of such a distinguished panel, especially Merrick Garland.

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