College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Panel Discussion

Online registration is now closed. Please call 973-655-4141 to pre-register. Walk-ins are welcome!

You're invited to join us on Thursday, October 14, for Is The Law A Tool of Social Justice?

Join us for a panel discussion exploring the question of whether the law is a meaningful tool of social justice. Historically, both here in the US and around the world, the law has been a powerful instrument for social change, social justice and strengthening democracy. But, it has also been used to support injustice, inequality, discrimination and even authoritarian rule. Today, American society is more polarized and American democracy is under greater strain than at any time in many decades. Is the law a means of promoting social justice and a tool for healing American democracy, or is it a means of preserving injustice and blocking meaningful social change?

Event Details

Date: Thursday, October 14
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: School of Communication and Media, Presentation Hall (Event will be livestreamed)
Registration is required to attend.

Our panelists for an evening of enlightening and provocative discussion are:

  • Nancy Erika Smith, distinguished MSU alumna and prominent civil rights lawyer (most famously for leading the sexual harassment case against Roger Ailes and Fox News)
  • Jessica Henry, Professor of Justice Studies and author of Smoke but no Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened
  • Jason Williams, Associate Professor of Justice Studies, co-editor of Black Males and the Criminal Justice System
  • Moderated by Nikki Chambers, Montclair native and Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, Williston Northampton School.

Parking is available in the Red Hawk Deck for a nominal fee.

Safety is Our #1 Priority!

With the health and safety of our community top of mind, all visitors to campus are asked to follow Montclair State University COVID-19 guidelines.

  • All visitors coming to campus are required to complete our self-screening tool, Hawk Check, prior to arrival.
  • Wear a mask at all times when indoors, and wear one outdoors in crowded settings or when participating in outdoor activities that involve close contact with other people.
  • Event staff may ask you to show your proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result at any point during the event: Vaccinated people must be ready to show proof of vaccination in the form of your COVID vaccination card, a photo of your vaccination card or an official app such as Docket, Excelsior or Clear; unvaccinated people must be ready to show a negative rapid or PCR COVID-19 test taken within the past 72 hours; children aged 12-17 must be masked and show proof of vaccination or a negative rapid or PCR COVID-19 test taken within the past 72 hours; children aged 2-12 must be masked.

About Our Panelists

Nikki Chambers is the Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), Williston Northampton School. Chambers has over a decade of experience in higher education and enrollment management, serving most recently as the associate director of admission and coordinator of multicultural recruitment at Smith College, where she led all admission equity and inclusion initiatives. Before joining Smith, Chambers worked in the Office of Admissions at Barnard College of Columbia University for six years. While there, she served as the admission liaison for the Higher Education. She has been the sister co-chair of the Association of Black Admissions and Financial Aid Officers of the Ivy-League and Sister Schools, a nationally recognized organization of more than 300 higher education professionals committed to access, equity, and inclusion for students at the undergraduate level and beyond. Chambers earned a Master of Arts in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College, where she majored in history with a minor in African-American studies.

Jessica Henry is an author, legal commentator, blogger and social justice advocate. After obtaining her J.D. from N.Y.U. School of Law, Henry served as a public defender in New York City for nearly a decade. Professor Henry is the author of the book, "Smoke But No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened" (U.C. Press 2020). She has written numerous articles for both academic and mainstream publications. Her research interests include wrongful convictions, severe sentences (including the death penalty and life without parole), and hate crimes. She frequently appears as a commentator on national and local television and radio, and has been widely cited in the mainstream media. In 2015, Henry received the Montclair State University Distinguished Teacher Award for her excellence in teaching. Henry teaches a wide range of classes including Wrongful Convictions, Criminal Law and Procedure, Death Penalty Perspectives, and Hate Crimes. Visit her website.

Nancy Erika Smith graduated from Rutgers Law School in Newark in 1980. Since then, she has emerged as one of the leading lawyers in New Jersey with a commitment to the law as a tool of social change and social justice that has garnered her multiple recognitions, including being named ‘Lawyer of the Year’ in 2012 by Best Lawyers, the nation’s oldest and most respected peer review journal in the profession. In April 2009, she was listed as one of Superlawyers’ “Top Ten” best lawyers in New Jersey. She has been consistently listed in New Jerseys’ Top 100 lawyers and Top 50 female super lawyers since Superlawyers began publication in 1998.

Nancy’s work has led to national prominence with her commenting regularly on TV, including on MSNBC, ABC and CNN. Smith has litigated many landmark cases such as Slohoda v. United Parcel Service, Donelson and Seddon v. Dupont, Rendine v. Pantzer, and Caggiano v. Fontura. Nancy Smith and Neil Mullin worked for over 20 years on Landano v. Rafferty, a pro bono case in which they successfully obtained the freedom of a man wrongly-convicted of killing a police officer. Perhaps most famously, she is known for the fight against mandatory arbitration and sexual harassment in the Gretchen Carlson case that resulted in Roger Ailes being terminated from Fox News.

Jason Williams is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies at Montclair State University. He’s a passionate activist criminologist deeply concerned about racial and gender disparity and mistreatment within the criminal legal system. He is co-editor of Black Males and the Criminal Justice System, Contemporary Ethical Issues in the Criminal Justice System, and A Critical Analysis of Race and the Administration of Justice. He’s published various articles on returning citizens and incarceration, policing and race, gender, and social control, and the broader implications around racialized social control. He is a qualitative criminologist who engages in community-grounded approaches to research. His perspectives and research have been quoted by media outlets around the nation.