Witcher Among 3 Recipients at Rutgers-Camden BLSA MLK Awards Event



CINAMINSON — The Black Law Student Association of Rutgers University-Camden School of Law held its 28th annual Champions of Social Justice Banquet at The Merion to honor those who have impacted their professions.

The attendees included college students, school faculty and staff, and lawyers from South Jersey, Philadelphia, and Delaware. The awards honored those who worked to uphold Dr. Martin Luther King’s message.

The first event was in 1997 and honored six individuals for their success and achievements. Since then, approximately 113 people have received the award.

BLSA recognized three accomplished individuals who worked hard in their fields to promote diversity to students who will join the profession after graduation, all of whom are college graduates.

Witcher Stand Strong

Judge Jason Witcher, a recently retired judge and alumnus of the class of 2001, was one of the three recipients that night. Judge Witcher has served as a Municipal Court Judge in Salem City, Carneys Point, Penns Grove, and Bridgeton. 

The judge made previous headlines with his stance against the discrimination of Hispanic defendants who were asked to appear in in-person court sessions and were not able to opt for a virtual appearance in the city of Millville. 

When Witcher accepted his award, he acknowledged his wife’s impact on him, his career, and the lessons he learned from Dr. King’s legacy. 

“There is no Judge Jason Witcher standing before you without Leslie Witcher standing behind me,” he said to the audience. “Looking back on what was lost and the price that he paid, I would have done the same thing.” Dr. King said, ‘It is always time to do what is right.'”

Witcher plans to become a prison minister and a professor if the opportunity presents itself. 

“Hopefully, in the prison ministry,” he said when asked what he will do now that he’s retired. “I worked in a prison when I was in law school. If the opportunity presents itself, I would love it if someone gives me a call.”

Georgette Miller: From Jamaica to South Jersey

Georgette Miller (R) and partner courtesy of Emmanuel Young.

Georgette Miller, an attorney experienced in strategy execution, risk, and crisis management, was the second recipient of the night. She made a career in the legal financial system, working with hedge funds, financial service providers, real estate investment trusts, government entities, and institutional investors.

Miller came to the United States from Jamaica when she was 19 with an ambition for success. She is a current partner at Dilworth Paxson LLP. She also sits on the board of Philadelphia’s Sickle Cell Disease Association of America chapter and is a previous board member of Habitat for Humanity.

She also aims to recruit diverse firms and law students for her company’s summer associate program. She spoke about the importance of confidence and character.

“Somebody will not remember your name; they may not remember what you look like, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” She told the guests, “Wherever you are, no matter what you have … you are enough.”

She plans to take a position she was offered in North Carolina.

Shaka Johnson: This Means Everything

Photo of Shaka Johnson and family courtesy of Emmanuel Young.

Shaka Johnson, a longtime criminal defense attorney, was the third and final recipient of the night. Mr. Johnson has a history of working in the criminal justice system, not just as an attorney but also in law enforcement. 

He spent seven years as a uniformed officer and four in the narcotics division. He credits this experience in his legal career as insight into cases. His firm, The Law Offices of Shaka Johnson, LLC, has taken cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, both state and federal, working to represent those in the areas they swore to uphold. 

In 2021, he and his partner Stampone O’Brien Dilsheimer Law negotiated and settled with the city of Philadelphia to issue Tasers to all uniformed police officers and undergo training in the use of Tasers after the death of Walter Wallace, Jr. 

“This award means everything to me, to be at my alma mater and to be at a legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King,” he said. “ These awards keep us going because it is a relatively thankless duty we are called to do, and when we get them, they certainly mean a lot.”

He plans to continue to work in his legal career.

The night concluded with the students and recipients enjoying their dinner, dancing, and sharing their experiences and advice with the students who will become lawyers after graduation.

NOTE: Emmanuel Young is a freelance journalist and a veteran of the South Jersey Information Equity Project.

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