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An Update on Johnathan Perkins: Did He Get His Law Degree?

Johnathan Perkins

When it comes to the protagonists of 2011’s biggest legal stories, our readers want to know: Where are they now? Last week, for example, we brought you an update on Casey Anthony, which generated keen interest (and traffic).

The recent alleged misadventures of certain UVA Law School students — students accused of breaking and entering, students accused of bothering bikers (to be fair, some bikers are obnoxious and deserve what they get) — have caused commentators to wonder: Whatever happened to Johnathan Perkins?

Johnathan Perkins was the then-3L at UVA Law who confessed to fabricating a tale of racial harassment by university police. As a result of his dishonesty, did he have to go before UVA’s famously strict Honor Committee? Did he end up getting his law degree? There was some ambiguity over whether he would graduate.

We have an update, based on a statement from the dean of the law school….

Online sources suggest that Perkins did in fact receive his law degree. As noted in a December story on the C-Ville website, entitled Are UVA Law’s gossip headlines self-inflicted?, “[w]hile UVA Honor Code trials are confidential, a LinkedIn profile with Perkins’ name says he graduated from UVA and works as a legal intern at a Pennsylvania law firm, which means Perkins was either found innocent or did not face a school jury.”

Check out Perkins’s LinkedIn profile or his website, He refers to himself as a 2011 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, and he details his many other achievements. Regardless of your thoughts on his unfortunate incident, you can’t deny that Perkins’s professional pedigree is impressive. He’s a graduate of UVA Law, one of the nation’s best law schools, and he has a wide range of experiences, in government, in-house, and law firm environments.

In response to an inquiry from Above the Law, UVA Law School confirmed that Perkins did earn his J.D. degree. Dean Paul Mahoney provided ATL with the following statement:

In May 2011, a member of the UVA community brought an Honor charge against Johnathan Perkins. Under UVA’s student-run honor system, a student found guilty of lying, cheating or stealing is expelled permanently from the University. The University withheld Mr. Perkins’ degree pending his trial and he did not participate in the graduation ceremonies.

Over the summer, Mr. Perkins went to trial before a jury of fellow students. He was acquitted and has received the degree that had been withheld.

The Law School has separately informed Mr. Perkins that it will furnish a statement regarding the Honor charges and underlying circumstances to any state bar to which he applies.

Mr. Perkins has authorized the Law School to disclose the above information about his Honor proceeding.

This is, as noted, an unfortunate situation. But it seems to me that the UVA Law administration has handled it appropriately at all times, providing information to the community while also respecting Perkins’s privacy. Note how they obtained his permission to disclose information about him (a smart move, in light of privacy laws like FERPA).

If you feel that Perkins should have been denied his degree, a view held by about 90 percent of Above the Law readers, your problem lies not with the administration but with the Honor Committee. In the wake of L’Affaire Perkins, at least one observer criticized UVA’s supposedly “scary, zero-tolerance, rake-you-over-the-coals honor code” as “about as weak as Virginia barbeque.”

We reached out last week to both Johnathan Perkins and Robinson & Geraldo, the small law firm with offices in Pennsylvania and D.C. that currently employs him as a legal intern (according to his website and LinkedIn profile). We haven’t heard back from either Perkins or his employer, but if we do, we’ll let you know.

If you like to stick to the facts, please stop here. If you are open to speculation and opinion — and if you want to express your own views, by voting in a reader poll — you can keep reading….

(hidden for your protection)

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