In Memoriam: Judge Eleanor Schockett of LEAP

Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition wrote the following memorial for one of LEAP's most active leaders, Judge Eleanor Schockett. We reprint it from the LEAP web site.

I am very sad to have to report that Judge Eleanor Levingston Schockett died Saturday, January 12, 2008, at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.

Eleanor was a close friend, a colleague, and an unbeatable advocate for sensible thinking in a world that is desperately in need of such people.

I had the pleasure of spending several weeks in the company of Judge Schockett over the last four years. Eleanor joined LEAP by email, July 2, 2003 saying:

"I retired from the circuit bench Dec.31, 2002. (I served two six-year terms). I was referred to this organization by John Chase of the November organization. My interest in this subject dates back to 1958 when I wrote my senior paper at Tulane Law School on the administration of the drug laws in the United States. Matters have only gotten worse in the intervening years as I observed when in the Criminal Division of the Court. The main reason I did not take senior judge status is that I wanted to have my civil rights back, so I could speak out on political as well as judicial issues. I am in full agreement with your mission statement and would like to do whatever I can to contribute to a more responsible drug policy."

It wasn't very long before we realized we must recruit her as a member of the LEAP Board of Directors. Eleanor sat through what seemed at the time to be endless hours of board meetings as we shaped our organization. Her advice was always clear and concise. On many occasions she saved us from making major mistakes.

In those four years, Eleanor never turned down a venue arranged to present LEAP's goal to end drug prohibition. She was absolutely tireless. I had the honor of traveling with Eleanor and retired Detective Chief Superintendent of Scotland Yard, Eddie Ellison, to New Zealand. In two-weeks we made 90 presentations in that country. Then we were off to a week at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

My wife accompanied us on that trip and became another of Eleanor's many friends. Eleanor visited us at our home in Medford, Massachusetts many times.

Eleanor fought cancer for the last year, but after a regime of chemotherapy thought she had beaten it. She never complained about her own plight. She told me how ridiculous it was that doctors in North Carolina would charge her $105 per pill to alleviate the nausea caused by her chemo treatment when a simple marijuana cigarette would have accomplished the same thing -- without the side effects. She said that just made her more determined to work to end prohibition of all drugs.

Judge Schockett traveled to New Orleans last December to join 1,200 of us at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference. She spoke on one of the panels and helped us plan our strategy for our continued struggle.

We will all miss her wonderful sense of humor and her biting wit. She was never shy about stating her views on drug policy or about standing up for people in need. When I think of all I have learned from Eleanor and all the ways she has touched my life I feel very sad to have lost her, and that with only this relatively short amount of time with her. I can not imagine how her family feels after knowing Eleanor for a lifetime. Without her LEAP will not be the same. But I can almost hear Eleanor repeating Joe Hill's famous words as he faced his imminent death, "Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize."

We will miss her.

Watch Judge Shockett's DrugTruth Network interview in New Orleans here.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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