Professors Kami Simmons and Mark Rabil to host free Spike Lee film screening at Salem College on Wednesday, Dec. 3

Professors Kami Chavis Simmons and Mark Rabil will host a free community cinema screening of “Evolution of a Criminal” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at Salem College’s Huber Theatre.

The executive producer of the film is Spike Lee. The film is directed by Darius Clark Monroe. The documentary explores Monroe’s past, including the circumstances that led him to commit a bank robbery as a young man.

The film is part of RiverRun International Film Festival’s Films with Class. Wake Forest Law hosted a screening of the film on Nov. 19.

After the film, Simmons and Rabil will hold a panel discussion. Simmons is the director of Wake Forest Law’s Criminal Justice Program and Rabil is the director of the law school’s Innocence and Justice Clinic.

Simmons, who joined the Wake Forest University School of Law faculty in 2006, brings substantial experience to teaching and writing about criminal law. After receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School, she worked as an associate at private law firms in Washington, D.C., where she participated in various aspects of civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense, and internal investigations. In 2003, she became an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, involving her in a wide range of criminal prosecutions and in arguing and briefing appeals before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Professor Simmons frequently makes presentations on law-enforcement issues and is a  leader in the field of police accountability. Her articles have appeared in the American Criminial Law Review, the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology,  the University of Alabama Law Review, and the Catholic University Law Review, and other legal journals.  Her research focuses on using Cooperative Federalism principles and stakeholder participation to implement sustainable reforms in the criminal justice system.  She writes in the areas of police and prosecutorial accountability, federal hate crimes legislation and enforcement, and racial profiling. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 2012.

Rabil is an assistant capital defender in Forsyth County whose zealous advocacy led to the release and exoneration of Darryl Hunt after 19 years of incarceration. Rabil had been practicing law for four years when he was court-appointed to assist a senior partner in his law firm in representing Hunt, a 19-year-old black man charged with raping, and stabbing to death Deborah Sykes, a young, white, newspaper reporter. He would continue to represent Hunt for the next 20 years, through trials, hearings, investigations, appeals, and clemency and pardon proceedings. In the summer of 1993, post-conviction hearings regarding witness intimidation and discovery violations led to neither DNA tests proving that neither Hunt nor another suspect, Sammy Mitchell, were involved in the rape of Sykes.  In December, 2003, Rabil’s further efforts forced more DNA testing that led to the arrest of the true killer, and the release of Hunt.  Since 2003, Rabil has been an assistant capital defender in North Carolina and represents individuals who are charged with first-degree murder and face the death penalty. Rabil has served the Wake Forest University School of Law as a supervising attorney for the Litigation Clinic since 1983 and as an adjunct professor of trial advocacy since 2003. In 2004, the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers awarded Rabil the Thurgood Marshall Award for his work representing Darryl Hunt. The story of the case is told in Ricki Stern and Annie Sunberg’s award-winning documentary, “The Trials of Darryl Hunt.”