At age 23, Regina Forker may seem like an ordinary law student. She is entering her third year at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She just finished a clinic in intellectual property and entrepreneurship and is currently interning at Hartford’s Updike, Kelly & Spellacy.
But what sets her apart from her law school colleagues is how she spends what little other free time she has. She’s written a book, which is being sold through the Connecticut Bar Association.
“Controversial CourtCases in Connecticut; Part 1″ was released this spring and is the first of a two-part series. She has already begun researching cases for Part II.
Forker said the first book, about 200 pages long, discusses six Connecticut cases which deal primarily with “oppressed groups of people.”
“I tried to look at the history behind the issue, who the parties were, what happened at the trial day-by-day and the outcome…and its effect,” Forker said.
The book begins with the 17th century Connecticut witch trials, which occurred 45 years before the infamous Salem, Mass., witch trials, and ends with the ongoing Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation case.
She also writes about the trial involving the crew of the slave ship Amistad, a turning point for the abolitionist movement; the trial of Prudence Crandall, a 19th century schoolteacher who created Connecticut’s first school for African American girls; the trial of the New Haven Nine, the Black Panther murder trial, which brought national attention to Connecticut in the 1970s; and the Griswold v. Connecticut contraception case, which laid the groundwork for a legal right to privacy and became the foundation for the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.
In doing her research, Forker went so far as to visit historical sites pertaining to the cases, including the Prudence Crandall house in Canterbury and the Amistad replica in New Haven. She conducted some of her research for the witch trials at the Wethersfield Historical Society. She said a lot of the alleged witches came from Wethersfield.
Forker said the book idea evolved from inquiries she made after discovering UConn law school did not have a newspaper when she first started there. As a UConn undergraduate, Forker had double majored in journalism and political science and wanted to continue writing. So she approached the CBA, where officials had the idea for the controversial cases books.
Forker loved the idea and said the whole process from the signing to publishing date was 13 months, from April 2007 until May 2008. She said every Friday was spent largely on the book. “Classes aren’t usually held on Friday,” she explained.
Last summer, while she interned at Brown, Paindiris, & Scottin Glastonbury, she was given each Friday off to work on the book. Still, the honors student acknowledged that writing a book was tougher than she initially anticipated.
“I went into it very naively. Oh, 1-2-3, I’ll write a book,” she said. “It was a lot more work than I thought. It wasn’t what I pictured but it was a great experience.”
With one book under her belt, Forker is researching cases for the sequel and has loftier aspirations forfuture endeavors. “The goal is to get a nationallyreleased book sometime in the near future,” said Forker, who grew up in Kansas and Connecticut.
She said “nothing is set in stone” but she thinks a similar national controversial cases could be a possibility. She also plans to document her experiences as a first-year lawyer for a possible book detailing those experiences. Meanwhile, her second installment of controversial Connecticut cases will have a criminal law theme. Or, as Forker put it, much of the book will focus on “gory murders.”