Judge Eleanor Schockett-- drug policy campaigner dies
From: Brandon Hutchison Date: Jan 23, 2008 1:29 PM
Subject: Judge Eleanor Schockett-- drug policy campaigner dies
|Judge Eleanor Levingston Schockett Will Be Missed|
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 (17:52:00
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 affects. 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 eminent death, "Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize."
We will miss her.
Jack A. Cole
I first met Eleanor in the Los Angeles airport when she, my husband Jack Cole, and I, were going to New Zealand. She was about my height, and she was dressed to the nines: jeans jacket with bold embroidery, chunky jewelry, multi-colored fingernails (fuscia, turquoise, and other such colors), and bright lipstick. She was warm, very talkative, and very opinionated. I'm no shrinking violet either, and after a few minutes we were in heated argument about a political issue having nothing to do with LEAP – she on one side, I, on the other. At some point we simply agreed to disagree. Our differences faded in the face of Eleanor's decency, her sense of humor, her passionate devotion to LEAP, to the Board members and especially to Jack; her brilliant articulateness in speaking from her experience as a judge, her tough integrity, and the investment of her remaining years to the cause of drug legalization.
After she became ill I called her a number of times and was always struck by her cheerfulness, lack of self-pity, and confidence that she would probably conquer the disease – but, if not, her acceptance of inevitability: "What can I do about it? And so why should I worry about it?"
A month ago, in New Orleans, we took a short walk and had lunch. She was very tired and had to stop for minutes at a time. She regretted that chemotherapy seemed to have made her "spacey," and told me that if she blanked over a word or a thought, not to mind. She was very articulate and matter-of-fact in her communication of this. It was impossible to feel sorry for her.
LEAP has lost a unique, tough, piercing and vigorous intellect. It has lost the only woman speaker and board-member it has had (Eleanor might not like my singling this out about her; we had an argument or two about feminism, as well.) I am bitterly sorry that she is gone. She was unique. While LEAP will go on to organize and, hopefully, find other courageous, smart women from law enforcement, it will never have another Judge Schockett.