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Wisniewski Wins 2012 Hughes-Gossett Student Essay Prize

Daniel J. WisniewskiDaniel J. Wisniewski, a May 2012 graduate of George Mason University School of Law, is the recipient of the Supreme Court Historical Society's 2012 Hughes-Gossett Student Essay Prize for his paper entitled, Heating Up a Case Gone Cold: Revisiting the Charges of Bribery and Official Misconduct Made Against Supreme Court Justice Robert Cooper Grier in 1854-55.

In addition to winning a cash prize of $500, Wisniewski's paper will be published in the Journal of Supreme Court History. Wisniewski and a guest have been invited to attend the June 2013 Annual Meeting and Dinner at the Supreme Court, where a Justice will present him with a piece of marble from the Supreme Court building as a memento of the honor. 

In the mid-1850s, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert C. Grier was investigated by Congress for allegedly soliciting a bribe and releasing inside court information in connection with the case Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co. (1856).  Wisniewski's article uses two newly discovered letters from Grier to Hendrick B. Wright, the Congressman responsible for investigating him, to corroborate some of the charges leveled against him and to suggest that Grier had a heavy hand in the preparation of his own exoneration.

In congratulating Wisniewski, Journal of Supreme Court History Managing Editor Clare Cushman said, "We are especially thrilled to have a paper on Grier, who has not gotten much attention in our pages."

In addition to the JD he was awarded at the May 2012 law school convocation, Wisniewski holds a BA in History/Political Science from Monmouth University. He credits Professor Ross Davies for the inspiration to write the paper, as well as for Davies' suggestion he submit the article for the Hughes-Gossett Award.

Says Davies, "The award is very well-deserved—Dan wrote a great paper."