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Criminal law project features professor’s essay


August 19, 2008

Professor Jeffrie Murphy of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is among leading scholars who have been invited to debate the fundamental questions of modern criminal law for a project at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Murphy’s essay, “Remorse, Apology and Mercy,” was nominated by Susan Bandes, a distinguished research professor at DePaul University College of Law and a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School, for inclusion in the Criminal Law Conversations project.

In recent months, it received five comments from other scholars in the field and thus moved from the nomination phase into the selection stage.

“I am pleased that so many people are engaged by my article enough to want to comment on it,” says Murphy, Regents’ Professor of Law, Philosophy & Religious Studies at ASU.

The interest in Murphy’s piece is significant because, while 112 nominations have been made to date, just 26 have attracted four or more commentators, the required minimum for acceptance. A writer whose work has been accepted is then required to provide a 5,000-word “core text” that summarizes the essence of the original article.

The series of “conversations” was initiated by three eminent criminal law scholars:

• Paul H. Robinson, Colin S. Diver Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

• Professor Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, associate dean for academic affairs and co-director of the Institute for Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University, School of Law-Camden.

• Professor Stephen P. Garvey, associate dean for academic affairs at Cornell University Law School.

The plan is to generate a series of exchanges centering on significant questions in criminal law theory. Eventually, the most dynamic and interesting exchanges will be published by Oxford University Press in a volume of “conversations” about hot-button criminal law issues.

In a June 20 article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Christopher Collins, an Oxford editor, called the experiment “ ‘American Idol’ meets peer review and 2.0 publishing,” because it has created an interactive alternative to traditional scholarly publishing. The more than 130 scholars who signed on to the project are judging which essays are the most provocative and compelling and which should be “booted off the stage.”