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Professors published in 'Criminal Law Conversations'

July 13, 2009

Professors Carissa Byrne Hessick, Jeffrie Murphy and Mary Sigler, of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, have contributed essays and comments to a new and authoritative overview of hot-button criminal law issues, which has just been published by Oxford University Press.

The volume, Criminal Law Conversations, was initiated by three eminent criminal law scholars, Paul H. Robinson, the Colin S. Diver Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Professor Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Co-director of the Institute for Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University, School of Law - Camden, and Professor Stephen P. Garvey, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Cornell University Law School.

Murphy, a Regents' Professor of Law, Philosophy & Religious Studies, is among leading scholars who were invited to debate the most fundamental and captivating questions of modern criminal law for the project at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The resulting book includes a Core Text from Murphy's essay, "Remorse, Apology, and Mercy," originally published in 2007 in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. It explores the nature of remorse and apology and the role that these might play in decisions to grant legal mercy, either at the time of sentencing or consideration of clemency. Murphy also contributed a response to his critics of the text, and a comment on an essay on the death penalty by Susan Bandes, a Distinguished Research Professor at DePaul University College of Law.

Sigler contributed two comments to the Criminal Law Conversations project. The first, entitled "The False Promise of Empirical Desert," critiqued Robinson's chapter on empirical desert. Robinson spoke about empirical desert at the College of Law's first annual Edward J. Shoen Leading Scholars Lecture last February. The Lecture will be published in an upcoming issue of the Arizona State Law Journal, which will also include a response by Sigler.

Sigler's second comment discussed Bandes' chapter on the persistence of the American death penalty. In it, she challenges Bandes' characterization of retributivism's role in the capital punishment debate. Sigler has written extensively on the death penalty, and some of her previous publications on the subject have appeared in the American Criminal Law Review and in Law & Philosophy.

Hessick also contributed a comment to Criminal Law Conversations, critiquing a chapter by Cynthia Williams of George Washington University Law School on the provocation defense. Hessick has previously written on the provocation defense in her article "Violence Against Lovers, Strangers, and Friends," published in 2007 by the Washington University Law Review.

Murphy's primary teaching and research areas are philosophy of law and jurisprudence, criminal law, ethics and religion, moral philosophy (including moral psychology), philosophy in literature/law and literature, and Kant's moral, political and legal philosophy. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the theory of punishment, forgiveness and mercy, and the moral emotions, most recently, the book, Getting Even-Forgiveness and its Limits (Oxford University Press). A frequent lecturer at conferences and meetings, Murphy will give the McDonald Lecture at Oxford University and four Stanton Lectures at Cambridge University in 2010.

Sigler's research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of legal, moral and political philosophy. Her current research addresses the ethics of punishment, virtue politics, and the role of dignity and decency in legal liberalism, and she recently presented a paper on private prisons at a legal theory conference at Oxford University. She teaches Criminal Law, Jurisprudence, and various topics in moral and political theory, and has published articles addressing various aspects of the capital sentencing process, the role of emotions in legal decision making, and the operation of forgiveness, mercy and revenge as elements of justice.

Hessick teaches Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, and a seminar on Sentencing Law and Policy. Her research focuses on aggravation and mitigation in criminal sentencing, relative crime severity, and other political and doctrinal issues associated with sentencing. Hessick recently published an article in the Boston University Law Review on aggravating and mitigating sentencing factors, as well as an article in the Alabama Law Review on appellate standards of review for federal sentencing decisions. She currently is working on a manuscript about the prosecution and punishment for those who possess child pornography.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law