Symposium Addressed Death Penalty in America


One of the country's most viscerally contentious issues, the death penalty, was at the center of a symposium on March 2-3 in the Storer Auditorium on the University of Miami campus.

Arranged by the Miami Law Review, the symposium, The Future of the Death Penalty in America, had Professor Jordan Steiker, from the University of Texas School of Law, as its keynote speaker.

The first of Friday's panels, at 1:30 p.m., was titled Is the End of the Death Penalty Near? Moderator Mary Anne Franks, a Miami Law professor whose specialty is criminal law, was joined by a panel of legal scholars — Professor Robert Blecker of New York Law School; Professor Corinna Lain of the University of Richmond School of Law; Associate Professor Sarah Mourer, director of Miami Law's Death Penalty Clinic and Innocence Clinic; and Professor Mark Olive, of the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Also on Friday, at 3:30 p.m., a panel called The Uncertain Future of Lethal Injection was moderated by Miami Law Professor Tamara Rice Lave and featured Professor Deborah Denno of Fordham University School of Law; Professor Douglas Berman of Ohio State University Moritz School of Law; Bruce Fleisher, an attorney; and Stephen Harper, a coordinator in the Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office.

On Saturday, the first panel, at 9 a.m., was titled: Life Without Parole: An Acceptable Alternative? Moderated by Miami Law Professor Caroline Bettinger-López, it featured former Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Israel Reyes; Ashley Nellis, from The Sentencing Project; Professor Robert Blecker of New York Law School; and Abbe Rifkin, a 1981 Miami Law graduate and senior trial counsel in the State Attorney's Office in Miami.

A panel at 11 a.m., called Social Science and the Death Penalty, was moderated by Miami Law Professor Susan Bandes and included Professor Adam Koler of Brooklyn Law School; Mona Lynch, a professor of criminology at the University of California at Irvine; Assistant Professor Cynthia Brown of the University of Central Florida; and Saby Ghoshray, a capital jurisprudence scholar.

Professor Steiker, the keynote speaker, is co-director of the University of Texas law school's Capital Punishment Center. He was a visiting professor at the Harvard Law School and has written extensively on the death penalty, including several recent publications: A Tale of Two Nations: Implementation of the Death Penalty in "Executing" Versus "Symbolic" States in the United States; The Seduction of Innocence: The Attraction and Limitations of the Focus on Innocence in Capital Punishment Law and Advocacy, and Habeas Exceptionalism.

The symposium was free and open to the public, and offered 9 CLE credits. For more information, visit the University of Miami Law Review's website.