Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Alumni invited to April 22 Schwartz Lecture, "Mercy, Clemency, and Capital Punishment: Two Accounts."

On January 10 and 11, 2003, Governor George Ryan emptied Illinois' death row, first pardoning six and then commuting 164 condemned inmates' sentences in the broadest attack on the death penalty in decades. His clemency put mercy on trial, forcing us to consider anew when and to whom it should be accorded. It was, in addition, the single sharpest blow to capital punishment since the United States Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1972.

According to Austin Sarat, our Spring Schwartz Lecturer, "His actions remind us of the virtually unchecked powers of chief executives at the state and federal level to grant clemency and, in so doing, to spare life. In a society committed to the rule of law, and to the concept of checks and balances, what Ryan did exposed a gaping hole in the fabric of legality. It seemed to push beyond the limits of law's ability to regulate executive power, and hinted at a specter of unaccountable power lying dormant, waiting for an occasion to be exercised."

In his Schwartz Lecture, Mercy, Clemency, and Capital Punishment: Two Accounts, Professor Sarat will discuss two examples of the speech and writing that surround clemency, one by Gov. Ryan, the other by former Ohio Governor, Michael DiSalle. He will focus on how chief executives use rhetoric and narrative to cope with the emotionally-charged decision to spare a life or to let someone die, and on how they explain or justify their use of this extraordinary power. He will explore how these accounts respond to the cultural anxiety that necessarily attaches to a power that cannot be subject to rule, and whether these narratives calm the anxiety that surrounds clemency in capital cases.

Austin Sarat is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Five College 40th Anniversary Professor at Amherst College. He is author or editor of more than fifty books, including When the State Kills: Capital Punishment in Law, Politics, and Culture. His public writing has appeared in such places as The Los Angeles Times and The American Prospect, and he has been a guest on National Public Radio, The News Hour, and The O'Reilly Factor. His teaching has been featured in The New York Times and on The Today Show. He is currently writing a book entitled Hollywood's Law: What Movies Do for Democracy.

Moritz invites you to attend the Schwartz Lecture at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, April 22, 2005 in the Saxbe Auditorium of Drinko Hall at the Moritz College of Law on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will include a complimentary boxed lunch.; Please RSVP by April 20 to 614-292-2937 or if you plan to attend.

The Schwartz Lecture on Dispute Resolution was established in 1992 through the generosity of the late Stanley Schwartz Jr. '47 and the Schwartz family. Each lecture is published in the interdisciplinary Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, in keeping with Mr. Schwartz's interest in the promotion of scholarly publication in the area of dispute resolution.