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

Professor Douglas Berman in the Sentencing Spotlight

Professor Douglas Berman's scholarship and service have established him as a leading authority on U.S. sentencing law. As the Supreme Court reconsidered and ruled on sentencing guidelines, Professor Berman was and is in high demand nationally and locally. He has been featured on Public Broadcasting's News Hour with Jim Lehrer, National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, and is quoted frequently in the national press. His blog has become required reading for judges and lawyers nationwide, and was cited in the most recent U.S. Supreme Court case dealing with sentencing guidelines in federal courts. He has testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission twice in recent months.

Closer to home, Professor Berman has shared his sentencing expertise at the annual meetings of the U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Courts of Appeals Judges, and the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association. He has consulted with the Ohio Sentencing Commission as well as the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Unlike most experts in the field, Professor Berman concerns himself with both capital and non-capital punishment issues, extending his considerable efforts in each area. He has been the editor of the Federal Sentencing Reporter since 1994 - sharing duties as the co-managing editor since the summer of 2001. His extensive publications of articles and commentaries almost all concern issues of sentencing. His articles have appeared in many law reviews including Harvard, Iowa, and Notre Dame, as well as a number of more specialized publications. His co-authored casebook, Sentencing Law and Policy: Cases, Statutes, and Guidelines, was published in 2004.

In his third year of teaching at the Moritz College of Law, Professor Berman won the 2000 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, given by The Ohio State University each year to only 10 of its more than 3,000 faculty. He was among the youngest faculty members ever to be so honored. Having found his true calling in academia, he takes special pride in the lawyers he has trained. He believes that the best lawyers challenge themselves, being pro-active, not reactive, and he strives to teach students how to use what they read and how to plan their legal strategies.

Doug Berman gets his head shaved

Assistant Dean for Professional Development Amee McKim helps Professor Berman make good on
his promise to shave his head if
50 or more Moritz students
applied for clerkships.

Following magna cum laude graduation from Harvard Law School, where he was the editor and developments office chair on the Harvard Law Review, he had two different clerkships. The first, 1993-94 court term, was with Judge Jon O. Newman, who had just been appointed the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The next term he clerked with Judge Guido Calabresi, newly appointed to the Second Circuit after having served as Dean of the Yale Law School. Because Professor Berman enjoyed clerking so much, he chairs the Moritz faculty Clerkship Committee that works to promote greater interest in, and access to, judicial clerkships at all levels. Two years ago he made good on his promise to shave his head if 50 or more Moritz students applied for clerkships.

Professor Berman is particularly good at building institutions, such as the Federal Sentencing Reporter. He and Professor Joshua Dressler have been instrumental in creating a new law review at the Moritz College of Law: The Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. He has also taken an interest in helping others with their scholarship. Professor Berman was a major force in putting together a first of its kind symposium on "Addressing Capital Punishment through Statutory Reform," a two-day event sponsored by the Ohio State Law Journal. In addition to his own article, he wrote the foreword for the published version of the symposium, which appeared in the spring 2002 issue of the Ohio State Law Journal. He is a perennial presenter at Judges' Day, the annual event drawing federal, state, and local judges to Moritz for a day of continuing legal education programs hosted by faculty.

Be it a request from students, faculty, or the media, Professor Berman's initial response is always the same, "What can I do for you?" Apparently, the word is out.

Special thanks to Professor Emeritus Doug Whaley who contributed to this article