Monday, April 30, 2012
Marc DeGirolami already alluded to his recent presentation at UST, the latest offering in the Murphy Institute's "Hot Topics: Cool Talk" program, but I wanted to call your attention to the fact that the video of his wonderful exploration of the question: "Why Punish?" is now online. As Marc pointed out, the program was a dialogue with Judge Richard Sullivan, U.S.D.J., S.D. N.Y. The exchange between these two speakers was a rather ironic display of some of the bridges that actually exist over that oft-described "gap between theory and practice." Judge Sullivan began his remarks with a witty comment about how he never thought of either Aquinas or any of the litany of punishment theorists Marc had referenced in his talk when he sentenced anyone. However, a few minutes into the talk, Judge Sullivan casually referenced ideas from a book Marc had pointed out in his talk -- Peter Karl Koritansky's Thomas Aquinas and the Philosophy of Punishment.
The Murphy Institute's program was part of an excellent day-long UST Law Journal symposium organized by Mark Osler, on "Sentence Commutations and the Executive Pardon Power." The whole day was fascinating (see this post from participant P.S. Ruckman in his Pardon Power blog), but I personally think the most gripping panel was the final one, consisting of an exchange among Serena Nunn (a recent graduate of Michigan Law School who served about 7 years in federal prison before having her sentence commuted); Judge David Doty, U.S.D.J., D. MN (the judge who had sentenced Ms. Nunn, voicing at the time of sentencing his frustration over the sentencing guidelines, and later drafting a letter in support of the commutation); and Judge Denis D. Reilly, MN Dist. Ct. (who, as former Assistant U.S. Attorney had prosecuted Ms. Nunn).