2011 Conference Program (PDF) - Syracuse University College of Law


2011 Conference Program (PDF) - Syracuse University College of Law

3.9 Author Meets Author: Law and Society Redefined and the Justice of Mercy—Pavlich and Meyer

George Pavlich Law and Society Redefined (OUP Canada, 2010)

As a critical review of leading jurisprudential, social and political theories of law, this

book – at one level – provides an accessible analysis of key ideas that have shaped the

law and society field. At another level, however, Law and Society Redefined evaluates

the effects of such theories for the overall shape of the field, and wades into an

assessment of the contested contributions of more recent (poststructural, postcolonial,

etc.) approaches. The book challenges conventional approaches that centre around

purported beings like ‘law’ or ‘society’, opting instead to understand how these

‘become’, especially as promises of justice. One effect of such an approach is potentially

to recast founding concepts in the law and society field.

Linda Ross Meyer The Justice of Mercy (Michigan, 2010)

3.10 Law and Emotion: Crossing the Bar

How can granting mercy be just if it gives a criminal less punishment than he ‘deserves’

and treats his case differently from others like it This ancient question has become

central to debates over truth and reconciliation commissions, alternative dispute

resolution, and other new forms of restorative justice. The traditional response has been

to marginalize mercy and to cast doubt on its ability to coexist with forms of legal justice.

Flipping the relationship between justice and mercy, this book argues that our rule-bound

and harsh system of punishment is deeply flawed and that mercy should be, not the crazy

woman in the attic of the law, but the lady of the house. This book articulates a theory of

punishment with mercy and illustrates the implications of that theory with legal examples

drawn from criminal law doctrine, pardons, mercy in military justice, and fictional

narratives of punishment and mercy.

Eimear Spain

‘Towards a General Defence of Reasonable Emotional Response’

One of the most important tasks facing the criminal lawyer is the need to reassess its

fundamental doctrines in the light of advances in the modern understanding of emotions

from the psychological viewpoint. Of particular importance is an exploration of the role

of emotions in criminal behaviour and their consequential importance for criminal law

defences. Given their common origin, it is arguable that the law should not differentiate

between emotions, for example, fear and anger. The possibility of recognising a general

defence of reasonable emotional response, encompassing all emotions and responses

judged to be normatively acceptable should be considered. The potential scope of such a

defence is broad, covering not only those covered by traditional defences such as

provocation and self-defence, but also others such as those who commit ‘mercy killings’.

This paper will consider the arguments for and against the recognition of such a defence

in the modern law.

Heather Conway

‘Passing “Judgment”’: Judicial Moralism, Inherited Wealth and the Parent-Child Bond’

In English law, a statutory family provision system allows disinherited relatives to

challenge a testator’s wishes on the basis of family or dependency ties to the deceased

which transcend death. One such category of applicant is the adult child. This paper looks

at such cases, and questions the extent to which judicial decision-making is influenced by

prevailing social and cultural norms surrounding what might be described as a parent’s

‘moral responsibility’ to his or her children. It also questions whether judges are

importing their own subjective views and feelings on the nature and quality of the parent-



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