Faculty Book Talk: Martha Minow’s When Should Law Forgive?, Thursday, October 31st at noon

Faculty Book Talk: Martha Minow’s When Should Law Forgive?, Thursday, October 31st at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of When Should Law Forgive? by Martha Minow (W. W. Norton & Co., Sept. 24, 2019).

Thursday, October 31, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein East A/B
(Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Poster for When Should Law Forgive? book talk with image of book cover.

Martha Minow is the Harvard 300th Anniversary University Professor.

Professor Minow will be joined in discussion with commentators:

Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English, the Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center and the Senior Advisor on the Humanities to the President and Provost at Harvard University.

Toby Merrill, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School.

Carol Steiker, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School.

Dehlia Umunna, Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School.

About When Should Law Forgive?

“Crimes and violations of the law require punishment, and our legal system is set up to punish, but what if the system was recalibrated to also weigh grounds for forgiveness? What if something like bankruptcy—a fresh start for debtors—were available to people convicted of crimes? Martha Minow explores the complicated intersection of the law, justice, and forgiveness, asking whether the law should encourage people to forgive, and when courts, public officials, and specific laws should forgive.

Who has the right to forgive? Who should be forgiven? And under what terms? Minow tackles these foundational issues by exploring three questions:

What does the international response to child soldiers teach us about the legal treatment of juvenile offenders in the United States?

Why are the laws surrounding corporate debt more forgiving than those governing American student and consumer debt, and sovereign debt in the developing world?

When do law’s tools of forgiveness, amnesties, and pardons strengthen justice, peace, and democracy (think South Africa), and when do they undermine law’s promise of fairness (think Joe Arpaio)?

There are certainly grounds for both individuals and societies to withhold forgiveness, but there are also cases where letting go of legitimate grievances can make the law more just, not less. The law is democracy’s girder beam, and Minow urges us to build forgiveness into the administration of our laws. Forgiveness, wisely exercised, can strengthen law, democracy, and respect for the humanity of each person.” — W. W. Norton & Co.

About Martha Minow

Martha Minow has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981, where her courses include civil procedure, constitutional law, family law, international criminal justice, jurisprudence, law and education, nonprofit organizations, and the public law workshop. An expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities, she also writes and teaches about privatization, military justice, and ethnic and religious conflict.

Minow served as Dean of Harvard Law School between 2009-2017, as the inaugural Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor. Minow co-chaired the Law School’s curricular reform committee from 2003 to 2006, an effort that led to significant innovation in the first-year curriculum as well as new programs of study for second- and third-year J.D. students. As dean, she strengthened public interest and clinical programs, diversity among faculty, staff, and students, interdisciplinary studies, and financial stability for the School. During 2017-2018, she held the Carter Chair in General Jurisprudence. In 2018, she became the 300th University Anniversary Professor in Harvard University. She serves on the advsiory boards for the new College of Computing and for the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Minow received a master’s degree in education from Harvard and her law degree from Yale. She clerked for Judge David Bazelon of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States. She joined the Harvard Law faculty as an assistant professor in 1981, was promoted to professor in 1986, was named the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law in 2003, became the Jeremiah Smith Jr., Professor of Law in 2005, and after her service as dean, became the Carter Professor Of General Jurisprudence in 2017. She is also a lecturer in the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University.

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