Merciful Judgments and Contemporary Society: Legal Problems, Legal Possibilities

Merciful Judgments and Contemporary Society: Legal Problems, Legal Possibilities

by Austin Sarat


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Merciful Judgments in Contemporary Society: Legal Problems/Legal Possibilities explores the tension between law's need for and dependence on merciful judgments and suspicions that regularly accompany them. Rather than focusing primarily on definitional questions or the longstanding debate about the moral worth and importance of mercy, this book focuses on mercy as a part of, and problem, for law. Whether one starts from a worry about rules and discretion, about the attitudes of citizens and their leaders, or ways to undo the past, merciful judgments challenge and perplex, just as they help to sustain, our legal system. Charting these possibilities and problems is the work that this book seeks to do. Here we ask what challenges merciful judgments pose for law? When and why do those judgments encourage and nurture legal ingenuity and resourcefulness? When and why do they precipitate crises and breakdowns in legal authority? This book is a product of The University of Alabama School of Law symposia series on “Law, Knowledge & Imagination.” This series explores the ways law is known and imagined in a diverse array of disciplines, including political science, history, cultural studies, philosophy, and science. In addition, books produced through the Alabama symposia explore various conjunctions of law, knowledge, and imagination as they play out in debates about theory and policy and speak to venerable questions as well as contemporary issues.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107614321
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 07/11/2013
Pages: 322
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.67(d)

About the Author

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College and Justice Hugo L. Black Senior Faculty Scholar at the University of Alabama School of Law. He is author or editor of more than seventy books, including The Road to Abolition?: The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States; The Killing State: Capital Punishment in Law, Politics, and Culture; When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition; The Cultural Lives of Capital Punishment: Comparative Perspectives; Law, Violence and the Possibility of Justice; Pain, Death, and the Law; Mercy on Trial: What It Means to Stop an Execution; When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarriages of Justice and the two-volume Capital Punishment. Sarat is editor of the journals Law, Culture and the Humanities and Studies in Law, Politics and Society. He is currently writing a book entitled Hollywood's Law: Film, Fatherhood, and the Legal Imagination. His book, When Government Breaks the Law: Prosecuting the Bush Administration, was recognized as one of the best books of 2010 by the Huffington Post. In May 2008, Providence College awarded Sarat with an honorary degree in recognition of his pioneering work in the development of legal study in the liberal arts and his distinguished scholarship on capital punishment in the United States.

Table of Contents

1. The place of mercy in legal discourse Robert A. Ferguson; 2. Commentary on Chapter 1: response to Professor Robert A. Ferguson's 'The place of mercy in legal discourse' Jamie Leonard; 3. Mercy, crime control, and moral credibility Paul H. Robinson; 4. Commentary on Chapter 3: thoughts on mercy and self-examination: a response to Paul Robinson William Brewbaker; 5. Defending a role for mercy in a criminal justice system James Staihar and Stephen Macedo; 6. Commentary on Chapter 5: commentary on defending a role for mercy in a criminal justice system Pamela Pierson; 7. Actions of mercy Alice Ristroph; 8. Commentary on Chapter 7: reflections on Alice Ristroph's 'Actions of mercy' Steven H. Hobbs; 9. A feminist view of mercy, judgment, and the 'exception' in the context of transitional justice Susan H. Williams; 10. Commentary on Chapter 9: the interpretative process: feminist reconstructions Timothy Hoff.

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