J. Kirk Brown, Nebraska Solicitor General &
Michael Radelet, University of Colorado Boulder Professor
Moderated by Susan Poser, Dean of UNL College of Law
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 7:00 p.m.
The Chuck and Linda Wilson Dialogue on Domestic Issues
The death penalty continues to generate intense debate, including in Nebraska — one of 33 states that authorize capital punishment. In this debate, Nebraska Solicitor General J. Kirk Brown and University of Colorado Boulder professor Michael Radelet will explore such questions as whether the death penalty is humane, fairly applied, reduces violent crime, or is cost effective. They’ll also examine impacts on the condemned person, the legal and judicial systems, victims’ loved ones, and the taxpaying society at large.
J. Kirk Brown has served as Nebraska’s Solicitor General since 2003. He previously served as the Nebraska Department of Justice’s Chief of the Criminal Bureau, Chief of the Criminal Appellate Section, and Chief of the Civil Litigation Section. For more than 28 years, Brown has been Nebraska’s primary counsel in capital cases and was counsel of record in Nebraska’s three, most recent executions: State v. Otey (1994); State v. Joubert (1996); and State v. Williams (1997).
Brown also spent six years as the general counsel to the Texas Department of Corrections. There he witnessed more than 20 executions. While in Texas, he also was seated as a juror in a capital murder trial, State of Texas v. Jesse Dewayne Jacobs.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law (1973), Brown has lectured nationally on the death penalty, appellate practice, federal habeas corpus, and corrections law.
As professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder, Michael L. Radelet has focused his research on capital punishment, problems of erroneous convictions, racial bias, and ethical issues faced by health care personnel involved in capital cases and executions. His work on erroneous convictions (with Hugo Adam Bedau, emeritus professor of philosophy at Tufts University) is widely credited with introducing the “innocence argument” into contemporary death penalty debates.
Radelet has testified in dozens of death penalty cases, before congressional committees, and in legislatures in seven states. He has worked with scores of death row inmates and gone through “last visits” with 50. He also works closely with families of homicide victims in Colorado. At the request of then-Illinois Governor George Ryan, he completed a study of racial biases in the death penalty in Illinois that Governor Ryan used in his 2003 decision to commute 167 death sentences.