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January 10, 2007

Welcome and let's get ready to innovate

Welcome to the launch of a new blogging adventure: Death Penalty Course @ Moritz College of Law.  This uninspiring title (which we can shorten to DP @ M) is meant to make clear the focus of this blog is the Death Penalty Course that I am teaching this semester at OSU's Moritz College of Law. 

Though the title is uninspired, I hope that both the contents and very construct of this blog will inspire a new type of engagement with the death penalty and with on-line media for students.  Even after nearly three years of focused blogging at my main blog, I continue to be amazed by what I learn from others and by the substantive insights I gain through the process of blogging.  Consequently, I have decided to try making this blog a focal point for my Death Penalty Course this semester.

As I gear up for my initial class today, my tentative plan is to be the main instructor and main blogger for the first few weeks of class.  During this period, I hope to be able to give the students an effective and enticing overview of the modern law, policy, practice and practicalities of the death penalty in the United States.  I will thereafter assign groups of students to select topics of interest for future classes, and they will be expected to post readings and class discussion ideas on this blog.

I am making this blog "open to the public" in order to encourage persons other than my students to engage with the blog and to use the comments to provide views on whether this new blog adventure seems like a good idea.  If there is encouraging feedback from my students and others, I'll probably invest (too much) energy in this new project; if the feedback is less encouraging, this blog may wither away as the weather starts warming up and other interests draw my attention.

Posted by Professor Douglas Berman

January 10, 2007 in About this blog | Permalink


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Saddam's half brother and former Iraqi Chief Justice were reportedly hanged. During the execution, Barzan Hassan Ibrahim, Saddam's half brother, was decapitated. "The official video of the hangings show Hussein's half-brother lying headless below the gallows, his severed head several yards away, The Associated Press reported." see

The timing and operation of these executions are very questionable. The Iraqi government is still trying to gain legitimacy, not only among Iraqi Sunnis but also throughout the international community. We cannot ignore the greater ramifications these executions will have on U.S. foreign policy. For example, the U.S. and Iran are still seeking a resolution. Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President, recently rejected the U.S. proposed Israeli-Palestinian "roadmap". And, mainstream news reports tend to suggest Iraqi is still very much unstable. Some say civil war is inevitable.
Here are a few questions to think about: Is the ICC a more ideal (e.g. accountable, efficient, more sophisticated, etc.) jurisdiction for prosecuting head of states following wars where the head of state has purportedly committed atrocities against his/her constituents? What are the arguments for and against ICC jurisdiction? Why doesn't there seem to be as much of an upheaval or opposition against a video showing an actual decapitation as there was about videos of Saddam's execution being leaked? Is there a hierarchy of who's execution should be shown? Does public interest have anything to do with who's execution is viewed internationally? And, should the U.S. have played any role in determining the circumstances (e.g. time, style, etc.) by which Saddam (and his aides) were to be executed?

Posted by: t-rich | Jan 15, 2007 11:20:40 AM

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