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June 10, 2009

The Most Direct Form of Scholarship

Yesterday, I had an experience several others here have already been through-- offering invited testimony before a congressional committee.  In my case, it was at  a hearing on H.R. 2289, which involved eliminating the sentence of life without parole for juveniles.  I found the whole thing fascinating, as did two of my students who helped me prepare and attended the hearing.  Though I have argued in many courtrooms, I am not sure I have ever appeared in a room quite so intimidating as that one (the hearing room for the House Judiciary Committee).  The gallery was full, with people standing along the back wall at times, and the Representatives sat in tiers above us, in front of a line of aides who would pass them notes.  

For those of us involved in policy work, it struck me as the most direct and efficient form of scholarship possible-- to present your case to the lawmakers, and answer their questions.  This is especially true relative to the more traditional route, which involves spending months writing an article, more months waiting for it to appear, and then hoping a decision-maker might read it.  The best method, of course, would be to combine the two by testifying in support of your scholarly research, and that is exactly the approach of some of the most effective witnesses before Congress.  

Such testimony is not considered a form of scholarship in some places, but if what we care about is using our minds to improve the law, that orthodoxy should change.

-- Mark Osler

June 10, 2009 | Permalink

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Comments

I wonder if the Judiciary Committee would consider the revolutionary, unheard of advance in testimony, to hear from someone representing the interests of the victims of these juveniles. The biological landmark of adulthood is at 14, namely reproduction.

Here is a scholar that rent seeking lawyer dominated bunch of clowns will never invite.

http://sb399.com/images/SB_399_Comments_by_Daniel_Horowitz.pdf

Why? Because they are totally biased criminal lovers.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 10, 2009 6:25:26 PM

Mark,

Very interesting, and congratulations on your testimony. I'm curious how Baylor views your testimony? Given your school's unique focus, does your testimony count as scholarship? On that note, I'd love to hear more about what Baylor looks for in faculty, but I suppose that's a whole new post.

Congrats again.

Posted by: BarristersHandshake | Jun 10, 2009 7:52:46 PM

Claus-- Two of the witnesses who testified at that hearing were victims who represented victims' groups.

Posted by: Money | Jun 10, 2009 11:51:43 PM

Money: Thank you. Good step forward, to at least give voice to this ignored group.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 11, 2009 3:02:13 PM

To make a minor correction: I am the only victim who testified that day who actually was a victim of one of these crimes. The victim who was for the bill as written, as was Prof. Osler, was not a victim of a "juvenile lifer" as that sentence did not exist in Texas at the time. I had asked the committee for the last 18 months to notify and include all the victims families that would be so profoundly affected by the proposal. They refused, though the funds they would need to do so would be incredibly minimal. We are only talking about 2500 cases nationwide. A clerical level employee working over the internet for just a few weeks could find most of us. The National Organization of Victims of "Juvenile Lifers" NOVJL is only a handful of families in a few states who have found each other to advocate that the victims MUST be notified of retroactive proposals to change a Life Without Parole sentence because of the extraordinary due process and safety issues. We take no stand about what reforms may or may not be necessary, but also stand that parole hearings are the WORST way to do it, because of the life-long re-traumatization to victims families. We appreciate the comments in support of the need to bring affected victims to this and any other public policy discussion as the key stakeholders that we clearly are. www.jlwopvictims.org

Posted by: Jennifer | Jun 19, 2009 3:40:59 PM

Jennifer: I found your website touching and restrained.

I am glad you were allowed to testify. However, this ridiculous, idiotic hearing is a totally rigged lawyer propaganda show. These biased, heartless, left wing extremist, criminal lover lawyers already know the outcome of the false debate. They would never allow substantive dissent. The tears of these phonies are reserved solely for serial killers and organized crime gangbangers. Why? Because they generate lawyer jobs, and crime victims generate nothing for them, and may rot.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 24, 2009 6:25:31 AM

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