Santa Clara University

Ethics Center Blog
Bookmark and Share

At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by category Law and Ethics. clear filter
  •  Pay Czar Ethics - Disaster Fund Expert Kenneth Feinberg

    Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 3:48 PM

    Join us on Tuesday, October 22, 7 p.m.
    Music and Dance Facility, Recital Hall
    Prominent dispute mediator and attorney Kenneth Feinberg has negotiated settlements in some of the most challenging and emotional crises of our times. Feinberg was dubbed "The Pay Czar" for his hands-on administrative work in the federal bailout assistance program, TARP, and has taken on similar tasks for the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund and the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund. He is currently working out settlements for the Boston Marathon victims.
    Feinberg has served as Court-Appointed Special Settlement Master in cases including Agent Orange product liability litigation, Asbestos Personal Injury Litigation and DES Cases. Feinberg was also one of three arbitrators who determined the fair market value of the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination and was one of two arbitrators who determined the allocation of legal fees in the Holocaust slave labor litigation. He is a former Lecturer-in-Law at a number of U.S. law schools ad is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
    NEW! There will be a book sale and signing after the event at 8 p.m. for Feinberg's book, "Who Gets What: Fair Compensation After Tragedy and Upheaval." Sale price: $20
    Co-sponsored by The Markkula Center for Ethics and the Commonwealth Club of California, Silicon Valley.
    You're Invited to Tweet!
    Tweet with us on this topic before, during, and after the event at: #ethicsczar. Follow us on Twitter @mcaenews.


  •  Solitary Confinement

    Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 12:04 PM

    The death this week of Herman Wallace, released after more than 40 years in the Secure Housing Unit of Angola State Prison in Louisiana, highlighted the issue of long-term solitary confinement in the American penal system.  A 2005 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found 81,622 people held in solitary, many for years or even decades.  Reform advocates have called the conditions and length of this form of imprisonment cruel and unusual punishment.

    SCU Professor of Law Ellen Kreitzberg visited the Ethics Center this week for a discussion on solitary confinement and whether it violates the constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  Kreitzberg created and directs the University's Death Penalty College.

  •  The American Legal System and Civic Engagement

    Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013 6:58 PM

    Subtitled Why We All Should Think Like Lawyers, Kenneth Manaster's recently published book, The American Legal System and Civic Engagement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) argues that "ordinary citizens can form their opinions on public issues more intelligently, confidently, and responsibly if they have some guidance on how to do it."  Manaster, a professor of law at Santa Clara University, uses the traditions of the law to illustrate how to engage in responsible public debate.

    Manaster, a scholar at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, is the holder of the University's Presidential Professorship of Ethics and the Common Good.  Under the auspices of the Ethics Center, Manaster brought together faculty members from multiple disciplines to discuss the project.


  •  Trayvon Martin, Race, and Justice: A Panel Discussion on August 5 at Noon

    Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 4:44 PM

    Join us for our next Ethics At Noon panel discussion on Monday, August 5 at the Markkula Center, on race and justice in the Trayvon Martin Case, featuring panelists Professor Margaret Russell, Santa Clara University School of Law, and Chris Boscia, Deputy District Attorny, Santa Clara County.

    Professor Margaret Russell has been a member of the Santa Clara University School of Law faculty since 1990, and is affiliated with the University’s Center for Social Justice & Public Service, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and the Center for Multicultural Learning. She has been honored for her contributions to student life at Santa Clara by the Asian Pacific Law Students Association and the Black Law Students Association. In 1991, she traveled to South Africa with a delegation of legal scholars to provide consultation on constitution-drafting for the post-apartheid transition. Prior to joining the Santa Clara Law faculty, Professor Russell was a fellow at the public interest firm Public Advocates, Inc., a law firm in San Francisco. She served as the director of Public Interest Programs and as the acting assistant dean of student affairs at Stanford University, and also clerked for the Honorable James E. Doyle of the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin. Christopher Boscia is Deputy District Attorney, Santa Clara County.

    Chris Boscia won the Robert L. Webb Award for Trial Advocacy in 2011 for his work in the case of People v. Gill, which led to induction into the Jurisprudence section of the American Academy of Forensic Science.  Chris was a guest panelist at the Academy's 2013 annual meeting in Washington D.C. on the topic, "Science in the Courtroom: A Matter of Perspective?" His forthcoming article, "Strengthening Forensic Alcohol Analysis in California DUIs: a Prosecutor's Perspective," will be published in the third issue of Volume 53 of the Santa Clara Law Review. Prior to joining the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office, he worked as a Deputy District Attorney in Contra Costa County, a staff attorney at the California DNA Project, a law clerk for the Honorable John F. Moulds at the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, and as a staff member to the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice. Chris has a strong connection to Santa Clara University.  In addition to being a law school alumnus, he co-authored the University's $2 million grant proposal to Lilly Endowment. He has also taught courses at the Law School and the College of Arts and Sciences, and serves on the Board of the St. Thomas More Society of Santa Clara County, and is a Barrister of the Honorable William A. Ingram American Inn of Court.

    Sponsored by The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

  •  Proposition 34: The Ethical Issues in Capital Punishment

    Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 4:02 PM


    In a dialog today on California's Proposition 34, which would abolish capital punishment in the state, Ellen Kreitzberg, professor of law, and Lawrence Nelson, associate professor of philosophy, debated the merits of the ballot initiative. [Listen to the podcast]
    Kreitzberg is the director of the Death Penalty College at SCU, a summer training course for lawyers assigned to represent defendants in capital cases. She outlined the economic argument against capital punishment, citing a report from the Legislative Analyst that estimated savings to the state from abolishing the death penalty at $1.3 million. 
    She also said that if the initiative does not pass, California will immediately begin building a new death row facility at a cost of $550 million. Finally, she pointed to a report from Arthur Alarcon, senior judge for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who is not opposed in principle to capital punishment. Alarcon writes, "Our research has revealed that $4 billion of state and federal taxpayer money has been expended administering the death penalty in California since 1978, with a cost in 2009 of approximately $184 million above what taxpayers would have spent without the death penalty…"
    Kreitzberg said one could believe in the death penalty in the abstract but still feel that it is not worth the cost because there is no evidence that it makes us safer. Forty five percent of homicides and 55 percent of rapes in the state go unsolved. Resources saved by abolishing the death penalty could be focused on improving these statistics.
    Nelson argued, however, that there is no long-term guarantee that monies saved through the initiative would go into law enforcement. Generally, Nelson urged that cost not be the main basis on which the death penalty is evaluated, a point on which Kreitzberg agreed. 
    Nelson focused on the question, Can the death penalty be defended ethically? Kreitzberg's answer was no. First, she argued that recent exonerations show the death penalty will inevitably be imposed on someone innocent, to which Nelson responded that no one executed in California has ever been shown to be innocent.
    He pointed out that many people convicted of capital crimes are despicable; 90 of the 720 men currently on death row tortured their victims before killing them. "Some murderers richly deserve to be taken off the face of the earth," he said.