Featured Events

Apr 20

Law Journal Spring Symposium: Sentence Commutations and the Executive Pardon Power

Friday, April 20, 2012 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM

University of St. Thomas

Schulze Grand Atrium 

     The University of St. Thomas School of Law Journal Spring Symposium will host a group of national scholars and legal professionals to discuss sentence commutations and the executive pardon power on Friday, April 20 beginning at 8:45 a.m. in the Schulze Grand Atrium at the School of Law in downtown Minneapolis. 

     The keynote speaker for the symposium will be former Maryland governor Gov. Robert Ehrlich.The former governor and congressman recently contributed the piece “A Broken System, And Too Few Pardons,” to the New York Times, authored the book, Turn This Car Around: The Roadmap to Restoring America. He has also established a pardon-focused law school clinic modeled after St. Thomas’ own commutations clinic.

     The symposium will feature panels of experts on a range of pardon-related topics and will culminate in the story of Serena Nunn who, at the age of nineteen, received a guidelines-imposed prison sentence of nearly sixteen years for minor participation in a nonviolent drug offense. This final panel, entitled “One Commutation: Three Perspectives,” will bring together the defendant, the prosecutor, and the Judge involved in the 1989 conviction of Ms. Nunn. Judge Doty of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, former Hennepin County Prosecutor Denise D. Reilly, and Ms. Nunn—now a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School—will discuss the inspiring story leading up to President Clinton’s commutation of the sixteen-year sentence on July 7, 2000, after Ms. Nunn had been incarcerated for more than a decade.

    The legal community and others are invited to attend.  This event has been approved for 6.25 general CLE credits, and lunch will be provided for participants who pre-register.



8:15 a.m.    Registration and Continental Breakfast: Schulze Grand Atrium
8:30 a.m. Welcome
Marc Spooner, Editor-in-Chief, St. Thomas Law Journal
8:45 a.m. Commutations: Past and Present

P.S. Ruckman, PardonPower.com and Rock Valley College

Jeffrey Crouch, American University

David Zlotnick, Roger Williams University School of Law

Cecelia Klingele, University of Wisconsin School of Law

Margaret Colgate Love, PardonLaw.com and Private Practice


11:00 a.m. 

Keynote Address “Pardons and Commutations: Observations from the Front Lines”

Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Former Governor and Congressman of Maryland


12:00 p.m.   Reflection time, a tradition at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Please take this time to rest, reflect, pray, or attend Mass at the School of Law chapel.
12:30 p.m.

  Hot Topics, Cool Talks  “Commutation as Negation of a Sentence”

  Judge Richard Sullivan , U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Marc DeGirolami, St. John’s University School of Law

1:45 p.m.

Imagining Strategic Clemency

Dafna Linzer, ProPublica.org

Doug Berman, The Ohio State University, Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Steve Chanenson, Villanova Law School

Nancy Gertner, Harvard Law School

Dan Kobil, Capital University School of Law

3:45 p.m.

 One Commutation: Three Perspectives

Judge David S. Doty, U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota

Judge Denise D. Reilly, Minnesota District Court Judge and a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the State of Minnesota

Serena Nunn, Recipient of a Sentence Commutation


   5:00 p.m.  Concluding Remarks