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Duquesne to honor judge with award

By Will Dodds
On March 7, 2012

  • Richard Posner will be given the Dr. John and Liz Murray Excellence in Scholarship Award on March 22. Courtesy of Patricia Goldrick

The Duquesne University Law School will present Judge Richard A. Posner with the inaugural Dr. John and Liz Murray Excellence in Scholarship Award Thursday, March 22 in the Power Center Ballroom.

Posner said he's excited to come to Duquesne as the award's first recipient.

"I'm very pleased to receive the award," Posner said. "I'm looking forward to speaking with the faculty and students of Duquesne and to sharing ideas with them. It should be mutually illuminating."

The award was designed by University Chancellor and Law School professor Dr. John E. Murray last year using a $1.4 million grant he received on behalf of the University from the Richard King Mellon Foundation upon completion of his presidency of Duquesne in 2001.

The Award is Murray's idea to strengthen the scholarly environment of Duquesne University and its Law School and he said he is honored to welcome Posner to Duquesne to receive the award.

"We thought of the leading top five, 10, 15 scholars of legal education in the country that we could bring here," Murray said.  "We wanted to provide [students] with insight from one of the top people in the country. I couldn't think of anyone better than Richard Posner.  His opinions have been heralded around the country."

Posner currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and lectures at the University of Chicago Law School. Throughout his ongoing 44-year long career, Posner's résumé includes a nomination to his current position in Chicago by President Ronald Reagan, a stint as his Court's Chief Justice during the 1990s, and dozens of publications of books on Law.

According to Posner, he was influenced in his decision to study Law by his father, who also was a lawyer.

Posner has a pragmatic stance on the law. He has described the War on Drugs as unrealistic in a 2003 CNBC interview, and he has said both torture and the invasion of personal privacy are necessary evils in last resort situations such as the classic "ticking time bomb case," as described in his 2002 article entitled "The Best Offense."

"It's important to identify the consequences," Posner said.  "It's important to understand how a decision will affect society and to try to make one that makes things better off."

Law School Dean Ken Gormley, like Murray, said Posner is the ideal honoree to bring to Duquesne.

"[Posner] is one of the most famous jurists in America," Gormley said.  "It's a big deal to have him on campus.  He is just the perfect person for this award."

During the ceremony, Posner will give a speech titled "Appellate Decision Making and Appellate Advocacy-One Judge's View."  In it he said he plans to discuss the common problems faced by appellate jurors, including the management of their staffs, various theoretical approaches to Law, and how to present a case effectively to a court.

According to Gormley, Posner's speech will be published in the Duquesne Law Review, the School's scholarly journal.  Gormley also said Posner will make a private presentation at a luncheon with Law School faculty, as well as visit classes during his stay on campus.

Gormley expects that in hosting Judge Posner as the inaugural recipient of Dr. John and Liz Murray Excellence in Scholarship Award a new period of intellectual growth will be initiated into the Duquesne Law School. He wants to encourage as many people as possible to attend the ceremony.

"This is transformational for the school," Gormley said. "It shows that there is an increasing emphasis on scholarly activity here.  Going forward in perpetuity it gives us the ability to bring in more nationally recognized scholars, to encourage work in student writing and faculty publications, and to achieve the highest level of excellence in this field."

Editor's Note: This story has been edited to correct Judge Posner's title.

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