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News Release

For immediate use:

Jan. 3, 2008

Photo note: To download image, see end of story.

Scheck-Estrich talk to start spring death penalty events

NOTE: The Estrich-Scheck program described below was later postponed because Estrich became ill. UNC is working to reschedule the program.

Attorney Barry Scheck, a founder and director of the Innocence Project, and Susan Estrich, an author and syndicated columnist, will discuss the death penalty on Jan. 17 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Their dialogue, at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall, is one of four events early this year, all free to the public, for “Criminal/Justice: The Death Penalty Examined,” UNC’s yearlong discussion of capital punishment. Others are:

Tickets are required for admission to the Estrich-Scheck dialogue. The free tickets will available at the Memorial Hall Box Office on Cameron Avenue, which will reopen on Jan. 9 with regular hours, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. On and after that date, call the office at (919) 843-3333 to reserve tickets.

Carolina Performing Arts at UNC is facilitating “Criminal/Justice: The Death Penalty Examined,” in which the arts serve as a catalyst to stimulate discussion of events and issues that lead to capital punishment. The project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Creative Campus Innovations Grant program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 

“The death penalty is such a relevant topic in our society today,” said Emil Kang, executive director for the arts at UNC. “This will be an amazing opportunity to witness a conversation between two leading thinkers on this issue.”

Jack Boger, dean of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Law and the Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor of Law, will moderate the Estrich-Scheck discussion, which also will concern the state of criminal justice in the United States.

Estrich, a law professor at the University of Southern California, believes that capital punishment should be avoided if doubt about guilt or innocence remains or counsel has been inadequate. However, in the most clear and heinous cases, the death penalty is just, she said. She wrote “Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System.” Estrich worked on presidential campaigns for Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton and was the first female president of the Harvard Law Review.

Scheck and Peter Neufeld founded and direct the Innocence Project, which seeks to exonerate wrongfully convicted people across the country through DNA testing (http://www.innocenceproject.org/). Scheck also received media attention for his role as a DNA expert on O.J. Simpson’s defense team. A professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, he is a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The library exhibit, about current and historical controversies surrounding capital punishment in North Carolina, will comprise about 50 photographs and documents that trace a timeline of views on the issue expressed in the Tar Heel state. The discussion in Wilson Library on Feb. 5 will be preceded by a 5 p.m. reception. Speakers will include:

Audience participation will be encouraged. The Southern Historical Collection in Wilson Library will sponsor the panel and the exhibit. For library locations and hours, visit http://www.lib.unc.edu/. For panel information, call (919) 962-4207. For exhibit information, call (919) 962-1345.

“Perspectives on Public Justice” at the Ackland will feature artists including Sue Coe, William Hogarth, Jacob Lawrence and Andy Warhol. The exhibit will seek to establish that issues related to crime, punishment and the justice system are difficult and complex, said Carolyn Allmendinger, an educator at the museum.

“The exhibit will invite visitors to question the subject matter and the artists’ intent,” Allmendinger said. “For example, the public hanging depicted in Hogarth’s ‘The Idle Apprentice Executed at Tyburn’highlights the theatrical spectacle of such an event, leading viewers to ask how that practice compares with contemporary executions.”

Likewise, Allmendinger said, Jacob Lawrence’s series of prints “The Legend of John Brown” explores thorny issues of violence, faith, justice and treason, raising the question of how the aesthetic appeal of such images informs the difficult content.

“Perspectives on Public Justice”was curated by Allmendinger and Todd Taylor, Ph.D., an English professor and director of UNC’s writing program. The exhibit will support courses in English composition and rhetoric during the spring semester.

The Ackland, on Columbia Street just south of Franklin Street, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The museum remains open until 9 p.m. on every second Friday. For more information, contact the Ackland at (919) 966-5736, ackland@email.unc.edu or via TTY at (919) 962-0837.

“Criminal/Justice: The Death Penalty Examined” Web site: http://www.carolinacreativecampus.org

Image: http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/releases/DeathWatchCell.JPG

From the library exhibit: One of four death watch cells outside the execution chamber at Central Prison in Raleigh. After all appeals have been exhausted, condemned inmates are transferred to these cells three to seven days before their executions. Oct. 21, 1992 photo by M.J. Sharp, courtesy of The Independent Weekly. [NS to add URL here]

Carolina Performing Arts contact: Reed Colver, (919) 843-1833, rcolver@email.unc.edu
University Library contact: Tim West, (919) 962-1345, timwest@email.unc.edu
Ackland Art Museum contact: Nic Brown, (919) 843-3675, nic_brown@unc.edu
News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589