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Civil Liberties Colloquium to Begin with Death Penalty Discussion

Posted 09/10/2009
Submitted by Meagan Fazio
Category: Campus Announcements

A new colloquium on "Civil Liberties in the 21st Century" will kick off on Sept. 23 with a discussion on the death penalty.

Four attorneys who played key roles in the Michael Ross death penalty case will discuss the legal and moral complexities of capital punishment on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Wilde Auditorium. The program is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For tickets, please call the University Box Office at 860.768.4228 or 800.274.8587.

The 2005 execution of Michael Ross ended Connecticut's 45-year-long moratorium on capital punishment. Ross was convicted of killing four women in Connecticut, and he also admitted to murdering four other victims. In 2009, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill ending executions, but Governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed the bill.

University Provost Lynn Pasquerella, who attended high school with Ross, will moderate the Sept. 23 panel discussion. Pasquerella, a philosophy professor, specializes in medical ethics and the philosophy of law. She has long served as a prisoners' rights advocate.

The panelists will include:

- Thomas J. Groark, Jr., an attorney, mediator, and chair of the University of Hartford Board of Regents. Groark served as special counsel in the appeals phase of the Ross case;

- Karen Goodrow, an attorney with the state's Division of Public Defender Services and director of the Connecticut Innocence Project, who represented Ross during his last penalty-phase hearing in 2000;

- Kevin Kane, Connecticut's chief state's attorney (chief prosecutor), who directed the state's prosecution of Ross;

- and Harry Weller, a senior assistant state's attorney, who was the lead appellate counsel in Ross's appeal of his conviction.

This discussion is the first event of the "Civil Liberties in the 21st Century Community Conversations Colloquium," which will include three important public events in each semester of the 2009-10 academic year. This series of six invited lectures and panel discussions will explore a broad range of issues related to civil liberties, including capital punishment, social and economic justice, free speech, same-sex marriage, gun control and the right of self-defense, educational equity, civil rights, and personal privacy.

In each semester, a high-profile, Connecticut-based panel presentation and discussion will be followed on later dates by two lectures, each delivered by a nationally prominent scholar.

On Oct. 7, Joyce Lee Malcolm, an expert in legal history and constitutional law, will lead the discussion "To Heller and Back: Is There a Right of Self-Defense?". On Nov. 4, a lecture entitled "Civil Liberties and Economic Democracy" will feature Michael Parenti, the author of 21 books and hundreds of articles on politics, culture, economics, and history. Both events will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Wilde Auditorium.

The colloquium is sponsored by the Rogow Distinguished Visiting Lecturers Program and the Office of the Provost. The members of the colloquium planning committee are Jilda Aliotta, Mary Dowst, Marcia Moen, Katie Roy '09, Paul Siegel, and Donn Weinholtz.