David Baldus: Scholar, Teacher, Mentor, and Friend

Author:Gail B. Agrawal
Position::Professor of Law, University of Iowa
David Baldus: Scholar, Teacher, Mentor,
and Friend
Gail B. Agrawal
In early spring 2010, my colleagues Jim Tomkovicz and Margaret
Raymond (who since has become dean of the University of Wisconsin law
school) began planning an academic conference to commemorate the 25th
anniversary of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in
Batson v. Kentucky. As accomplished teachers and scholars in criminal law
and procedure, they wanted to examine Batson’s legacy—the ways in which it
has changed, and failed to change—the law governing jury trials in criminal
cases. Our colleague David Baldus, world-renowned empirical legal scholar
of the death penalty, readily accepted an invitation to participate in the
conference, despite a recent diagnosis of colon cancer and the physical
challenges that accompany surgery and chemotherapy.
As plans for the Batson conference progressed, David Baldus’s health
deteriorated. In his typical fashion, he soldiered on with his academic work,
exhibiting incredible energy but having no illusions about the reality that his
time was limited. Producing his article for the Batson conference was one of
the projects he was determined to complete.
Soon, Professors Raymond and Tomkovicz approached me to ask
whether we might expand the Batson event to include some speakers and
papers in tribute to David Baldus and his remarkable body of work. Of
course my answer was “yes.” The difficult question was whether Professor
Baldus could be persuaded to agree. Eventually, our carefully crafted and
persistent attempts to persuade him bore fruit. He graciously, if somewhat
reluctantly, consented to the plan with the understanding he would develop
the list of those invited to participate.
As we began to plan the “Baldus festschrift” that was to accompany the
Batson conference, we held on to the hope that David would be present to
take part in the program organized in his honor, to engage in a thoughtful
dialogue with his academic colleagues, and to share the burdens of those
who represent clients facing the death penalty. It was not to be. David
Baldus, the Joseph B. Tye Professor of Law, died peacefully at home on June
13, 2011. Many of the invitations to participate in the program in his honor
Dean and F. Wendell Miller Professor of Law, University of Iowa.

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