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Marquette Law School to Host Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law, Conversation with Prosecutors November 15 // News Center // Marquette University

November 8, 2022


MILWAUKEE – Carissa Byrne Hessick, professor of law at the University of North Carolina, will deliver the Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law at Marquette University School of Law on Tuesday, November 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Eckstein Hall, 1215 W. Michigan St.

In a separate event the same day, Marquette Law School professor Michael M. O’Hear will host a lunchtime conversation at 12:15 p.m. with Hessick and three current or former district attorneys. of Wisconsin, including Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. The session is titled “Attorneys and Politics: A Conversation About and With District Attorneys”.

Registration for both events is mandatory. Media interested in attending either event should contact Kevin Conway, Associate Director of University Communications, at [email protected]

For the Barrock Lecture, Hessick — who is Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland “Buck” Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at UNC — will present “Democracy in the Criminal Justice System: An Assessment.” In theory, the American criminal justice system is highly democratic: whether by appointing juries and grand juries, electing local prosecutors and sheriffs, or constantly reviewing criminal laws, the United States gives its citizens a significant contribution not only to general criminal justice policy, but also results in specific cases. In practice, however, things are quite different: very few criminal cases go to trial; most prosecutors and sheriffs run unopposed; and when asked to vote, most Americans are misinformed or uninformed on even the most basic criminal justice issues.

The conference will suggest that we can improve this bleak picture of criminal justice democracy, but only with a significant investment of time and attention from the legal community and society at large.

Hessick is director of the Prosecutors and Policy Project at UNC. Her teaching and research interests are focused on criminal law, the structure of the criminal justice system, and criminal sentencing, and she has taught and written extensively in these areas. Hessick holds a JD from Yale University and a BA from Columbia University. Prior to entering teaching, she practiced law and clerked for the Hon. Barbara S. Jones (SDNY) and the Hon. A. Raymond Randolph (DC Cir.).

The Barrock Lecture is supported by a bequest from the late Mary Barrock Bonfield in honor of her parents, George and Margaret Barrock. George Barrock graduated from law school in 1931.

Prosecutors and politics: a conversation about and with district attorneys

District attorneys are lawyers, but in Wisconsin and most other states they are also elected officials, which can make their role political. In recent years, the political dimension of prosecutions has received greater attention in some large cities with the advent of the phenomenon of “progressive prosecutors”. Either way, the question of how politics intersects with prosecution is of unquestionable importance, given the central role of the prosecutor in the American criminal justice system.

Few scholars have explored this question as extensively as Hessick. Recent reports from the UNC Prosecutors and Policy Project have focused on topics such as prosecutorial election campaign contributions, prosecutorial lobbying, and incumbent prosecutorial election challenges. Hessick will present some of his latest research and will be joined for comments by Chisholm, Marathon County District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon, and former Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett.

About Marquette University School of Law

Through public programs such as the Marquette Law School Poll, “Issues” conversations with reporters, public lectures by leading scholars, lectures on issues of public importance, and the work of its Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, Marquette Law School is an important venue in this region for civil discourse on issues of law and public policy.

About Marquette University

Marquette University is a Jesuit Catholic university located near the heart of downtown Milwaukee that offers a full range of majors at 11 nationally and internationally recognized colleges and schools. Through training hearts and minds, Marquette prepares our 11,100 undergraduates, graduates, doctoral students and professionals to lead, excel and serve as agents of positive change. And, we deliver results. Ranked in the top 20% of national universities, Marquette is recognized for its undergraduate education, innovation, and career preparation as the sixth-best university in the nation for job placement. Our focus on student success and immersive, personalized learning experiences encourage students to think critically and engage with the world around them. When students graduate from Marquette, they are truly prepared and called to be the difference.


About Kevin Conway

Kevin Conway

Kevin is the Associate Director of Academic Communications in the Office of Academic Relations. Contact Kevin at (414) 288-4745 or [email protected]

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