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The 2017 Law Review Annual Symposium - The Fragile Fortress: Judicial Independence in the 21st Century, will be held on Friday, April 7, 2017 at the University of Memphis School of Law in Wade Auditorium.

The ideal of judicial independence – of "independent tribunals" standing guard against abuses of power by the other branches, in Madison's image; of "the power of judging . . . separated from the legislative and executive powers" in Hamilton's phrase; of an independent judiciary as "bulwark of the Constitution" – has never been easy to attain.

It's quite possible, though, that the ideal is undergoing some of its toughest tests of late, with periodic waves of criticism from the political branches against individual judges for particular decisions—including calls for impeachment of judges for such decisions; "litmus tests" for judicial nominees; a presidential candidate's criticism of a federal judge before whom the candidate has pending litigation; and the fundraising imperative in states with popular election of judges. Recent history has also seen judicial nominations beset with long delays, filibusters, and outright refusal to consider a nominee to the Supreme Court. No one party has had a monopoly on such conduct.

The Symposium will bring together voices, insight, experience, and ideas from the bench (federal and state), from the academy, and from the bar—in a dialogue meant to bring this vital issue renewed attention and innovative thinking.

A partial list of speakers and presentation topics is below.

  • Judge Bernice Donald (United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit) - The intrajudicial environment
  • Judge Timothy J. Corrigan (United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida)--Impact of threats of violence on judges
  • Senior Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. (United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York) - Congress and judicial sentencing discretion: Feeney Amendment revisited
  • Judge R. David Proctor (United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama) - Overview of judicial independence from filibusters to court-packing
  • Professor and Dean Emeritus John DiPippa (UALR Bowen School of Law) - Can a legislative committee subpoena a sitting judge?
  • Professor Eric Kasper (University of Wisconsin Eau Claire): Free speech and campaign fundraising by state judges
  • Professor Justin Walker (University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law) - Should judges be forced to disclose their papers?
  • Professor Patrick Walsh (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center): Secretly-acquired intelligence evidence in federal court.

Further details will be announced in short order.

We look forward to seeing you!

Questions about the Symposium may be directed to Pablo J. Davis, PhD, CT, Symposium Editor, at pjdavis2@memphis.edu or 901-288-3018.

The University of Memphis Law Review hosts their annual symposium every spring at the University of Memphis School of Law. For more information about past topics and speakers, please visit the links to past Symposium programs below. 

2016- Urban Revitalization: The Legal Implications of Remaking a City

2015 - In re Valor: Policy and Action in Veterans Legal Aid

2014 - Juvenile Courts in Transition

2013 - Breaking the Silence - Legal Voices in the Fight Against Human Trafficking 

2012 - Cultural Compatency and the Death Penalty