Law school panel talks policy advocacy

At a panel held at the Yale Law School Thursday, law students, professors and fellows debated policy ramifications of the most recent death penalty repeal this February.

The death penalty was the focus of the 14th Annual Arthur Liman Colloquium, which also covered many other recent policy decisions, focusing on how more effective government action can be taken on a state level, when compared to recent developments on Capitol Hill. Panelists — who included professor of law Kate Stith, founder of the Constitution Project Virginia Sloan, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legislative Affairs Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Associate Director-Counsel Jeoffrey Robinson and Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty — also focused on the relationship between policy advocates and the federal government.

“The Department of Justice is the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to the justice system,” Stith said at the opening of the event.

Several of the speakers recounted personal stories and opinions in their experiences dealing with governmental policies.

Esty spoke about her battle to abolish the death penalty in the state of Connecticut. Because she voted against it, she was not re-elected. “You have to get your hands dirty on something small enough to make a difference,” Esty said. “It’s a battle of my integrity in the choices I have to make.”

The panelists unanimously agreed that the abolishment of the federal death penalty was a far-reaching goal, but said there have been progressive legislative changes on the state level. Esty said that the Connecticut state government was looking to abolish death penalty for the first time.

Both Esty and Sloan emphasized the need to consider the emotional state of victims and families connected to death penalty cases.

Esty said that many of families are simply so agonized by the cumbersome process of death trials that take 10 to 15 years, that they got no peace.

“We need a full range of voices,” she said.

Similarly, the panelists highlighted effective changes on a state level in policy for gay unions, recounting the fight that went into making decisions regarding these policies.

“You do the best you can to make decisions come out right,” Weich said. “If they don’t, that’s too bad. If they continue to go wrong, I guess you leave [your position].”

Robinson agreed, saying, “Fight the internal fight. If you can’t agree with policy, then leave.”

Most of the students present found the talk to be very enjoyable.

Sydney Nailor, a Liman Summer Fellow, said she found the panel extremely interesting as she had worked on Capitol Hill to propose a decrease in the penalty for the possession of cocaine, which was one of the policies also discussed at the panel.

Taylor Allen, another summer fellow, also said she thought the panel was insightful and engaging, adding that the panelists’ approach on advocacy from within and outside the government was excellent.

“The death penalty was a great topic to engage on,” she said.

The colloquium drew over 50 people and will end on Friday.

Correction: March 4, 2011

An earlier version of this article misspelled Liman as Limen.


  • dalet5770

    Dear Mr. Betts:

    Thank you for taking the time and writing your correspondence to Governor Malloy regarding Probate court. Governor Malloy appreciates the time you took to write and send your correspondence sharing your concerns.

    Governor Malloy sympathizes with your situation however the matter you have written about is overseen by the Judicial Branch and thus the Governor has no authority to intervene. I would suggest you contact Judge Paul J. Kniernim, Probate Court Administrator of the Probate Court for any possible assistance. If you wish to contact the Probate Court Administrator, please feel free to contact his office at (860) 231-2442.

    Thank you once again for your letter to Governor Malloy expressing your feelings regarding this important matter.


    Dear Sirs please address this matter and tell me why the Governor would not refer me to you

    Dalet Dale Betts
    8 Tall Trees Lane
    Wilton CT 06897-4716

    Melissa Perez

    Staff Assistant

    Office of Governor Darnel P. Malloy

    —–Original Message—–

    From: WebMaster, State of Connecticut

    Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 1:29 PM

    To: Governor.Malloy

    Subject: Email Governor Malloy


    From: Dale Betts


    Subject: Waste fraud and abuse


    Governor I worked at Pitney Bowes I was elected as a Personnel Force manager My father was was running for election was murdered. Pitney Bowes Set up a Trust for me of 25000.00 to be administered by the Probate court. State and private entities abused me missed their position and stole my money. I have had ear problems since I was 8 years old. It turns out I have a deviated Septum and a growth pressing against my ear which causes Vertigo. The Otologist that performed the surgery to correct a deviated septum is sure I will make a full recovery. It was only through my persistent complaint of thirty years that something would finally happen and the cat scan bore that out. a deviated septum reduce breathing functions can cause claustrophobia and a host of other problems. We have cut out smoking in this state and restricted its use due to the importance of said breathing but for thirty years they could not find a deviated Septum any first year resident could tell the warning signs of a deviated septum sinusitis and order more testing. Yale it seems was only concerned with lung function. I want my money back governor and I want you to help me get it back. I have asked for an accounting by the probate court and I have asked that the probate court judges who mishandled my care and committed me to facilities and the doctors that staff these facilities be held accountable by the state

  • dalet5770

    You only have to ask but two questions of yourself my dear editor – Why did it take doctors forty years to correct a severe and very treatable deviated septum and the Mastoid provlem of the ear and what is the purpose of having an Otologist and ENT’s if what they do is not counted as significant