Professor Bernard E. Harcourt Argues Death Penalty Case Before 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

New York, November 13, 2014—Columbia Law School Professor Bernard E. Harcourt appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Nov. 10 to argue on behalf of a man who has been on death row for more than 27 years.

 Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, left, with Michael Cassel '16 outside the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Harcourt argues that Doyle Lee Hamm was improperly sentenced to death in Alabama because of an unconstitutional prior conviction and ineffective assistance of counsel at the sentencing phase of his capital trial. 
Second-year student Michael Cassel ’16 attended the argument, sitting with Harcourt at counsel table. Cassel and Harcourt also visited Hamm on death row.
Cassel worked on the briefing in the Hamm case last spring and over the summer. He also served as a teaching assistant in Harcourt’s Legal Methods class, and he and first-year students from that course have been working with Harcourt on a separate criminal appeal involving life imprisonment without parole.
Harcourt is Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. His scholarship intersects social and political theory, the sociology of punishment, and penal law and procedure. Earlier in his career, Harcourt worked as an attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, representing death row inmates; he continues that representation on a pro bono basis.

Read legal journalist Andrew Cohen’s piece about Hamm's case.