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Harvard Law Prof Known for ‘Stuntzian’ Views Dies at 52

Posted Mar 21, 2011 6:39 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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William Stuntz was the man who put the Stuntz in "Stuntzian."

An influential Harvard Law School professor particularly known for his views on criminal justice, Stuntz died at his home in Massachusetts last week after three years of treatment for metastatic colon cancer, reports the New York Times. He was 52 years old.

A self-proclaimed conservative who also looked to evangelical Christian principles as a basis for his legal theories, Stuntz defied categorization and put the term "Stuntzian" in the academic lexicon. Among the issues he championed, for example, was the systemic pressure to convict those who cannot afford lawyers of crimes they may not have committed, the Times notes.

Described by his Harvard colleague Carol Steiker as “considerably to the right of your average Harvard law professor,” Stunz had nonetheless begun to focus on mercy, she says, as a value "he thought the criminal justice system should have, but didn’t.”

Legal scholars called Stuntz's ideas "Stuntzian," says U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, adding: “What was fascinating about him was that everybody read him and listened to him and took seriously what he said."

Additional coverage:

Harvard Crimson: "Law Professor William Stuntz Dies at Age 52"

Updated on March 22 to link to Harvard Crimson article.

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